Selling a home for the first time

Moving motivation

Thinking about selling your home? The first thing to consider is your motivation for doing so. Don’t underestimate the scale of the task. Such a profound life change can be highly disruptive and stressful.

And you could put yourself, and your prospective buyer, in a very tricky position if you end up changing your mind.

Simple steps, such as talking to family and friends first, could help you to firm up your decision. You could also write a list of pros and cons to help you decide. Finally, some people find that using a visual aid, such as a vision board, can help them to see things more clearly.

Once you’re confident that a move is indeed the right step to take at this point in your life, there are a number of things you can do to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

How much is your home worth?

Online tools for assessing this are widely available, and can give you a rough sense of your home’s worth. This is not as accurate as an expert valuation from an agent such as Oakfield, but it’s certainly a good starting point.

The technology collects property data so you have an estimate. What it can’t do is take into account your particular property, timescales, marketing strategy or market forces. So, as we say, look on it as a starting point.


An independent mortgage adviser should be your first port of call. With their help, you’ll be able to work out how much money you’ll have at the end of the property sale. They can also advise on options if you’re looking to buy a new property. You may hear the term ‘port (or porting) your mortgage.’ This sounds as though you’re taking your current one with you as you buy your new home. But in fact it means paying off one mortgage and taking out a new one with the same provider on the same terms. Be aware that you may face early repayment charges on your original mortgage.

Putting your property on the market

Finding an agent

Of course, word-of-mouth recommendations can be helpful. However, things change, especially over time, and these recommendations are no substitute for doing your own research. That’s particularly the case given how infrequently most people need the services of an estate agent.

For these reasons, ask three different agents to come and value your property. Make sure they back up their opinion on achievable price with hard evidence.

Don’t be tempted to base your valuation solely on the highest valuation offered. After all, that may be based on the agent’s desire to hit their target for contracts signed, rather than reality. Equally, you could find yourself tied into a long contract without receiving an adequate service in return.

And it can be tempting to base your decision on the agent’s fee. However, more often than not, that’s a false economy. An independent local operator, with an overall strategy and marketing plan, is often able to realise a higher final sales price.

Get moving quickly

An independent local agent will typically have buyers registered on their books. They can tell these people about your property immediately, securing vital early feedback.

With your agent, you can tweak the presentation, marketing and even the price. That will mean you present your home in the best possible light once it goes online. Having valuable conversations at an early stage could result in prompt viewings – and even an offer.

Finding a solicitor

Your estate agent is likely to be able to recommend a solicitor. After all, they deal with these professionals on a daily basis, and so are ideally placed to advise on who has the staff, capacity and experience to deal with your type of property well.

At this stage, there are a few forms to complete, so get these done quickly to help things move at a brisker place later on.

Selling a home for the first time

Preparing your property

Your estate agent can help you to arrange an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a legal requirement – every home needs to have one in place before it can be sold.

You also need to think about ‘staging’ your home – or helping viewers to imagine what their potential new home could look like. That might mean, for example, placing cardboard boxes under bed linen to show how a double bed would appear in the spare room.

Other things you can do before putting your home on the market

Clearly, if the property seems clean and well-cared for, this helps potential buyers trust that the more significant things have also been taken care of. Keep the appeal of your home as broad as possible. And don’t assume you know who will buy it – a single person can buy a mansion, a family a flat.

  • Replace any blown lightbulbs
  • Paint chipped skirting boards
  • Fix peeling wallpaper
  • Clean windows
  • Put out a vase of fresh flowers
  • Tidy away children’s or pets’ items before viewings and photos

We’re always happy to have no-obligation chat with customers and potential customers and offer tailored suggestions about preparing a property for sale.

We can also help put you in touch with local trusted tradespeople if you need their skills – or just an extra pair of hands.

Equally, bear in mind that properties always present better when they look at least relatively sparse. Remove personal items such as photos and other trinkets ahead of viewings, so potential purchasers can picture their own belongings in your home.

Finally, get packing! Kick off by dedicating a few hours here and there to sorting and sifting things and have a good old clear-out. After all, the sooner you start on the task, especially if you’ve been in your place a while, the easier it will be as you move nearer the moving date.

We answer your questions

How long will it take to sell my property?

This is the proverbial ‘piece of string’ question that people always ask us! Regardless of the economy, the estate agent, or the strategy, the average UK-wide is typically around 15 viewings per property before a sale. How quickly these viewings take place, however, is much more likely to depend on your agent’s skill and strategy.

Once you’ve got an offer, the solicitors are in charge of timescales. That’s why taking your estate agent’s advice on the best solicitor for your situation is so important. It can take as little as ten weeks from offer to completion. BUT be aware that it can often take a lot longer.

How much will my estate agent charge?

When you sell a place, these fees can amount to anything from 1% to 3% of the final sale price, although this varies from one area to another. But before signing the contract with your agent, be sure their fee is based on the achieved rather than the listing price (i.e. the price at which you first put your house on the market for).

What paperwork do I need?

You’ll need your ID documents, most importantly. Your title deeds are likely to be electronic these days. If you have a leasehold property, you’ll need a copy of your lease.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will provide you with the property information form and the fittings and contents form. Fill these out promptly, too. That way, if there are any areas you need to research, you’ll have plenty of time and won’t cause delays later on.

The EPC is another important document, as already mentioned. Once the energy assessor has visited, the EPC gets uploaded to, so you won’t need a paper copy.

Your moving checklist

Below is an 11-point checklist summarising what you need to do ahead of a sale.

  • Once you are sure you want to move, call in three estate agents for valuations. Remember, seek evidence for any sale prices they provide.
  • Don’t just choose the agent with the highest valuation or cheapest fee. This is often a false economy.
  • You’ll need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal aspects of your sale.
  • So, you’ve instructed the agents and solicitors you feel are most capable and who you are comfortable with. What next? Start getting rid of any furniture and other things you won’t have room for or won’t want or need once you’ve moved. Charity shops, home clearance, and auction houses can help when you’re having a major clear out.
  • Get ahead with packing. Even though you may not have a move date yet, it’s always worthwhile boxing up those items you don’t use much.
  • Once you’ve accepted an offer and agreed on a completion date, get three quotes from different removal companies. Look for ones that come recommended and which are fully insured.
  • Start finishing the food in your freezer ahead of the moving day.
  • Remember to let all your bank, utility companies, and insurance providers know and arrange to have your mail redirected.
  • Start getting quotes for insurance on your new property starting from the date you are set to complete the move.
  • The day before the move, create an essentials box with any items you might need quickly when you move in. For example, kettles, cups, and tea and coffee always come in handy.
  • On the day of the move, take any essential items or documents with you, such as medicines, passports, wallet/purse, keys, and glasses.

Contact us today if you have any questions at all about anything to do with this guide:

Bexhill Branch

12 Sackville Road
East Sussex
TN39 3JL

01424 224700

Eastbourne Branch

35 Cornfield Road
East Sussex
BN21 4QG

01323 723500

Hastings Branch

60 – 61 Robertson Street
East Sussex
TN34 1HY

01424 722122