Yeah, things are *interesting* right now…
Because all I talk about right now is square footage, surveys, Rightmove and fixtures and fittings paperwork, I found myself writing 1300+ words on moving and selling in 2020 before 9am in the morning. I’m a broken record and I can’t seem to stop myself, but instead of boring friends and family I thought instead I’d bore you lot so HOLD ON as it’s about to get boring and adult, but perhaps a little bit helpful for a few of you.
Once the housing market reopened in June in the U.K we managed to go from offer to completion on our flat in nine weeks, which after resigning ourselves to the fact that we might still be in that flat possibly well into the new year, felt extremely fast. We haven’t had as much luck on the other end – hence me writing this from my parent’s spare room – but I feel like we’ve learnt a hell of a lot during this process. I am not an Estate Agent. I am not a Property Market Expert. I am not Martin Lewis. And at the end of the day we have managed to buy and sell just the one property in our lifetime and we’re living with my parents – so take this with a grain of salt. But, here are 10 things that we felt really helped us out this time round…
PRESENTATION IS KEY. I mean it’s an obvious one, but before you even think about putting your property on the market you want to make sure it’s up to scratch. Perhaps there are small repairs and improvements that you can do yourself, or maybe there are larger jobs that you don’t have the funds to do and instead will take a hit when it comes to price. Then when it comes to taking the photos and subsequent viewings use your common sense. Make sure there is no washing hanging up, the place smells fresh and clean (and is clean), there’s no washing up out on the side, the bed is made, the place looks neat and tidy. The ultimate win is for your buyers to have a similar taste to you in homes and interiors, but on the instance that that might not happen, solid presentation is the next best thing.
THE RIGHT ESTATE AGENT. At the beginning line up a few valuations of your property to get the lay of the land, but ultimately you’re looking for an agent that gives a realistic valuation, promises good communication, has experience in selling property in your area and just feels like the right fit for you. Sometimes it’s just a vibe thing. Pick the team where you feel like you’d be able to have an honest conversation easily with.
GOOD LEGAL TEAM. Again, you have to make sure that the people who are ultimately part of the team who will sell your home – you, your Estate Agents, your Mortgage Advisor and your Legal contacts – are all good eggs that you feel confidence in. It’s often best to go for someone who has been recommended to you. That might not be the cheapest quote you get for conveyancing – nor necessarily the most expensive one – but a positive point in the right direction is the ultimate here. Again you’re looking for clear and consistent communication, and previous experience in dealing with property sales efficiently, referenced preferably by people you know and trust.
MORTGAGE STUFF. As above, you know? We’ve found it best to deal with a Mortgage Advisor (again someone who was personally recommended), who has been able to shop around for the best deal for us. If you’re looking to sell and buy in one swift move then you want to get your ducks in a row before you come to market, making sure that you’re prepared to press ‘GO’ on a Decision in Principle and any subsequent mortgage stuff when you need to. There’s a lot of paperwork to complete once you find buyers, so it’s good to get what you can completed before you come to market to ease up the paperwork load later on in the process.
MAKE BROCHURES. Ok, so you’ve got your home on the market, what next? It’s a B-U-S-Y market, so to make it stand out we took a page of out of Lily’s book. Quite literally. She had the idea to create your own little brochure to put out on the side for prospective buyers to take. Instead of focusing on the stats that they can find from an online listing, she suggested noting down the things that an Estate Agent might not be able to provide; like our favourite local cafes, restaurants, bars, parks and walking routes, the fact that we lived in a city centre location but it was a secret spot where the parking was great, that we enjoyed entertaining and having people over and it was a great spacious flat for friends and family to come and stay with us for the weekend (which coincidentally is exactly what our buyers wanted to use the place for too). The first time we put out the brochures was the time our eventual buyers visited. I KNOW. Edit the version that I made on Canva, or thanks to my reader Melissa for creating a version to edit on Word.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR BUYERS. Now this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but our Estate Agent suggested that we all meet once the offer had been accepted. It gave us a huge boost to see how in love with the flat our buyers were, and it gave them confidence that we wouldn’t mess them around and would stay true to our word of completing the sale as efficiently as we could. We shared mobile numbers too and that allowed us to communicate directly throughout the process whenever they had a question that wasn’t a legal query. It’s not really ‘the done‘ thing, but it certainly helped us and I have no doubt that we wouldn’t have completed the process so quickly otherwise.
WHAT IS THE PRIORITY? It’s a messy market right now. With buyers eager to move before stamp duty is ramped back up and sellers unable to put in offers on their next property before they are proceedable, it’s a catch 22. In this moment you’ve got to work out what is your priority. It’s going to be dependent on your and your personal and financial situation, but for us we decided that the priority was to sell our flat – whatever the sacrifice – be it an early redemption fee on a mortgage or having to get off the property ladder completely and move back in with parents. Not ideal situations, but for a whole myriad of reasons we decided that keeping our buyers was key in this unstable and uncertain economy.
BE ‘ON’ YOUR BUDGET. Mark is the spreadsheet King and without his detailed sums we would be completely lost. I mean it goes without saying that when it comes to making the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your entire life, you have to be ‘on’ your finances, but you really do. With things like the scrapping of stamp duty coming in so quickly, it’s crucial to be able to see how those changes affect your budget and your personal circumstance immediately. One thing that we always factored in was the price of a property, minus what we’d have to take out of our budget for the deposit and moving fees, to give the sum that we’d have left over for building work and renovations – always a good figure to have in your head in advance before you view a property.
TREAT IT LIKE A JOB. This has basically become our part-time job, because in order to get things moving you are the connection between all three moving parts – your Estate Agents (or your buyers if you’re communicating directly), your legal council and your financial contacts – and it’s up to you to keep all plates spinning and everyone in the loop. We sent weekly catch-up emails to everyone involved just so all parties were up to date and we knew what had to be completed next. Basically be a pest. But a nice pest.
BE NICE. It might not always be the easiest thing in the world to paint a smile on during the process because it’s quite honestly, a wild ride, but be kind and polite and courteous as best you can. Be nice and easy to deal with – you don’t want to be the call that anyone is dreading making because you will be bottom of the pile (and the pile right now is massive). If at the end of the day you have a roof over your head, then it’s all good and it will all work out in the end. If you are gazumped or screwed around then I highly recommend having a Google and finding forums of people who’ve had the *exact* same thing done to them. It’s suggested that approximately 30% of chains fall though and don’t make it over the finish line. It’s extremely soothing to know that there are others who are in, or who have been in the same boat. But overall take a deep breath, keep calm and GOOD LUCK!
We feel extremely grateful that we’ve able to move during this tough time and all YouTube Adsense from my ‘We’re Moving’ video will be donated to YMCA Downslink Group who help vulnerable people with accommodation, advice and support.
Photos by me & Mark Newton