Selling my property - Shall I, shan’t I?

I have decided to write these guidance notes, not because people don’t know anything about the process when considering selling, but I realise most people do it so rarely, they are unlikely to be experts.

Moving is a major decision; it needs to be taken seriously and approached as methodically and carefully as possible to ensure the best outcome. It is very easy to start the process and immediately make the wrong decisions and find you're in a bind. Be careful!

Let’s start at the beginning.

You need to decide if you do really want to sell your property. Once you start, it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill and it gets hard to stop.

Be clear what your objectives are and that, by selling and moving, you will achieve them. If you are not sure if you will achieve them, take a step back and reconsider all your options.

The following notes should help you in your decision-making process prior to even talking to estate agents.

Reasons people sell:

Moving to a larger property.
Do you really need more space or could you achieve your goals in the same home with an extension or rearrangement of the existing space? If you do, where can you get the property you need? Are you prepared to relocate to another area to get more property, and, in doing so, will you miss your local amenities too much?

Moving to a smaller property.
Can you give up the space you have? Are you ready to de-clutter and get rid of ‘stuff’? Moving is a great opportunity to do that. Do you need to involve other people (family, close friends) in the decision? That conversation can be a two-edged sword as you need to be sure they are looking after your interests, not their own.

Moving to a different area.
Will the move give you what you really need or is it more a ‘dream move’? A good way to deal with this is to list the benefits you will achieve from the move and compare that list to what you may lose by moving to another location. Look at the list dispassionately and then decide.

Releasing capital.
Of course, it looks simple; you sell your property, find a cheaper property and suddenly, you have money in the bank or you can give a lump sum to a beneficiary, First, you really need to take independent financial advice. Speak to an accountant or an independent financial advisor. You need to make sure the figures work out and you really will be ‘better off’. Being ‘better off’ financially may have a negative effect on your lifestyle, so you need to consider if the benefits of the move will outweigh any compromises. Lists of pros and cons can really help in the decision-making process.
At this point, you should get a realistic professional valuation of your property as the selling price is of course a critical part of your equation. This is not easy as estate agents are notoriously unreliable at accurately predicting a final sale price. Some may well give you an inflated price in the hope of gaining your business.

Here, you need to use your judgement. Get a good recommendation from someone you can trust; shop around and get 3 agents in and see what they say.

You can do your own research too. Go to the Land Registry website and put in your postcode to obtain ‘sold’ prices in your road, not airy-fairy ‘asking’ prices: If there are no recent comparable sales in your road, you can try Rightmove’s ‘Sold Prices’ using the ¼ mile radius search You can search by year, freehold or leasehold (house or flat) and should get a good feel for the ballpark figure.

Don’t be tempted to sign any contracts with any agents yet as this is only the preliminary, ‘shall I sell, shall I not sell’ stage. Tell them you will be in touch. There will be pushy agents suggesting they have people they can show around straight away to tempt you into making an early decision…don’t be taken in!

My next article will be looking at what to do if you decide you do want to sell and move…

In the meantime, you can familiarise yourself with the three main property portals which, between them, carry just about all the property that comes onto the market in the UK:

Properties which are launched onto these sites will also be available on local agents’ own websites, but the portals are the best way to start and see a wide spread of property. You can search by price, type of property (flat, house, semi, detached, etc), numbers of bedrooms, location (post code or town address, plus street names too) and even more variables.

Best of luck.

Paul Bonett F.N.A.E.A. M.A.R.L.A.