Selling a house

New homeowners being handed a set of house keys

Who is this page for?

If you’re selling a house for the first time, or you’re moving home and want to brush up on how it works, this page is for you. 

Selling your house

Selling your house is a big decision – one of the biggest you’ll make. Why you sell is up to you. Some popular reasons people choose to move include:

  • Getting a bigger house for a growing family
  • Moving closer to work
  • Downsizing once the kids have left home
  • Change in financial circumstances

There are different ways to sell, too. You could follow the traditional route and use an estate agent, or handle the sale privately or through an auction.

If you’re selling your house to an existing homeowner, it may be part of a property chain. This means selling your house may rely on the buyer selling theirs first.

Learn all you need to know about selling a home in our guide. 

How to sell your house: step-by-step

There are lots of different stages to selling a house. Below, we’ll go through the main steps you’ll take when selling a house:

1. Reviewing your finances

When selling a property, there are costs you’ll need to budget for. These include:

2. Home improvements

You may decide to do some work on the house you’re selling to get the best value from it: 

  • Declutter – Make sure surfaces are clear and everything is tidy. Donating or selling items you no longer want or need can help reduce clutter.
  • Paint –A fresh lick of paint can make a big difference, particularly if toning down bright colours with something more neutral.
  • Repairs – Cracked walls, ripped carpets and taps stained with limescale can be a turn-off for potential buyers.
  • Curb appeal – Don’t forget the outside of a house – overflowing bins and weed-filled front gardens can put sellers off.


3. Getting a valuation

Before you sell your house, your property needs valuing. Book an estate agent to come to the property and determine its value.

Valuations aren’t always the same – several valuations means you can work out an average when setting your asking price. 


4. Setting an asking price

It’s you who decides the asking price when selling, not the estate agent. But professional valuations are a good indication of what the house is worth.

It’s also worth noting that if you set it too high, the mortgage lender for the buyer may question the value.


5. Paperwork for selling your house

Once you’ve put your home up for sale, you’ll need to provide paperwork to your conveyancer or solicitor. This can include: 

  • Energy Performance Certificate – or EPCs – These detail the property’s energy use and are one of the first documents you’ll need.
  • ID – Official ID and proof of address, such as passport or driving licence.
  • Fittings and content form (TA 10) – What is and what isn’t included in the sale. You’ll provide this to your solicitor or conveyancer after you’ve accepted an offer.
  • Property information form (TA 6) – Detailed information about the property you’re selling.


6. Putting your house up for sale

The next step is to put your house up for sale. The main options are: 

Estate agents

The most common way to buy or sell a property. Estate agents can handle the listing, viewings and offers on the property. You’ll usually pay them a percentage of the property sale price.

You’ll also need a solicitor or conveyancer who will handle the legal documents and transferring the funds to you and the house to the seller.


Another option is to sell your property at an auction. Auctions can be quicker than using an estate agent. With the help of an auctioneer, you’ll set a reserve price, which is the lowest you’d prepared to accept, and then let bidders make offers on the property. You’ll also pay the auctioneer a percentage of the sale price for their services.

Once a buyer has won the auction, they provide a 10% deposit and have a month to provide the remaining 90%. You’ll also use a solicitor to handle the legal transfer of the property to the new owner.

Private sale

You sell your house directly to the person buying, without an estate agent acting on your behalf.

It means you’ll have to take on a lot of the jobs an estate agent would do. This includes taking photos of the property, listing the property online, setting an asking price, arranging viewings and accepting an offer. You’ll still need a solicitor or conveyancer to arrange the legal work, like exchanging the Title Deeds.


7. Accepting an offer

You have found a buyer and they have made an offer on your house. You need to ask yourself whether you’re happy with this offer. Your estate agent can help you with this decision and also negotiate with the potential buyer if you feel the price doesn’t quite meet your expectations.   

You can also simply refuse an offer and back out at any time before the contracts are exchanged. But remember, the buyer can also do the same. 

  • Do you pay Stamp Duty when you sell?

    No, you do not pay Stamp Duty when you sell a house. Stamp Duty is a tax paid by people buying a house.


    How do you sell a shared ownership property?

    When you sell your shared ownership home, you are only selling your portion of the property. That’s because shared ownership homes are divided between residents and organisations such as housing associations, unless 100% of the property has been purchased by the resident.

    The housing provider running the scheme is entitled to buy your share back from you before anyone else. This is what’s called ‘right of first refusal’.


    What happens to your mortgage when you sell?

    If you already have a mortgage when you sell your property, there are a few options:

    • Porting – Your current deal comes with you to the new property. This is called porting a mortgage.
    • Paying it off – You may choose to pay your mortgage in full with the money you get from selling your house – provided the property is valuable enough to cover the outstanding mortgage amount.


    How to sell a leasehold property?

    When you buy a leasehold property, you own it for a limited amount of time. When selling a leasehold property, you’ll need to arrange an assignment. This is the formal name to describe transferring the lease from you to the buyer.


    What happens after you accept an offer?

    You can ask the estate agent to either remove the property from the listings or list it as ‘Under Offer’.

    You’ll then need to get your paperwork in order, wait for the buyer to carry out their surveys and make sure all the legal work is correct. A valuation will then be carried out by the mortgage lender of the buyer to make sure it’s worth the agreed price.


    What happens if the sale falls through?

    If the buyer pulls out of the deal before contracts are exchanged, speak to your estate agent about approaching other bidders to see if they are still interested. If none of the other bidders are now interested, you’ll need to relist the property.


The content on this page is for reference and does not constitute finance advice.

For impartial financial advice, we recommend government bodies like the MoneyHelper.

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