Life abroad,  Our Adventures,  Selling our UK home

How to…sell your house

So, you’ve decided to sell, you’ve had a good clear-out, and you’ve prepared for the sale. Now comes the actual selling. Here’s the process that we experienced. Of course, your path may not be as straightforward, but we hope our experience will at least give you some ideas for what to expect.

See/listen to this blog article on YouTube

Sold in less than a month… 

This latest step of having house viewings and receiving offers, went by quickly. Perhaps there would be more lessons learned if we had been on the market for longer, but here are the steps that occurred for us to get to the sale agreed:

Infographic of the house sale process that follows.

Our home advert was scheduled to go live at midnight on 26th December.  By the end of that first day, one person had requested a viewing.

Viewing days

Our estate agent managed the viewings on our behalf.  This worked out well because she was in communication with each of the people who requested viewings and organised multiple viewings for the same days.  We had two viewings on the first day which was a weekday, and three on the second viewing date which was a weekend.  A few people asked to view, but ended up cancelling or not showing up.  That was only frustrating on the third viewing day because the person who didn’t show up was the only person scheduled that day.

Each viewing day, Wera, our estate agent, arrived about 15 minutes before the first people were scheduled to arrive.  Prior to her arrival, we’d made sure the house was spotless in terms of dusting, vacuuming, and tidy from all our “stuff”.  We’d put away all our eBay packaging materials, tidied all our electronics and charging cables, hid away the dog beds, toys and food bowls, made sure the toilet seats were down, and turned on the lights in each of the rooms.  We gave Wera a set of keys so she could get back into the house if she needed to leave or walk outside for anything.  This also meant that she could lock the door and leave if the viewings finished before we got back home.

On the viewing days, we generally went and ran a few errands.  On the Saturday when we received the offers, we went to our friend’s house to walk the dogs and play games. We were with them and got to celebrate with them when we found out that offers were coming in that evening.

Receiving offers

Of course, we’re currently in a sellers’ market here in the UK.  There is a high demand for housing stock that is affordable for first-time buyers.  Post pandemic, no one wants to buy a flat; everyone is looking for a little bit of outside space.  And, our house is move-in ready.  There is very little a new owner would have to do before they moved in. So we were in a strong position.  We’d made our home the best it could be to attract buyers, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when we received an offer after so few viewings.

Considering the offers

A couple of days before the first viewing, Phil and I chatted about what would be the lowest offer we would accept in the event that we didn’t get offers from the initial viewings that we had scheduled.  We were really pleased when the first offers were right within that target; it meant that we didn’t have to get into a longer wait while more people viewed the house. 

One of our considerations was where we felt the UK economy is headed right now.  With interest rates being at 0% and inflation growing, we expect that the housing demand may soften slightly in the coming year as the lock-downs associated with the pandemic come to an end and life gets back to normal.  Of course, this is only our opinion.  We’re not economists or futurologists, but we have common sense.  So, we were keen to get the sale agreed quickly.

Besides the macro-economic considerations, we had a few details about each of the couples who had made the offers.  And, crucially, Wera was working in the background to make sure they could both afford the offers they’d made before we agreed the sale.

Accepting an offer

While initially this felt like an easy answer, accept the highest initial offer, in the end, our estate agent’s negotiations and checks meant that it wasn’t the highest initial offer that we accepted. In the end, it was the first party who made an offer who proved to the mortgage broker that they could best afford what they’d offered.  For us this was important because if we’d accepted the higher offer, we suspected that when their mortgage didn’t come through, they’d later attempt to re-negotiate and that would slow down the sale process and jeopardise our goal of moving to the States by March.

Instructing our solicitor

While we were preparing the house to sell, we’d decided to go with the estate agent’s solicitor because then there would be better communication between our estate agent and our solicitor.  So, over the past few weeks, we’ve been filling out bunches of forms for our solicitor so they can get going with the necessary ID and land registry searches that are required for the buyer’s mortgage and solicitors and for the sale contract.

There were a lot of forms to file and documents to get copied so they could be provided.  Gas and electric inspection certificates from when we had the boiler and kitchen installed and inspected; window warranty certificates, land registry letters from when we paid off the mortgage, copies of our passports and bank statements.

In truth, it was the bank statement that caused us a little hiccup.  When I copied the bank statement and had our friend, who’s a nurse, certify it as an accurate copy, I didn’t realise that I’d made copies of the second page of the bank statement, but not the first page that included our address – doh! 

So, we emailed the solicitor a copy of the statement, but when we followed up with them, they said that an emailed copy wasn’t sufficient and that they needed to have the original.  Thank God we haven’t gone paperless with our bank statements and still receive them by post; they said that a print-out from Internet banking wouldn’t have been sufficient.  What a palaver in this day and age.

Moral of the story: check your work before you pop the paperwork into the post!

So, what’s next?

That brings you up to date with where we are with the sale of our UK house.  We are now waiting for the lawyers and the buyer’s mortgage provider to run their processes and we’ll let you know more as we get closer to the closing and moving dates.

Phil and his beloved Christmas tree moving to its new home.

We continue to sell stuff on eBay and we’ve given away to friends anything that they’ve wanted, including our garden bench and the potted Christmas tree that we’d nurtured for the past few years. 

In the next week or so, we’ll invite the buyers to come over for a meeting so they can confirm what they want to buy from us and left in the house, and what we definitely need to clear out.

Last week, we took our dogs to the vets for their annual booster shots.  One of the shots requires a follow up which we have scheduled for the 14th of February.  That should see them have everything they need to travel across.  Interestingly, it appears to be more straightforward for Anna and Elsa to move to the States than it is for Phil.  We plan to use a pet travel company, rather than try to facilitate their transport ourselves directly with the airline.  We’ve watched some YouTube videos about it and, while it is probably doable for us, since it’s not something we plan to do ever again, it doesn’t feel like a skill we need to gain.

And, we have started the process of trying to find an international moving firm to help us pack up our personal effects and ship them across.  We’ve gone back and forth on this.  First we were trying to decide how big a container we’d need, then we decided to just try to get rid of everything but the bare minimum that we could take across in a couple of trips in luggage (storing what we couldn’t take in Phil’s parents’ loft), and now we’ve decided to take anything that would be of use in our new life, like many of the craft items that I’ve purchased and various gardening tools that Phil has acquired.  We’re still working through all the UK-wired appliances that we have.  We are making note of these for our church’s new pastor who is planning to move here to the UK this summer.  We hope that his family will be able to make use of many of these.

What about you?

Do you have any questions about our move that you’d like us to talk about in a future update? Is there anything we’re forgetting? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us using the form below.