Once you have instructed estate agents and solicitors, and your property is on the market, you’re ready for viewings. Hopefully, it will take no time at all for someone to fall in love with your property and make an offer.
Unfortunately though, this isn’t always the case. Some properties can be on the market for several months with little traction. As such, it’s important to make the most of any bite you get from potential buyers.
It is possible for your estate agent to show potential buyers around your home. However, many people prefer to do it themselves. You'll be able to talk more enthusiastically about living there and answer specific questions your buyer might have (such as utility bills, and what the neighbours are like etc.).
There are a few golden rules when conducting viewings:
It's usually a good sign if a viewer has lots of questions they'd like to ask. Here are some examples of questions you might be asked:
By answering these questions both truthfully and accurately, you’ll help someone decide if this is the right property for them. The chances are, if they like what they see, they’ll arrange a second, third and even possibly fourth viewing. Remember, this is an expensive purchase, so one they want to ensure is right for them.
In Scotland, when it comes to selling a property, by law you have to provide an accompanying Home Report. The Home Report is essentially a package that provides specific information on the property.
This includes an assessment of the property’s condition (for example, any problems with the roof, damp, cracking or timber defects), a valuation, and an accessibility audit. A market valuation will also be provided for the buyer to obtain a mortgage.
This defines the property’s energy efficiency rating – the higher the rating, the eco-friendlier the property is (and the cheaper utility bills are likely to be).
This provides information such as council tax band, parking restrictions, property alterations and detail of any ongoing expenses.
Most properties listed for sale in Scotland must have a Home Report included. There are a few exceptions though, such as:
If you're selling through an estate agent, they'll put together the Home Report and distribute to potential buyers. However, if you’re selling privately, you’ll need to contract a surveyor (typically through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).
If a potential buyer requests the Home Report, this must be provided within nine days. The only exception would be if you feel they’re not serious about buying. Failure to provide a Home Report when your property is on the market can incur a fine up to £500.
The Home Report varies in price, typically being between £500 and £700 +VAT. Whilst it may seem pricey, it’s important to remember that you won’t need to pay for a survey on the property you’re buying.
The report can be no more than 12 weeks old when the property is first listed on the market. However, once listed, there is no expiry date. If the buyer requests a new survey, it is their responsibility to foot the bill.
The price you set will depend on the value of your property (a valuation will be carried out as part of your home report), the current housing market and whether you are setting an 'offers over', 'offers in the region of' or a 'fixed price'. In Scotland an 'offers over' system is most frequently used, creating a bidding war. This differs to the rest of the UK where a fixed price is normally stated. However, 'offers in the region of' and 'fixed price' are becoming increasingly common.
As you would probably expect, it’s cheaper to sell a property than it is to buy. This is mainly because there isn’t a need to pay the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – which can cost a few thousand pounds in many cases.
Instead, it’s relatively simple for those selling, and the main costs you can expect are listed in the summary below:
|Estate agent fees||1% - 3.5% of selling price|
|Conveyancing fees||£500 - £1,500 (on average)|
|Home Report||£500 - £700 (£50-£120 for a standalone EPC)|
|Removal Company||£400 - £1,200+|
As we’ve discussed, you can choose to market your home privately – but if you do choose an estate agent, fees are between 1% and 3.5% on average. Each estate agent will offer their own set fees, although some will be negotiable – so it’s worth trying your luck. Remember, VAT will be charged on top.
Again, conveyancers vary in price, with fees for their services being anywhere between £500 and £1,500. You should check to find out what’s included in the offering before signing a contract. Some solicitors also charge a fee representative of the property’s value, so keep an eye out for these too.
The Home Report is compulsory for every seller, with the pack including an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). A standard Home Report pack will cost between £500 and £700. Your home will be given an efficiency rating between A and G – the higher the energy efficiency, the more attractive it’ll be.
Removal companies come in all shapes and sizes – as do properties. If you have more furniture and items to take with you, costs will rise. Speak to a few removal companies in your area to get an idea of the cost, rather than taking the first price you receive.
Once your property is listed on the market, it’s time to sit back and wait for potential buyers to view the home and potentially make an offer. It’s now time to consider these offers and where necessary, negotiate.
Where a property is on the market and potential purchasers view it, get schedules, and make enquiries, one interested party may be quicker than others about taking things forward. If so, they may phone to make a Note of Interest in the property. This is a marker laid down with the estate agent that the party wishes to be involved if there is a closing date. The estate agent should then not fix a closing date nor accept any other offer without allowing the party who has made the Note of Interest to make their own competing offer.
When someone is interested in buying your property they will instruct their solicitor to make a written offer. This can be subject to survey or to inspection of the Home Report, but will usually specify the price they are willing to pay, the date of entry (completion), and a list of fixtures and fittings they would like to purchase, as well additional legal clauses there to protect them.
If there are multiple notes of interest, a closing date will be set by your estate agent under instruction from you to give all parties the chance to make a formal legal offer through their solicitor, and the offers are all submitted to the estate agent in time for that deadline (it is usually midday).
You are not duty bound to accept the highest or any particular offer, but can choose which offer to accept under your own free choice. It is bad practice for an estate agent to allow an offer to be accepted when there are already notes of interest made by other parties. Unsuccessful bidders are not entitled to know the details of the successful offer.
Once someone has decided they like the property, they will instruct their solicitor to make a written offer. This can be subject to survey or to inspection of the Home Report, but will usually specify the price they are willing to pay, the date of entry (completion), and a list of fixtures and fittings they'd like to buy.
Your solicitor will receive the offer directly or via your estate agent, go over its terms with you, and send the purchasing solicitor a written qualified acceptance. This accepts the price (assuming it is acceptable) but qualifies the list of purchaser's legal clauses by deleting some or amending some, and adding in additional clauses to protect you.
The purchasing solicitor then goes over the qualified acceptance with his client and either replies in writing to your solicitor accepting their qualification clauses, and makes the contract binding between the parties, or sends a further missive back to your solicitor challenging some of the clauses.
This process, which can be of variable length and number of formal missive letters between the solicitors, ends with you and the purchaser having agreed all legal terms, and being in a binding contract, which neither can escape from without the consent of the other, or without legal/financial penalty consequences.
In a guide designed to give you all the useful tips and information you’ll need for selling, it makes sense to provide a little on the notion of finding your next home too. After all, there’s every chance you’ll now be in the market for a new property. For more information on buying a property in Scotland, see our very own buying guide.