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Things I wish I'd known before selling my home

From getting organised to home staging, here's what sellers wish they’d thought about before moving.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby


Like anything that’s worth doing, selling a home comes with its own challenges.

You might be surprised by the annoying and stressful snags that can turn up when you’re least expecting them.

As ever, the biggest source of power to combat them is knowledge. 

If you know what might happen, then you can prepare for or even avoid what might be otherwise inevitable.

So, how can you expect the unexpected?

We surveyed 2,600 UK-based movers about the things they wish they’d known before selling.

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Here's what we discovered:

1. We wish we’d got organised earlier

One in five sellers admitted that the sales process took far longer than they expected.

Because many of us underestimate the work involved with moving home, it can help to get started sooner.

That might mean getting a good solicitor and surveyor lined up and decluttering your home well in advance of moving.

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2. We should have staged our homes for viewings

The majority of homemovers (84%) agree that staging a home before selling is worthwhile.

More than half (53%) said they would have sold their home for more money if they'd taken the time and effort to stage it. 

But, 31% said they didn’t have the additional budget to do so. 

3. We didn’t realise how much stuff we had

More than half (52% ) of people wished they had got rid of more stuff before moving.

Around a third of movers confessed that they were too nostalgic when packing, and that it stopped them decluttering effectively.

What sellers tell us

Three sellers reveal what surprised them most about the sales process...

1. Selling a shared ownership home can take longer

Fiona Chow, founder of Goadi Consulting, found that selling her Shared Ownership flat in Wandsworth took longer than she'd anticipated:

Fiona Chow, founder of Goadi Consulting, pictured smiling

"I wish I'd known that selling a shared ownership flat means a more protracted process in many cases.

"The housing association has the first chance of selling, up to 12 weeks in some cases. 

"So plan ahead to ensure you're in peak sales season with some leeway after, in case they fail to find someone. 

"In many cases you accept an offer only to find the buyer doesn't pass the housing association's stringent affordability requirements. 

"So it’s best not to start house hunting in earnest until you have an acceptable buyer. And stock up on wine!"

2. Sometimes people don’t show up to viewings

Natalie Trice, author of How to Relocate, pictured on her sofa with her pet dog and a book

Natalie Trice, author of How to Relocate, found that people didn't always show up for viewings when she sold a house in Buckinghamshire:

"I spent ages getting the house ready for viewings and people didn't turn up. 

"This is frustrating, but it only takes one buyer to get the sale. So try to remember this and enjoy a cuppa in your clean home if they don't arrive. 

"Moving house isn't a fast process, you need to have patience and know that it is going to take time."

3. We had no idea it'd be so hard to relocate

Paul David Smith, a photographer, stands in front of a sandy beach wearing a woolly jumper

Paul David Smith, a photographer, sold his house in Peterborough and couldn’t immediately find anywhere to buy in Cornwall:

"We wanted to move somewhere we loved, but we didn't know Cornwall was in the middle of a housing surge. 

"Every home coming onto the market was selling in 48 hours amid bidding wars.

"We’d sold our place in Peterborough quickly, which meant I spent a month living in a tent in Cornwall. 

"My partner would speak to estate agents and then tell me I needed to drop everything and go see a place now before 50 others got in there first.

"We did get a house in the end and our move worked out beautifully. 

"But I wish we’d researched the area we were planning to move to before selling our own house."

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