How to buy and sell a property at the same time
How to buy and sell a property at the same time can be an arduous task, but if you follow a few of our simple tricks to keep your chain together, it will be a breeze. Our guide to selling and buying a property at the same time is here to help.
You can use a postcode checker to find out the alert level and which restrictions apply in the area you are moving to or from. If your move involves travel outside of England you should check with the appropriate local authorities to determine what local rules may be in force and consider any implications for your move. Anyone who wants to move house can do so as long as they follow Government guidance. To view the latest Government guidance on moving house, click here.
This detailed guide will take you through the steps of buying and selling a property.
Depending on how many buyers and sellers are in your chain, it is possible to complete the whole process within six weeks. You must, however, expect the unexpected. During the current COVID19 pandemic the process could take much longer. Buyers and sellers are not tied into any sale or purchase until each person in the chain exchanges contracts.
A benefit that some buyers currently receive is an exemption from Stamp Duty Land Tax on properties. The amount to be paid depends on the value of the property you are purchasing. The temporary changes made to stamp duty from July 8, 2020, to 30 September 2021 have now ended. To get the latest guidance on this click here. Stamp Duty is a form of tax that you pay on properties over a certain price, in England and Northern Ireland. To get the latest guidance on this click here. Stamp Duty is a form of tax that you pay on properties over a certain price, in England and Northern Ireland.
The key to getting this right is to remain calm, think logically, keep going and try not to get too stressed. Make sure you keep an open dialogue with the buyer of your property and the seller of the one you want to purchase so that they feel assured that all is going to plan.
You can find out when is the best time to sell here.
Documentation you may need
If you need to secure a mortgage:
If you’re intending to secure a mortgage, there’s documentation that you may have to provide to complete your application. It is best to have all the documents ready to go, to speed up the process. You’ll need:
- Proof of ID, e.g. passport or driver’s licence
- Proof of address, e.g. utility bills
- Proof of earnings, e.g. payslips, accounts, current P60, tax calculations (if self-employed, employment contract, etc.
- Proof of income and outgoings, e.g. bank statements (usually last three months)
- Monthly Expenditure Form, this is a form detailing your monthly expenditure
- Your credit score.
If you do not need to secure a mortgage:
- Proof of ID, e.g. passport or driver’s licence
- Proof of address, e.g. utility bills
You will need a copy of the following to give to your Conveyancing Solicitor for the property you are selling:
- Your Lease Agreement (if you are selling a Flat/Apartment).
- Copy of Ground Rent documentation (if you are selling a Flat/Apartment).
- Service charge documentation (if you are selling a Flat/Apartment).
- Any Party Wall Notices/Schedule of Condition’s
- Regularisation Certificates
- Indemnity Agreements
- Copies of any planning permission applications
- Copy of any Fensa Certificates for window replacements
You will need to give the following to your Estate Agent for the property you are selling:
- Copy of your EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).
To have success in buying your new home, you’ll want to make your property as attractive as possible to a buyer.
Improve Your Chances of Selling Your Property
Even if you have already put your property on the market, you should still look to improve your chances of selling it.
- Agree on a realistic asking price.
- Prepare your house for sale i.e. declutter, clean up, tackle any DIY (click here for guidance).
- Promote the neighbourhood i.e. good local schools or transport links.
- Find a good Estate Agent as they will ensure your property is shown to as many potential buyers as possible.
If you already have an Estate Agent, they will be able to upload new photographs of your property if you make any changes to it. If you have not had an offer yet, it may be because your house is just not buyer-ready yet. In any event, there is no harm in giving your property a helping hand to get it in tip-top shape to sell.
Click here for guidance on how to improve your chances of selling your property.
Now you are ready to follow the ultimate guide on the process of selling and buying a house, flat or apartment.
Follow Our Guide:
1. Check How Much You Can Spend On a New Property and how much Equity you have
Before you start the buying and selling process, it’s good to have a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend on your new home, and how much equity you currently have.
Get an Estimate/Valuation of your current Properties worth
It is often worth getting a few estimates from different Estate Agents before you decide on an asking price for your property. If you’ve carried out any recent home improvements, make sure you update the Estate Agents so they can get an idea of the current value of your home. Just because you pick one Estate Agent doesn’t mean that you have to sell your home at the price they stated when valuing your property. You can place your property for sale on as many Estate Agents websites as you want. It’s your home so you can ultimately decide how much you sell it for.
Property sites can give a good indication of the current market prices and what types of properties are available in your desired location. This information will also help you ascertain how much you may need to borrow if you want to secure a mortgage.
2. Obtain an EPC for your current property
Obtain an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for the property you want to sell. An EPC will advise a potential buyer about the property’s energy performance. To find a Domestic Energy Assessor click here.
3. Work out the Stamp Duty, Conveyancing Fee(s), Estate Agents Fees and Insurances you may need for the property you want to purchase.
You must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property or land piece of land in England and Northern Ireland worth over £125,000. The amount of Stamp Duty you pay depends on the value and purpose of the property, as well as the type of buyer you are, e.g. First Time Buyer, Landlord or previous homeowner etc. Temporary changes have been made to stamp duty from July 8, 2020, to 30 September 2021. To get the latest guidance on this click here. Stamp Duty is a form of tax that you pay on properties over a certain price, in England and Northern Ireland. To get the latest guidance on this click here.
When you buy and sell a property at the same time you will need a Conveyancing Solicitor to handle the sale and purchase for you. Fees differ so ensure that you have enough funds for this service. Click here to get an instant quote in 3 easy steps from the UK’s largest Conveyancer with excellent ratings on Trustpilot. To speed up the buying and selling process you can instruct a Conveyancer Solicitor before you have received an offer on your property and also before you have made an offer on another property. Giving a Conveyancer the heads up that you would like to use their services for a sale and purchase at the same time will give them advance notice to get all the necessary paperwork together.
If you’re securing a mortgage on your new property, your lender will require that you take out buildings insurance. You organise buildings insurance and other insurances like contents insurance, life insurance, critical illness cover, etc. when the lender is considering your application.
Buildings and/or Contents insurance:
Your building’s insurance needs to be in place from the exchange of contracts. You can look up insurance quotes here to give you an idea of how much you’ll likely be spending each month. Once you have a figure in mind, add it to your monthly expenditure form.
Estate Agent Fees:
It is often worth getting a few estimates from different Estate Agents and negotiating the price down if you can for the property you are selling. If you want to avoid any estate agent fees, click here. You can place your property for sale on as many Estate Agent websites as you want.
If you want to use an online Estate Agent, Yopa provides a fixed fee service, a dedicated local estate agent, your property listing on Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location, a for sale board and full support 24/7 until your property has been sold. If you don’t want to pay any fees, Strike has a free Estate Agent Service. Click here for more details.
Remember, you can advertise your property with as many Estate Agents as you wish.
4. Secure A Mortgage
If you need to secure a mortgage it is best to contact a reputable mortgage broker to see what you can borrow/afford. A mortgage broker can guide you through the entire process, helping you find the best mortgage product for you.
The lender will run financial checks and will likely review the following areas:
- Employment history
- Salary and other income
- Regular expenses
- Your credit score
- Any debts, loans or defaults
- Any other financial commitments, e.g. childcare or school fees
- Monthly Expenditure Form
Once you’ve agreed on a particular mortgage, your broker will help you secure your DIP (Decision in Principle). This is basically a promise from the lender to grant you the mortgage you want on the condition that the information you’ve provided is correct. Your broker will normally go about doing this at the same time that you’re preparing your home for a buyer and viewing properties.
Once you have all your figures, you may find yourself in a position where you can become a landlord (i.e not sell your current home, but rent it out instead) and still buy another property using equity or savings. For guidance on how to become a landlord, click here.
5. Get a Buyer for Your Property
You may be asking yourself do I need to sell my house before buying another? The simple answer is yes because it puts you in a much stronger position to secure a new property. You might be able to use this position to negotiate a better purchase price on your new home, as you’re ready to purchase with no delays.
Select which Estate Agent you want to use.
Ensure your Estate Agent advertises your property as quickly as possible on the following sites: Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location. Check that your property is listed as you would like it (including how much is up for sale) and that you are happy with the fees and photographs of your property.
If you already have a buyer in place, it will put you in a stronger position to quickly secure the property you want. You can use this position to negotiate a better purchase price on your new home because you are ready to purchase with no delays with having to find a buyer.
Once you have accepted an offer on your property from a buyer, you do not need to contact your Conveyancing Solicitor just yet. You only need to contact your Conveyancing Solicitor once you have found a property YOU can afford and your offer has been accepted by the seller.
Your buyer may now request a Home Buyers Report or Building Survey to be carried out on your property.
The buyer may arrange for a Surveyor (preferably registered with the RICS) to view your property to provide the buyer with a Building Survey/Home Buyers report. The buyer should speak to you first before this is put in place as the Surveyor will require access to your property. The report will confirm the value of the property and will pick up things like problems with electrics or whether the property will need a new roof etc. Once the survey has been carried out, the buyer can liaise with you if any issues arise with the property. If any structural issues are raised in this report and the property requires further investigation, the buyer can engage the services of a Structural Engineer if he or she wants to proceed with the purchase. You also have the option of doing this yourself.
If a Structural Engineer needs to assess the property, you are not obligated to pay for this service, however, if your house has potential problems, it is in your best interests to find out what is causing an issue. This report will help the buyer to assess whatever alterations they may need to carry out on the property if they choose to buy it. The buyer is not obligated to give you a copy of the report unless you have paid for it or paid towards it.
A Structural Engineer will then provide the buyer with a Building Inspection Report/Full Survey/Structural Survey. Again the buyer will be able to use the report to negotiate the price of the property if it does indeed require more work.
If the Building Inspection Report/Full Survey/Structural Survey picks up that the property has a history of subsidence or the property currently has subsidence, click here for more information. If the property is affected by suspected tree subsidence, click here for more information.
Now to the fun and exciting bit…
6. Find a property you can afford
Head to Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location to find a property. Most Estate Agents place properties on these websites.
You can check whether the location you wish to move to is on The Subsidence Support’s map of areas at risk of subsidence.
If you’re buying a flat or apartment, you’ll need to check out its lease arrangements. You need to know how long is left on the lease. Will you need to extend it in the future, and can you afford the cost?
For leasehold properties, you’ll also need to find out how much the ground rent and service charges are. Or whether it has a sinking fund that you need to pay into. Ensure that you find out about this information from the seller/freeholder through your Conveyancing Solicitor before you commit. A flat or apartment may require building or repair works that you may need to contribute towards. This is usually taken through a sinking fund, which may form part of your monthly service charge payments. So, you should double-check as to whether you can afford the additional funds.
You can check when the property was last sold by clicking here.
If the property had been previously bought and sold within the last few months/years, it may have been internally renovated, improved or part of the property extended during that time.
If you choose to buy it, the seller should have all the receipts/ paperwork/ Party Wall Agreements/ Schedule of Condition Agreements, Building Control Regularisation Certificates and Fensa Certificates for any major or minor works that have been carried out in the property.
Once you have found a property, check the EPC of the property which should be found on the Estate Agents website. An Energy Performance Certificate is needed whenever a property is sold and it assesses the energy efficiency of a property. The report will advise you how much your bills may cost, how to improve the property to save you money in the long term and how well insulated the property is.
7. Does the Property You Want to Purchase Require Alterations or Building Work?
If you’re purchasing a property where you may need to make renovations, it would be beneficial to contact a builder or contractor to get an estimate of how much that would cost. Depending on the level of your extension/renovation, you may need to apply for planning permission, building regulations or even a party wall agreement if the property is terraced, semi-detached or an apartment/flat). If a Party Wall Award has to be agreed with your neighbour, this could cost more than £1,000 for Party Wall Surveyors fees for a full award. Find out what all of these costs would be.
A flat or apartment may require building or repair works that you may need to contribute towards. This is usually taken through a sinking fund, which may form part of your monthly service charge payments. So, you should double-check as to whether you can afford the additional funds.
8. Check your Buyer is still in place.
Contact the seller’s Estate Agent to confirm the seller is still intending to purchase your property. If all ok, it’s time to make an offer on your new home.
9. Make an Offer on Your New Property and Submit Your Full Mortgage Application
After you’ve secured your DIP and ensured you can afford the added expenses, it’ll be time to make an offer on your new property.
Contact the seller’s Estate Agent and make your offer. Never go in at the asking price, always try to make a lower offer.
If the seller rejects your first and final offers, go back to step 6 to start looking for another property.
If your offer is accepted, your mortgage broker will then help you upgrade your DIP to a full mortgage application to submit to the lender. Contact your Conveyancing Solicitor to advise an offer has been accepted.
10. Keep the chain together
- Ask your Conveyancing Solicitor what they are working on/what they are waiting for in the chain.
- Generate one email with everyone copied in advising who you are, what property you are buying in the chain and what you have been advised by your Conveyancing Solicitor.
- This should encourage each buyer/seller in the chain to respond so that everyone knows what is happening. Do this twice a week to ensure that the chain moves quickly.
This is THE best way of making sure everyone in the chain knows who or what is holding things up.
It is quite an unusual way of making sure the chain pulls together to make everything go through on time but it does work, I speak from direct experience. The Conveyancing Solicitors may not directly respond in the chain, but the buyers and seller will and the Conveyancing Solicitors will see those responses. The Conveyancing Solicitors may advise you to stop emailing them, but you must keep doing it to keep the chain moving quickly.
There will be no more “it is with the seller’s solicitors” or “we are just waiting on something from this buyer/seller” etc. Everyone in the chain will now know exactly where the problem lies and any hold-ups. This will make the transition go much more smoothly.
11. Mortgage Application, Valuation and Underwriting
The lender will underwrite your mortgage application, verifying the information you’ve provided and reviewing your documents. They’ll also organise a valuation for lending purposes on the property you are buying. If the sale price does not reflect the condition and value of the property, you can ask the seller of the property to reduce the price accordingly.
Once the lender has done all their checks they will release your mortgage offer to you and your Conveyancing Solicitor.
12. Obtain a Building Survey of the property to want to purchase
Most people will now engage the services of a Building Surveyor (preferably registered with the RICS) who will view the property to provide you with a Building Survey/Home Buyers report. You should speak to the seller first before you put this in place. The report will confirm the value of the property and will pick up things like problems with electrics or whether the property will need a new roof etc. Once you have had a Building Survey/Home Buyers report carried out, you can ask the seller to reduce the price if any issues arise. This is an invaluable asset when buying any property and worth spending money on. If any structural issues are raised in this report and the property requires further investigation, you may need to engage the services of a Structural Engineer if you want to proceed with the purchase.
If you need a Structural Engineer to assess the property, you should first speak to the seller to let them know the situation. The seller is not obligated to pay for this service but you could ask them to pay half. This report will help them to ascertain what alterations they need to carry out on their property to sell it. If the seller refuses to meet half the cost of the report, you have the option to either pull out of the purchase or pay for it yourself. You are not obligated to give the seller a copy of the report unless they have paid towards it.
A Structural Engineer will then provide you with a Building Inspection Report/Full Survey/Structural Survey. Again you will be able to use the report to negotiate the price of the property you are purchasing if it does indeed require more work. Check whether you can afford any major works before you keep going. If an issue does arise and you cannot proceed, make sure you let the chain know.
If a Building Inspection Report/Full Survey/Structural Survey picks up that the property you are purchasing has a history of subsidence or the property has subsidence, click here for more information. If the property is affected by suspected tree subsidence, click here for more information.
The Subsidence Support website has a useful map of areas at risk of subsidence. You can check this to see if the area where you are moving to has any history.
Once all issues have been resolved, you are very close to exchanging contracts.
13. Enquire about the property boundaries, party wall agreements/schedule of condition, Regularisation certificates and window replacement documentation and any neighbour access requests of the property you want to buy
At this point, you should ALWAYS check whether there are any boundary issues with the property you want to purchase. Speak to your Conveyancing Solicitor, ask them to double-check the exact measurements of the boundaries between you and your neighbours on either side of you. This can be used if there are any future boundary issues with your neighbour. You should request whether there have been any past or current boundary disputes and ask for the relevant documentation. You should always ensure that you are aware of the actual boundary lines around the property and the land including exact measurements so that if neighbour disputes arise in the future, you have your boundaries confirmed in writing by your Conveyancing Solicitor.
Party Wall Agreements/Schedule of Condition:
You should ask your Conveyancing Solicitor to confirm that the seller has documentation concerning any Party Wall Agreements/Schedule of Condition Agreements. These are important documents and copies of them should be with the Land Registry. They confirm that your neighbour(s) agree with any works that have been carried out on or near the party wall(s) of the property.
If the property you are going to purchase has had any major or minor works carried out, the seller should have Building Control Regularisation Certificates. If these are not in place, you should speak to your Conveyancing Solicitor to confirm how you will be able to move ahead without these in place and what effects they can have on the property. If building works carried out by the seller does not have a regularisation certificate from Building Control, you should request that your Conveyancing Solicitor places an Indemnity Agreement between you and the seller. An Indemnity Agreement ensures that you (the buyer) would be indemnified from any costs associated with poor works carried out in the property by the seller. This agreement would mean that the seller would be legally obligated to deal with the issue after he/she has moved. The Seller is obligated to pay for the cost of the Indemnity Agreement.
If any windows, Velux, Dorma or patio/bi-fold doors have been installed in the property you want to purchase, the seller should have either window replacement certificates from the company who installed them, Fensa Certificates or building control regularisation of the installation. If a Certificate is not in place, you should speak to your Conveyancing Solicitor. The seller can also contact the Local Authority to apply for retrospective Building Regulation approval. The other option is that you (the buyer) can request that the seller(s) Conveyancing Solicitor places an Indemnity Agreement between you and the seller. An Indemnity Agreement ensures that you (the buyer) would be indemnified from any costs associated with poor works carried out in the property by the seller. This agreement would mean that the seller would be legally obligated to deal with the issue after he/she has moved. The Seller is obligated to pay for the cost of the Indemnity Agreement.
Access Requests from Neighbours
Find out whether the neighbour(s) on either side of the property you want to buy have a structure that would require access to your land or property to repair/maintain or renovate it?
This is a very important question to ask your Estate, Agent or seller, because it could be the difference between you receiving long-term, intermittent or regular access requests from your neighbour to carry out any works to their structure from your garden depending on what the structure is made from.
For example: if the neighbour has built a timber-built structure at the end of his or her garden and access has been given previously (by the seller of the property you want to buy) to build it, under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992, the neighbour has the right to request access to repair, maintain or renovate the structure from your garden. This may not seem too bad, however, if the structure is timber-built, yearly access may be required to maintain it. Water repellents, some paints and stains for exterior surfaces can require yearly maintenance. Clear finishes have a much shorter life span than others).
You also need to take into consideration that if relations between the neighbour and you become difficult at any point, you can refuse access, however, the neighbour could take you to court to get access and would more than likely gain access.
For more information click here.
If all the relevant paperwork is in place, your boundaries are set out in writing, you are ready now ready to exchange contracts.
If at any time before you exchange contracts you feel that this is not right for you, your financial situation changes, there are too many issues with the property you are going to buy or have decided not to sell, you can always pull out of the chain. This can be a heartbreaking time for other people in the chain, but you must do what is right for you. It is not uncommon to find yourself or someone in the chain in this position, but the most frustrating thing to do is to not inform the people in your chain straight away and your Conveyancing Solicitor. So please make sure you let the chain know as soon as you make that decision.
14. Exchange of Contracts
After you’ve accepted your mortgage offer, your solicitor will be able to finalise everything and exchange contracts. Upon the exchange, both you and the seller are legally committed to the sale. If you change your mind after this point, you could face legal action and your deposit may well be forfeit. It is at this point that a date is set for completion, which is when the money actually gets paid and you get the keys to your new home. It is possible to exchange and complete on the same day. If you would like to do this, you should contact your Conveyancing Solicitor and email the chain. You can set a date that works for you.
15. Organising Your Move
Once contracts have been exchanged, you only have as long as was agreed before you must vacate the property. You’ll need to arrange for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service well in advance of your moving date (at least one month). Click here for a handy list of who to contact. You might not know the detail of each provider, so it may be useful to send a friendly email to the seller to see if they can offer any assistance.
If this is not possible, click on the following links to find out what company supplies the following service to the property:
If you have a lot of furniture, you may wish to hire a removals company to pack up your current home and help with the move to your new one. Similarly, if you need to buy any essentials for your home like a sofa, dining room table or larger items (i.e. fridge/freezer/washing machine, cooker, garden furniture etc.), there’s the option to get everything delivered to your new property on the day of your move, or a day or 2 after you move in. This will save you on removal costs.
If you need to store anything before or after you have moved, you could use a Self Storage centre. Most storage centres have a selection of room sizes that you can hire from a locker up to the size of a tennis court or larger, short or long term. You bring your goods or possessions to the storage centre, lock them in the room and come and go as you please during opening hours. You are the only key holder. You can store almost anything.
If you have a lot of furniture, you could look into hiring a removal company like AnyVan to help you. For guidance on how to prepare for moving day click here.
Buying new furniture before or after the move
If you need to buy larger furniture or essentials for your new home (i.e. fridge/freezer/washing machine, cooker etc.), you should look to having it delivered on moving day or a day or two afterward. This will save you on removal costs.
Buildings and Contents Insurance
16. Completion Date/Moving day
This is when the money is moved between solicitors and they confirm that the keys can be released to the new owners. The solicitors will also register the transfers of ownership with the Land Registry.
On the day of completion (or sometimes before), you physically move out of your current property and travel to the new property, waiting on the call that the keys can be released. Ensure you are packed and ready to leave the property at the set time otherwise, you will hold up everyone else in the chain. If your property is not vacated at the allocated time, get in touch with your Conveyancing Solicitor straight away and let them know. They can push things along for you.
With completion done and the keys in your hand, you move into your new home.
It’s a good idea to take a photograph of gas, electric and water meters of the property you’re about to leave and of your new property’s meters on moving day. That way you can submit them to each utility provider a day or two after moving day.
Congratulations on your move!
You’ve moved in but there is no guide or handbook to help you around your new property. Help is at hand with our “everything you need to know when you move into your new home guide“. Click here for more information.
What happens now
Ensure you have all the necessary insurances in place for your property and keep a copy somewhere safe (click here for guidance). If you have purchased a leasehold property, you should contact the freeholder and request a copy of the Buildings Insurance Policy.
You should look into getting a Will or updating your existing one.