Doorsteps blog posts

Blog entry by Doorsteps

Protect Your House and Belongings During a Showing

People need to see a house, to feel its walls and look at its foundation, in order to make an informed decision. And they need to step inside and see how they feel so they can make a good decision. Showings are vital - but they can also leave your house and belongings vulnerable. How do you keep them safe?

1.    Remove valuables and important documentation. It’s obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of staging and showing, you may neglect to take away these important items. Make it a priority; while the majority of those coming will be genuinely interested in the house, there will be a few who can’t resist a free gold watch or your credit card number. While you’re at it, remove your medications and the like; that is no one’s business, but you can be sure people will be looking through your cabinets!

2.    Use a sign-in sheet. Whether you do the showing or your estate agent handles it, make sure to have people sign in with their names and contact information. At least if something goes awry, you can trace it back through this list.

3.    Put a passcode on your computers and devices. You don’t want viewers taking a peek into your most sensitive documents - or your most trivial Facebook comments either, for that matter!

4.    Don’t leave viewers unattended. If you are not doing the showing, make sure your estate agent (and an assistant, if you have two levels) will be there all the time. You don’t want to smother potential buyers by hovering; but you do want to make sure they know there’s someone looking after the property.

5.    Check the windows and doors after. Sticky-fingered “house hunters” may take the opportunity to unlock windows or doors to allow them entry later on. After each viewing, check each access point is secure.

Need more tips to keep your house safe during (and after) viewings? Ask the experts at Doorsteps.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

What Prospective Buyers are Really Looking for

Anglian Home Improvements, a leading British supplier of windows, doors and conservatories, conducted a study on what house hunters look for in a property. Literally. What do they look for? Anglian found the answers.


In this study, house buyers wore specialised eye tracking glasses; these were meant to capture the elements that grabbed their attention. Let’s see:


?     Furnishings and decor: these features occupied about 27 percent of house buyers’ attention during the viewing.

?     Clutter and mess: not surprisingly, they spent almost as much time focusing on less pleasant details, such as dusty drapes or crowded tables. Women noticed this more than men too - another non-surprise! While most didn’t mention it, the glasses showed that their eyes kept returning to messes throughout the showing.

?     Layout: people spent just four percent of their time looking at the floorplan, or how the home was laid out.

?     Exterior: The outside accounted for 22 percent of viewers’ focus - remember that kerb appeal!

?     Structure and features: Men spent about 32 percent of their time looking at things like roofs and foundations, compared to 22 percent for women.

?     Personal elements: Women focused 16 percent of their time on aesthetic items like decoration and furnishings, compared to 13 percent of men. Anglian also found that personal photos distracted viewers from other elements in the space.

?     Inside looking out: Viewers spent 17 percent of their time looking through the windows. Another great reason to make sure they’re sparkling clean.

It is fun to see what grabs people’s interest when they view a house; but more than that, this information provides house sellers with critical insight. You can make changes that will have the most impact (e.g. cleaning windows, installing new windows, removing clutter, etc.). Need more tips and tools to help? We’re here!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Are You Making These Showing Mistakes?

Effective showings are critical in selling your house. But are you turning buyers off before they have a chance to fall in love with your property? You are if you’re making these mistakes:


1.    Being obtrusive. When people visit a house in which they are interested, they want to look around, explore, ask questions. They don’t want overbearing owners breathing down their necks. They will feel uncomfortable, unable to ask questions and, ultimately, unwilling to stay and learn about the property. So, make yourself scarce during showings while being available to answer inquiries! You can opt to have us handle this task for you.


2.    Letting the pets stay. Sure, pets are family - but send these members off to a friend’s home or kennel when you have advanced notice of a showing. And while you’re at it, make sure their smells and messes leave too. Make sure pet beds, toys and other accessories are hidden away, and be sure to do a cleaning to eliminate scents.


3.    Getting personal. Buyers are often alienated when a home is too “personal.” It is important to let them envision the space as they’d use it. To this end, take down your family photos, your sentimental knick-knacks and other meaningful-to-you objects. Also sweep the rooms to ensure all personal documentation (e.g. mail, bills, invoices, etc.) are removed.


4.    Not doing a thorough cleaning. It  may seem unbelievable, but some people do show their houses even with piles of dirty laundry, sink-fulls of dishes, dusty furniture, dirty carpets and other house selling deadly sins. Before staging, before anything else, you need to make sure your home is clean from top to bottom.


5.    Having rooms with unclear purposes. Is that a playroom or a den? Is that an office or a living room? Is that a treadmill in the middle of the dining room? While your house is yours to live in as you see fit, when selling, make sure rooms have a clear purpose.


We have plenty more don’ts - and lots of do’s - to help you sell your house. Contact our team today.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

5 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter

Conventional wisdom holds that houses don’t sell in the winter. Maybe buyers are too busy huddling on the couch with a cup of cocoa. While there is truth in this seasonal flux, that does not mean you can’t sell your home during the cold months. Here are some tips to help turn up the heat on the market:

1.    Literally turn up the heat. Nothing is more depressing than entering a cold, gloomy house on a chilly, dark day. Turn the thermostat up a degree or two, and then set it back to its normal temperature. This will help keep the air nice and cosy without having the HVAC system kick on when potential buyers are there. (Unless you have an ultra-quiet model you want to entice visitors with). If you have a fireplace, put it to use! It adds to the warmth and to the aesthetic.

2.    Maximise light. See above: gloom doesn’t sell. Turn on the lights, open the shades and drapes (make sure your windows are spotless). Place spotlights or up-facing lamps in corners and/or behind furniture to beautifully illuminate the rooms.

3.    Take photographs in the spring or summer. Let’s face it: your house may just look its best in the more lush months with trees and flowers in bloom. Take professional photos that show your property in its best light. This will give prospective buyers the information they need to imagine the house in other seasons.

4.    Don’t neglect kerb appeal. If your area gets snow, keep it neatly shoveled and ensure your paths and parking spaces are clear. Sand or salt to prevent slipping. Give your door a fresh coat of paint and update your hardware. If you want to add a bit of decoration, opt for non-holiday themes: a simple evergreen wreath with red accents, for instance, is lovely on the front door.

5.    Be realistic. You will likely have fewer potential buyers, and these tend to be very price-oriented. Winter house hunters are looking for a deal. As long as you are realistic in terms of pricing, you may find the perfect buyer.

Want to sell this winter? Our expert estate agents can help!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

What to Expect at Completion

Completion day! It’s hard to tell who is more excited -- the person buying a new home, or you for having sold it. Completion, simply the day on which the process is complete or finished, brings a terrific sense of closure. Soon, you will be able to move on to the next chapter. But before you do, read this!


The sale is not binding until you have exchanged contracts with the buyer. Until then, either they or you can pull out of the agreement without any penalty. (After, if they or you decide not to go through with the sale, then compensation is owed.)


After contracts are exchanged, a date for completion is set. Typically, this is at least two weeks after the exchange. This gives you and the buyer the opportunity to arrange removals. The buyer’s conveyancer or solicitor will transfer the Certificate of Title to their mortgage lender, who, after a final check to ensure finances have not changed, then releases the money to you.


Now, you will leave the house on the date agreed upon in the contract and arrange for the buyers to receive the keys. Congratulations!


But wait… are there any obstacles you should beware of? When you get to completion, you can breathe a little easier. However, with any process, there can be setbacks. For example, if something material changes in the buyer’s finances, it could cause the lender to reverse their decision or to extend a lower loan amount. The buyer must also be prepared to pay solicitor’s fees, stamp duty and other costs. If they don’t, it can delay completion.


Work with Doorsteps’ expert estate agents to ensure the process is as smooth and convenient as possible. Completion should be a day of great excitement for both parties.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

What Can You Do If You’re Dealing with Negative Equity?

If you are in negative equity, you are not alone. According to some estimates, more than a half million people are afflicted with the same situation. Negative equity is when you owe more on your house than it is worth, and it can make selling your home difficult. What are your options if you find yourself “underwater” with your mortgage.

First, can you sell your home if you are in negative equity? Yes, you can. However, carefully consider the ramifications of doing so. You’ll have to ask your lender for permission to sell for less than the amount you owe. If they agree (and most will be fair), you then have to pay off the shortfall.

Say, for example, that you owe £130,000 on your mortgage, but you can only sell your house for £110,000. You must pay back the remaining £20,000 over time. Remember, too, that you’ll have to find and pay for a new place to live.

Whilst possible, selling while in negative equity is far from an ideal situation. You could also stay put for the time being and work on reducing your debt. “Negative equity” sounds scary, but it’s really only an issue if you want to sell or borrow against the value of your house.

If you can remain in place, you can pay off your mortgage slowly. Making larger payments or a 13th payment each year can help accelerate the process. And, in a few years, the market may have rebounded in your area and raised prices. This could bring you into positive equity.

If you’re in negative equity, consider staying in place. If you must move, contact our estate agents for assistance. We can help you get the best price possible.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Gazumping and Gazundering?

Have we gone mad? Gazumping and gazundering? They sound like terms straight out of the nonsensical world of Alice in Wonderland. Rest assured: these are real terms, and they could have a real impact on the successful sale of your house. Curiouser and curiouser! Let’s take a look down the rabbit hole, shall we?


Sounds delightful, yes? Gazumping is when a buyer makes an offer on your house, which you accept. Then, before you complete the sale, you accept an offer from another buyer. This typically happens when Buyer #2 offers a higher price, but it could be for other reasons.

Now, gazumping is perfectly legal. Until contracts have been signed and exchanged, the sale is not binding. Until then, you can go ahead and gazump, if you choose. However, remember that this can be very disappointing to the original buyer.

But business is business, right, and you need to maximise your profits? Keep that in mind when we discuss gazundering.


This term puts the buyer in the “driver’s seat” as it were. A buyer has made an offer and you’re ready to sign the contracts. At this point, the buyer lowers their offer. They may do this because… well, paying less is advantageous for them, isn’t it? But they could also be reacting to the results of a survey or the Energy Performance Certificate findings.

This, too, is completely legal. The buyer may be attempting to put you in a vulnerable position; just before the exchange of contracts, you likely feel that you’re just about over the finish line. The thought of going back to the start can be enough to push you to take the lower price.

The best way to get the results you need is to work with a Doorsteps estate agent. You’ll you navigate the twists and turns you’ll encounter through the selling process.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

House Selling Terms to Know

If you have never sold a property before, the jargon can be confusing -- and intimidating. Being timid or unsure can impede the process and make your emotional stress even greater. The solution? Arm yourself with information. Then you’ll have the confidence to tackle everything from viewings to completion with confidence.


Here are a few terms you need to know:


Completion: While it is the first term on the list, it’s the last stage of the selling process. This is the day on which the buyer transfers money to you and you give them the keys. Success!


Conveyancer: Backing up a bit: a conveyancer helps sort out the legalities of the sale. A licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor handles tasks such as title searches, property searches, contract drafting, preparation of legal documents, calculation and preparation of stamp duty land tax, completion representation and more.


EPC: Energy Performance Certificates contain information about your house’s energy use and typical costs. They also detail strategies you (or the new owner) can employ to make the property more efficient. When selling, you must have an independent assessor in to complete the review, and you must provide the EPC to potential buyers.


Exchange of Contracts: Sounds very official, doesn’t it? It is! At this stage, your conveyancer has drawn up a contract with the details of the property and sale. You provide it to the person who has made an offer. Once they agree, you both sign copies and exchange them. Then your sale is legal and binding. Neither party can withdraw without providing compensation to the other.


Staging: These are strategies you use to make your house ready for buyers; it includes boosting curb appeal, de-cluttering, thoughtfully arranging furniture and other touches.


One other term to know: Doorsteps. Our experienced estate agents are here to help you sell your house quickly. Contact us for more information. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Choosing the Right Conveyancer

While selling a house can be an intensely emotional process, it’s important to remember that it is also a legal process. A conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor helps ensure that his or her clients’ rights are upheld and that the transfer of property happens without a hitch.


This professional helps you with tasks ranging from drawing up contracts to arranging the final details of settlement. Given the high stakes involved with selling, it is essential that you choose an experienced conveyancer. Here are some tips to do just that:


1.    Ask for recommendations. If you have family or friends who have recently worked with a conveyancer, ask for their input. Were they happy with the service they received? With the fees they paid? You can also ask your estate agent; local connections are invaluable. We are happy to connect you with this service.

2.    Check credentials. Make a shortlist of three or so conveyancers. Then check their professional standing. They must be members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. If you choose a conveyancing solicitor, make sure they are members of the Law Society of England and Wales or the Law Society of Scotland.

3.    Inquire about fees. You don’t necessarily want to choose the least expensive option, but undoubtedly, cost is a factor. A broad ballpark is between £850 - £1500, including 20% VAT, and £250 - £300 for property searches. If someone is substantially over or under those marks, it’s well to do some further investigation. Also look for a “no sale, no fee” firm; that is, if you do not end up selling your house, they do not collect a fee. It also provides the incentive for them to move the process along.


Conveyancing is an integral part of the home selling process; if you need require more information or help with the ins and outs of choosing a professional, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Transferring Ownership of Your Home

Your hard work, cleaning, de-cluttering and staging paid off! You have an offer and you’ve accepted it. Time to break out the bubbly? Not quite yet! You must still transfer ownership of the property, and that is the responsibility of the seller. What does this process look like?


A solicitor or a conveyancer can help you draw up the necessary contract. This will contain essential details, including:


?     Sale price.

?     Property boundaries.

?     Inclusions (e.g. fixtures and fittings like carpets, major appliances, etc.).

?     Legal restrictions (e.g. property usage rules, public footpaths or right-of-ways).

?     Restrictions on planning.

?     Services (gas, drainage, etc.).

?     Completion date.


You will provide the contract to the buyer, who has the opportunity to show it to his or her solicitor. If satisfied, both you and the buyer sign and exchange contracts.


Now you can put the bubbly on ice. The sale is binding once you have exchanged contracts. The only way the buyer can pull out of the sale is to pay compensation. (Note: this is true for you as well.)


Next up in the process is the completion. The buyer transfers money to you, and you hand over the transfer of ownership documents, vacate according to the agreed-upon date and give them the keys. That’s it! You’ve done it. Your house is sold!


We are happy to connect you with a solicitor or conveyancer who can handle these details for you. This ensures that every i is dotted and every t is crossed. Remember, the contract is a legally binding document, and you need to make sure the information therein is accurate. Why not take a little bit of stress off your plate during the sales process?


Now you can pop open the bubbly and toast the new chapter of your life!

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