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Help and Advice and Fees Explained - Selling

Review our guide to selling your property! All you need to know from fees and contracts to solicitors and completion. We hope you’ll find our help and advice guide to the the whole selling process useful. And its all in the one place!

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The advantages of using an estate agent: Selling

Selling a property can be a daunting and stressful experience. Estate agents are undoubtedly experts in the property sector. As part of their service they will conduct a valuation on your property, handle viewings and negotiations on your behalf. They will seek to achieve the optimum price for your property and the right buyer.

The estate agency sector is continually growing. Within the UK and Ireland, estate agents are expanding and developing, both on the high street and now online. With so much choice and competition, how do know which estate agent is right for you?

At Cucompare we have over 40 combined years in the financial and property sector. We continually listen to feedback from clients in relation to buying and selling property.

Of those surveyed in Northern Ireland:

68% said they contacted 3 or more estate agents before putting their property on the market.

58% said they valued “the estate agent’s reputation” as most important when selecting their desired estate agent.

39% said they valued the “estate agents fee” as most important when selecting their desired estate agent.

87% said they would be “very likely” to use an online comparison site to compare agents fee’s and services.

Reputation and fee’s are most important when choosing an estate agent but todays modern consumer demands choice and the ability to compare. At Cucompare we provide a simple, time saving and easy to use platform to compare the very best agents. We compare their fees, services and allow them to demonstrate why they are right for you. Like our little cucou bird logo, we fly the nest and bring all the agents to you!

An agent’s experience, combined with excellent local knowledge and being well connected to the local community is a very important talent.

Apart from the investment in high street premises, staff, IT, website and telephony, a traditional estate agent usually provides window displays and marketing literature – all designed to promote the sale of your property. They may also subscribe and be members of a regulatory organisation which provides additional security for any potential clients. In Northern Ireland, traditional estate agents generally offer excellent value for money. So how much do they charge and what for?

Estate agents charge two types of fee.

The marketing fee – which covers expenditure such as boards, brochure provision, photography, online advertising, traditional advertising as well as an Energy Performance certificate (sometimes charged separately)

A Commission or Sale Fee (usually expressed as either a percentage of the final sale price of your property or a fixed fee)

The marketing fee is not generally providing any profit; it merely covers the expenses an agent will incur on behalf of a new client. The commission or sale fee is how an agent makes a living. Agents may also have to charge you VAT on top, not his idea but its the law and he sends that to the tax man!

The following is generally what you get for services provided for selling your property.

1. Valuation
2. Evidenced and documented comparisons of similar local sales produced
3. Marketing assessment and strategy
4. Listing online (e.g Propertynews/ Propertypal)
5. Brochure design
6. Photography
7. Floorplans
8. Introduce potential buyers and organise and maintain records of viewings
9. Accompanied viewings until property is sold
10. Confirmation and documentation of all offers
11. Sale negotiation
12. Sale agreement
13. Communication with purchasers solicitor
14. Communication with your solicitor
15. Communication with mortgage provider
16. Key handover and completion.

Depending on the type of contract you have signed, more often through points 1-15 the agent receives nothing if the sale does not proceed. Only at completion is the agent entitled to his fee for the services and sale provided. And if the sale falls through? He has to start all over again (and that’s a very common issue)! Compared with an online agent (who would usually charge you up front to cover some or all of the above points) it doesn’t seem so bad really!

So how much do they actually charge? Just click here and we will get you some quotes in minutes! Or go to the top of the page!!

Overview

Buying or selling a home normally takes 2 to 3 months. The process can take longer if you’re part of a chain of buyers and sellers.

There are several steps you’ll need to follow:

  • sellers must provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • if a seller is using an estate agent, potential buyers must make any offers through the agent
  • once a buyer’s offer has been accepted, the seller’s responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership
  • an offer isn’t legally binding until contracts are exchanged
  • depending on the amount given for property, the buyer may have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax

Energy Performance Certificates

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is:

  • built
  • sold
  • rented

You must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before you market your property to sell or rent.

In Scotland, you must display the EPC somewhere in the property, eg in the meter cupboard or next to the boiler.

An EPC contains:

  • information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs
  • recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money

An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.

Check how you could make your home more energy efficient using the EPC adviser.

How to get an EPC

You’ll need to find an accredited assessor if you’re selling or renting out your home in:

  • England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Scotland

They’ll assess your property and produce the certificate.

You can be fined if you don’t get an EPC when you need one.

The person selling the house, the landlord or the letting agent must show you the EPC if you’re buying or renting.

Buildings that don’t need an EPC

These include:

  • places of worship
  • temporary buildings that will be used for less than 2 years
  • stand-alone buildings with total useful floor space of less than 50 square metres
  • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy
  • some buildings that are due to be demolished
  • holiday accommodation that’s rented out for less than 4 months a year or is let under a licence to occupy
  • listed buildings – you should get advice from your local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building’s character
  • residential buildings intended to be used less than 4 months a year

Estate agents

You must sign a legally binding contract with an estate agent if you use one to sell your home.

You must stick to the terms of the contract or you could be taken to court.

Estate agents must also treat buyers fairly. They must show any offers promptly and in writing to the person selling the house.

Estate agents are also legally obliged to pass on any other offers for the property right up to when contracts are exchanged.

Offers

A buyer must make an offer through the estate agent if a home is sold through one.

A buyer can make their offer directly to the seller for a private sale.

Buyers can make offers verbally (over the phone or in person) or in writing.

An offer isn’t legally binding in Northern Ireland, England and Wales until contracts are exchanged.

If a buyer makes an offer ‘subject to contract’, this means the price can still be negotiated (eg if a survey finds a problem with the property).

Transferring ownership (conveyancing)

Once the offer is accepted

The seller is responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership.

The contract contains details about:

  • the sale price
  • the property boundaries
  • which fixtures and fittings (like carpets and kitchen units) are included
  • any legal restrictions or rights, like public footpaths or rules about using the property
  • any planning restrictions
  • services to the property, like drainage and gas
  • when the sale will complete

If the seller has hired a solicitor or conveyancer, they will:

  • draft the initial contract
  • answer questions from the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer (with the seller’s help)
  • negotiate the details of the contract if necessary

Exchanging contracts

When the buyer and seller are happy with the contract, both sides sign final copies and send them to each other.

The agreement to sell and buy is legally binding once this happens. Usually neither party can pull out without paying compensation.

Completion

Once you exchange contracts and deal with any remaining checks the buyer has asked for:

  1. The money is transferred from the buyer to the seller.
  2. The legal documents needed to transfer ownership are handed over to the buyer.
  3. The seller moves out and leaves the property in the state agreed in the contract.
  4. The seller hands over the keys to the buyer.
  5. The property now belongs to the buyer.

Tax

You may need to pay:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax when you buy a home
  • Capital Gains Tax when you sell a home

Stamp Duty Land Tax

If you buy property for more than £125,000, you pay Stamp Duty Land Tax.

The rate you pay depends on the purchase price of the property.

You still have to pay if you swap something of economic value for a property, eg shares or another property.

Freehold sales and transfers

Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £125,000 Zero
The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000) 2%
The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000) 5%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 12%

ExampleIf you buy a house for £275,000, the SDLT you owe is calculated as follows:

  • 0% on the first £125,000 = £0
  • 2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500
  • 5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250
  • Total SDLT = £3,750

Higher rates for additional properties

You’ll usually have to pay 3% on top of the normal SDLT rates if buying a new residential property means you’ll own more than one.

Use the SDLT calculator to work out how much tax you’ll pay.

You may not have to pay the higher rates if you exchanged contracts before 26 November 2015.

If you’re replacing your main residence

You won’t pay the extra 3% SDLT if the property you’re buying is replacing your main residence and that has already been sold.

If there’s a delay selling your main residence and it hasn’t been sold on the day you complete your new purchase:

  • you’ll have to pay higher rates because you own 2 properties
  • you may be able to get a refund if you sell your previous main home within 36 months

There are special rules if you own property with someone else or already own a property outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Capital Gains Tax

You don’t pay Capital Gains Tax when you sell (or ‘dispose of’) your home if all of the following apply:

  • you’ve lived in it as your main home for all the time you’ve owned it
  • you haven’t let part of it out or used part of it for business only
  • the grounds, including the buildings, are smaller than 5,000 square metres (just over an acre)

This is because you automatically get a tax relief called Private Residence Relief. You don’t need to do anything.

If you don’t meet all these criteria you may have to pay some Capital Gains Tax.

Help and Advice - Letting

 Review our guide to letting your property! All you need to know from fees and contracts to tenants and landlord registration. We hope you’ll find our help and advice guide to the the whole letting process useful. And its all in the one place!

to-let-side

The advantages of using an estate agent: Letting

This is easy – Estate agents who provide a lettings service are definitely worth talking to. Not only are they up to date with all the recent changes in law (Landlord Registration Schemes, Tenancy Deposits Schemes, Gas Safety etc), as part of their service they will conduct a rental assessment/valuation on your property, handle viewings and negotiations on your behalf. They will seek to achieve the optimum rental income for your property and find the right tenant. Tenant referencing is also vital. Agents will often offer a property management service to take away the stress of those endless odd jobs, leaks and broken washing machines. Not to mention handling any difficulties with the tenancy should that unfortunately arise.

The estate agency sector is continually growing. Within the UK and Ireland, estate agents numbers are on the rise again, both on the high street and now online. With so much choice and competition, how do know which estate agent is right for you?

At Cucompare we have over 40 combined years in the financial and property sector. We continually listen to feedback from clients in relation to property.

Of those surveyed in Northern Ireland:

68% said they contacted 3 or more estate agents before putting their property on the market.

58% said they valued “the estate agent’s reputation” as most important when selecting their desired estate agent.

39% said they valued the “estate agents fee” as most important when selecting their desired estate agent.

87% said they would be “very likely” to use an online comparison site to compare agents fee’s and services, if there was one.

Reputation and fee’s are most important when choosing an estate agent but todays modern consumer demands choice and the ability to compare. At Cucompare we provide a simple, time saving and easy to use platform to compare the very best agents. We compare their fees, services and allow them to demonstrate why they are right for you. Like our little cucou bird logo, we fly the nest and bring all the agents to you!

What is the landlord responsible for?

  • repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water systems, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitaryware
  • the safety of gas and electrical appliances
  • the fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided under the tenancy
  • ensuring that the property is fit for habitation
  • repairing and keeping in working order the room and water heating equipment
  • the common areas in multi-occupancy dwellings
  • obtaining a Certificate of Fitness where the property is built before 1945
  • obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

In addition, the landlord is entitled to reasonable access to the property to inspect and carry out repairs.

The landlord is also obliged to provide the tenant with a rent book free of charge and a statement of tenancy terms within 28 days of the tenancy commencing.

Recent change – Any landlord (or part owner in a property which is tenanted) must register with the Landlords Registration Scheme. All Tenancy Deposits must be registered and either insured or placed in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme (there are 3 in Northern Ireland). A landlord must also provide Prescribed Information about the tenants deposit within 28 days of receipt.

Landlord qualification

A new qualification has been developed for private landlords who let residential properties.

This Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Level 2 Certificate aims to promote good standards in privately rented accommodation and provide skills and knowledge to help landlords in their role.

What is the tenant responsible for?

  • paying the rent as agreed
  • bills for gas, electricity, telephone, etc if this was agreed with your landlord
  • keeping the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness and decoration
  • making sure that you, members of your household or your visitors do not harass, cause nuisance or annoyance to the occupiers of any neighbouring or adjoining premises

Both the landlord and tenant have basic repairing responsibilities and the lease or statement of tenancy terms will cover this.

Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance

If you are a landlord and make energy saving improvements to your property, you could reduce the tax you pay. You can do this by claiming the ‘Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance’ (LESA). This “perk” expired in April 2016.

Still have a question?

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Important Fee Information

Agents charge a Sales Commission Fee (for the successful sale of your property) expressed either as a percentage (%) of the Sale Price Achieved or a Fixed Fee. They also may charge a Marketing Fee, which covers items such as Advertising (both online and local press), Professional Photography, For Sale or To Let signs, Brochure and Plan production.


All Fees may be subject to VAT so for the avoidance of doubt ALL FEES quoted EXCLUDE VAT so they are like for like comparisons.


Example: £140,000 sale price quoted at 1.5% is £2100.00 excluding VAT. With VAT added, the total cost would be £2520.00 (VAT quoted at 20%)

Important Fee Information

Agents charge a Letting (Tenant Finding) Commission or Fee for the successful letting of your property expressed either as a percentage (%) of the Annual Rent Achieved or a Fixed Fee. Sometimes they will charge the first months rent as a fee.


They also may charge a Marketing Fee, which covers items such as Advertising (both online and local press), Professional Photography, To Let signs, Brochure and Plan production.


If the Agent offers Management Services, they will indicate this and provide a more tailored bespoke quote for you depending on what services you require. We ask all agents that offer management services to provide you with a basic quote.


All Fees may be subject to VAT so for the avoidance of doubt ALL FEES quoted EXCLUDE VAT so they are like for like comparisons.


Example: A £500 per month rental property, with an Annual Rental of £6000 will quote as follows:


10% AR (meaning 10% of Annual Rent = £600)

£495 (meaning a Fixed Fee of £495)

FMR (meaning the First Months Rent is taken as the letting fee. This will be 1/12th of the Annual Rent, in this example = £500 )


Don’t forget to add VAT onto your costs at current rate of 20%

Important Info

Please note - An agent cannot increase the fee quoted unless you agree OR the approximate value of your property is outside the range of values you selected when requesting a quote.


When you meet the agent don’t forget to ask lots of questions and remember, cheapest may not be best. You will want an agent you can be confident with, who can demonstrate sales in your area, or if it’s a new company, one that can show you how their strategy is going to bring the result you want. Service is also very important. Don’t forget to check out the Agents Contracts area so you know what type you are signing.

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1. Start Clock! All Agents who have indicated their fees below have 72 hours to send you an additional revised quote. You will receive this notification in the form of an email from cucompare. Relax - it’s worthwhile doing nothing... yet! You can of course request a valuation and connect immediately with your preferred agent if you already like what you see!


2. Times up! Review all your quotes! Don’t forget to check your revised quotes!


3. Once you are happy to proceed you can click 'Connect' for the agents who have impressed you the most. This will send them a valuation request and they will get in touch with you.


(Through steps 1 and 2 your personal contact details are kept confidential. Please note that your personal contact details will be sent at step 3 to the selected agents you have connected with, who will contact you and arrange a valuation. We advise you connect with no more than 3 or 4 agents but there is no limit).


4. You've met the agents and you've decided who you are going with. Just click “instruct” on your dashboard and we will do the rest. We will even let the unsuccessful agents down so you don't have to. You can of course instruct the agent directly if you prefer.


Important Info

When you “Connect” the property status will change to “Valuation Requested”. All agents selected will contact you to arrange a more accurate valuation of your property and discuss the best marketing strategy for you. They will also confirm fees and services quoted. This service is free and without obligation.

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