If you are in the process of a divorce or separation and are still resident in your house do not let your former partner try and force you to sell without seeking legal advice first. Assets are usually dealt with as part of Ancillary Relief and you may not need to sell your home at all, particularly if you have dependent children living with you.

If you do decide to sell your property use our simple step-by-step guide:

Preparing your home

If you jointly own a property you may feel under pressure to get a quick sale as final closure on your relationship, but with your future to think of it would be better to invest a little time and effort to get the best possible price for your property. Park your emotions and reason with your ex partner. See if you can agree on any expenditure necessary to make any repairs or improvements.

These tips will help you to make the most of your home for viewers:

  • Put any clutter away. Box up nick-nacks, photographs, books and anything cluttering the tops of kitchen cupboards to create the illusion of space
  • Viewers like to imagine the house as a blank canvas which they can put their own stamp on. Decorate in neutral colours and patterns and keep rooms as clear as possible
  • First impressions count. Make sure your front garden is tidy and the entrance grand. Repaint or clean your front door and consider some hanging baskets to make it inviting
  • Pay attention to the smaller detail that makes a big difference. Replace old grouting, chipped tiles, use rugs to cover stains and replace kitchen cupboard doors if any are broken
  • Put the coffee percolator on and bake part-baked loaves before your viewers arrive. Use air fresheners or pot pourri in bathrooms and remove any cat litter, disposable nappies etc.
  • Arrange for pets and children to be looked after during the viewing

Securing a Sale

You have two options for selling your property. The first is to use an estate agent. This has the advantage of letting somebody else take care of any queries on your behalf, advertise your property and accompany viewers to your home. However it will involve a fee which is usually a percentage of the sale price and can be considerable in more expensive properties. You might save fees by registering with a sole agent but this will limit the exposure your home will get and may prevent you from selling your home privately (read your terms and conditions carefully).

The alternative is to go for a private sale. Whilst saving money on fees you will need to consider the cost of advertising in local papers or registering with an internet site, materials to make a For Sale sign and other related administration costs. You should also think about how you will deal with viewers. If you live alone it would be advisable for a friend to be present when viewers call for personal safety reasons.

Once you have made your decision arrange for a valuation of your home. An estate agent will do usually do this without obligation. Look through local papers to see how well and for how much similar properties are selling in your area. You will need to work out the minimum you can afford to sell your home for considering the balance outstanding on your current mortgage, loans secured on the property, any redemption penalties, estate agents fees, legal fees and costs involved in buying a new home.

Once you have an offer negotiate but weigh up the interest shown in your property so far and how much demand there is for properties like yours in the area. Consider whether you can hold out for the asking price and how urgently you need to sell. An offer from a buyer not involved in a chain, for example a first time buyer, is an advantage if you have a property in mind to buy and need a quick sale.

 You should appoint a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing to take care of the legal aspects of the sale. Once the exchange of contracts has taken place you have a legal obligation to sell and should have a completion date when the transfer of the property is complete. This is the date on which the new owners take possession and you hand the keys over.