Guidance on Buying or Selling your home

1/ 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

2/ 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.

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.

How to get an EPC

Here at Beacons we have provide you with an accredited assessor. 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.

 It is worth noting here that new minimun standards for EPCs are coming into force on 2018 see our blog post:

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

See other properties’ EPCs

You can look at the EPCs of other properties free of charge. This lets you compare your home’s energy performance with that of similar homes. You can search by the property’s address or by the EPCs report reference number.

You can opt out of the EPC register if you don’t want other people to be able to see your EPC.

3/ Engaging Beacons Estate Agents

As per the Government Guidelines, to sell your home with Beacons you will sign a legally binding contract.

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

Here at Beacons Estate Agents we are under an obligation to treat buyers fairly. If you sell your property with us here at Beacons Estate Agents we are required to show you all offers promptly and in writing.

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

Complaints procedure

In the unlikely event that you have a complaint you are required to complain to us first and give  us a fair chance to sort out your complaint. In the unlikely event that we don’t, you can complain to one of the scheme we belong to which is

  • The Property Ombudsman

4/ Offers

 If we are selling a home on behalf of a third party any buyer must make an offer through us here at Beacons Estate Agents.

–  A buyer can only 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 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).

 5/ Transferring ownership (conveyancing)

Once the offer is accepted

The seller is responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership, a conveyancer (normally a solicitor but not always) is employed to do this.

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.


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

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

6/ Tax Overview

 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.

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.

For more information see :

Posted by:
Clare Bourke