If you have decided to sell, or if you are just thinking about it, we hope you will find this leaflet useful, written with the benefit of 35 years in the business.

Before you do anything you should check out the likely value of your home by arranging for a local agent such as Kingswood Estates to carry out a FREE VALUATION. You can even have two or three carried out if you want a cross section of opinion so that you can form a conclusion yourself based on what everyone tells you. Estate agents aren't always right, and valuers working for some companies under lots of pressure may be tempted to show 'excessive optimism' in valuing a property to get it on the market and help meet their targets. Or it may simply be inexperience, not knowing the ins and outs of the area. Local agents, however, are likely to give you an honest and informed opinion, which is what you want, after all.

Some internet based property portals offer an on-line valuation based on accumulated statistics, without even seeing the property or taking into account market conditions or the size and condition of your home. Our advice is to ignore them as they may not be accurate and could even cost you money in marketing your home at an unrealistic price or in giving you unrealistic expectations of what you can afford to buy.

Firstly, you need to decide which agent you are most comfortable with. Who would you prefer to deal with if you were buying? Don't be led to a decision by hard talk from a valuer who is only trying to get your business. Instead, check out the office personnel and decide who you feel would be the best person to find a buyer for your home. Despite the internet, it's still a people business. The internet is certainly a vital part of promoting a property but comes a poor second to a good negotiator in a local office, with a list of potential buyers. If an agent relies on the internet to the point where the sales staff don't feel the need to even try, what are you paying them for?

As to the internet, we use a number of portals, including Zoopla, and we are proud to participate in the new Agents' Mutual portal to be known as 'On the Market' which starts in January 2015. We still use newspaper advertising when needed, but we have no doubt that the internet does the job of advertising well enough for us to sell most properties.

Larger agents can charge between 1.25% and 2% of the value of the property, but then add VAT at 20%. You may also be charged for newspaper advertising, and you will have to pay for an EPC and solicitor's fees. For a typical house at £150,000 your costs (including solicitor's fees) could easily amount to between £4,000 and £5,000, whereas for our All Inclusive Plan which includes all of the above you would pay only £1,699 or less. The extra money in your pocket may make a big difference in whether you can afford to accept an offer or not. It will be a great pity if you get an offer but cannot afford to move because the agent's fees gobble up too much of your profit.

Have you ever tried to get an estate agent to do what you want? Most of the time they will say "You must have this" and "You can't have that", but it's your home and you are the person who pays their wages, even if they have forgotten. Unlike some other agencies, we do business on the basis of your needs and preferences, not our own. We have already mentioned our All Inclusive Plan which gives you everything you need to sell your home in one fixed charge. You can also choose the Flexible Plan which offers a tailor-made service for around 1% or less, where you decide what you want us to do for you, for how long you employ us and even whether you keep other agents on as well.

Generally we say that selling first is better because having a buyer for your home puts you in the driving seat when buying and you may be able to negotiate a better price with the seller, who will have to take you seriously. There's no harm in checking out the market first, but try not to get too excited about a property until you are in a better position. When you are eventually ready to proceed something similar will probably be for sale, and you may even like it more.

An Energy Performance Certificate will be required when you try to sell or let out your home. It's valid for ten years so if you already have one you may still be able to use it. Agents will charge up to £120 to provide one, but you can get one direct from HYPERLINK "mailto:anna@greenleafassessments.co.uk" anna@greenleafassessments.co.uk for as little as £50.00 or you can go for our All Inclusive Plan where we pay for it out of our fee.

You should also check out the mortgage situation before you commit yourself to anything. Your Bank or Building Society will be happy to assist you, and if you have a broker, that's even better as they may be able to get better deals than your present lender can offer. If you haven't got an independent mortgage broker we can recommend one, and he will be happy to come to your own home free of charge for an initial chat.

As with most agents we will ring or e-mail you to arrange viewings at a convenient time. We are happy, however, to keep a key in the office so that daytime viewings can be undertaken by us. Often we find that popping out of the office with potential buyers who have called in can result in a sale, so it seems dumb to waste the opportunity. Many sellers prefer to wait until buyers have sold their own property, but if a buyer likes what he sees he may be prepared to be more realistic about his asking price, and that could result in a quicker sale where he can proceed to offer for yours.

This can be most frustrating for sellers as you have to rely on the agent's judgement. A buyer may say he has the cash when in fact he needs a mortgage, or that he has sold his property when in fact someone has only shown interest. It is the agent's job to check out both finances and chains and you should NOT commit yourself to anything that will cost you money until you have the facts. Even when you do, bear in mind that under English law things can still go pear shaped until almost the last moment, though happily, with a little hard work by the agent and solicitor, they rarely do.

Another point to remember is that these days there could be a bargain around every corner, so your home, no matter how lovely it may be, is not immune from the trend of offering less than the asking price, often considerably so. Our advice is not to take it personally as the viewer is only trying to obtain the best deal for himself, just like you should when you come to buy. We will still try to obtain the best price we can, which is our duty, but if we pass on a low offer, please don't shoot the messenger. We're just doing our job, even if we think the offer is stupid.

We strongly advise you to avoid contacting the buyer directly, and to ask them to deal through us. We have found that if ever a property sale falls through it has very often been caused by inappropriate contact between buyer and seller, resulting in misunderstandings and disagreements that could have been resolved by us. You are paying us to do a job for you, so it makes sense to let us get on with it. Why get stressed when you don't have to? The process of selling can be quite involved and frustrating but we aim to guide you through as painlessly as possible. Once all of the legal formalities have been completed Contracts can be exchanged, and nothing will usually go wrong from then until completion day. Often exchange and completion are on the same day.

This can often be the most frustrating time because everything hinges on when the money arrives at the seller's solicitors. Until then agents are not allowed to give out the keys but once key release is given by the solicitor you can start moving everything into your new home.