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The Modern House Buying and Selling Process: A Guide for the Past 30 Years' Absentees

Congratulations on taking the first steps to move home! We appreciate this can be an emotional, daunting and stressful process.  The property market has indeed evolved over the past three decades, with technological advancements and online platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla transforming the way properties are advertised for sale (and to rent). If you find yourself wondering about the changes, this article is tailored to help you understand the contemporary process.  As always, the friendly and helpful team at Langford Rae Property Agents in Chelsfield are in the office, or on the phone, and welcome the opportunity to guide you through the process.

Online Property Portals: Rightmove and Zoopla

In the past, properties advertised for sale, often referred to as ‘listings’, were primarily found in estate agency windows, the local newspapers, property magazines, or through direct interactions with estate agents. The advent of online property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla and Onthemarket has revolutionized the way properties are advertised. These platforms offer a vast range of listings, complete with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, floorplans and even virtual tours. This shift allows you to explore a wide array of properties from the comfort of your home, saving you time and effort.  Adding Google’s Street View into the mix, you can really do your homework before arranging physical viewings of those properties on your shortlist.

The Initial Steps: Research and Mortgage Pre-Approval

Once you've familiarized yourself with online property portals, the next step is research.  In some cases this may well be the first step in moving.  It is important to explore the market trends, property prices, and local neighbourhoods within the area you’re looking to move to.  If you’re not moving far from where you currently live, then this task may not be too involved but whilst you may know the roads and shops it is a good idea to get a better understanding of property values.

After identifying potential properties you may wish to view, it's advisable to get the appropriate financial advice.  If you’re porting your mortgage then speak with your current lender to check what options you have.  We have recently written an article on this subject which you can read here:  If you’re looking to take out a new mortgage, speak with a broker to determine what you can comfortably afford to borrow.   If you’re currently mortgage free and will be cash buying your onward purchase, you may need to have a serious think about how much money you need to release from the sale to finance your future.  This process ensures you have a clear understanding of your budget and streamlines your house-hunting efforts. 

Estate Agents: Your Trusted Partners

Though the landscape has changed, estate agents remain pivotal to the buying and selling process. Collaborating with an experienced estate agent can provide invaluable insights, guide you through the new process, and help you navigate negotiations. They can arrange property viewings, offer advice on the local market, and assist with paperwork, making your journey smoother.  At Langford Rae Property Agents, we pride ourselves on the five star service that we offer to both our buyers and sellers (and landlords and tenants for that matter).  To read what other people have to say about us, some of our wonderful reviews can be read here:

The estate agent you choose to sell your current property for should help you with your onward move.  If you’re moving away from the area, they should still advise you on who to speak with, how to arrange viewings and how to negotiate the right price for your onward purchase.

Viewings: From Physical Tours to Virtual Walkthroughs

Gone are the days of solely relying on physical property visits. Modern technology offers virtual walkthroughs, enabling you to explore properties remotely. While these virtual tours offer convenience, it's still recommended to visit shortlisted properties in person. This gives you a firsthand experience of the property and its surroundings, helping you make a more informed decision.

You may find that the beautiful house of your dreams you’ve looked at on Rightmove is close to a busy road you wouldn’t have been aware of without physically seeing the property.  Perhaps its not a close a stroll to the pub as you’d hoped, or maybe the views across the countryside cannot be appreciated just by looking at the photographs.

Making an Offer and Conveyancing

When you've found your ideal property, it's time to make an offer. Estate agents mediate the negotiation process between you and the seller.  Whilst Agents generally work for the person selling the property, they have a duty of care to those who are buying properties as well and they required, by law, to put your offer forward to a homeowner.

If your offer is accepted, conveyancing comes into play. Conveyancing involves legal processes such as property checks, title transfer, and drafting contracts. While this hasn't drastically changed, advancements in digital communication have expedited the conveyancing process.  Documents may now be emailed to you for approval and you can scan some back to your conveyancer, so don’t feel you have to make multiple visits into your solicitors office throughout the process.

Exchange of Contracts and Completion

Upon satisfactory conveyancing, contracts are exchanged, legally binding both parties to the sale. A deposit is typically paid at this stage. Completion follows, where the remaining funds are transferred, and ownership is officially transferred. The time between exchange and completion allows you to plan your move and make arrangements accordingly.

Your conveyancer will update you on the stages of this process you’re at but a good estate agent will be regularly liaising with you, and the other parties involved in the move, to best ensure that everything is on track.

The Digital Era of Marketing and Negotiations

For those looking to sell property, technology has revamped the selling process as well immensely. Rightmove, Zoopla, and other platforms have amplified property marketing. High-quality images, virtual tours, and detailed descriptions captivate potential buyers online. Moreover, negotiations can now be conducted digitally, enabling smoother communication between buyers, sellers, and estate agents.  During your last house move you may have arranged to sit down in the estate agent’s office to put an offer forward.  Nowadays offers can now be submitted, via email, on a mobile phone, from halfway across the world.  Proof of funds can be easily obtained via online banking apps and forwarded onto the estate agent as evidence of affordability.

The first step of the process where the digital world is assisting those looking to sell their property is by using an online valuation tool.  A good online valuation tool will give you a very rough approximate of the market value of your property.  We have one, and it can be used, for free, here:

It is very important to note, however, that these tools are not accurate and, in some cases, if not correctly used or if you own a unique property, these can give you a false impression of your property’s value.  These tools do offer an approximate figure without inviting an Estate Agent into your home.  Put simply, a computer algorithm gives you a rough market value based on your property’s style and location.

Legal and Regulatory Changes

Over the past three decades, there have been alterations in property regulations and legislation. It's crucial to stay updated on the latest legal requirements to ensure a seamless transaction. This is where your estate agent's expertise becomes vital, as they'll guide you through any legal changes affecting the buying or selling process.


As an experienced Estate Agent working within the Bromley and Bexley Boroughs, and Sevenoaks District, I understand that re-entering the property market after 30 years might seem overwhelming. However, the digital age has brought about incredible tools and resources that enhance the process of buying and selling houses. By embracing online platforms, collaborating with experienced estate agents like Langford Rae Property Agents, and adapting to modern technologies, you can confidently navigate the changes and make your property journey a successful and enjoyable one.

Welcome back to the exciting world of real estate and please do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be delighted to help you start the process.  We can be contacted on 0168986277.  We have another article helping those who have not move house for quite some time which can be read here: