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What Documents Do I Need to Sell My House?

Sam Kinloch

Selling a house or property means you need to collate several documents to evidence your ownership, the legal boundaries of the property, and certifications such as an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). So what documents do you need to sell your property?

While the exact paperwork a prospective buyer will need may vary, it is well worth having everything prepared in advance. If you’re auctioning a house, we upload copies of all documents to a downloadable package called the legal pack – prospective bidders can then access this paperwork on demand.

If you wish to sell your house as quickly as possible, have never sold a property before, or simply need a checklist to help get all of your documentation in good order, this summary list from the Clive Emson team explains all you need to know.

What Documents Do I Need to Sell My House?

Key Documents You Will Need to Sell Your Property

Some paperwork may be readily available, although sellers will need to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to help. Your legal representative can assist with sourcing documents and running official searches to include in your legal pack or sales documents.

Special Condition of Sale

Your Solicitor will need to provide Special Conditions of Sale (SCS) which will set out key terms including length to completion, additional fees, tenancy details and key facts relating to the sale.

Related reading: Auction fees for sellers in the UK

Title Registry Paperwork

Every seller of a UK house or any type of property will need to provide a copy of the title deeds. These are formal documents stored on record by the Land Registry and prove who owns a property and on what terms.

Title deeds will show, for instance, whether you are the sole or a shared owner, whether the house is owned freehold or leasehold, and financing secured against the property. Alongside the title deeds, this paperwork also includes a map where a prospective buyer can see the boundaries of the land owned around the house along with any restrictions or rights which might be associated to the property.

You can purchase a copy of your title registry and plan documents from HM Land Registry. However, sellers will typically ask their conveyancer to cover this requirement since a sale should always be accompanied by Official Copy Entries.

Proving Ownership of a House Before Selling

Conveyancers or solicitors will carry out mandatory checks to ensure you are the registered owner of the property and are the party named on the title deeds. In most cases, that means asking for proof of ID, such as two forms of photo ID and recent copies of bank statements or other correspondence that prove your address.

If you own the house with other parties, you will all need to provide proof of identity and confirm that you are in agreement with the intention to sell the house. Owners selling on behalf of a deceased family member will need a document called a grant of probate, which confirms they are authorised to sell the house as part of the estate.

Obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

EPCs are now a standard piece of paperwork most buyers will expect to see, which evaluates the thermal efficiency and energy performance of the house based on elements such as glazing, insulation and the quality of the roof.

A potential complication is that an EPC has a finite expiry date. If you have yet to have an updated EPC inspection since you purchased your house, you will likely need to repeat the process.

Homeowners can book an assessor to provide a new EPC, but this can sometimes take a few weeks, depending on demand, so it is wise to book an assessor in advance of a planned sale to ensure this doesn't cause any delays.

What Documents Do I Need to Sell My House?

Property Searches

House sellers will normally instruct their solicitor to run three types of property searches:

  • Local authority searches provide information from the relevant council around areas like planning permission and building control. Some councils take up to 30 days to return a search, so this is another task best scheduled in advance of a sale.
  • Environmental searches are conducted by environmental agencies and report on any issues such as subsidence, landslides or flooding risks.
  • Water and drainage searches are provided by the local water supplier. They will report any issues or points of interest around whether the property is connected to public water supplies and drainage.
Depending on location, some properties may require additional searches – a house on a flood plain, for example, could command a more detailed flood risk assessment.

Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates

These certificates are not always mandatory for residential property sales. Still, it may be useful to provide copies of certificates where they are available or where this could make a difference to the price a buyer is willing to pay or bid.

Gas safety certificates are normally provided by a gas engineer after an appliance or device is installed or serviced – most houses have a gas safety certificate for a boiler and oven. You can order replacement certificates in some cases, although a certificate dated within the last 12 months may also be preferable.

Electrical safety certificates are similarly issued when an electrician completes any work on the electrics in your home. As with gas safety certificates, you can book an electrician to complete an assessment prior to a sale if you wish.

Either way, you should give yourself enough time to make any repairs if the engineer reports a failed certification inspection.

Documents Related to Planning Permission

While the local authority search will detail any specifics around the ability of a seller to modify the property, you should also provide copies of planning documents related to any changes made to the home, showing that work has been approved.

Planning documentation shows that building inspectors have authorised and signed off on modifications such as knocking down walls, building an extension, or adding a dropped curb.

If you do not have access to planning paperwork, you can normally order copies online through your local authority’s planning portal.

What Documents Do I Need to Sell My House?

Preparing Your Paperwork to Sell Your House

Alongside the requirements listed here, you may need supplementary documentation such as a copy of a leasehold agreement, where applicable, and certifications if you have had new glazing or double-glazing fitted.

As we’ve mentioned, some copy documentation or new assessments can take some time to organise, so it is important to schedule visits in advance of your planned sale date to avoid delays.

If you need further advice about the documents we require for your legal pack, please get in touch with the Clive Emson team at your convenience.

About the Author

Sam Kinloch

Sam Kinloch

Director & Senior Auction Appraiser

Sam’s career in the dizzy world of property auctions began when he hung up his chainsaw and headed in from the forest. Joining the team in 2003 Sam now sits on the Board of Directors and has been instrumental in the adoption of online auction services.
Out of the office you can find him flying around the velodrome or sipping coffee at a local café.

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