There is no law or regulation stating that a homeowner must sell their property via an estate agent. Yet few people are aware of the alternative options available.
Our team of property experts have put together this guide on how to sell your house without an agent to help you get started. We’ll take a look at the steps involved in selling a property independently and consider alternative ways to sell a house, such as using an auction or a quick house sale company.
Why Sell without an Estate Agent?
There are several benefits of selling a house without an estate agent:
- Save Money — estate agent fees range from 1.53% to 3.97% in the UK. A homeowner selling a property for £239,196, the average house price as of August 2020, would incur agency fees of between £3,660 and £9,496. Therefore, selling privately can save you thousands of pounds.
- A Faster Sale — the homeowner does not have to rely on an estate agent to respond to their queries or pass viewing bookings on, which can be a slow process if the agent is juggling multiple clients. The fewer people involved in the sales process, the quicker it is likely to be.
- Take Control — the seller has complete control of the sale process. They determine how much effort is put into advertising and securing bookings. A homeowner is likely to give their all to selling their own property, whereas to an estate agent, your property is just one of many on the books.
- Personal Knowledge — a homeowner is better equipped to answer buyers’ questions and provide information that could persuade an interested party to make an offer. An estate agent will view the property and make sure that they have essential information to hand when hosting viewings, but someone who lives in the property will be able to give more personalised information that can be reassuring to a prospective buyer — the neighbours are friendly and considerate, the house is economical to heat and the neighbourhood is safe, etc.
Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your House Privately
1. Prepare Your Home for Sale and Instruct a Solicitor
A well-presented home that is in a good state of repair is much more sellable than a rundown property. If you have the time and budget to make major home improvements, installing a new heating system, adding a loft conversion and updating the kitchen are some of the most effective ways to add value to a home.
If you have neither the funds nor the time to conduct major works, small budget improvements can make a real difference to how fast a house sells and how much the final sale price is. First impressions count, so make sure the exterior of your home is freshly painted, the grounds or garden tidy and that clutter is removed. Complete minor repairs such as dripping taps, replace highly-personalised decor with neutral tones and designs, carry out a deep clean and consider adding a few decorations to stage your home before viewings.
You won’t need a solicitor until you accept an offer on your home, but finding one early in the sale process will prevent delays later on. It can take time to find a solicitor or conveyancer that you’re happy with. Do your research online and ask people you know for recommendations. Conveyancers offer the same services as a solicitor yet are often cheaper, so this option is definitely worth considering.
2. Set an Asking Price
Many estate agents offer free valuations without any commitment to use their services, so you could take advantage of this to help you decide on the asking price, even if you do not want to use an agency to sell your property. Alternatively, research the price of similar properties in your area. Properties that have sat on the market unsold for months may be priced too high. Recent sold prices will give you a good idea of what is fair for a local property of your type, size and condition.
Beware of setting the asking price too high. Research shows that properties that are put on the market with an inflated price and subsequently reduced can take twice as long to sell.
3. Advertise Your Property
Some of the major property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla only allow estate agents to add property listings (they pay a monthly fee for the privilege). However, there are plenty of places you can advertise your home for free. Contact local newspapers and directories or use websites such as PropertySell and House Ladder to tap into a huge online audience.
Make sure that your advert really sells your home. Most property searches start online and a poorly written ad or one with grainy images will not help you to secure viewings. Consider hiring a professional photographer to show your property at its best. When writing the property description, highlight the features that will appeal to your target buyer. If you’re selling a large family home, mention the outstanding local school and proximity to parks. If you’re selling a luxury city apartment, target young professionals by mentioning the onsite gym and the hip bars nearby.
Estate agents have reported a change in buyer trends since the first COVID-induced lockdown in March. Some of the most sought after property features currently include a garden, fast-wifi, proximity to green spaces, a home office and a rural location. If you’re lucky to have a property that ticks any or all of these boxes, make the most of them in your advert.
4. Get an Energy Performance Certificate
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were introduced on 1 August 2007 by the government to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint. Anyone selling a home must apply for an EPC before they can put their property on the market. This certificate provides the buyer with information about how energy efficient your property is and details of how this could be improved.
The cost of an EPC varies depending on the size of your property and the company that prepares it, but the fee is typically around £100. You will need to identify an accredited energy assessor to compile your EPC.
5. Arrange Viewings
If you work or have other commitments such as childcare, accommodating the date and time preferences of potential buyers when it comes to viewings can be a challenge. COVID-19 has prompted a rise in the popularity of online viewings, which are both safer and potentially more convenient for busy private house sellers. You could also enlist the help of friends and family, but they may not be able to answer every question a buyer asks. However you manage it, delivering friendly yet professional and informative viewings is key to securing offers and ultimately a sale.
6. Negotiate a Price
Negotiating a sale price can be the trickiest part of selling a house without an estate agent. Selling your home is an emotional experience, but it’s important to keep a clear head and remain objective during negotiations. Decide on the minimum amount you would be willing to accept and make sure this is realistic and reasonable, taking into consideration factors such as the results of the survey and the current housing market. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and always remain friendly and professional to maintain a positive relationship — a buyer who initially rejects your terms may return after they’ve had a few days to think about it.
7. Accept an Offer
Whether you’ve had one offer or five, ultimately you will have to choose one to accept. Do so verbally in the first instance, then follow this up in writing — either in an email or a letter. The sale becomes legally binding when contracts are exchanged, but having a clear acceptance of the offer in writing will help things run smoothly. Contact your solicitor — or instruct one if you have not done so already — and let them know that you have accepted an offer.
8. Exchange and Complete
Your solicitor or conveyancer will handle all the legal aspects of the sale, including agreeing on exchange and completion dates with you and the buyer’s solicitor. When the contracts are exchanged — usually a week or two before completion of the sale — the transaction becomes legally binding and neither side can withdraw from the sale.
Different Ways to Sell a Property
If you don’t want to sell your house via an estate agent but the above process doesn’t appeal either — perhaps you don’t have the time to manage the sale yourself? — there are some alternative ways to sell your property.
- Traditional Auction — if a buyer makes the winning bid on your property at a traditional auction, the “exchange” occurs when the hammer falls, at which point, the buyer is committed to the purchase. They pay a deposit on the day of auction and then have 28 days to pay the balance. If the buyer fails to complete within 28 days, you will be entitled to keep their deposit (typically 10% of the sale price).
- Modern or “Conditional” Auction — this process is a little more flexible and takes slightly longer than a traditional auction. The “exchange” does not happen immediately when the auction ends. Instead, the buyer pays a non-refundable reservation fee and then has 28 days to exchange contracts. Then follows a further 28 days between exchange and completion.
- Equity Release — if you’re aged over 55 (some schemes are only available to those aged 65+), you can sell your home or a share of it to an equity release provider. This will give you access to the equity — the value of your interest — in your home while allowing you to remain living there. You can also opt for a lifetime mortgage that gives you a lump sum; you can pay off the debt gradually or it can be taken from the proceeds of selling the property after you die.
- Part-Exchange — if you’re selling your home to fund the purchase of a new-build property, part-exchange (PX) might be an option. Some property developers offer a PX scheme that allows you to sell your home and purchase the new property in one transaction. The developer will value your home and agree on a price with you. This amount will then be deducted from the cost of your new build.
- Quick House Sale Companies — Selling to a reputable quick house sale company is the only way to achieve a guaranteed sale in a matter of days. With House Buyer Bureau, there are no estate agent or solicitor’s fees to pay and we have the funds to buy any type of property in any condition in as little as seven days. We have adapted our processes to allow us to operate entirely remotely. Selling to us involves three simple steps — provide us with information about your property, speak to our friendly team and get a cash offer, get a survey then complete and exchange. There’s no need to spend time and money improving your home or advertising it and you won’t have to endure the inconvenience or emotional upset of viewings.
If you want to sell your house without an estate agent but you lack the time and resources to manage the whole sale process yourself, get in touch with our friendly team of experts and find out more about selling your home for cash to House Buyer Bureau.