How to sell a house without an estate agent

Can you sell a house without an estate agent?

With most charging 1-3% of the property sale price, it may be tempting to explore the idea of selling your property without an estate agent. It is possible? Is it sensible? And how much money could you save by selling your house privately?

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In this guide

  1. What do traditional estate agents offer?
  2. Can you sell a house without an estate agent?
  3. How to sell your house without an estate agent and save money
  4. Things to consider before you sell your property
  5. Marketing your property
  6. What are the alternatives to selling your house privately?

What do traditional estate agents offer?

We should start by looking at the role an estate agent will usually play in selling a house.

A good estate agent should guide you through the house selling process and provide an invaluable service at each step.

Property valuation

When you first decide to sell your property, you should ask several estate agents to visit your property and give you a valuation. They should use their local market knowledge, along with examples of similar properties they’ve recently sold, to justify the price they suggest asking for your property.

Pricing your home correctly is crucial. The first two weeks after a property goes on the market should be the busiest, in terms of viewings. Price it too high and you’re likely to limit the amount of interest the property receives. Even if you reduce the price quickly, you could still experience a lengthy time on market. This is because homes that are initially overpriced take around 50 percent longer to sell.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Before you put your property on the market, you will need to have your property’s energy performance assessed. Usually arranged by your estate agent, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement before any property can be marketed. The assessment and resulting certificate provide prospective buyers will information about your property’s current and potential energy efficiency.

Floorplan

As part of your property marketing, your estate agent will put together a floorplan of your home. A floor plan is a great addition to your property listing. In a recent survey, 88 percent of respondents said that a floor plan is essential or very useful when buying a property.

A floor plan can help prospective buyers decide whether your property is right for them before they book a viewing. This means any viewings are more likely to convert to offers.

Property description

The description in your property listing is your best opportunity to sell your home to would-be buyers. Your estate agent should know which aspects of your property will appeal most to its target audience, and produce a description that will attract lots of interest.

Photography

Good quality, professional photography will have a big impact on how much interest your property receives. An estate agent will know how to photograph a home in order to show it off at its best.

Marketing

Once you are ready to put your property on the market, you need to advertise it where potential buyers can see it.

It is estimated that 78 percent of home hunters search for their next property online, so it’s important that your property is listed on the most popular property search websites. The top three property portals – Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla – are only available to estate agents. It’s important to ask estate agents where your property will be listed before you sign a contract with them. This will help you ensure it will be well advertised.

It’s also important that your estate agent is proactive in targeting any buyers on their books who may be interested in your property.

Viewings

Accompanied viewings are more likely to result in a property sale than owner-hosted viewings. This makes it a valuable part of the service offered by estate agents. Prospective buyers are far more likely to be honest about your property during a viewing with an estate agent. The feedback provided can be used to shape and adapt your property’s marketing strategy. It will give you the opportunity to address any concerns and alter the asking price, if necessary.

Screening potential buyers and managing negotiations

One of an estate agent’s most important tasks is to screen potential buyers and negotiate an attractive sale price for your home.

Negotiations are often easier when managed by an estate agent. As most estate agents charge a percentage of the final sale price, it’s also in their interest to achieve the best price possible. When presenting you with an offer, your estate agent should provide information about the buyer’s circumstances. This should include whether they’re in a property chain and their motivation for moving.

Your estate agent should also ensure the buyer has a mortgage Agreement in Principle before the offer is accepted.

Sales progression 

Once a sale has been agreed, your estate agent should proactively work with you and your buyer to progress the sale through to successful completion. They will also be the contact to arrange the handover of keys on moving day.

Can you sell a house without an estate agent?

As you can see from the areas outlined above, estate agents play a significant role in a house sale. Their job is about far more than just ‘advertising’ a property.

Selling a house without an estate agent is possible, but it will require a greater time commitment from you. It is also likely to be more challenging and stressful than selling via an estate agent.

How to sell your house without an estate agent and save money 

If you’re serious about selling your house without an estate agent, there is the potential to save several thousand pounds. Estate agent fees on the current average UK sale price of £282,000 are likely to be between £2,820 and £8,460. The more your property is worth, the more you could save by selling your house without an estate agent. However, there are several things you’ll need to consider at each stage of the process.

Things to consider before you sell your property:

How will you decide on an asking price?

If you are considering selling a house without an estate agent, the first thing you’ll need to consider is how you will decide on an asking price for your property.

Most of the big property portals have the ability to search recent sold prices in your area. Some even offer an online valuation estimate. You can utilise these to form the basis of your asking price. It is important to point out, however, that sold house price information will be at least three months old (and a lot can happen in three months in the property market).

Any online valuation estimates are usually based on last selling price and the general pattern of what has happened to house prices since. It won’t take into account any work you’ve done to your property and will never be as accurate as a home visit valuation from an estate agent.

If you’re undecided about whether to sell your house with or without an estate agent, you could ask some local estate agents to value your property. Hearing about the service they offer may help to give you a clearer idea about how you want to proceed.

Who will take the photographs?

Property photography is a skill. An estate agent will know how to take photographs that show your property off at its best. If you decide to sell your house without an estate agent, you’ll need to think about who will take the photographs that will help you market your property to potential buyers. If you hire a professional photographer to come and take the pictures, you’ll need to factor in that cost.

Will you write your own property description?

An estate agent will know what to say in your property description to attract buyers. If you’re selling your house without an estate agent, you’ll need to think about whether you’d be happy to write your own property description. If not, who might you ask for help?

Getting an EPC

Legally, you will need to get an EPC assessment carried out at your property before you put it on the market. You can find a local assessor here.

Marketing your property:

Where will you advertise your property, and will you get enough interest?

Once your property is ready to go on the market, it’s time to think about how and where you’ll advertise it. The most popular property search portals are only available to estate agents, so you’ll need to think of other options.

There are some private sale websites that you might want to explore. Some are free to use, others charge a fee.

You may also want to consider utilising social media. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to homes for sale in different geographical areas, so it might be worth searching for one close to you. You can also post details of your property on your own social media accounts and ask friends and family to share it.

How comfortable would you feel about conducting your own viewings?

If you get requests for viewings, you’ll need to think about how you plan to manage them. What do you want prospective buyers to know about your home? Are there any questions that are likely to come up during a viewing that you should prepare answers for in advance?

Are you happy to negotiate directly with the buyer?

If you’re considering selling a house without an estate agent, you’ll need to think about how you would handle negotiating with prospective buyers. Your estate agent would usually handle not only the initial negotiations when an offer is first made, but also any subsequent renegotiations if, for example, something concerning is found as part of the property survey. Negotiating is a skill, so it’s important to think about whether you would feel comfortable handling this aspect of a property sale. If you want to sell your house without an estate agent, negotiating will be a bit part of your role.

What are the alternatives to selling your house privately?

If you’re considering selling a house without an estate agent, it’s important to think carefully about the alternatives. What are your options and how much commitment would they require?

If demand for property in your local area is strong, and there are limited properties available, you may find it fairly easy to find a buyer. In this situation, prospective buyers are likely to widen their search beyond the main property portals and estate agent windows. If, however, there are plenty of properties on the market, you may find that would-be buyers don’t look any further than the main three portals. In this case, you may find it challenging to attract interest in your property.

Even if you use an estate agent, there are no guarantees about when your property will sell. According to recent figures, homes in England and Wales typically spend between 41 and 241 days on the market.

If you want to avoid selling via an estate agent but aren’t sure you’re prepared to sell your property yourself, there are a couple of other options you could consider. A sale to a home buying company or via property auction could offer you more control over your property sale and provide a quicker and more certain sale.

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