How to sell a house without an estate agent
Can you sell a house without an estate agent?
With most charging between 1 percent and 3 percent of the property sale price, and property prices rising quickly, 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?
In this guide
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.
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, as 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 77 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 to ensure it will be well advertised.
It’s also important that your estate agent is proactive in giving your property a presence in their shop window and targets any buyers on their books who may be interested in your property. If 77 percent of would-be buyers search online, almost one in four buyers (23 percent) prefer to deal directly with a local estate agent.
Accompanied viewings are more likely to result in a property sale than owner-hosted viewings, so it’s a valuable part of the service offers 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, addressing any concerns and altering 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 and, as most estate agents charge a percentage of the final sale price, it’s in their interest to achieve the best price possible. When presenting you with an offer, your estate agent should also give you information about the buyer’s circumstances, including whether they’re in a property chain and their motivation for moving. Your estate agent should also ensure the buyer has an Agreement in Principle for any mortgage required before your property is removed from the market.
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, and 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, and is likely to be significantly 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 £265,000 are likely to be between £2,650 and £7,950. 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, and some even offer an online valuation estimate. You can utilise these to form the basis of your asking price, but it is important to point out 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, so 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 you whether to sell your house with or without an estate agent, you could ask some local estate agents to value your property and see about how you feel about selling your property privately after they’ve spoken to you about the service they offer.
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 consider the significant cost that will be incurred.
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 or whether you’d need to get some help, and who you might ask.
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 where owners can list their properties for sale, 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?
There are some private sale websites where owners can list their properties for sale, 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 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 selling a house without an estate agent, you’ll need to consider how you would feel about 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 negotiations, for example if anything concerning is found as part of the property survey. Negotiating is a skill, so it’s important you ensure you would feel comfortable handling this aspect of a property sale before deciding to sell your house without an estate agent.
What are the alternatives to selling your house privately?
If you’re considering selling a house without an estate agent, it’s important that you think carefully about what the alternatives are and how much of a commitment they would require from you.
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 which 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 56 and 261 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.
Find out more about:
- How to sell a house without an estate agent
- What to do if your house sale falls through
- Companies that buy houses – how do they work?
- What is gazumping?
- Making an offer on a house before selling your existing home
- Can I sell my house with an ongoing neighbour dispute?
- Step-by-step guide to selling your house
- How to sell your house – which way is best?
- Home buying companies – scams to avoid!
- Selling my house to a cash buyer – Read our 5 top tips