How do I sell my house privately without involving an estate agent?
There are many reasons why you’d want to sell your house without an estate agent. One of the top reasons for wanting to sell privately is a lack of trust in estate agents in general.
How Can I Sell My House Without An Estate Agent?
- Make your house saleable.
- Take good pictures.
- Perform the valuation.
- Write the house description.
- Choose the best month to list.
- List it online.
- Arrange and manage the viewings.
- Take part in the negotiations.
- Accept or reject any offers made.
- Instruct a solicitor.
- Manage the sales process.
In an Ipsos Mori poll in October 2018, estate agents still rank low on the trust scale of trusted professions, with only 30% of people trusting estate agents.
The other main reason many want to sell their house privately is to save on estate agency fees, which on average is anywhere between 1% to 3% plus VAT.
The 11 steps to sell your house without an estate agent
Use these eleven steps to sell your house without an estate agent.
Step #1 to sell your house without an estate agent – Make your house saleable
Making your house saleable is something you need to do come what may. You want to make sure that potential buyers get a good first impression of your house. One of the top reasons why houses don’t sell is because the house is not shown in its best light.
The interesting thing is and something that always amazes me is it’s rare for an estate agent to offer guidance on this point without first being prompted.
But if you going to sell your house privately, of course you’re going to have to think about this yourself.
You need to be making your house as sellable as you possible. This not only includes updating the decoration and repair of your house, but also clearing away the clutter too.
Buyers want to see the rooms for what they are, they don’t want to see rooms used as storage.
It’s a know fact that kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms in a house that can traditionally sell houses. But before you do a complete upgrade your kitchen, be mindful there are cheaper ways to repair and improve it without spending a fortune.
If you do a makeover and repair any damaged doors or paint over or replace the doors where your kitchen has the old fashioned styles, people will be able to see they can live with it until they can afford to change it themselves.
Also, when you decorate your house in preparation for selling, don’t use the old magnolia colour. Magnolia is out dated now. When you choose a paint pallet for your makeover, choose something neutral.
Step #2 to sell your house without an estate agent – Taking great pictures of your house to show it off well
Now that you have done a makeover of your home and done a declutter, it’s time to take some photos of your property. People like to see lots of photos and you should be at least taking a photo of the front and back of the property, along with each room of the house.
If however the photos you take don’t do your house any justice, then don’t include them. A bad photo is worse than no photo at all.
If photography is not your strong point, consider using a professional photographer to get the best shots of your house instead.
Step #3 to sell your house – To sell your house yourself you’ll need to value it and set the selling price
It’s normally at this stage where you’d be relying on the expertise of an estate agent.
I say ‘expertise‘ but estate agents get it wrong and you have access to similar information to them. But also, some estate agents deliberately inflate house valuations in order to manipulate sellers.
This is one such tactic that makes people not trust estate agents, as it’s done to flatter you into thinking your home is worth more than it is, thereby manipulating you into using the particular estate agent.
By doing the valuation yourself you avoid this problem and you don’t have to go through the process of choosing an estate agent.
Getting price comparables from online websites
Using a combination of these three property websites you’ll be able to evaluate nearby comparable properties. Look at historical sales and as far as possible, make sure you are comparing houses as close to yours as you can and as similar as yours too.
For example, if your home is a three bed terraced house, don’t go comparing it with a four bed detached house. You need to compare like with like.
However, if your home is quirky and different, putting a valuation on it becomes more tricky. Also, if houses have not been sold in your street for some time so there are no comparables, this makes it more difficult too.
Your task is to compare similar homes to yours that a currently on the market for sale, but be mindful of the date these were listed. Don’t use the prices of properties that have been sitting on the market for months on end not selling. This usually means one of two things.
The first reason is an unrealistic asking price. The seconds is the house is in a real state. Having said that, even if the house is in a real state, there’s always a market for this type of property.
But this always goes back to the selling price. There’s always someone who will buy your property no matter what state it’s in. But if it’s in a bad state of repair, then the price needs to reflect this.
Using local estate agents near you to value your house
Although this may be seen as a ‘bit naughty’, there’s no reason why you couldn’t enlist the services of local estate agents to help you value your property.
I suggest you do this for two reasons. The first reason is that you will hopefully get a better idea of what your property is worth from local experts.
In addition to asking for them to value your house, you will be able to ask them what the market is like and ask them what is selling in the current market. Remember this service is free, as estate agents only charge when the house is sold.
The second reason, which in my opinion justifies asking agents to do your valuation for free is you never know you may actually decide to list with one of these agents after all. As a part of asking them around to value your house, you will find out about their business and what they charge to sell your house.
Estate agents know this, as they are in competition with other agents in any event. If after interviewing say three estate agents you decide to list it yourself, there’s no harm done.
Step #4 to sell your house – Describe your house in the best possible light, but be honest about it’s condition
You’ve taken the photos of your newly decorated and de-cluttered house and you’ve put a valuation on it. Now it’s time to describe your house.
You need to write something about your house that’s going to entice people to want to see it. However, avoid using long descriptive paragraphs, as people are not interested in this. Make sure to include the address and post code of the property in your description.
Keep the information short and sweet. List the characteristics of your property, for example: 3 bed end of terraced house; 1 main bathroom and 1 en-suite bathroom; 2 reception rooms; etc.
It’s also a good idea to include a floor plan. This doesn’t need to be to scale, as the ones produced by estate agents are not.
For help on this, take a look at estate agent websites and other properties listed on Rightmove.
Step #5 to sell your house – Choose the best month to list your property to give you the best chance to sell it
Choosing the right month to list your property is almost as important to listing it at the correct valuation. The best months to sell your property run from the end of February through to June time. But the worst months to sell include January, August and December.
If you are able to wait until the best month to sell your property, you should. If you list it in the wrong month you could have your house stagnate on you. Buyers are put off by houses that have been on the market for a long time.
Step #6 to sell your house – List your property online to be found by potential buyers
As a part of the ‘do it yourself’ approach to selling your home, you will need to list it yourself too. There are for sale by owner websites geared up for DIY sellers. These include websites such as thehouseshop.com and houseladder.co.uk.
These type of websites don’t charge a commission in the way that estate agents charge, but instead make their money with add-on services and through targeted advertising.
Websites like thehouseshop.com will also help with the valuation of your house, but for this you will need to enter your details.
What these type of websites don’t have is access to the best house sales websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. However, another website that does have access to Rightmove, but at an additional fee is visum.co.uk.
In addition to advertising with ‘for sale by owner‘ websites described above, you can also list your property on Facebook, Twitter or Gumtree.
But don’t forget that you can also sell your property ‘off-line’ by advertising it in local newspapers and magazines.
Additionally, you have the option of approaching us directly, as we are interested in buying houses directly from vendors. Use our contact page to get in touch if you’d like to see how this works.
Contact us to sell your house
We would especially recommend you contact us if you don’t have the money to update your property in step #1 above. Or additionally, if your back is against the wall and you have any of the following problems:
- If you can’t get rid of your house and it won’t sell.
- You are in negative equity and need a solution to moving home.
- Are you in arrears and behind on your mortgage payments and are you are about to be repossessed?
Step #7 to sell your house – If you’re selling your own house you will have to arrange and manage the viewings
This is one of the services that estate agents provide as a part of their fees. They are normally on hand to show your property to prospective buyers for you. But if you are selling your house without an estate agent, then you will need to do the viewings.
If you are working during the day, this may make it more difficult where people want to view your property at this time. But if you have a trusted local friend or a member of the family who lives locally to you, you could ask them to do the viewing on your behalf.
Failing this, you simply arrange viewings for evenings or at weekends when you are at your property. Always remember to allow your potential buyers space. Once you feel you can trust these people in your house, allow them space to view the rooms on their own, once you’ve shown them around.
But of course never leave any valuables or money on the side for temptation.
Consider your own safety with viewings
If you are going to show your home yourself, make sure you consider the safety implications. you will be allowing strangers into your home. If possible, make sure the viewings are done when you have your partner or a friend with you.
Step #8 to sell your house – When you’re selling without an estate agent you’ll be the one who takes part in all negotiations with buyers on price
This is where a traditional estate agent comes into play, as they are your buffer between the negotiations on price.
If you go down the route of selling your house privately without involving an estate agent, you will have to be prepared to negotiate directly with buyers.
When you are negotiating, make sure to keep a clear head. Don’t become intimidated by price negotiations. It helps to know what you are willing to accept for your house, before you enter into negotiations.
The first time this happens it’s normal to feel nervous, but like anything, once you’ve done it once it gets easier after that.
There’s nothing wrong in turning down any offer. But always do this professionally and politely. You always want to leave the door open for the person to come back with a higher offer if they choose to.
You want to keep negotiations friendly so that your buyers feel comfortable in approaching you each time.
Step #9 to sell your house – Without an estate agent to negotiate for you, you will be the one who accepts or rejects offers made
Initially it’s okay to agree an offer verbally, but then get this in writing either by letter or by email.
But always remember that this is not legally binding in the UK. The sale of your property only becomes legally binding at the point of exchange of contracts.
Step #10 to sell your house – In the same was as with selling using an estate agent, you will need to instruct a solicitor
This is something you would have to do whether you choose to sell using an estate agent or not. At the point you accept the offer and you ask for it in writing, it’s a good idea to ask your buyer to email details of their solicitor at the same time.
This is the part that I don’t recommend you do as a DIY. You need to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to sort out the legal work. But as you would when employing the services of any professional, make sure you do your research in order to find a good one. Finding a solicitor by recommendation is always a good place to start.
You don’t have to use a solicitor, as licensed conveyancers tend to be cheaper than solicitors and do the same job.
Step #11 to sell your house – Without an estate agent you’ll have to managing the sales process from beginning to end
Now that you’ve accepted the offer and instructed a solicitor, you will need to push the process along. You may also need to deal with an price renegotiation’s that arise out of a survey being carried out on your property.
Where things crop up on a survey, always look at this objectively. If something major does turn up it’s only fair that this be taken into account in the price that is paid.
You can either agree to do the work yourself before exchange of contracts or agree a price reduction to reflect the fact that the buyers will have to carry out the work themselves.
Depending on what’s discovered in the survey, it maybe that the buyers mortgage lender may require the work to be carried out before the house completes.
If your buyer does tell you about an area of concern, ask to see a copy of the survey, as it could be a ruse to beat you down on price.
These negotiations are what is normally undertaken by your estate agent. It’s a part of their job to liaise with both solicitors and to make sure everything runs smoothly and quickly.
Estate agents are paid only when the house is sold and when it completes. So it’s in their interest to move things along. But as you are selling your house privately, you will have to be the one doing the ‘pushing’.
Good luck with selling your house if you choose to go it alone and sell your house without using an estate agent.
Before I close this article, I want to answer a few other related questions around this subject.
Can I sell my house privately after listing with an estate agent?
A question that sellers ask is whether it’s possible to sell their house privately after listing it with an estate agent.
The answer is yes, but check your listing agreement you have with your estate agent. Normally you have a ‘tie-in’ period. This is usually around 8 weeks for a sole agency agreement.
Once this lock-in period is over, you are free to either go with another agent if your house hasn’t sold or to sell your house privately.
But before you do anything, consider carefully why your house hasn’t sold with the estate agent. Before you blame the agent, look at the feedback you’ve had. If for example, you’ve had plenty of viewings, but no offers, this could be one of two reasons.
Reason number one is usually price. If the price your house has been listed with the agent is their valuation, you need to check this with other agents or your own research.
However, if instead you went against what the agent suggested and put a higher valuation on your house (perhaps you need to achieve the higher valuation to pay off your existing mortgage), you are unlikely to sell your house privately either.
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