Going Solo: Selling your House Without an Estate Agent

Going solo, how to sell your house without an estate agent

With suspicion surrounding estate agents being on a par with politicians and car salesmen when it comes to being one of the least trusted professions in the UK, it’s no wonder so many are choosing to sell their house themselves.

Keeping that in mind,  how do you sell a house by yourself exactly? Below we take a closer look at the steps necessary to successfully close a DIY house sale as well as some alternative selling options & much more.

      1. Preparing & Conducting a DIY Sale
      2. Reasons for not using an Estate Agent
      3. The Pro’s & Con’s for Self Selling
      4. Alternative Options to Selling your House
      5. A Final Word

1) Preparing & Conducting a DIY Sale

No matter which of the avenues used to sell a property without an agent, there are steps that need to be taken prior to beginning the sales process.

i) Get a House Valuation

Of course, when you sell via an estate agent they carry out a valuation for you. When selling solo it’s down to you to ensure you pick a realistic market value that doesn’t leave you out of pocket nor over-estimate it’s worth. The following are ways to determine the price:

  • Research the price of homes in your area using resources such as Zoopla and Right Move.
  • Use a free valuation service like Property Price Advice or Mouse Price
  • Track house price trends such as those collated by the Land Registry and accessed via the co.uk website and Nationwide’s House Price Index.
  • Check out housing forecasts such as those on House Price Crash.

While none of these methods should be considered 100% accurate, utilising all that’s available should provide you with the necessary information to decide a realistic asking price.

It’s always worth contacting local estate agents to find out if they offer a non-commitment valuation service, and if so, be sure to take advantage of this.

ii) Get an Energy Performance Certificate

This is a legal requirement and needs to be done before your house is advertised. Getting this done as soon as possible will drastically reduce how long it will take to sell your property. It’s done by an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor, someone you can find through the official EPC register website. The cost varies, from as low as £30 to around £120, so it pays to shop around. If your home has been sold or let out within the past decade then check if the EPC is still valid via the Retrieve an Energy Performance Certificate website.

Unless you have a buyer already lined up,  the next steps involve getting into the heart of the selling process.

iii) Take Photos & Write a Description

Photos are your key tool that tempts potential buyers to visit. Unless you’re a professional photographer (or a talented amateur) this is the one area that pays to get an expert involved.

It’s worth considering whether a 3D virtual tour might also be an asset. Packages for these and professional photos vary dramatically in price so shop around for a good deal. Don’t forget the all-important floor plan: this, combined with top quality internal and external pictures, is what’s going to draw viewers.

When it comes to a description the term ‘less is more’ should be your mantra. In today’s world of information those words are likely to be skimmed over in favour of the pictures. A few concise lines are all that’s needed – although be sure to get them proofread by a trusted person to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical gaffs.

v) Advertise

6 advertising options for a do it yourself sale

Without the use of an agent (be they traditional or hybrid) you can’t take advantage of portals such as Right Move and Zoopla.  However, the online world has evolved to take the growing number of private sellers into consideration.

Facebook, Twitter and eBay are all places to advertise, and there’s an ever-growing number of portals known as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO websites, that allow you to list your property for free (their income is made through other advertising and service). These include The House Shop, House Web and House Ladder.

While online advertising has a long reach, don’t dismiss more traditional methods such as your local paper and even an old-fashioned card in shop windows or at the supermarket. Finally don’t forget to display a For Sale board outside your property!

v) Book & Host Viewings

Prospective buyers are an impatient lot, so the sooner you reply to any interest the better. Book them in for specific time slots (allow a decent amount of time to show them round) and put up with the inevitable no shows and comments about your décor.

Common-sense security is crucial, such as having a second person at home when viewers arrive and not leaving keys or valuables lying around.

Much as it’s a bit of an effort, ensuring your house is kept free from clutter and the garden is neat and tidy means that you’re able to invite viewers in at short notice maximising every avenue of potential that might convert into an offer.

vi) The Process of Negotiating

Once an offer is made you have three choices:

  • Accept
  • Negotiate
  • Refuse

Only you can decide which is the correct action. The crucial factor here is to know your minimum price and stick to it. All negotiations should be kept friendly, even if you’re refusing an offer. Who knows, they might rethink and come back with a better price, but if you’ve put them off with your attitude they’re likely to look elsewhere. Generally speaking acting in this manner is a big turn off for all types home buyers so do your best to remain calm and polite throughout the negoation process

Once a price has been agreed you’ll need to get this in writing (email will suffice) and then hand all the legalities over to your solicitor.

However, the negotiations may well continue post-survey if anything unexpected crops up. Should this happen, be sure to request a copy of the survey. It’s not unheard of for potential buyers to pretend there’s an issue to get a reduction, so make sure you see proof. Even if you do decide to drop the price, a good rule of thumb is to aim to split the expense 50:50 with the buyer.

2) Reasons Why Some People Don’t Use Estate Agents

It’s all good and well knowing how to sell a house on your own but if the con’s outweigh the benefits for you, is it really worth it?

Let’s take a look at some examples of why people may not want to sell using an estate agent.

  • By far the main reason people choose to go it alone is down to money. According to Which, estate agents take anything from 0.75% to 3.5% of the selling fee as their commission. This adds up to an awful lot of money, something that many would prefer to pocket themselves and put up with the legwork involved when conducting a DIY house sale.
  • Previous bad experiences may put doubts in the minds of homeowners and the already mentioned distrust of agents may put them totally off.
  • Some people prefer more control over all aspects of the sale.
  • With the huge array of online marketing tools available nowadays it can be argued that selling your home by yourself is easier than it’s ever been.
  • Real estate agents gain experience on the job meaning to get enough good at it, they need to have been apart of dozens and dozens of sales. The sad reality is that the majority of agents simply don’t acquire that many sales in a reasonable amount of time which leaves the margin for error or something to go wrong pretty high.

3) The Pro’s & Con’s of Self Selling

Of course, selling a house yourself isn’t all glitter and stardust, there’s always a downside. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly and you should consider all options before putting your efforts into a DIY sale.

The pro's and con's of a do it yourself house sale

4) Alternative Options to Selling your House

Despite estate agents not being high on the trust list, they are still by far the most used option when it comes to selling a house.

The different house selling options in percentages

With that in mind, let’s look at the options available if you don’t want to sell your house through a traditional high street agent.

We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each of these methods in a moment. But let’s first look at some of the reasons why you might prefer to eschew the estate agent and embrace the DIY approach.

i) Selling to an Already Interested Party

This, of course, is the gold standard when it comes to DIY house selling, and could well negate the need for professional photographs and advertising, not to mention the time-consuming effort of multiple viewings. If you’re lucky enough to be in such a situation you can even take the sale price account depending on the value you put on your time and the convenience of knowing a sale is highly likely.

Of course, there’s always a danger that the sale might fall through, in which case you’ll be back with the decision of whether or not to sell your house yourself or use a high street agent.

ii) Advertise via Local & Online Sources

The plus point is that when a sale’s achieved there’s no commission to take into account. Depending on your thought process this either means more money in your pocket or that you can offer your house for a slightly lower value, so perhaps encouraging a quicker sale. As long as you have the time and the tenacity this can be an effective way to sell your home.

However, doing so is incredibly time-intensive, you don’t have the same marketing skills as an estate agent who does this for a living, and you can’t use the big online advertising portals that the majority of people use for a property search.

Another aspect is the negotiating scenario. This is often where estate agents come into their own, with their expertise meaning that final selling price settled on could be higher than one you might achieve.

iii) Sell via a House Buying Service

Selling your house via a house buying service isn’t only a valid option, it can, in certain scenarios, be more cost-effective. Not only do you benefit from a guaranteed sale within a short amount of time (typically 14 days) but there’s no commission, no risk, no legal fees and you’re guaranteed to complete. Working with a reputable buying service ensures a clear, easy to follow process, and completely removes all the usual stresses associated with the sale of property.

iv) Sell via a Hybrid Agent

Many people confuse selling a house without an agent with that of a hybrid or online agent. Such online agents handle some aspects of a sale, including photos, description, advertising but leave other aspects to you. This could include handling viewings and any negotiation processes.

The advantage is that the cost is far less than that of a traditional estate agent (typically a fixed fee), but in some cases this is paid whether or not your house sells. While many of these agents will list your property on Zoopla and the like, it’s worth checking before you sign on the dotted line.

5) A Final Word

While there’s been a massive rise in the popularity of various online agents, not all is as rosy as they’d like you to believe, as can be seen from the many poor online reviews, such as the 1.3 out of 5 that Purple Bricks gets on the biggest UK property review website, All Agents.

Estate agent, purple brick reviews

When considering the best way to sell your property there’s a number of things to consider. If you’re willing to put in the time, happy to show people around your house, prepared to negotiate and confident in determining a realistic value for your home, then going solo could be for you.

However, if you’re time constrained, worried about your ability to successfully advertise, concerned that you won’t get the best price or believe that’s it’s always preferable to take advice from the pros, then an agent might be the way to go. Whatever your preference there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to successful house selling.

In many instances the no-agent approach can reap rewards, but it is something to be approached only after you’ve considered all your options.

Now it’s your turn – do you prefer to sell via an estate agent or by yourself? We’d love to hear from you – post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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