How To Sell A House Privately Without An Estate Agent
Selling your house without an estate agent - is it worth it?
Over the past decade, selling a house privately has gradually become more ‘on trend’, as buyers elbow agents aside in search of superior speed and efficiency. Two qualities you don’t often get on the open market, especially if you’re caught up in a chain. However, private house sales haven’t just become popular overnight.
Initially, how to sell a house without an estate agent wasn’t even something homeowners would consider, what with agents being the ‘tradition’ so to speak. In fact, go to an agent and they’ll be the first to tell you their business comes primarily from word of mouth.
But now, thanks to the broad scope of choice that’s available, what with the internet, sellers today aren’t so attached to tradition.
Instead they focus more on value and what they receive as part of sale.
So ever since they’ve found out that selling your house privately can not only save time, but money too, they’ve jumped at the chance. How do you sell a house without an agent? Read on to find out…
Do I need an estate agent to sell my house?
Contrary to common belief, you don’t need an estate agent to sell your house. In fact, there’s quite a few ways in which you can secure a sale without one. When it comes to private house sales, there’s 3 methods you should be aware of…
Selling your house privately on the open market – We’re not going to lie - this is you putting yourself in the deep end. Not that it can’t be done. It’d just mean you’d take on practically all of an agent’s responsibilities yourself. So that’d be marketing, viewings, negotiations, legals, the lot. Saying that though, if you have a lot of time on your hands, this could save you a pretty packet.
Selling your house privately to friends or family – If this is the case you can pop the champers and celebrate, because you won’t need to market your property full stop, nor deal with viewings either. Negotiations are likely to be less ‘harsh’ too, because you know the buyer well. The only thing you’ll have to DIY is nudging solicitors to get the sale through fast.
Selling a house privately to a property buying company – Arguably the easiest way to sell a house privately is to go through a property cash buyer (like us). Do this and you’ll not only avoid agent’s fees, but you’ll also be given a cash offer, so you’ve got a solid idea of your budget moving forward. Neither will you have to deal with any of the legal admin to push your sale through, as a cash buyer will do all that on your behalf.
What fees do I pay when I sell my house?
Not only do agents come at cost, but it’s usually quite a hefty one too. The majority of agent’s fees are a percentage, although some (typically those online) use a flat fee as a way to attract higher value properties.
However, the level of fee can vary and typically sits anywhere in-between 0.75% and 3%. The general rule is the more expensive your property, the lower the percentage you’ll be charged. But don’t be fooled by appearances.
While percentages like 0.75% look small, when applied to a heft amount, they’re actually quite a bit. Still confused about agent’s fees? Here’s an example to wrap your head around…
You have two houses - one with a value of £200,000 and another that’s worth £1 million.
After squeezing in a couple of valuations you’re left with an agent who offers to sell both properties, each for a different rate.
For the house worth £200,000, they’d be charging you 1.5% - this translates as £3000.
Then for the property that’s worth £1 million, they’d be charging 0.5% - this translates as £5000.
And then you’ve got to question why an agent’s fee is based on the sale price in the first place. After all, you pay an agent for their time, so the more you look at it, this pricing model doesn’t really make all that much sense.
A small sale worth £200k could cause an agent a lot of hassle and take up days of their time just to get sold. Yet a quick sale of a £1 million property is likely to come at a higher cost.
In reality agents don’t go far below 0.75% unless they think they could sell the house fast. A crafty way to gauge whether the asking price they’ve given you, is perhaps not as close to your property’s true value as they’d like you to believe.
FYI: For your reference, the average house price in the UK is £249,633.
How do you sell a house without an agent?
Selling a house privately without an agent can actually be pretty easy once you know how.
However, just like with anything, the first time can be quite daunting, especially if property jargon like conveyancing or subsidence leaves you a bit bamboozled.
So to ensure you’re clued up on how private house sales work, we’ve broken the process down into bitesize steps. We call it our guide on selling a house without an estate agent…
Before even considering marketing your property to buyers, you first need to ensure its looking its best.
This goes for those selling a house privately, or those using an agent. Although how BIG you choose to go here is entirely up to you.
So if you're on a tight budget, this could be simply clearing the garden, giving the walls a new lick of paint or just a general spring clean.
However, if you can see that there's value to be added by installing a new kitchen, bathroom or even adding an extension, that could be a viable option too.
Plus, it's worth remembering that the better you do here, the more likely your property will achieve a good value, as well as retain it come survey time.
Structure your prices realistically
When selling a house privately, setting the correct price is key, as unlike with an agent you've only got yourself to blame.
So we suggest you don't just set one price, but three...
Your upper (The highest you'd go)
Your asking price (the price you ask for the property)
Your lower (the lowest you'd go)
Take it from us, this is one of, if not the most important part of the entire operation, as your price very often directly influences your level of interest.
Something you cannot afford to get wrong when selling your property without an agent.
Guesses simply aren't good enough here - you need solid evidence.
The easiest way to get this evidence is to hop online and check out what's currently on the market in your local area.
By doing so you're looking for comparable - properties with roughly the same square footage, number of bedrooms, size of garden, parking spaces etc.
Basically, the closer you can get to your property, it's likely the more accurately you'll be able to estimate the value of your own.
And while sold prices are a good form of info, do also bear in mind the market at the time.
For instance, properties sold during the Stamp Duty Holiday may have sold for a healthy amount because at the time demand was high.
In the end, a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay, despite whether you're using an agent or selling a house privately.
Also, quite a few agents these days are prone to overvaluing homes too, just as a way to get them in their shop window.
Hence why you should never judge a house on its asking price - always take that with a pinch of salt.
The easiest way to gauge where your property fits pricewise, is enter the role of the buyer yourself.
You've done your market research (just like a buyer would) and now all you have to do is take a tour of your house, but through the eyes of someone who's not seen it before.
So what we mean by this is try and fathom what you would focus on as a buyer.
Is there perhaps something your property doesn't have that others in that price region do? A driveway for instance.
Or is there just an issue that would give you as a buyer something to nit-pick at?
Do this and you should be able to coin an accurate price, which could hopefully help you sell your house quickly.
Write a compelling description
Don't underestimate the power of your description.
This is a trap a LOT of agents fall into because (A) they don't 'have the time' and (B) have 'more important' things to do.
Even though this little detail, can make a big difference come sale time! The typical agent description will go something like...
"A three-bed cottage with beautiful views situated in an enviable location". And later on you'll probably find talk of a "good range of fitted base and wall units", oh and not forgetting the classic "well-stocked south facing garden". Hardly what you'd call compelling to read (yawn).
To attract the buyer you're after, instead of making your description a list of features, try showing the buyer how these features can benefit them. So for instance...
"Peeping over the peaks of the Pennines lies the idyllic retreat that is Muswell Cottage.
Arrive by road and as you pull up the private driveway, you'll notice the tranquillity in the air, all despite the local shops only being less two miles away. Muswell Cottage comes with heritage too. Current owners Mark and Jackie..."
Hopefully you see what we did there. One provokes a very generic image, while the other adds a personal touch to the listing - especially important for anyone looking to sell a house privately that's brimming in character and charm.
Selling a house privately requires professional pictures
Pictures. They're ultimately the main form of property market for attracting buyers, so it's essential they're up to a professional standard. However, there are a few things, we'd encourage you to note...
Hiring a pro is the most sensible way to get your property's visuals to stand out, however this will come at a cost if you sell a house privately on the open market.
It's great that photos can be edited, but don't overdo it. Obvious editing can look a bit 'try hard' and could well put potential buyers off.
Wide angle lenses are fantastic, but remember, you've got to manage expectations. So yes, while a wide angle lens may mean your property looks twice as appealing (i.e. spacious) on the photos, if the difference between the pictures and reality is too great, buyers may not be happy bunnies when faced with viewing the property in real life.
How to list my property for sale online
While if you sell a house privately on the open market you won't be able to access any of the major property portals (Zoopla, On The Market, Rightmove etc.), you will be able to list your home for sale online.
Also, when it comes to marketing your property, don't underestimate the power of social media too.
There's a strong online community around property, which if you tap into, could well be the source of a quick sale.
Equally, offline marketing is still something you should consider. Be it to put a board or sign up outside, look at advertising in the local paper or even go on a quick leaflet drop. Every little helps.
How to arrange a viewing of a property
If you're considering how to sell a house without an estate agent, conducting viewings can arguably be the hardest skill to master, especially if you're not a people person.
Although the term 'conducting viewings' can be quite misleading as it involves way more than just showing someone around your house.
If you're selling a house privately, these are just some of the responsibilities that you'll be taking on...
FYI: If you've already found your buyer you can skip this step.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that every person who enquires about your property is automatically going to want to view.
More than often you'll have to wade through your fair share of nosey buyers, or even neighbours in disguise, to find those serious buyers who're committed.
You don't want to be investing your time into the wrong people.
Assess their situation
A major turn-off point for any seller is a buyer with a poor situation.
Perhaps they still have their property to sell or appear a tad dodgy on the financial front.
Either way, it's important to recognise that buyers know that, and very often will do all they can to hide it.
So don't just take what they say as face value - you need to delve deeper.
For instance, many people say they're a cash buyer when unlike us, they don't actually have the cash ready in the bank.
Instead they've been accepted on a house repayments, which in their eyes 'technically' makes them a cash buyer. Watch out for curveballs like this!
Then of course once you've whittled out the fluff, you're left with a pool of potential buyers.
These may come all at once or accumulate over a period of time.
Sell a house privately and unless you come direct through a cash buyer like us, conducting viewings is also a task you'll have to pick up.
Not that it's particularly hard if you're a master of small talk, but nevertheless it does take up a good chunk of time, especially if viewers are late or wish to reschedule.
Okay, so now you're reached what is usually the trickiest part of the entire process.
We all know money can very easily turn friends to enemies, so we'd advise you to tread carefully here.
Now on one hand you could see this as a disadvantage of selling a house privately. With this being something your agent would usually handle, more pressure now pins on your own skills of negotiation.
Quite nerve-wracking if you lack experience. However on the other hand, it could also come as a handy advantage.
You see, when an agent is selling your house, they have one thing on their mind - time.
Time to an agent is like gold dust, so as you'd imagine they're very selective about how they spend it. So let's apply this philosophy to the scenario below...
You're selling your house with an agent and they manage to achieve you a price of £210k.
You're not overly happy with the figure, as you advertised your house at £225k with hope of achieving above £210k - but preferably closer to the £220k mark. Only trouble is, you told the agent that.
Now at this point the agent most probably knows the buyer better than you do and can sense that with a bit of 'encouragement' they'd be willing to offer £215k, maybe even a tad more.
However do they coax them to do so?
Because doing so would most likely take a relay of calls, emails and face-to-face chats. And even then there's no guarantee that the offer will increase.
Heck, it could cause the buyer to lose interest and walk away, costing the agent their fee!
A fee that even with an extra £5k on the table, wouldn't increase all that much. Just £75 if their fee was 1.5%.
So with this in mind, when selling a house without an estate agent, what sale techniques do you need to be aware of?
And how can you equip yourself with the chance to achieve the best price? Here's 2 skills to brush up on before negotiating any offers...
Develop a pricing strategy
As you've seen evidence of above, having a pricing strategy is key, even if you do choose to go through an agent.
We'd suggest making this your first port of call. Have one and you're far less likely to get flustered and be unsure about what to do in the moment.
You'll also have a far better chance of achieving the best price.
Positives and negatives
Another golden tool of negotiation are positive and negatives - make sure you've got plenty (typically on the positive side).
Think of a negotiation as like a boxing match. You want to take the title, but in order to do so you have to convince your opponent to back down.
So what's the easiest way to do so?
Fix it... but make sure it looks convincing.
So by that we mean accept your property's flaws, but make sure to give each one a positive twist.
For instance, "yes, I admit the garden isn't in the greatest of condition, but you can't deny that it'd make a great building plot. You said you were looking to extend, so in that respect it really could work." See what we did there?
Steps to finding the perfect solicitor or conveyancer
Sell a house privately and sourcing a reliable solicitor or conveyancer will also have to be something you arrange.
If you've time, try tick this step off before you get interest.
The last thing you want is an unnecessary hold up that causes your buyer to back out! The easiest ways to find a good solicitor include...
Usually the easiest way to find a legal professional with a good reputation is to ask around, particularly your immediate social circle, be that friends, family or even work colleagues.
If you know someone in the legal profession, be sure to at least seek their opinion.
Same goes for anyone in the property trade, as they're likely to come up with some of the best suggestions.
Scout about online
While we'd advise you to take pretty much any business online with a pinch of salt, there's getting around the fact that it's the perfect tool for market research.
Look online and you can assess your options in a matter of minutes and make quick comparisons too. Although, before committing to use a solicitor, we'd always recommended you go see them in person beforehand, or at the very least have an in-depth chat over the phone.
This is someone who you're going to be dealing with for a long time, providing you don't sell your house privately to a cash buyer like us. It's also someone who'll be representing you, so you need to gel.
Consult local agents
Although we may have criticised estate agents throughout this article, they do have one rather good use.
Usually agents will have a solicitor (preferably local) which they recommend to anyone who sells a house with them. For doing which they receive a commission.
However, if simply go in and ask for their solicitor straight off the bat, they're going to be more than happy to help. You get what you want - they get a spurt of quick commission. Everyone's a winner.
FYI: Before you race into booking anything though, consider this. Your chosen solicitor must be a member of the Law Society of England and Wales, or for those in the highlands, the Law Society of Scotland.
They must also be a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme too. If you opt for a conveyancer, you need to look out for the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.
Is it worth selling your house yourself?
At the end of the day, it all boils down to you and your situation.
Yes, when compared to full-fat private house sales (like the scenario above), agents do save you a substantial amount of time. They also give you some form of guidance, which is more than can be said for going it alone.
Although they do of course come at a cost - a pretty heft one at that, especially if you don't achieve your desired price. Potentially an outcome they engineer just to achieve a quick sale.
But then again, if time's your biggest worry, perhaps you're asking the wrong question. So instead of 'How to sell a house without an estate agent?', you should be asking 'Is an open market really what I'm after?'.
You see while private house sales do save you money, a full fat is practically the same in terms of timescale. It's only when you go off market that your sale can speed up rapidly.
So for those of you after a quicker sale, our guide above is useless (sorry for that). But let us make it up to you.
You see, as an industry leading property buying company, we'll buy your house in just 7-days! Yes - that's how BIG the difference can be between an open market and off market sale.
Oh, and did we mention that would be in CASH too? All funded from our own reserve. And that's not all.
Our team has well in excess of 50 years' experience in buying property all over the UK, so rest assured that you're dealing with professionals.
Also, choose to sell your house fast to us and you'll incur no fees whatsoever - we're NOT an estate agent!
That's right, as a special thank you, we cover your legal fees and survey costs too. All things that we take care of directly from our end, so you don't even have to lift a finger.
Plus, if you're in need of a little help when it comes to negotiation, our team are more than happy to give you the benefit of their expertise to help you negotiate on your onward purchase.
So yeah, if you fancy completing quicker than it takes an agent to even list your house on the open market, then you may have just found your answer.