How to Sell Your House Yourself
What You Need to Know
- According to some experts, a typical seller could save around £5,000 ditching an estate agent and going it alone
- As well as saving money, selling a home on your own also means you have total control of the process, including setting a price and taking care of negotiations with potential buyers
- There are downsides to selling a home yourself, of course. Estate agents are professionals with experience in the market and their help can be invaluable
- Before you put your house on the market, you will need to establish a price. Here, research is key, so make use of the internet to find out how much similar properties have been sold for. Better still, take advantage of free, obligation-free valuations offered by many estate agents
- You will also need an Energy Performance Certificate for your home. Once you have this, along with an accurate price, you can start marketing the property
- Even though you are a self-seller, you can still get your home listed online. Many private sale websites will also ensure your home is put on major sites such as Zoopla, though you may need to pay a premium to get maximum coverage
- You will be required to arrange viewings and to deal with negotiations. Once you have an offer on the table, then it's time to bring in the professionals, unless, of course, you are a solicitor yourself
Why Sell Your House Without an Estate Agent?
Without doubt, the number one reason people try and sell their home on their own is to save money. According to some estimates, a typical seller could save as much as £5,000 when selling a standard semi-detached property without the help of a professional agency.
The argument for going it alone continues to get stronger. Thanks to the boom in online property listing sites, the marketing abilities of a professional agency are no longer so attractive. Indeed, by signing up with a private sale website and paying a small premium of just a few hundred pounds, you can get a property listed on Zoopla or Rightmove, meaning it will reach a large number of potential buyers.
One other advantage of choosing to sell a home yourself is that you can avoid a lot of the other stress that comes with dealing with estate agents. You are free to arrange as many or as few viewings as you like, and you are in complete control of fixing the times. Plus, you have complete control over a host of other things, including setting a price, taking care of negotiations and working directly with legal experts.
Possible Drawbacks of Going it Alone
As the estate agents themselves like to point out, selling a house is just one of the services they provide. So, alongside taking care of the sale, they look into any offers that come in, checking the chain, talking to third-party lawyers and, above all, ensuring that prospective buyers are genuine. What's more, like them or not, professional estate agents are skilled in the art of negotiation and above all in getting as much money as possible in a deal. As such, while you may feel like you are saving money by ditching their fees, in a competitive market, you may be missing out on a premium if your own negotiation skills aren't up to much.
One other big advantage of selling through a traditional estate agent is that they are members of the Property Ombudsman Scheme. This means that you should be eligible for compensation should things go wrong and a potential deal fall through. In comparison, some private sale websites may not be so reputable and certainly may not offer the same level of security and assurance as a traditional estate agency.
How Do you Sell a House on Your Own?
If, after weighing up the pros and cons, you do decide to go it alone and try and sell your home without the help of an estate agent, then you will need to take care of every step of the process. Here's the main things you need to know about selling a property on your own:
1) Setting a Price
One of the first things you need to do is to get your property valued. That is, you need to fix a price that reflects the market value of your home, rather than the sum you would like to get for it.
The best way of drawing up a market valuation is to simply look at what similar properties are going for. A simple search of a big property website such as Zoopla should show you similar properties in your area, so you can use this information to fix your own price. Specialist sites like Price My Home are also perfect for this. One other way you can get an accurate valuation is to use an estate agent. Many agents are happy to provide obligation-free valuations, though they may pressure you to use their services afterwards, so you need to be confident and stick to your guns here.
2) Getting an Energy Rating
By law, all homes up for sale need to have an Energy Performance Certificate and so, if you are taking care of the sale yourself, it's your responsibility to get this sorted.
Luckily, this is very easy to do. All you need to do is hire a registered energy assessor to come round and carry out a quick study. You can find local assessors through the EPC website and they are usually happy to arrange an appointment at a time to suit you. Plus, they can recommend what steps you may want to take to make your home more efficient, and so more attractive to prospective buyers.
Once you have your valuation and an EPC, then you are ready to start marketing your property and drawing in would-be buyers.
3) Marketing Your Property
When it comes to advertising your property for sale, you can market it to as many people as you want. If you're in no hurry to sell, for instance, you could simply put an advert in a local newspaper or even simply put a 'For Sale' sign outside the house.
If you want to reach as many potential buyers as possible, however, then you need to get online. There are numerous private sale websites out there, all offering different levels of service and charging varying fees. Generally speaking, the more you pay, the better the service. For instance, by paying a little extra, you may be able to get more and better photos of your home online, or you could get a premium listing, further boosting the number of people viewing it.
Note that, if you're not an expert photographer, you may want to hire a professional. Taking pictures of home interiors can be difficult, especially when it comes to showing dimensions accurately, and numerous studies have shown how bad pictures deter would-be buyers right away. Similarly, if you struggle with words, get help writing an appealing description of your home, and try and replicate the language used by estate agents as they know what works and what doesn't.
4) Arranging Viewings
So, now you have a listing, an asking price and your home is being marketed. You should now start getting some interest from would-be buyers, all of whom will want to view the property in person before they make up their mind.
Since you're not working with an estate agent, it's up to you to arrange the viewings yourself. Without the middleman, you can speak to the interested buyers personally and arrange times to suit you. Remember not to cram in as many viewings as possible, as no buyer likes meeting a rival while being shown around a property.
As always, it's well worth tidying up your home prior to a viewing and doing whatever you can to make it look appealing to buyers. Luckily, there are a host of websites and online video tutorials offering advice on how you can do just this, and often just a few simple tricks can have a real difference. Also, since there will be no estate agent around, it's well worth having someone else with you when you are showing your home for security reasons.
5) Negotiating a Price
Should one or more of the parties who have viewed your property prove interested, they will have to make you an offer directly. At this stage, any offers are open to negotiation. In fact, if a buyer knows you're taking care of the sale yourself, they are more likely to try and negotiate with you and get a cheaper deal. The key here is to be prepared. Before you even start taking offers, you should fix a price you will definitely not go under, and then stick to this, however much people try to persuade you otherwise (though, of course, you may want to rethink this if you are still struggling to sell after a long period of time).
At all times, it's a good idea to keep negotiations professional and friendly. Even if a prospective buyer tries to be cheeky and comes in with a seriously low price, turn them down politely as they will then feel comfortable coming back to you should they decide to increase their offer.
6) Finalising the Deal
Should a potential buyer make an offer that meets your asking price and wants to go ahead with buying the house, then, unless you are an expert in conveyancing law, it's now time to bring in the professionals.
Once you have accepted an offer, you will need to instruct either a conveyancer or a solicitor to carry out all the necessary legal paperwork. They will liaise with the buyer's legal representatives and will take care of everything so that all you need to do is exchange contracts. Note that this can take several weeks, even if there are no third-party solicitors involved, and remember that nothing is legally binding until contracts have been exchanged.
- For more information on selling a home, check out this comprehensive guide from Citizens Advice
- Looking to buy a home? Shop around for the best deals on a mortgage and save thousands
- Need help with the legal side of the deal? Then make use of the Law Society's database of UK solicitors to find an expert near you