5 Pro Tips for Selling Your Home Without an Estate Agent
Deciding to put your property on the market is a big step for any homeowner. The traditional route to a sale is via instructing a local estate agent whose job it is to find a suitable buyer. More recently, online-only estate agents such as Purple Bricks and Yopa have entered the marketplace, offering a pared-down but much cheaper service. But did you know that you don’t actually need an estate agent to sell your home? You could save yourself the fee and do the job yourself.
Selling your home privately may be an alternative way to market your property while retaining full control over the process. The money you save could be substantial; estate agents charge an average fee of 1.18% + VAT for a sole agency agreement. For a sale agreed at, say, £400,000, that’s a whopping £5,664!
However, be under no illusion that a private sale will involve serious commitment and dedication on your part.
From arranging advertising to organising viewings and negotiating with potential buyers, the amount of legwork done by estate agents is often underestimated. Selling a home is not as easy as it looks, but with the right attitude it is perfectly possible to manage the entire process yourself and optimise the selling experience.
To help you in your endeavour, here are some valuable tips and tricks of the trade.
1. Present your property in the best possible condition
In order to achieve the best sale price, your home should be in an excellent state of repair. Most buyers aren’t looking for a property that needs work and may well be put off by perceived as well as actual problems.
Don’t give them any reason to dislike what they see. Make a list of jobs that need doing and invest some DIY time, or get a professional tradesperson in, in preparation for putting your home on the market. That stained ceiling from when there was a problem with pipes? Fix it!
Start with what’s known as your home’s kerb appeal – it’s the first thing a prospective buyer will notice. Look at the front of the property. Does your house look well-maintained? Does the paintwork need freshening up? Are the windows clean? Is the front garden tidy? Are the bins kept out of sight?
Add some nice decorative touches with hanging baskets or garden planters to maximise a positive first impression.
Declutter and clean your home
Give your house a deep clean and declutter, so you can show off the property in the best possible light. If the first thing a buyer sees as they enter is a carpeted staircase, is the carpet clean and in a modern colour? A heavily worn stair carpet could put someone completely off!
Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves living in your flat or house, and too many personal belongings can get in the way. The same goes for quirky decorating schemes and, indeed, tired interiors. Try to create a clean, blank canvas for your buyers to see.
Maybe time to re-decorate?
Redecorate in a neutral colour scheme to tone down anything that might deter property viewers. Sometimes, a bedroom painted in a loud colour is enough to make a buyer think "next".
Finally, attend to any obvious minor repairs that will catch your buyers’ eyes as well as any defects that will get picked up in a property survey. From worn carpets to leaky taps and cracked roof tiles, you don’t want anything to get in the way of getting an asking price offer.
2. Set the asking price to achieve pique interest
Pricing your property just right can be a tricky thing without the local market experience of a professional estate agent. Luckily, there’s an obvious strategy you can use.
Any reputable estate agent will offer to give you a free market appraisal (in the hope of winning your business), so go ahead and ask two or three companies to give you a no-obligation valuation.
Next, check current listings as well as recent sales on Rightmove, Zoopla and similar property portals. This should give you a fairly accurate idea of prices for comparable properties in your area.
When pricing your home for sale without an estate agent, the following factors are key determinants of what your house will be worth:
Number of bedrooms
Age and condition of your home
Garden or other outside space
Garage or private parking
In setting a realistic asking price, take all of the above into account but also consider your personal circumstances for the sale.
A lower asking price should result in a quicker sale, but if you’re not in a hurry to move, a higher asking price may be preferable. The right level should help you maximise the value of your home by achieving a sale within a reasonable timeframe.
Remember that setting an unrealistic price can harm your sale price down the line. If the property stays on the market for too long, this will only give buyers the upper hand in lowering the price even more!
3. Recognise the importance of effective advertising and marketing
Putting your home on the market is all about advertising and marketing. The more potential buyers see that your house is for sale, the more interest it should generate, and the more viewings you should get.
Great photography is key – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words – and if you can record a video tour, even better.
It’s worth instructing a professional photographer to do this for you. They know all the tricks of the trade to maximise light and space, making your property look as fabulous as possible to wow potential buyers.
Tech-savvy sellers may also want to create a virtual tour, using 3D computer modelling and Virtual Reality technology to simulate a realistic property viewing.
In putting together the particulars for your listing, don’t forget to include a floor plan to help buyers visualise the property – it’s one of the most important things you can do. You should also include an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which is now a legal requirement for property sales.
Advertising can take many forms. From a simple ‘for sale’ sign outside your front door to a listing in a local newspaper or on a community notice board, there are many traditional ways to reach local buyers.
Of course, using the internet will give you a much greater reach. Post your property listing on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram or use one of the many online portals to advertise your property for free.
4. Learn how to conduct positive and results-driven viewings
If your marketing strategy (see above) is successful, you’ll be receiving requests to view your home for sale in person.
It’s worth remembering that the way you show people around will have an impact on their impression of the property and their decision to make an offer. We would recommend that you spend some time devising a ‘game plan’ on how to approach each viewing.
Decide on the best route to take through your home and ensure that each room is ‘named’ so it has a clear purpose and is styled accordingly.
Show off the property’s best bits including period features and architectural details. If you have a ‘wow effect’ room or garden, perhaps start your tour there and linger a bit longer. This is your opportunity to sell your home’s key benefits.
Stay friendly and professional throughout and don’t rush the viewing, particularly if it appears to be going well. Be positive about your home, there’s really nothing to be gained from pointing out any flaws at this point. Depending on the type of buyers you are aiming for (e.g., young family) you may want to point out whether the home is in a desirable catchment area for schools.
At the end of the viewing, invite any questions the buyer may have and take the opportunity to allay any concerns and restate the benefits, leaving your visitors with the best possible impression.
Finally, don’t forget to ask for feedback after the event – it’s what every estate agent would do. A friendly call or email a few days later may prompt a potential buyer to book a second viewing or at least let you know why the property may not be suitable for them.
Good or bad, feedback can be powerful information to help you finetune your marketing strategy.
5. Negotiate the best price for selling your home
When you finally receive an offer to buy your home, things are starting to get real. Having set a realistic asking price will stand you in good stead during negotiations but a bit of give and take is usually expected.
Decide beforehand the lowest figure you would be prepared to go to and make sure that you turn down any unacceptable offers politely and with good reason. You never know, your buyer may come back with a higher offer.
If you are in the lucky position to have several offers to choose from, don’t automatically pick the highest one. Estate agents assess the quality of buyers on the basis of several criteria including having finance in place, having found a buyer for their old home or nothing to sell, and being able to proceed without delay. Make sure you have all the salient information to enable you to make the best decision.
When you’re ready to accept an offer, communicate this to the buyer verbally first, then follow up with a confirmation email and/or letter. At this point, you should also exchange solicitors’ details so that the conveyancing process can begin.