Private House Sales Guide
Do You Really Need an Estate Agent?
Selling your home privately is an option
If you’re planning to sell your home, you may be trying to decide if you should sell the house yourself through private house sales or hire an estate agent.
There really is no right or wrong answer, only what works best for you.
It’s first helpful to understand the estate agent’s role in selling your home, the fees they charge, the tasks you’ll have to take on if you sell it yourself and the benefits of working with a cash buyer if you choose not to sell through an agent.
The role of an estate agent
An estate agent has a role in helping homeowners sell their homes.
They collect information about the home and ensure professional-looking photographs are taken to entice buyers to see the property in person.
The agent will need to know the market, how similar homes in the same area are selling and provide guidelines on pricing. They're also supposed to market the properties they're selling to help them sell faster. This may include online marketing as well as more traditional approaches.
Tip: Ask an agent which tools they use to market homes for sale, so you can determine how much effort they put into advertising.
Some tasks of an estate agent
An agent can advise homeowners on negotiating with buyers or what they should do to make their home sell faster. They may recommend updates or other home improvements either before the home is listed or while waiting for an offer.
Another task for the estate agent is to review the offer that comes from a buyer and explain the terms to homeowners. They can assist with negotiations to ensure the seller gets the terms they need for their home.
Keeping on top of trends
One of the tasks for an agent is to keep up with selling and buying trends. By doing this they can help homeowners make solid decisions in the house selling process.
For example, an estate agent should be able to instruct a seller on the type of home improvements that will make the most money in a sale or which styles are more popular to help a homeowner get the most out of their home.
An estate agent should be able to instruct the homeowner about any laws or regulations that restrict the sale of the home or may affect the ability to sell quickly. The seller often relies heavily on an agent's legal knowledge so they can focus on other aspects of their lives, such as packing or purchasing a new home.
The fees of an estate agent
An agent earns a commission based on the selling price of the property. To compensate for this, sellers often raise the price from what they would list a home at if they were selling it on their own.
The commission can vary.
According to the Home Owners Alliance an estate agent can charge anything from 0.75% to 3% plus VAT with the national UK average at 1.8% plus VAT.
This also depends on whether the agent also commands a base salary or operates solely on commission.
Just realise that you will be paying your agent’s salary in your price. You must factor that in when deciding on a list price. If you 're not prepared for the estate agent fee, you may end up with less money than what you had planned when you initially chose a price for sale.
If you decide to do private house sales
If you decide to sell your home through the private home sales process without an estate agent, be prepared for the extra tasks you’ll have to do. Your main job will be to advertise your home so buyers know it’s for sale. This isn’t a hard task thanks to the Internet.
You can easily find ways to promote your property on your own.
Marketing Your Home
Social media is an important part of marketing homes today. Share information about your home across key social networks and let your friends know it’s for sale. The great thing about social media is that it's free to advertise. Your friends will probably share your post or tweet so their friends can find out. The more people you can get to share, the more likely you’ll have to find a buyer.
You can also set up a basic website on a free platform such as WordPress to reveal more details of your home. More estate agents and homeowners are also looking to YouTube to showcase their homes via private house sales. You can record a video of a walk-through of your home allowing viewings from the eases of one's phone.
Talk about your favourite features of the home or special benefits to living in the neighbourhood.
Tip: One of the benefits of selling your home yourself is that you know all of the good things about it, so promote them in your video or posts.
While estate agents are trained to market homes, it’s not a skill only professionals can do. You can look at other homes and see how people are advertising them and learn from their mistakes and achievements.
You’ll definitely want to take photos of your home so buyers can decide if they are interested in seeing more. While many estate agents have the photos done by a professional photographer, you can capture quality photos on your own.
Follow these private house sales tips to showcase your home’s best look:
- Use adequate lighting – this may mean daylight with curtains open or it may mean using lamps and other light fixtures to make the room appear bright
- Stage the home with furniture and décor
- Get rid of clutter before taking photographs
- Capture the best features of the house, especially any unusual architecture
- Take photos of the main rooms of the home, such as kitchen, living room, master bedroom and main bath
- Take photos of any exceptional outdoor features, such as a lovely garden
If you don’t feel you can do a fabulous job, you can find a friend who’s an amateur or new photographer who will be glad to do the work for a small fee or to add to their portfolio.
Pricing your home
Another task you’ll handle through private house sales as you sell your home is to figure out the best list price. Estate agents often do a lot of research to determine how to valuate a property to appeal to buyers. However, you can also do this same research on your own.
Find properties like yours
First, go out and look at homes that are for sale in your area. Concentrate on homes that are similar to yours in size and location. Pay attention to the photos you see as to how modern or outdated the properties are so you can compare them with your home.
Assess speed of selling
Watch the homes most similar to yours to see how quickly they sell. You can notice if the price changes while the home is on the market
and if it is sold quickly. If you do this work a few months before you list your home, you’ll have a pretty good idea about pricing for your area.
Sold by an estate agent?
You’ll also have to consider which homes are being sold by an agent. The valuation will reflect this fact by adding in a commission that you won’t have to include. You can underprice your competition and still walk away with more money because buyers will feel like they’re getting a good deal.
Tip: You may want to include a small commission for the buyer’s agent, so those who are working with an estate agent will be more interested in your property.
Navigating the paperwork
Another task you’ll have to take care of when selling a home on your own is the contract paperwork.
The buyer will create the offer, so you won’t have to worry about developing the contract on your own. However, you will have to include any disclosures on the property that is required by law. You’ll also have to read through the proposed contract to see the terms the buyer is offering and make sure you agree.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, you can hire a solicitor for an hourly fee to have them go over the paperwork with you. It will still be much less costly than hiring an agent for the entire process.
As a person selling their own home as a private house sale, you’ll have to keep on top of the house selling process. You’ll want to check in with the buyer’s agent to ensure they 're getting the financing they need and meeting all deadlines.
You don’t want to wait until the last minute to finalise the deal to find out something went wrong.
You’ll have to schedule surveys, organise land registry and other inspections for the home and find professionals to do the job. However, some research on the Internet will give you names of reputable companies and reviews that will help in this area. You can also talk to friends who have sold homes in recent months for their recommendations.
Tip: Do your research for a solicitor, surveyor and others before you list your home for sale. This way, you won’t be delayed when you have an offer for the property.
Must Read: A Guide to the Conveyancing Process
Choosing a private cash buyer
When you have a home that part of the private house sales process, you'll have to rely on your own judgement about the best offers from buyers. If you’re lucky, you may get multiple offers, and it can be difficult to know which one is the best opportunity for you.
No issues with financing
Choosing a private cash buyer over those who require financing is often a safer bet for those homes that are for sale by an owner. Sellers don’t have to worry about financing falling through at the last moment or other delays that can happen when lenders are involved. A deal with a cash buyer can be completed in less than 30 days and often in as little as a week.
If you’re in a hurry to sell your home fast, you’ll definitely want to consider a cash home buyer.
A quick, simple process
Another benefit is the fact that they’ve navigated these transactions before. Most cash buyers purchase homes on a regular basis, so they'll be knowledgeable about the laws and requirements for buying a house. This can help you if you are a first-time seller. They'll already have the contract paperwork, which will be standard because no lenders are involved.
No estate agent fees
Since you don’t have to consider an estate agent’s fees and commission, you’re more likely to get your listing price via private house sales and a cash buyer. They 're already getting a good deal and they know it. Of course, this is dependent on how well you priced your home. If you overpriced it, you won’t get any offers or at least none that will match what you want.
When you receive an offer:
What you should do:
- Consider how closely the offer price matches your list price
- Look at other terms, such as the date to finalise the deal
- Read the entire contract and ask questions about anything you don’t understand
What you shouldn’t do:
- Be too rigid on pricing or terms, an offer is often used for negotiation
- Delay making a decision on whether to accept or reject the offer
- Sign anything you don’t feel comfortable with
Once again, you can have a solicitor look over your paperwork and explain anything to you which seems confusing. The hourly fee they charge for legal advice will still be less than a commission from an estate agent.
So, are private house sales the way to go?
To answer the question of whether you need an estate agent to help you sell your home, the simple answer is “no.”
You can sell your home on your own if you have the time and interest in doing the extra tasks involved. With private house sales you’ll need to price your home, market your home, show it to prospective buyers and negotiate the deal. While these are tasks that can take up a significant amount of time, doing the work yourself also gives you more control.
If you decide to go the private house sales route with a cash buyer, you’ll find the process is much more simplified. You can have your home sold with little work on your part at a price that meets your needs. As you move on to the next phase in your life, you just may find that the sign that reads “Private Sale” turns to “Sold Quickly “.