Selling a property can be expensive. There’s removal costs, legal fees, utility bills to settle, but by quite a way the largest expenditure (after repaying your mortgage) will usually the estate agent’s fee. Estate agents charge a percentage of the eventual sale price, typically between 1% – 2%, plus VAT. This means that even on a relatively modest sale price of, say, £100,000 the estate agent’s fee will probably be somewhere between £1,200 – £2,400.
Given these figures, compared with average property conveyancing fee for a similar property of around £300, it is more than a little surprising that sellers are more likely to attempt to do their own conveyancing (despite the high risk level of work involved) than to attempt to take on the role of estate agent. The truth is, if you are confident in handling the negotiations (which not everybody will be) and you have the time and the inclination to put a little work in, there is no reason why you can’t sell your property without employing and estate agent and save thousands of pounds in the process. So where to begin?
Establish the Value of Your Property
The first thing you need to do is establish what your property is worth. You might have an idea of the price you’d like to achieve, but if your asking price is unrealistically high then most likely you will just end up wasting valuable time. Then again, your assumption of the value could be too low and you could end up selling yourself short.
A good place to start is a website such as Zoopla or Mouseprice. These sites have free to use tools that allow you to enter some details about your property (address, type, number of rooms, decorative condition etc) and based on what you enter will give you a reasonable guide to what it is worth. As well as using these types of websites, look around for other properties for sale in your area which are similar to your own. See what they are on the market for and, posing as a potential buyer to the selling agent if necessary, make enquiries to find out how long they have been on the market and how much interest there has been. If a property just like yours has been on the market for a year with an asking price close to what you were planning to ask for and hasn’t sold then you might need to have a rethink. After all, like any asset, a property is only worth as much as a buyer is prepared to pay.
You may wish to think about having a valuation carried out by a professional surveyor. A basic valuation might cost you £200 – £300. This is a fairly hefty expense and you might decide it is an unnecessary one. What it can do however is give you a reliable indication of what sort of price you should be looking for and it can be a useful weapon in your negotiations with a would be purchaser.
Once you’ve done your research as above, you need to settle on a minimum price you would be prepared to accept, below which you will not sell, and a maximum price you think you can realistically market for without deterring would be buyers before they even arrange a viewing. It is a common tactic to set the asking price higher than the price you are really looking for on the premise that a buyer will usually offer less, but don’t push it too far.
Preparing the Sales Particulars
Once you’ve decided on an asking price, the next step is to prepare what agents call the “sales particulars”. An agent will often prepare a glossy brochure, but all it boils down to is some basic information about the property that a potential buyer will want before arranging a viewing together with some photographs, presented in such a way as to make the property seem as attractive as possible.
Have a good look in estate agents’ windows and on property websites like Rightmove or Find a Property to see which adverts catch your eye and think about why.
Have a friend or relative, someone who does not know the house too well, have a look around as though they were a potential and ask what stands out and impresses them. It might be a particularly large master bedroom, a well appointed bathroom or a beautiful garden. Include these points in the particulars.
Although your advertising will be done online, it is a good idea to print some copies of the particulars to give to anyone who views the property, so that they remember it and have your contact details. It should be easy enough to upload a few photographs, attach them to a word document and add a few lines of text.
Advertise Your Property
Once you’ve decided on an asking price and prepared some sale particulars, it’s time to advertise. These days most people start their house search online, so you need to make sure you are there. After all, all your efforts so far will be wasted if noone knows you are selling! Rightmove is the most popular estate agency website so getting an advert on there will almost guarantee a large audience, though not as easy as it once was for private sellers. Before you do, carry out a search as though you were looking for your property (i.e. choose the same price range, postcode, number of bedrooms etc). This way you can see which properties your advert will be competing against. You can then fine tune your particulars to outshine the others.
You don’t have to stick to the big sites like Rightmove (who are not allowing private sales on their site any longer due to complaints from agents); there are many smaller and much cheaper sites out there you could try.
Another thing to consider is social networking sites like Twitter and in particular, Facebook. If you use these sites then it is likely that many of your “friends” or “followers” will be of a similar age, in a similar location and of a similar financial status to you, so may well be interested in a property like yours. So upload some details – it is free after all. As well as your own friends, make sure (without compromising your own online security) that the details are viewable by friends of friends. This way you have a potential audience of thousands of people and it won’t cost you a penny.