Selling your home has changed significantly in recent years. In 2012, on average, people handed over 1.8% of the sale price of their home to an agent in return for a valuation, photographs, listing in branch and online and supplying a sale board, according to a survey by Which?
Today, that figure has fallen to 1.42%, meaning that for a £300,000 property a total of £4,260 is given to an agent. However, the sum handed over can vary from less than 1% to as much as 3.5%.
Unsurprisingly, many sellers are starting to wonder if they could do a better job themselves. So is it possible?
Here are our top 9 steps to selling your house without an agent.
1. Make the house sellable
If you’re going to do the job yourself, make the process as easy as possible. In other words, make your house as sellable as you can.
Rebecca Tucker, director of Suna Interior Design, says that she is often amazed by the state in which many people show their homes.
“People don’t want to see your clutter, they want to see the rooms, and anything that will negatively detract from being able to see them clearly is a bad thing,” she says.
Tucker says while kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms that can traditionally sell houses, sellers thinking of renovating theirs should think twice.
“Unless you are prepared to do a good job on changing the kitchen, don’t change it, just tidy it up, maybe replace any damaged elements, and put a quick lick of paint over any hideous 1970s wood panelling. That way, people can see they can live with it until they can afford to change it.”
From a design point of view, Tucker says despite popular belief, there’s no need to paint everything magnolia. “As with show homes we design for developers, you’ll be much more successful selling your home if you create an image of a lifestyle or an aspiration,” she says.
2. Set a price
With your house looking its best your next job is to set a price. It is here where you would normally rely on the help of an estate agent. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it alone. Indeed, you may be better off.
Some local agents are guilty of inflating valuations just to get your business. It’s a cruel trick to give you false hope on value and a tactic designed to flatter you into using that particular agent. No agent can obtain a price higher than another. The market is the market, thanks to the power of the internet.
Do your own research instead. Rightmove.co.uk and nethouseprices.com provide useful tools to evaluate nearby comparable properties.
Look at sold price history though, not potentially expensive listings that may have languished on the market.
3. Write a description
Your price has been set and you’re ready to show buyers how great your property is. But first you need to write a few lines about your home to help entice buyers through the door. You may be tempted to write a detailed account of how wonderful it is, complete with examples of your interior design skills, but keeping the information concise and to the point is more productive.
Buyers skip through lengthy narratives. The most important elements are lots of internal photos and a floor plan
4. Take the best photos
Photos are pointless – and even counter-productive – if they don’t do the property justice.
Ben Fillmore, managing director of marketing and design agency ehouse, says that the images used to market a home should be specific to that property.
“If it’s a remote rural property then purchasers will want to see a range of shots that show the property off – the land available, the views and so on,” he says.
“If it’s a modern property in a central location then lifestyle shots showing the fixtures and fittings may be of more interest than, say, photos of the bathroom.”
Fillmore says that in almost all cases the communal living areas should be shown at their best, along with the most appealing angle of the front and a couple of decent garden shots, looking both to and from the house.
You could use a professional photographer, who will charge around £200, to take a wide range of images.
5. Arranging viewings
Estate agents are normally on hand to show your property, which is beneficial for those people who work during the day. However, to avoid paying estate agent fees, you could enlist the help of family or friends to show potential buyers around your home while you are at work. Or simply arrange viewings for evenings or weekends when its often also easier for buyers and long after Estate Agents have gone home for the day.
6. Negotiating a price
When it comes to the financial dealings of home selling it’s important to keep a clear head and not become intimidated by price negotiation.
Decide how much you are willing to accept beforehand and don’t go below that figure – regardless of how nervous you may be or how anxious you are to sell the house.
If you turn down an offer always try to do so in a friendly manner; you want to be able to leave the door open just in case you do decide to accept the offer further down the line.
Keeping communication friendly also means the buyer will feel comfortable approaching you should they decide to increase their offer.
7. Accepting an offer
When you’re ready to accept an offer do it verbally in the first instance and then via email or post. But remember nothing is legally binding until the exchange of contracts, which will be several weeks down the line.
8. Instruct a solicitor
Once you’ve accepted an offer, you’ll then need to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to sort out the legal work. Just as you would when employing the services of any professional, be sure to do your research in order to find a good one.
Choose carefully. Licensed conveyancers tend to be cheaper and do the same job as solicitors. Shop around and try to gain recommendations from friends as to who they may have used.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (clc-uk.org) has a search facility that you can use to find a local conveyancer near you. DirectGov is another useful site (direct.gov.uk) and The Law Society can help you find nearby property solicitors online at lawsociety.org.uk.
9. Deal with renegotiations
Once a buyer has instructed their own surveyor they may want to renegotiate the price of the property. If they have found something wrong with the property they may feel their original offer is no longer fair.
This happens a lot so ensure the buyer shows you the survey report. If it genuinely lists areas of concern that have to be addressed then aim to split the cost. Often though, it may turn out to be a ruse to beat you down on price, so stand firm.