Selling your home? Most people would opt to sell their property via a selling agent, however this comes at a significant cost.
Whilst using an estate agent is generally recommended to achieve the best possible price, selling your home privately is a viable alternative.
Why sell your home privately?
Estate agents' fees are a significant cost involved in selling your home. Usually, agents will charge between 0.75% and 3% of the sale price of your property. This works out at around £3,000 and £12,000 on a £400,000 property. Saving this money is an obvious bonus of selling privately!
However, you need to work out if selling your home privately is right for you.
Are you selling to a friend?
It may be that a friend wants to buy your home. This means that you won’t need an estate agent to help you market your property or find you a buyer.
However, remember that the house buying process can become fraught! Selling to a friend can result in personal complications.
What is the property market like?
When selling your home privately, it’s essential to keep a close eye on the property market.
If the market is quiet or stagnant, you may need the marketing ‘reach’ an estate agent has to reach the widest possible audience.
Is your house an ‘easy’ sell?
If your property is without any obvious issues, selling it privately will be easier. Obvious issues could be proximity to a motorway, a flat with a complex leasehold arrangement, or a property that has a right of way across it.
Try and be objective when you work out how simple selling it will be.
Is it a good use of your time?
Selling a property requires time and patience. Have you got enough hours in the day to handle enquiries and viewings?
Whilst you’ll save money on agents' fees, you need to be sure that selling privately won’t cost you more than it’s worth in time and aggravation.
How to sell your house privately
Whilst each transaction is different, there are some basic steps that should allow you to get a handle on how to manage the process.
How much should I sell my home for?
When deciding how much to sell your home for, have a realistic idea of its current value.
To get an idea of how much to price your property at, look at how much similar properties have sold for.
If you want more detail, you can buy the title documents for neighbouring properties which should contain sale prices too.
Ask a few different estate agents to come and give you a market appraisal for your property. You never know, you may decide that their local expertise is worth the fee!
Don’t be greedy. Some properties on sale privately are vastly overvalued, as the seller has failed to consider an issue, such as road noise.
Be sure to do lots of research before deciding what your asking price should be.
How to prepare your home for viewings
- Try and clear your house so that viewers can appreciate the space
- Consider hiring cleaners to make sure your house is tidy. Pay particular attention to your carpets, bathroom and kitchen
- Try and do some DIY to repair small bits of damage and paint over big scuffs
- Make sure that the drive and front garden look appealing. First impressions are important!
- Don’t forget about the back garden! Make the most of this space too
How do I market my home privately?
Without the help of an estate agent’s expertise, marketing your home can be challenging. However, there are many options for those who are selling privately, including:
- Advertising in your local paper or parish magazine
- Using the notice boards within your community
- Word of mouth – tell everyone that you are selling!
- Social media – use sites like Facebook to let people know the details of your property
- Consider an online agent. Although they will not have specialist local knowledge, they will be cheaper than a high street agent and still able to advertise your home on the large portals like Rightmove and Zoopla
Don’t give your full address when advertising your property – wait until you’ve spoken to someone before giving the details.
How do I handle property viewings?
Once someone has got in touch to arrange a viewing, you need to work out how to show your home to its best advantage.
Remember, for prospective buyers, a first viewing is more about absorbing the ‘bigger picture’ than working out the finer details.
Prepare yourself for the sorts of questions potential buyers might ask, which include:
- How much is the council tax?
- Have you had any other interest in the property?
- What fixtures and fittings are included in the sale?
- Why are you moving?
Brief someone else to handle viewings if it’s not something you want to do yourself, or if you are unavailable at any time. Think about having someone else around for viewings, for security reasons.
How do I negotiate with a potential buyer?
Negotiating a property deal can be difficult and emotional. The nature of the process is that the buyer will want to pay the minimum possible and the seller will want to achieve the maximum possible.
However, you need to find a middle ground, so remain realistic and flexible.
How do I accept an offer?
Once you’ve found a buyer and they’ve submitted an offer you’re happy with, ask them to confirm it in writing, along with any other terms you’ve agreed.
Things you should agree upfront include:
- The price
- How long you will give them to exchange
- When you are aiming to complete the deal
- A list of anything you have agreed to include within the sale
- A list of anything they have agreed to purchase over and above the sale price
The right solicitor is the key to any property deal, but are particularly relevant for a private sale.
An estate agent is there to help you smooth over any issues in the conveyancing process. However, in a private sale, you’ll have to rely on your solicitor or conveyancer.
Make sure you choose someone who is experienced with your type of property and proactive in their work.
What can go wrong when selling my house privately?
Issues can arise whether you’re selling privately or not. However, when selling privately, you’ll have to deal with these issues alone, without the help of an estate agent.
Be prepared for ‘time wasters’
There are lot of people who ‘browse’ the property market and have no intention of buying your home. These people simply don’t care about wasting your time!
The legalities of advertising your home
Ensure that the information you put out about your property is accurate. Try not to misrepresent your home in any way. If you’re saving money on agents’ fees, it may be worth getting a professional floor plan done. Buyers often like to see this when researching a property.
Be overly cautious about your own safety
When selling privately, the main concern is that you may struggle to qualify people as being real buyers before they visit your property.
You need to have their full contact details before agreeing to a viewing. Also, it’s advisable to have booked an appointment rather than having strangers turning up unannounced.
Be wary of anyone that starts asking questions that are too invasive, such as those relating to the details of your security alarm.
Promote your property
Use Phil Spencer's Property Report to highlight to prospective buyers the plus sides about you property and the surrounding area.
As well as detail on the property, a report covers another important aspect of home buying, “Location, location, location”.
With local area information such as how safe the local area is, proximity to local amenities, it also helps with one of the biggest decisions families have to make, school selection! The report also contains details on school structures, Ofsted rankings and key stage attainment rates, helping parents make an informed decision.