No more estate agent fees – A step by step guide to becoming a DIY seller

It is possible to put your property up for sale and attract a buyer without having to make use of an estate agency or agent. This may have been unthinkable in the past, but at this point in time, things are evolving and almost anything is possible. And the reason? Well of course, it’s the internet. The internet has made it possible to do everything for yourself and at your own pace.

That said, whilst going down the DIY selling route will save you thousands of pounds on estate agency or estate agent fees, it also means that all the hard work that would normally be left to them (when it comes to putting a property up for sale) will now fall on you. You will be responsible for setting a price, marketing, advertising, planning property viewings, handling negotiations, and progressing through conveyancers or solicitors. Here are a few things you need to know in order to sell your property privately.

Make it Buyable

If you’re about to sell your house by yourself, the first thing you’re going to need to do is get it in a state fit for sale. Basically, this means you have to make the house as presentable as possible. In a case like this, first impressions are everything. Whether you’re a first time seller or not sure about the appropriate condition of the house, you can use ideas from interior magazines, show homes or even employ the services of an interior designer.

You can also hire a professional home inspector, such as PROinspect, for a reasonable price. They will conduct a full structural inspection, giving you a professional report at the end of the survey, which you can use to perform necessary repairs and maintenance. An Energy Performance certificate (EPC) must also be made available, so that potential buyers can see the energy efficiency information of your property. This certificate remains valid for 10 years and can be used more than once.

Get your property valued

It is important to make sure you set a price that is realistic for the kind of property you’re selling. If you want a formal valuation for your property, an estate agent can provide that information. However, while some like eMoov are free, others aren’t, so some sort of fee will need to be agreed upon. More than one expert opinion would be needed to ensure you get the most realistic pricing for the kind of property you’re selling.

You can do your own research and source your information locally from the windows of estate agents, local newspapers or even online. Mouse Price and Property Price Advice are free online platforms via which you can gauge a general idea of what amount is reasonable for your property. You can obtain this by simply typing in your postal code, email address and a few other details about the property you’re putting up for sale. The downside of this method is that these platforms will only give an idea of what you should get for your property and are not as accurate or reliable as a professional valuation.

There are also several websites that can provide you with listings of all previously sold houses in your postcode area. They allow you to find the prices of homes or property in any location in the UK. This service is also free.

Using these websites, you can find out the worth of your property in simple steps.

Put it on the market

Before you think about advertising, there are a few things to address first. Firstly, write a brief introduction of the property that’s for sale. Don’t get carried away and write with emotion – only facts only what’s needed. You need to be able to entice potential buyers through the door.

Pictures and a detailed floor-plan come next. Quality pictures of every room are essential, including fittings and fixtures that you intend on selling along with the house. You need to be able to move people by what they see, so you probably need to invest in a good camera, borrow one from a friend or simply get a professional photographer to take those all-important shots. Also, make sure to feature the key selling points of your home. You will need to draw-up a plan that gives accurate details of the house; for example, room sizes, local facilities, fixtures and fittings, community charge/council tax, etc.

There is a wide range of choice available when it comes to selling your own property online: online agents provide most of the services offered by estate agents for a fee. There are also ‘For Sale By Owner’ (FSBO) websites that offer only a simple listing, meaning that all you receive is the listing of your property: House Ladder lists up to 10 images on their site. You can opt for their Featured Property offer of £30 for 30 days. Tepilo (owned by property expert, Sarah Beeny), Property Sell, thehouseshop and Houseweb offer social media sharing, up to 20 images, and a three month listing on Rightmove and Zoopla for £195. Meanwhile, others will provide much more than a listing, providing a more detailed service, which includes helping you take professional pictures, drawing a floor-plan, arranging viewings and assisting with negotiation. Fibzer offer a free valuation, online exposure, marketing materials and tools and resources to get your home in front of buyers and more. Zoopla, Prime Location and Rightmove are major online portals which can help you with wide scale advertisement. However, you will need to have an online agent or an FSBO website to be able to access these sites, as they do not allow private sellers to advertise directly.

You can also choose to advertise in local newspapers, supermarkets, via social media, eBay or Gumtree, but be careful not to include your address. For safety reasons, just a phone number will suffice.

Arrange viewings

Since you’re a DIY seller, you will most likely have to arrange viewings for interested buyers by yourself. You can contact them and agree on a convenient time for both parties. As previously mentioned, first impressions mean everything, so it is worth taking the time to make your house as clean, presentable and visually appealing as possible. Don’t neglect the exterior of your house, which is the first point of focus and entry.

It is also important to be able to talk to – and answer the questions of – your potential buyers. Tell them all about your house, neighbourhood and community. Some of them might want to know the reason you are moving, so you’ll have to be comfortable disclosing that information, as a successful sale might just depend on the very reasons you’re moving out of such a “beautiful house in a great neighbourhood.”

If you usually work long hours, you might want someone to assist you with the viewing of your property. Cancelling on a prospective buyer is not at all in your best interests. It is also a good idea to have someone else in the house with you for security reasons, as it is not always safe to parade a bunch of strangers around your home – even for a short period of time. Make sure that you have verified the contact details of all your prospective buyers.

Negotiations, Offer and Acceptance

You should have a minimum offer in mind before starting a negotiation process, or you could be easily intimidated into accepting a much lower price than is reasonable. Give an asking price that is higher than the lowest price you can accept, but make sure whatever price you give is realistic and based on what your property is worth, rather than what you would like to receive as payment.

You are not obligated to accept the first offer you receive. When deciding which to accept, you may wish to take into account whether the buyer: is paying cash or getting a mortgage, wants to move at the same time as you, has found a buyer for their own house, is a first-time buyer etc.

It is also important to be pleasant and warm in all dealings, especially when rejecting an offer, so as to keep that window open in case of re-consideration. When an offer is accepted, it would most likely be verbally. You may request to see bank statements, proof of ID or mortgage offers within a few days, during which time, an acceptance email or post should be forwarded to the buyer pending the contract signing.

Seal the deal

Every contract should have a legal backing, so you will need to hire a solicitor or conveyancer. Make sure you research properly and make an informed choice. If you’re receiving cash or are the owner of your home, you may decide to do this yourself, although it is advisable to let a professional handle it. A licenced conveyancer is relatively cheaper than a solicitor, as they haven’t received as much training, though are fully qualified to handle negotiations.

Visit the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (Clc-uk.org) to search for ones based locally. You can also search for property solicitors at lawsociety.org.uk, whilst direct.gov.uk is another platform to find government services and information.

A buyer might want to renegotiate the agreed price after involving their own solicitor and carrying out a survey. Request to see if the survey report is genuine and worth a reduction in price. If it is, you can get a quote and make an offer to split the repair costs between you both. However, if the reports show minimal wear and tear damage, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated, as it might just be a scheme to get you to reduce the agreed price.

Set a deadline for completion day, before which you should have cleared out your personal belongings, leaving the house in optimum shape. Your solicitor will then pass full payment on to you, whilst you will hand over the keys to the new owner(s).

Published on 31st October 2017

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