Is it possible to sell your house privately without using a traditional estate agents? And why would you choose to do this? Let's explore.
According to Which? the average cost of selling a house shot up from £7,000 to £12,000 once the stamp duty holiday ended in September 2021. Whilst legal fees, removal costs and stamp duty can account for a large chunk of this fee, you will spend the majority of your moving costs on estate agent fees to market and sell your property.
Indeed, estate agent fees will generally be around 1-2% of the sale price for your home, but they could cost anywhere up to 3.5% depending on the agent you use, the type of property you are selling and its location. To put that into context, if you make £250,000 when you sell your home, £8,750 would be going straight to the estate agent.
Do you really need to employ an estate agent to sell your home though? And what are the options if not?
Well, the answer is no, you don’t need to use an estate agent to sell your home. Whilst you will need a qualified solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal transfer of ownership to the buyer, you can actually market and negotiate the sale of your home yourself ‘off-market’ for a considerable cost saving if you are prepared to put the groundwork in.
For many homeowners this can be a great option, particularly if they already have an interested buyer or live in a popular area. From 2019 to 2021 the number of private house sales in the UK saw an impressive increase of more than 40%. Although perhaps this is unsurprising given the fierce demand of the property market and the opportunity to cherry pick serious potential buyers who are in a position to proceed, thus avoiding lots of people trapsing through your property in the midst of a pandemic. Starting your sale privately also gives you the chance to test out a higher asking price before going on the open market to get the best possible price for your property.
Whilst these are, of course, great upsides, there are some disadvantages to selling your home privately that need to be considered before you decide to go down the off-market route.
Perhaps it is already obvious, but by removing the estate agent ‘middle-man’, what you save in fees needs to be considered against the time commitment you will need to put into the sale. Marketing the property and listing it via local community forums and on social media, arranging viewings and negotiating with buyers takes a lot of work, so it is very much a case of effort versus reward.
Importantly, you will also have a much smaller reach in terms of buyer engagement, since property portals Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket don’t take listings from individual vendors.
To get around this problem without your house sale costing you the earth, you can always use an online estate agent. If you haven’t had any luck selling privately, this means your property can still be listed via online property portals, but you can tailor the level of service you want, and, accordingly, the price you pay.
If you want a comprehensive service similar to a traditional bricks and mortar high street estate agent, the likes of big hitters Purple Bricks and Yopa offer a fixed fee service starting at £999. This includes a local property expert who will value your property, take the photos and create your listing, host viewings, liaise with potential buyers and negotiate the sale price on your behalf.
If you want to take on some of the work yourself such as hosting the viewings, agents like esale will sell your home from £595 and in the case of Emoov there is the option of a split fee, whereby you pay £249 upfront and then 0.5% of the property sale price on completion.
Alternatively, there are agents like Doorsteps who will list your property for 12 months for a low fee of £99 if you are happy to take on the lion share of the marketing and sales negotiation. More recently, agents such as Strike and Sold have started offering a free of charge service, with Strike making their money via optional extras like hosted viewings, premium listings and partner service referral fees and Sold charging the buyer a fee instead.
So, whilst you can go it completely alone when it comes to selling your home, depending on your personal circumstances a helping hand may still be beneficial and come at a fraction of the cost of traditional estate agent fees.