Selling property: should you do-it-yourself or use an estate agent?

UK home sold

If you’re selling a property, you may be considering how you want to do it. How much help do you need, and what sort of support would that involve? What should you consider if you’re weighing up selling property without estate agents?

Using estate agents

Using an estate agent to sell property is considered the ‘normal’ way of doing things. This is, in part, because of the convenience an estate agent will bring to the process.

What does an estate agent do?

Signing up with an estate agent is perhaps the more traditional route. They can usually help you with the following:

  • Preparations for the sale
    For example, measuring the rooms and arranging for professional photography to attract interest from potential buyers.
  • Market research and pricing
    Agents are likely to have existing knowledge of your neighbourhood and the housing market. This includes knowledge of price levels for your type of property and the area it’s in. They can use this knowledge to recommend a realistic selling price.
  • Marketing and sales
    They list the property for you, and could already have a list of potential buyers that they’ve been in contact with. They’ll vet these prospective purchasers so that you only deal with the ones who are serious about buying your property. Estate agents also typically have the relevant skills for negotiating counter-offers on your behalf.
  • The paperwork
    Some estate agents will also liaise with conveyancers and/or solicitors on your behalf.

Estate agents’ costs and charges

Most estate agents take their payment in form of commission. You’ll agree on a percentage of the property’s final selling price that they’ll be paid when the house is sold.

The HomeOwners Alliance (HOA) suggest that an estate agents’ fee is typically anything between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT of the agreed selling price.

But you should consider if there’ll be any additional charges, or if all their services are covered by one fee. If you sell through an estate agent, check if they charge extra for:

  • advertising
  • setting up and taking photographs or videos of the house
  • a ‘for sale’ board
  • VAT

If you wanted the benefits of going through an estate agent but you’re worried about the potential cost, there are companies who charged a fixed rate upfront but carry out the same role as a traditional estate agent. You should look into this option works best for you, but something to consider is you still pay a fee even if your property doesn’t sell.

Selling property without an estate agent

On the other hand, you may be interested in selling your house without an estate agent. You could do this offline, such as by placing an advertisement in a print newspaper or spreading the news through word of mouth. However, people can also list their property online on their own nowadays, without the help of a traditional estate agent.

By selling online, you could:

  • Save on fees
    Estate agents usually charge more on commission than it costs for you to register with an online listing website. However, bear in mind that these online sites often offer additional services too, which could increase your costs.

Pick the services that you need

These are typically services that an estate agent may provide, ranging from photographing the property to liaising with conveyancers. Using a sell-it-yourself website could give you the flexibility to choose which services you want to pay for.

How to set a price

An estate agent will usually include a free valuation of your house and use their expertise and awareness about the market to set your house at a good selling price. If you sell your house yourself, consider the following when it comes to setting a price.

  • Compare the selling price of local properties online – you don’t want to go too far under or over what’s average based on the size and location of your house.
  • Arrange for a survey to find out if there could be any potential problems that could impact your sale.
  • Do any maintenance or repair work before you list your property – this could be an easy win and up the value.
  • Factor in extra costs you’ll be spending – such as advertising and staging open-houses.

The main differences between estate agents and selling it yourself

Choosing whether to sell your property through an estate agent or doing it yourself essentially involves deciding how much you want to spend in terms of cost and your own time. An estate agent can help to take the burden off you when it comes to the bulk of the tasks involved. On the other hand, putting it up for sale yourself would take up more of your time, but could be cheaper overall.

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