Sell your home online
Most of us still use an estate agent when it comes to selling our property. Well, we don't really have a choice, do we?
Clicks and mortar
Actually we do have a choice, and in the age of the internet it is possible, in fact easy, to ditch the high street estate agent and go online.
Or you can save even more money by simply selling your home yourself.
Agents of fortune
If you want to get a cheaper deal than with a traditional agent but you don't feel ready to take on the whole task of selling your home yourself, an online estate agent is a great middle ground.
Online agents typically operate out of one call centre and don't have to maintain a branch network, so can afford to charge much less.
They are a lot cheaper than typical agents who will usually charge you between 1% and 3% of the sale price.
Which sites at the best?
Here at lovemoney.com, our favourite is Tepilo, a website set up by property presenter Sarah Beeny. The site is entirely free for sellers and buyers to use (it makes money through internet advertising instead). So there's no fee and no commission to pay.
Alternatively, there's Halfapercent.com (the clue's in the name), which charges 0.5% of the property's sale price (with a £199 fee for marketing the property).
There's also Housenetwork.co.uk, which charges from £495 plus VAT to sell your home. You pay upfront and it is non-refundable.
For this you get a standard service of full descriptions and floorplans, photography, and advertising across a wide range of websites including the agent's own site. Importantly, this can also include major property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
This is a huge benefit since private sellers are not able to list their home on Rightmove, which is the UK's largest property site.
If you want extras they can be purchased from Housenetwork.co.uk as add-ons, such as a 3D video for £50.
You will usually have to arrange viewings and show potential buyers around your property yourself – but many people actually prefer to do this, and some buyers like it too. After all, they get to ask what the neighbours are like!
If you really don't like the idea of doing the viewings yourself online agents often allow you to add-on 'accompanied viewings' for an extra charge, but some only offer this in London.
Of course, you do miss out of the local knowledge of high street estate agents (especially outside the capital), but you could always get valuations done by local agents first, before opting for the online agent.
Selling your home privately can save you even more money, as you can cut out the middleman completely, meaning you won't have to pay any fees at all. But be aware that this option will require more effort on your part.
Thankfully there are online companies set up especially to help you do this - 'property sales websites' rather than online estate agents.
They usually work like this: you take the pictures yourself and write a description of the property, do a floorplan or produce a virtual tour. Remember to make this accurate in order to comply with the Property Misdescriptions Act, or you could be sued for misrepresentation.
You then handle enquiries, arrange viewings and negotiate with potential buyers. But for a one-off fee you can use a property sales website to help you reach a much wider audience.
Houseweb.co.uk for example offers ad space on its website for less than £50, or you can upgrade to a more expensive package at £129 and get yourself listed on other property websites too, including propertyfinder.co.uk and fish4homes.co.uk (but not Rightmove or Zoopla which are only open to estate agents).
Always make sure you know exactly where your home ad will appear and double check that it is on there.
Top tips for online selling
Understand what's involved in selling your home on your own before you jump in. Are you willing to give up the time and are you going to be comfortable negotiating with potential buyers? If not, an online estate agent that offers these services could be a better option than completely going it alone.
Remember that you can negotiate with high street estate agents on fees and some also offer flat fees. So shop around first. If your property is relatively low value the cost saving of going online will not be as great as high value homes.
If a potential buyer comes round, call a day or so later for feedback, and if they show interest be sure to arrange a follow up visit as soon as possible. Be flexible and try to accommodate the times they can do.
Be prepared to have your home criticised by strangers!
Remember one in three accepted offers falls through so be prepared for this to happen.
Opt for an estate agent that belongs to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA). If anything goes wrong or you are not happy you can complain and perhaps receive compensation.
If you're thinking of selling your home online, why not ask other lovemoney.com readers for tips on what to do and which websites to use via our new Q&A tool? Or add a tip of your own to the comments box below!
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