The cheapest way to sell your home
Why pay several thousand pounds to an estate agent to sell your home, when you can sell it yourself online for free?
A really good estate agent might have a real talent for getting the right people in through your front door, knowing the local property market inside out, and negotiating the best possible selling price for your property. If this has been your experience you might think they’re worth every penny of their fat commission.
But for many sellers, the exact opposite is true. Their homes are often poorly marketed, attracting the wrong kind of buyers or timewasters, leaving properties on the market for many months with no serious offers.
If that happened to you, would you think your estate agent had earned their fee?
Probably not. After all, with an average commission rate of say, 2% + VAT this is no insignificant cost. If your property eventually sold for £200,000, you’d have to pay your agent a whopping £4,700 for actually doing very little.
Is there a better way?
Selling up can be a very lengthy process, particularly in a slow market. But you can get your home under the noses of loads of prospective buyers by listing it on a property website. This is pretty much the norm with sites such as Rightmove, Prime Location, and Zoopla springing up all over the place.
These days, sites like this are the first port of call for any buyer, but they aren't estate agents. They’re simply property finders which enable users to search the market for suitable homes more quickly, and allow sellers to reach a far wider audience.
But there is another way. Have you ever considered selling your home privately online, and cutting the estate agent out of the loop completely?
Websites which offer these services are becoming increasingly common, although the percentage of people who actually sell online is still relatively tiny compared with the numbers who still employ a traditional high street estate agent.
Related how-to guide
If you want to obtain the best possible price when selling your home, then these ideas should help.See the guide
Selling your home yourself may sound tempting, but remember it’ll be your responsibility to see the process through to the end. This means you’ll need to be available to show prospective buyers around your home and show it off in the best possible light.
It’ll also be down to you to negotiate on price. There’ll be no agent to mediate between you and the buyer. And you’ll need to chase your solicitor until the sale reaches completion.
The services available online do vary from site to site, so it’s worth checking out exactly what’s on offer before listing your property. Interestingly, some websites are completely free - albeit fairly basic - while others generally charge a flat fee. Let’s take a look at a few of examples of each:
Free websites generally tend to offer a no frill services with an obvious DIY approach.
A good example is Tepilo which is a venture from TV presenter and property expert, Sarah Beeny. The site allows you to sell (or let) your home for free. There are no charges or commission to pay when the property is sold. You'll also get advice on how to make the most of your property and negotiate the best price.
This may sound perfect for any seller, but bear in mind you’ll have to supply your own photos and floor plans to market your home. If you need someone else to do the floor plans for you, prices start at around £45 for properties up 1,500 sq ft. And if you want a For Sale board outside your home, Tepilo’s soon-to-be-launched recommended service will cost £36.
Another website is HomesOnSale which currently has over 30,000 properties for sale in the UK and abroad. This site allows you to advertise your home for free for 365 days. Again you’ll need to provide your own property photos. Meanwhile, PropertySell - which claims to have more than one million house views every month - offers a similar free service.
Fee charging websites
But beware because not all websites are free. The fees charged are still significantly cheaper than an ordinary estate agent, but are they worth it? Let’s take a look:
MyPropertyForSale - which currently advertises over 22,000 properties - offers a package for selling your home from £299 + VAT. This includes a property listing on the website, as well as other websites including Rightmove and Zoopla until it’s sold with no commission. On top of that, the price covers photos, a property description with room measurements and a For Sale board.
Is it essential to use an estate agent when you sell your home? We speak to Sarah Beeny and estate agent, Philip Bullman to get both sides of the argument.
But another more pricey option is the newly launched iSold set up by estate agency group, Spicerhaart in association with Tesco. The online agency claims to offer all the services of a normal estate agent but at a fraction of the cost, with packages costing between £1,499 and £1,999 including VAT. You can also collect 5,000 Tesco Clubcard points if you sell your home through iSold!
Whether you choose a completely free or paid for service, remember you’ll still need to cover all the other costs connected with selling your home such as legal fees and Stamp Duty if applicable. And, while you can choose your own asking price, you may want to pay for a professional valuation to make sure it’s accurate, particularly if your home has USPs (unique selling points).
Try a dual approach
There’s no question selling your home online is significantly cheaper than a traditional estate agency and in some cases it’s completely free. But the best approach may be to combine both methods by using a high street estate agent and selling privately through a website at the same time.
Just make absolutely sure there’s no commission to pay to the agent unless your property is sold through them. For extra safety, ask for this to be included in your contract. That way you won’t have to shell out for estate agency fees if selling your home online proves to be a roaring success!
This is a classic article that has been updated for 2011.