How to sell your house privately

Avoid estate agent fees by selling your home privately

Selling your house with an estate agent can be expensive. With the rise of online estate agents and platforms that connect house sellers directly with prospective buyers, more and more would-be sellers are starting to ask the question: can I sell my house privately? A private home sale can be an alternative route to market that can help sellers avoid the hefty estate agency fees that can be up to 3% of the sale price of a house. When paired with the costs of conveying fees, searches, home improvements and repairs, they can make the cost of selling a home in the UK very expensive. 

Selling your house privately can certainly be a cheaper option to the more traditional estate agent route to market. But there are a number of considerations to bear in mind before embarking on a private home sale. In this guide we’ll explain what a private house sale is, discuss the different types of private house sale, outline the steps you need to take to sell your house privately, and discuss whether a private home sale is right for you.

What is a Private House Sale?

A private home sale can take a number of different forms, sellers usually choose to sell their house privately to avoid the sizeable fees that are associated with estate agencies. Whilst selling with an online agent can certainly be cheaper than a traditional local agent, a private house sale is cheaper still. We’ve laid out the costs below at varying property prices: 

Final Sale Value of Property 0.75% Online Agent Commission 3% Local Estate Agent Commission
£200,000 £1,500 £6,000
£250,000 £1,875 £7,500
£300,000 £2,250 £9,000
£400,000 £3,000 £12,000
£500,000 £3,750 £15,000
£700,000 £5,250 £21,000

Although the financial cost of selling your house privately appears to be lower, this number doesn’t factor in the costs of your time and effort that you invest into the sale. You will need to be prepared to market, list, and conduct viewings on your property. This can be time consuming and imposes both a financial cost and a cost to your personal life. Make sure that you’re prepared for this. There are a number of ways to sell your house privately. Read on to find out more.

Types of Private House Sale

There are three main ways to sell your home without an estate agent. You’re able to secure a private sale of your house on the open market, to friends and family, or to a cash house buyer like SmoothSale. We elaborate on each of these routes below.

  • Selling your house privately on the open market: this is the most arduous of the three options. If you’re selling privately on the open market you’ll need to be prepared to fill the function that an estate agent would provide. That means taking care of marketing the property, arranging viewings, managing negotiations with sellers, and getting hands on with the conveyancing process too. If you’ve got enough time on your hands then this isn’t an issue, but you should be prepared to invest a significant amount of time into the process. If you’re able to get to grips with all of the above then you could save a lot of money on Estate Agency fees.
  • Selling your house privately to friends or family: this is a much easier route than selling on the open market. If you’re able to sell your house to friends or family then you won’t need to go through the process of marketing and listing the property. You also won’t need to be around to facilitate viewings nor will you need to negotiate as much as you might with a seller that you don’t know as closely as a friend or family member. It’s worth bearing in mind that you will still need to be on point with solicitors to make sure that the conveyancing process runs smoothly and the sale goes through quickly.
  • Selling your house privately to a cash buyer: this is probably the easiest and most hassle free way of selling your house privately. Selling your house to a cash house buyer (like SmoothSale) means that you’re able to avoid the fees traditionally associated with selling your house. Selling to SmoothSale means that you’ve got a guaranteed cash amount for your property and you can complete the sale of your property in as little as seven days. The service is also completely fee-free, and we’ll even cover your legal costs too. Selling privately to a cash house buyer is typically very quick vs. other routes to market because of the experience that they have built up.

Should I Sell My House Privately?

Before embarking on a private house sale you should sit down and think carefully about whether it’s right for you. There are some considerations that you should take into account when making the decision: 

  • Interest in the property: if you already have a decent amount of interest in the property, or know somebody who is interested, then selling privately could be a good idea. This could mean that you don’t need to go through the process of marketing and listing the property and will reduce the time taken to sell privately. 
  • Complexity of leasehold arrangement: leasehold properties can sometimes be complicated to sell. Estate agents typically have lots of experience in dealing with the difficulties that this can bring to a house sale. If you have a particularly complex leasehold arrangement then selling privately might not be the best option, and you should consider using an estate agent or selling to a cash house buyer. 
  • Amount of free time: as mentioned, selling your house privately takes up a large chunk of your time. You’ll normally need to market, list and sell the property yourself. So, if you’re already stretched for time and find yourself struggling to make space in your diary, consider a cash house buyer or an estate agent. 
  • Market conditions: if the property market is particularly buoyant then it could be time to sell privately. This is because there will be plenty of demand for the property already. If the market is a bit slower, then the advertising power of an estate agent could be handy to strum up interest.

Steps to Sell Your House Privately

If you’re set on selling your house privately and you’re not going down the route of a cash house buyer, then you’ll need to complete the following steps to sell your property: 

Decide on a price

This is something that would normally be done by an estate agent. However, setting a price for your property is not rocket science. The trick to setting the right price is to follow a few important principles. Namely: be realistic and don’t set the price too high, look at comparable properties in the area, take into account the internal and external condition of the property, and take into account any extensions or modifications to the property. Setting the right price in the beginning is really important. Research from thisismoney.co.uk found that properties initially priced too highly and subsequently reduced in price took an average of two months longer to sell than properties that were priced properly. 

Spruce up your property

It can save a lot of time and money in the selling process if you can make the property as appealing as possible. This doesn’t mean complete renovation. Some simple touches can be enough such as applying a lick of paint and neatening up the garden can boost both the interior condition and curb appeal of your house. If you want some inspiration then check out our guide to adding value to your property.

Market the property

  • Photos: it’s worth investing in professional photography to make sure that your listing is attractive. They’re the main form of visual marketing that you have for your property, so making sure that they look good is essential. If you can afford it, consider investing in a virtual house tour or video. 
  • Description: writing a proper description for the property is important too. Make sure it’s as descriptive and detailed as possible so that prospective buyers have all the information they need. This will ensure that you only get high-intent viewings and don’t waste time with people who just want to find out more. 
  • Listing: once you’ve got great pictures and a solid description, it’s time to list the property. You won’t be able to access the major portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket (you’ll need to use an online agent for those) but there are still some sites you can use for free. We’d recommend making the most of social media sites such as Facebook Marketplace. Two other great sites to list your home privately are houseladder.co.uk and thehouseshop.com

Viewings

There are two ways to approach booking viewings. You could either book viewings one by one and coordinate them around your daily schedule. Or, you could book a day of back-to-back viewings to minimise disruption. This approach can be good to generate a lot of interest at once and sometimes buyers will bid one another up. So you could end up netting a higher sale price this way. Remember, you need to make sure that the house is tidy and uncluttered. Try to make sure that you will have answers to some of the common questions that prospective buyers will have (EPC scores, access rights, etc.).

Negotiate

After you host your viewings you will likely receive offers from would-be buyers. If you’re selling your house privately it’s more likely that buyers will try to haggle the price with you as they feel that you don’t have professional support with the sale. It’s critical that you hold your ground and are prepared to walk away from offers that are below your lower limit. Be prepared to negotiate to get the best possible price for your house. 

Accepting an Offer 

Once all of the offers are in you’ll need to accept one. Think about the position of each of the buyers. You’ll likely want to choose a buyer that is in a position to buy your property quite quickly. Make sure that they have a mortgage in principle agreed (unless they’re a cash buyer). A verbal acceptance is enough at this stage. You should collect some form of identification from the buyer and proof of funds, and you’ll need to exchange contracts with the buyer to make their offer legally binding. 

Conveyancing 

This is where you need to get an expert involved. You will need to instruct a lawyer to help you exchange contracts with the buyer. The solicitor (or conveyancer) will make sure that all contracts are signed and you should stay close to the process right through to completion. 

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Conclusion

Selling your house privately can be a great way to save money on estate agency fees, but doesn’t come without its complications. If you are considering a private house sale then make sure you do your research, understand the process and have plenty of time on your hands to manage the process. 

If you’re looking for an easier way to sell your home privately then consider selling to a cash house buyer like SmoothSale. You can sell in as little as seven days or in a timescale that suits your onward plans. We even cover your legal fees. Why not get a free, no obligation cash offer today or get in touch on 0800 368 8952.

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