Savvy Money: Going private to sell your house could pay off
A change in government regulations may tempt more people away from using estate agents
Saturday 27 April 2013
I'd almost stopped looking for the signs of spring. You know, daffodils in the garden, warmer weather and … estate agents gleefully anticipating their commission payments.
Spring is traditionally the time when house buyers come out of hibernation but – if you're thinking of selling – should you use an estate agent or sell privately?
Private-sale websites have been around since the mid-1990s, but most sellers still prefer to use an agent. However, later this year, more could switch to a private-sale site as the Government is going to relax the way they're regulated.
Should you sell privately?
Don't even think about putting your house on a private-sale website if you're not prepared to show buyers around, answer their questions and deal directly with them. Some private sellers find it all more straightforward without an agent, but house buying can do funny things to people (some buyers turn into demanding yet fickle – monsters!)
How much could you save?
That could amount to several thousand pounds by using a private-sale website. Some sites, such as Tepilo (the brainchild of television's property guru Sarah Beeny) are free to use. Others, such as the Little House Company, offer a range of packages costing up to around £400 including VAT. A “for sale” board is included with some sites but not others. Compared to commission of between 1 and 2 per cent for an estate agent – £2,000 to £4,000 (plus VAT) on a £200,000 property – it's still a considerable saving. You will also need an energy-performance certificate if you're selling via a private site or an estate agent.
Check the traffic figures
If you're going to sell privately online, the amount of traffic that the website gets is important. Also, see where else your property will be advertised. The first few days of a property being released to the market are really important and you want to reach as many – relevant – buyers as you can.
It's also worth checking how much personal information will be accessible to potential buyers and anyone just browsing online. For example, Houseweb allows sellers to display the full address of the property, as well as their name, daytime and evening numbers. It says sellers can restrict this information, but I was surprised at how many chose not to.
Valuing the property
You can value your home by comparing what similar properties are selling for in your area or using resources such as Mouseprice, Nethouseprices.com or Zoopla. You could get some valuations from your local estate agent, but if you have no intention of using any of them it's not something I'd personally be comfortable doing.
Private-sale websites, where the site acts as a listings service (as opposed to an online estate agent), are currently covered by some of the regulations which govern estate agents, but in the autumn the Property Misdescriptions Act will be repealed and they will be removed from the Estate Agent's Act. Estate agents have to sign up to the Property Ombudsman Scheme and are covered by strict consumer regulations, which mean – among other things – they have to make sure that descriptions of the property are accurate and – crucially – highlight anything which could affect a potential buyer's decision. Mark Hayward, the managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, describes the change as “from buyer beware to buyer needs to be made aware”.
Finding a good estate agent
If you want to use an agent work out what you want them to do (for example sell the property quickly or for the maximum price). You could incentivise them to do this when drawing up the contract. Check online reviews, look at their websites and get a feel for how well they know the market for houses like yours. Be aware that if you want to use an estate agent and a private-sale site you should have a “sole agency” contract not “sole selling rights”. If it's the latter, the agent will pocket the commission no matter who sold it.
Some private-sale sites aren't very inviting for buyers, so choose carefully. A good estate agent can earn their commission, but too many are mediocre. Try a private-sale site alongside an estate agent (but make sure the contract is watertight).
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...
£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads