Normally the first stop when you want to sell your house is an estate agent. Or ideally several estate agents. But you might ask whether you should sell your house yourself instead.
Selling your own house is probably easier than it ever has been before. The online world and in particular social media makes it easy to get a ‘house for sale’ message out into the market.
The fact that selling your own house is possible doesn’t mean you should of course. So let’s look at a few of the pros and cons of selling your own house.
First, what are the main advantages of selling your own house?
It could potentially save you money …. a lot of money. As everyone knows, good estate agents aren’t cheap. It’s likely to cost many thousands of pounds in estate agency fees to sell your house. The fees for selling just an average house can easily be £3,000-£5,000 plus VAT, so £3,600 to £6,000 in total.
It puts you in control of the whole process. You’ll know exactly who is interested in your house, how interested they are in your house and exactly what they offer at all times. You’ll be able to choose who you think is the most suitable buyer.
You’ll also be able to progress the sale yourself. You’ll be able to work to speed things up if need be. (Though doing the sales progression yourself might not necessarily be a great experience!)
Now let’s look at the possible disadvantages of selling your own house:
It can be a lot of work …. and take a lot of time. You’ll need to do research on values and pricing. You’ll need to do advertising and marketing. You’ll need to handle all the enquiries and do all the viewings. You’ll need to negotiate and then progress the sale.
It probably won’t be easy to find time to do all this properly, especially if you have work to go to. And that’s on top of – probably – finding and buying your next house, and planning and organising your move.
You’ll need to undertake a big advertising campaign. You’ll need to take lots of good photographs and maybe even do a video, measure all your rooms, and write an enticing description of your house. You’ll need to organise online advertising, social media advertising, and maybe also press advertising as well as a signboard.
You won’t be able to advertise on property portals that only accept advertising from agents. And that’s where the majority of buyers today look for a property to buy.
You’ll need to deal direct with prospective buyers. You’ll need to be ready to take lots of phone calls, texts and emails. And of course schedule in and handle all the viewings. You could attract lots of timewasters or even scammers.
An estate agent will be able to deal with all this for you. And also filter out those who aren’t in a position to buy.
You’ll need to negotiate with prospective buyers. You might enjoy the opportunity to do this and feel you’ll be able to get the best price. But let’s face it most people don’t like talking about money. There’s also a risk that you could be talked into selling your house too cheaply. Or perhaps even attract buyers who see an opportunity to take advantage.
It might not save you as much as you think. Yes, you won’t have an estate agent’s bill to pay but you will still need to allow for the cost of advertising – and your time in dealing with everything. That could amount to hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Don’t forget that a large part of the cost of moving is legal fees and Stamp Duty. Selling your own house won’t help you save on those.
It will be tricky to get the price right. To sell your house successfully you need both an asking price and an idea of the likely eventual sales price or market value. If you’re not an expert in your local property market it will be very hard to get these right. Yes, you could get some free valuations from estate agents to guide you, but that’s only part of what’s needed to get the best price.
You could end up setting your asking price too low and so sell your house far too cheaply. Or you could set it too high and get no interest at all. (While you can reduce an unrealistic asking price later houses tend to sell more readily when they’re fresh to the market.)
You might not get the best price for your house. As most estate agents will tell you (if you ask) they aim to get the best price for your house by creating a competitive market. That is, by promoting your house to as many people as possible and encouraging as many offers as possible in order to establish the best price at the time.
As a private seller you will find it very hard to create that competitive market. And if, for example, you only get one offer you will have no way of knowing if that really is the best price available.
At the end of the day, while it is certainly possible to sell your house, it’s sensible to ask if it is really a good idea. It might not actually be cheaper or easier nor get you the best price for your house at the end of the day.