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Should I use an estate agent?
Help for first time sellers
06 March 2020

Should I use an estate agent?

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

Can I sell my house without an estate agent?

Yes, it is possible to sell your home without the help of an estate agent. If you have the time, experience, and resilience this can be an option to consider.

But, before you take the plunge, make sure you’ve thoroughly researched everything an estate agent does when selling a home. This will help you decide whether the money you save on their fee is worth the cost and hassle of managing the sales process yourself.

What if I don’t use an estate agent?

If you decide to go ahead with selling your home on your own, you’ll need to figure out how to overcome a number of limitations. For example, the biggest online property portals (Zoopla and Rightmove) don't accept listings from individuals.

There are however ways around this. You can distribute leaflets in your local area, put up a 'for sale' sign, and list your property on private listing websites. But you'll need to take into account the cost of these marketing methods when figuring out what you'll save from managing the sale on your own.

Another thing to consider is how you will set an asking price for your property. Valuing a property is an art. If you underestimate the value of your home, you’ll end up losing money. On the other hand, if you overvalue your property it won't sell. Buyers can get suspicious if it looks like your home has been on the market for too long.

Read more about how an estate agent values property here.

If you decide to manage your sale alone, you'll need to research the local market thoroughly to ensure you position your property correctly. You could also pay a freelance surveyor to conduct a valuation.

Similarly when you use an estate agent they will also arrange floor plans, and an EPC, which are a legal requirement for selling a home. It’s possible to source an EPC online for about £70, and you can draw up your own floor plan. However be careful; if your floor plan is inaccurate you can be sued for misrepresentation. If you’re not sure, employ a surveyor to draw it up for you.

Check if you have a valid EPC here.

What will an estate agent add to my home sale?

When you work with a high street estate agent, they're able to use their expertise about the local market to support your sale. They will have a register of interested buyers in your area, along with the knowledge to accurately value your home (and set a competitive asking price).

On top of this they have access to the most prominent and effective marketing channels. In particular they'll be able to list your home on Rightmove and Zoopla - the portals where 95% of prospective buyers start their home search.

Once you start receiving interest from buyers your estate agent will be able to vet them on their status and legitimacy before they come for a viewing. They will take control of house viewings making the whole home selling process less time consuming. And you won't have to worry about the security risk of letting strangers into your home. Estate agents are trained to spot time wasters and potential fraudsters and will prevent these becoming an issue.

After you’ve received an offer your estate agent will become your negotiator. They will help you achieve the best price for your home, or politely turn down any offer that doesn’t meet the bar. Research by The Advisory found that, on average, high street estate agents were able to achieve a 5% higher asking price. This more than compensates for the average 1.5% fee that they charge.

They’ll then be a point of contact for your lawyer, and help to ensure the conveyancing process goes smoothly. This is particularly useful in cases where the ownership arrangement is more complicated and there are more parties involved, for example on a leasehold or shared ownership property.

Should I sell my house on my own?

Whether you decide to appoint an estate agent or you want to manage your sale on your own is completely up to you. If you feel you have the time and expertise to handle the sale, it can be a good option.

However, if you're unsure about all the little details and laws regarding the home selling process, and think you’ll end up having to spend money on surveyors and marketing, or you're worried about the security risk of hosting viewings with strangers, it’s likely a high street agent is the best option for you.

If you want to guarantee a quick, secure sale, and make sure you’re getting the best price for your home, using a good high street estate agent is vital.

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