15 mins read

Making sure you sell your home quickly, and for the price it’s worth, can feel like a monumental task. And, the statistics agree. Jeffries International Investment Bank found that 51.8% of all UK home sellers fail to sell within 10 months and around a third of all sales collapse before exchange. But, getting prepared for the selling process and enlisting the support of an expert local estate agent can hugely improve the likelihood of a successful sale. Here we’ll arm you with the advice you need to achieve a quick sale and the best price for your home.

What are homes selling for in my area?

One of the most important steps on the road to a quick and smooth sale is researching your local market. Your home’s worth is partly based on what other properties in your area are selling for. Browsing current housing prices will help you position your property so that it is competitively priced.

It’s also worth checking how prices in your area have changed over time. This will give you an idea of how strong the market in your area is right now. If prices are higher than they were last year, this suggests the market is doing well, and could mean your home’s value has increased too.

Local amenities and features can increase interest in your home. Good schools and commuting links will consistently be in demand from buyers, regardless of the state of the market. Get to know what your area has to offer, or will soon offer (eg. crossrail links or HS2) to get a sense of how desirable your home will be.

Tools, such as our online valuation and area guides, can be a useful starting point for researching what’s going on.

Should I sell my house?

It’s always difficult to know if it’s the best time to put your property up for sale. On one hand, the news seems constantly pessimistic about the state of property prices. On the other, estate agents will always be optimistic that now is the best time. Neither is completely accurate. Your personal situation is the most important consideration.

There are some common market patterns you might want to take into consideration. Spring is usually the best time to put a home on the market, followed closely by Autumn. Both seasons are perfect for showing off any outdoor space, and don’t coincide with any major holidays or awkward times in the school year.

The New Year also sees a bump in sales. Boxing Day is one of the busiest days for speculative buyers viewing properties online. Last year, Rightmove reported that 40 million online property listings were viewed on Boxing Day. This trend is consistent too. In 2017, 38 million properties were viewed online the day after Christmas.

Politics can also have an effect. Changes to things like Stamp Duty Land Tax can impact people’s willingness to move house or buy a second property. Increases can make moving house or buying a second home significantly more expensive, whereas relief schemes and decreases can encourage buyers.

However, it’s important to remember that people need to move house for all sorts of reasons that don’t correspond neatly with seasonal or political trends. A new job in a different city might start in February, or a couple might want to move in together when their leases end in August. In most cases if a property is in good condition, competitively priced and well-marketed there will be demand for it, regardless of what’s going on with the market.

The property market is driven as much by people’s personal circumstances as by ‘market forces’.

How much will it cost me to sell my house?

Deciding to sell a property is a huge financial step. Your property is one of your largest assets, and selling it comes with a number of associated costs.

The first and perhaps most obvious thing to consider is your estate agent’s fee.

How much do estate agents charge?

Estate agents tend to calculate their fee as a percentage of the final sales price of your home. The higher the final price they secure for you, the higher their resulting commission.

Typically, fees start at 0.75% and don’t usually go above the 3.5% mark.

When do you pay estate agent fees? Remember that in most cases, you don’t actually pay estate agent fees until the sale is complete. Usually only online estate agents charge upfront, fixed fees.

Read more about what should be included in your estate agent’s fee here.

After considering your estate agents fee, you’ll also need to budget for the other costs of selling. These can include: purchasing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), conveyancing fees, removal costs, and any charges associated with repaying your mortgage early.

EPCs are valid for 10 years, so you may not need to buy a new one. Check to see if you already have a valid EPC here.

You can find more information about the legal costs of selling in our conveyancing guide.

On top of the standard fees, there are likely to be other costs associated with selling your home. Make sure you budget for things such as repairs, cleaning and temporary storage. It’s also useful to have a buffer just in case any issues arise as a result of your survey. It may be that you agree to undertake some extra work on the house before the buyer moves in.

What do I need to sell my home?

Once you’re ready to sell, a bit of preliminary preparation can help your chosen estate agent and conveyancer get to work quickly. There are a number of documents that are useful to have at the ready from the start. These include:

  • Title Deeds
  • Gas Safety Inspection Certificate & Electrical Safety Inspection Certificates
  • Any documents relating to granted planning permission
  • Details of Council Tax
  • Buildings and content insurance bills
  • Mortgage details

In order to sell your house you’ll also need to appoint a lawyer to draw up and negotiate the sales contract. With many conveyancers now offering ‘no sale, no fee’ it’s worth appointing your lawyer early, as it won’t cost you more. And, when an offer is made, they’ll be ready to get going straight away, significantly speeding up the conveyancing process.

It is possible to be your own conveyancer. Doing so could save you money, but in most cases it’s worth the cost to have professional legal help. Using a licensed conveyancer or solicitor will provide protection if there are any unexpected complications. If you do your own conveyancing, you aren’t insured if you make any errors.

For more information on doing your own conveyancing read our blog post here.

You’ll find more detailed guidance on what you need to sell your home, and the conveyancing process in our homesellers’ guide.

How quickly can I sell my home?

The amount of time it takes to sell your home really depends on its location, its features, and the state of the market. Currently, a three-bed flat in Lanarkshire will sell much faster than a five-bed townhouse in London.

GetAgent has collated a huge database of information about property sales all over the UK. By analysing data from the Land Registry and the property portals, we’re able to estimate how long you should expect a sale to take. Check out how long it’ll take to sell in your area.

If you’re able to be flexible there are a few things you can do to speed up the process. You could consider accepting a lower offer from a cash buyer rather than waiting for a buyer who needs to arrange financing. If this isn’t an option, you can still speed things up by making sure to start your legal work early and appoint a conveyancer with a track record of efficiency.

How to sell my house fast: tips

  • Find the best estate agent - a good estate agent will be able to price your home accurately and they’ll use their local expertise to attract interested buyers in your area
  • Price competitively - make sure to position your home carefully against nearby properties on sale to make it look good value. Remember: homes that change in price (decrease or increase) take twice as long to sell.
  • Marketing - the first two weeks are the most important for attracting interested buyers. Make sure your listing stands out from the beginning. Talk to your estate agent about arranging professional photography, promoted listings, or an open house.

What is an estate agent?

In a nutshell, estate agents market and sell property. You should expect your estate agent to take care of a number of elements, including:

  • Valuing your property
  • Marketing your home
  • Handling viewings
  • Liaising with solicitors
  • Monitoring any ‘chain’

Recently there has been an increase in online, and hybrid estate agents, offering an alternative to the traditional high street agent.

What is a hybrid estate agent?

In theory, a hybrid agent offers the full range of services you’d expect from a high street agent but with the convenience of being able to book valuations and manage the sale online. Hybrid agents distinguish themselves from online-only companies by offering a more complete service. This includes conducting viewings as standard, and offering ‘no sale no fee’ - like a traditional high street agent. In practice the estate agents offering a hybrid service can not offer the same level of expertise as a local high street agent, but are likely to be cheaper.

What about those offering online-only services?

Are online estate agents any good?

Research by The Advisory compared the performance of online agents who rely solely on internet listings with that of high street agents. The difference in performance and success was striking. They found that home sellers using an online agent could be missing out on up to 48% more viewings, 64% more offers, and an extra 5% on their final sales price. They also found that high street agents were able to generate a more secure buyer 73% of the time.

‘Based on this research, good high street agents could charge up to 4% commission plus VAT and still achieve for their clients a better ‘walkaway figure’ compared with an internet only listing service’ - Gavin Brazg, The Advisory

Saying this, some online agents are able to achieve good results. But the best high street estate agents will consistently outperform online agents.

Can you have two estate agents selling your house?

It is possible to instruct more than one estate agent to sell your home with a multi-agency agreement. This type of agreement allows you to hire as many agents as you like. But, you’ll usually have to pay a much higher commission rate.

The most common agreement is sole agency, which reserves the right to sell your home to a single agent. But, if you find a buyer yourself, you won’t have to pay the estate agent any commission.

A multi-agency agreement can be a good option for a hard-to-sell property. Each agent will have a database of interested people in the area, providing a larger pool of potential buyers.

Having an idea of the different types of agent available might be interesting, but the most important thing to ask is: Who is the best estate agent to sell my house?

Finding the right estate agent isn’t easy. There are over 18,000 agencies in the UK, and in the average postcode 62 estate agents are listing property for sale. Studies have found that 35-40% of sales are only successful after a change of estate agent. Clearly this decision is an important one.

But, it can be tempting to pick an agent solely based on who offers the highest valuation and lowest fee.

An experienced agent will know that overvaluing your home can damage a commission-based business. An overpriced property will need a greater number of price cuts to encourage a sale. This means your home could end up selling for less than if it had been more realistically priced from the start.

The best agents can justify their valuation and prove they’re able to reach above average numbers of buyers in your area. It’s important to look for the best performers, not just the highest valuation (or lowest fee), when picking an estate agent.

At GetAgent we analyse huge amounts of property sales data in order to help you decide who is the right agent for you. We look at the average sale time, number of properties listed, and the percentage of asking price usually achieved, by every agent in the UK. These metrics help us to identify the top performing agents in your area, depending on your needs.

Check out the top performers in your area

Learn more about the different types of estate agents and how to pick the best one for you.

How to get my house ready to sell

Viewings with potential buyers are your best opportunity to create a good impression and encourage a sale. Viewing a house is hugely aspirational. A potential buyer wants to imagine the sort of life they would have in your home. A little effort preparing your home before viewings will help buyers see that you live a comfortable life and encourage a quicker sale.

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to ‘stage’ a house for sale. Staging is about adding instant value through artful and clean presentation. Small changes can make a huge difference in a viewers impression.

Some easy things you could start with include:

  • Smells One of the biggest turn offs for potential buyers are bad smells. For example, studies show that up to 50% of home viewers would think twice before wanting to buy a smoker’s house. 25% are completely unwilling to buy a smoker’s home. In the days leading up to viewings make some small changes to prevent everyday smells leaving a bad impression. Open windows to air out rooms, and tackle the causes of cigarette smoke or unemptied bins.
  • Clutter Think about removing all distracting furniture and clutter so that the space looks larger and buyers can easily see the shape of each room. Don’t neglect things like coats and shoes in your hallway. This space isn’t the most important, but it is the first and last place a potential buyer will see.
  • TVs When you walk into a room, what’s the first thing you notice? Try and avoid having the TV as the focal point of the room. Instead emphasise the features of the house, for example a fireplace, or a view of the garden. If this isn’t possible a well-placed mirror or piece of furniture is also a good option.

If you’re thinking about larger home improvements consider whether the increase in value will cover the cost of the upgrade. Studies have shown home improvements can add as much as an extra 10% to the value of your home. But, you might find installing new windows and lighting (improving your EPC rating) is more cost effective than redoing your entire kitchen.

For more on adding value to your home, read our guide on preparing your house for sale.

How to complain about an estate agent

Your estate agent has a legal obligation to act professionally on your behalf. If you feel misled, mistreated or fear illegal activity has taken place, you’re within your rights to officially complain.

Often an estate agent will do what they can to quickly resolve any issues or problems. However, if you’re unhappy with the way an estate agent deals with your complaint, you can take it to The Property Ombudsman.

The Property Ombudsman will hear your complaint and refer it for investigation and review. Any awards given in favour of the customer are usually small (£100-£500). But the success rate is pretty high. Around 40% of complaints receive some form of compensation.

Most agents are also members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If an agency is in breach of their codes of practice they can face disciplinary action.

Does changing estate agents make a difference?

If you’re thinking about switching your estate agent, we recommend exploring your options. Invite at least 3 other estate agents around to your house to perform a valuation. This will be your chance to find out how they would market your home differently to your current agent. If they plan to market your home at the same price with the same photos, for example, you’re unlikely to get a better outcome.

At GetAgent we offer the tools to help you hold your estate agent accountable and see whether your sale is on track. Our Live Listing Monitor shows you in real time how many people have viewed your online property listing; if it’s time to reduce your asking price; and gives an objective analysis of how your sale is progressing compared to other similar properties nearby.

Simply input the url of your online property listing here to see whether you’re on track, or if you should consider switching up your strategy.