Now your home is ready to go on the market, what do you do next?
Selecting an agent and sorting out the legal side is such a contentious area that none of the guides we found had any information to help; so we hope that this section is useful to you when you’re selling.
Estate Agents: Online or High Street?
These days there are basically two different ways of selling your house, and in both you end up using agents.
First, there are the traditional estate agents you see on the high street – they suggest a price, take the photos, put your property in their shop window and on their website, list your home on Rightmove, Zoopla and other key websites, organise viewings, and then – you hope – help move the process toward a sale at a price that suits you. Usually the agent will charge an agreed percentage of the price they achieve.
And the other way is increasingly to use an online estate agent yourself for a substantially reduced fee – your property will be listed on their site, Rightmove and Zoopla, and you organise the viewings and the rest of the process yourself. Fees tend to be a standard upfront fee instead of a percentage commission.
These days most sellers are somewhat unwilling to entrust the entire process to an online agent, preferring the ‘security’ of the traditional route.
The choice depends on the amount you want to delegate against the amount you are willing to hand over to an agent. The numbers are changing, though, with increasing numbers opting to save considerable sums of money on estate agents’ fees. You can read more about using an online agent here.
Picking the right high street estate agent
If, like most sellers, you decide to stick with a traditional agent, then make sure you research them well. Use this useful tool to ascertain their share of the local market, the percentage of properties sold, the average time it takes them to sell, their asking price vs sale price, the sites they advertise your property on and their fee structure. Note: don’t be fooled by the ‘asking price vs sale price’ statistic – if you undervalue your home, it’s easy to get more for it!
In any case, remember that you are probably in a position to organise better photography than your agent,
Our clients in Hove chose to use a traditional agent using the calculator on EstateAgent4Me, and were very picky throughout the selection process. Pat explains the route they followed:
“I had 4 estate agents visiting the flat to value it and tout for my business:
Number 1 was from a large chain, very friendly and businesslike. He valued the flat at £500,000, well above my expectations. My girlfriend thought we should go with them because of their valuation, but we looked at the figures for the branch and they really hadn’t sold that much locally, and that the high valuation was probably just a marketing ploy.
Number 2 was a local agent who had sold several flats and acted as if it was his right to sell our flat. A quick look at their record was enough to show that the reason they’d sold so many local properties was that they routinely undervalued their properties to achieve a quick sale – their valuation was £425,000.
Then Number 3 came in, smelling strongly of cigarettes and a bit scruffy. Though they were a very well-established local agent with good sales figures, they suggested an asking price of £400,000. In fact when we hadn’t heard back from them for a while a quick phone call told us that they had written my email address down wrong even though they had my business card!
Number 4 was another local agent. They were very personable and suggested a price of £450,000 to £475,000. They gave off an air of friendly professionalism, and asked all the right questions – and listened to the answers. When I was considering the agents the next day they rang back and asked if they could show a genuine buyer round that afternoon – before I’d even signed up with them.
“This was enough to convince me to go with Number 4, and within a few weeks I had an offer of £460,000. Coincidentally it was exactly the same as the automated valuation displayed on Zoopla.
“I think the key to my success in selling the flat were making sure it looked good, using the right estate agents, taking great photos and making sure the valuation on Zoopla was as good as possible.”
The Importance of Online Shop Windows
The major online portals Rightmove and Zoopla are key to successfully selling your home – most initial viewings still happen through Rightmove and the suite of tools at Zoopla help with the specific numbers and market intelligence.
When your property is featured on these websites, you have to catch people’s eyes with great photos and a readable description. We’ve all seen descriptions in block capitals, but which of these would you prefer to visit?
Capital letters are the equivalent of shouting, and won’t help attract visitors – but they might even scare them off.
Now The Legal Bit – Conveyancing
Early in the sales process you need to find a conveyancing solicitor to make sure the legal side goes smoothly. Quite apart from the large sums of money involved, you need to make sure that you are actually buying what you think you are buying. Your solicitor will conduct searches to check that there are no nasty surprises like motorways planned through your garden or issues with disused mines.
They will also liaise with the lender to make sure the money ends up in the right account, inform the Land Registry of the change in ownership, organise payment of your Stamp Duty, and answer any of your questions about the sale / purchase.
So how do you choose a Conveyancing Solicitor?
If you don’t already know a good conveyancing solicitor, your first step will be to ask for personal recommendations from friends and family who have recently had positive experience with buying and selling property.
If you don’t know anyone personally, you can ask an estate agent, as agents and solicitors often work together.
And a few awards can help!
We hope you enjoyed reading this Guide To Selling Your House – Effectively. It will be available soon as a pdf download.
In this series we’ve covered:
> The Truth About Selling Your Home Effectively
> Step 1: Tidy up, Declutter and Clean
> Step 2: On Flowers … And Smells
> Step 3: Light and Bright
> Step 4: Photos Make First and Lasting Impressions
> Ready For The Market!
> Estate Agents And Solicitors