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Selling Your Property Without An Estate Agent
It is possible to save £1,000s selling your home privately and cutting out the estate agent, but what are the issues that you need to consider?
Pricing the property
Price your property too low and you could short-change yourself from the true market value, price your property too high and you will simply put off potential buyers.
Before you put your property on the market, you need to do some market research. Are there any similar homes for sale in your neighbourhood? If so approximately how much are they going for? Look through the local papers and property sales websites to compare your home against others.
Once you have identified a market value for your home, you may want to consider pricing it slightly lower than those sold through agents, so that prospective buyers feel that they are getting a bargain.
Preparing the property for sale
Any estate agent worth their salt will help the seller to prepare their property for sale and point out places where improvements need to be made, helping the home to sell quicker and for more money.
Generally, vendors should be prepared to neutralise and de-personalise their homes prior to sale. This means clearing away clutter, plenty of white paint, a good spring clean and fixing all those little DIY jobs that never seem to get done.
Marketing your property
In the past, people who have opted to sell their homes without estate agents have used home-made 'For Sale' signs and local classified adverts. These can still be very effective and are definitely worth considering.
In addition to this, a number of websites have sprung up, specifically for private sellers to advertise their homes. A quick search on Google or Yahoo will help you find the most appropriate site for your needs.
Negotiating the deal
One of the core advantages of using an estate agent to sell your home is their ability to negotiate the best deal without any financial or emotional involvement.
Many people find negotiation an unpleasant experience and prefer to leave it to the experts. If you do decide to negotiate with the buyer, remember these core tips:
Set a minimum price at which you are prepared to sell your home.
Allow yourself room for manoeuvre - most people will try to negotiate, so make sure your asking price is higher than your minimum selling price.
If the buyer is making a serious offer, try to meet them at a half-way point, slow the pace down and only surrender small chunks of money at a time - by making the buyer work harder for a discount they will feel they have got a better deal.
Separate the real buyers from the time wasters, make sure they actually have the money to buy your property and are prepared to make a purchase - there is little point in negotiating with a general browser.
Ask lots of questions -- 'When would you like to move in?', 'Do you have finance arranged?', 'Have you sold your current house yet?' -- This will help separate buyers from browsers and you could even identify information about your buyer that will give you a negotiating edge
Close the deal
Once you have agreed on a price with the buyer, you need to ensure the deal does not fall apart. Agree on deadlines for the survey, conveyancing and date of the final exchange.
Until the exchange takes place, keep in touch with the buyer on a regular basis to ensure everything is progressing smoothly at their end and keep them updated on your progress. That way, there should not be any nasty surprises on the day of exchange.
Hedge your bets
The deal is never done until the money changes hands and even the best deals can fall through. Keeping your property on the market until exchange, will make it easier to bounce back if it all goes sour.
Don Suter is Managing Editor of the UK Property Portal (http://www.ukpropertyportal.co.uk)), an online directory and magazine for UK property sales, rental, surveyors, mortgages, conveyancing, property insurance, removals, news, investment and development
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