Until relatively recently there was really only one way to sell your home – via a high street estate agent. A convoluted and sometimes frustrating system that also can be costly, in hindsight it was perhaps no surprise that online agents and latterly private sellers would have such easy pickings in the past decade and the present.
In 2015 the government relaxed the rules on selling homes over the internet to give sellers more flexibility in the amount of work they can put in, enabling them to save money but also exert more control over the process. Several of the laws governing the housing market concerning street trading dated back to the 19th Century, and it was time for change.
The laws allowed private sale websites to take on people wishing to sell their homes. So many of the jobs that formerly fell to an estate agent, and therefore hit your wallet, can now be done easily online – these include staging the photographs of the property, arranging visits and showing buyers around the property, and other aspects of the sale for which you need no formal qualifications. Ideally, the more work you put in, the swifter and easier the sale will be, at a fraction of the cost of a local agent that could take an average of 1.5% commission.
The change in the law means that private listing sites don’t even have to visit the property. At the time the changes were proposed seller David Dexter told the BBC: “I think that an estate agent is a service that I can do. And I think it’s a really great opportunity to get the house out to as many people as possible. And essentially, to save a lot of money.”
The private sales websites are probably necessary to get the home listed, on several hundred sites including giants such as Rightmove and Zoopla. A listing might cost around £500, or you might have to go down the route of an online estate agent depending on which sites you wish your property to appear. You might even wish to forgo the listing completely and market it yourself on social media, although this could be limited by your reach and the number of followers you possess.
So for listings, private or online agents are probably the way to go. The main drawback of such sites is that you might pay the fee upfront but not sell the home; something that doesn’t happen with high street agents. You could conceivably create floor plans, or a video of the property and its surroundings, but first impressions count and a sloppy effort could be detrimental to your chances.
You might also have to negotiate prices yourself, and even decide on a valuation – quite a task if you have no experience in this field. If you’re selling through a private firm there’s a lot more work you’ll have to put in, and if speed is important for the sale this could be a tough task (a company such as We Buy Any Home could help). Ultimately the decision is yours and relies on a large range of considerations that only you can make. No matter how you decide to proceed, the decision is not set in stone and you can always revert to another method.