If you are selling to somebody you know, there is usually no sense in employing an estate agent.
However, if you do not have a particular buyer in mind, and you are trying to sell your house or flat without an agent, you will need to:
- have a good idea of the real value of your property;
- find a buyer; and
- make sure the transaction goes through.
Here are some more details on each of these:
1. Valuing your property
Usually, you will be able to look in estate agents’ windows/websites to see the prices of similar properties. If prices are increasing you may find that there are few actually on the market. If prices are going down, then sometimes the prices you see are unrealistic and people are taking offers of several thousand pounds less. If your property is unusual for any reason, then it may be more difficult to value because there will be little to compare it with.
You can find out about recent prices for completed transactions at www.nethouseprices.com, www.ourproperty.co.uk or www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices.html. You need to be aware that these prices would reflect “deals” negotiated 2-3 months previously and therefore will not always accurately reflect present values.
Even though a Home Information Pack is no longer required you will still have to arrange an Energy Performance Certificate. If you contact Richard Webster & Co. for a Conveyancing Quote for the sale of a property we can put you in touch with a local Domestic Energy Assessor.
2. Finding a Buyer
You can advertise your property in the local paper or classifieds, you can put up your own “For Sale” board, and you can advertise on certain websites that specialise in providing relatively cheap advertising for people selling their own properties, like www.houseweb.co.uk or www.housesimple.com for instance.
Once you get some people interested and you receive offers, you will have to decide whether or not to accept them. The decision will usually come from balancing the price offered against the buyer’s ability to proceed. It is the second bit that is the difficult part.
Can they get a mortgage…and is there a chain?
People can be over optimistic about their ability to obtain a mortgage or say that they have ‘sold’ their house when they only have somebody who has vaguely expressed an interest, but hasn’t seriously pursued it. They could also be involved in a long chain of transactions. Your problem is always checking out what you are told. You need to know what to ask and who to ask.
If there’s chain, how long is it?
Information does not flow very easily, and unless you know what to ask and who to ask, you may find it very frustrating. In particular, other people’s solicitors are not allowed to talk to you. If there are estate agents involved with others in the chain, you may get information from them, and unless you have experience in buying and selling, you may not know whether what you are being told is likely or not. All you can do is try! Perhaps ask estate agents how they can be sure of something they tell you, and then measure up whether what they are saying makes sense.
It is certainly worth getting down (in writing) the names and addresses of all the people in the chain, the properties involved, and the solicitors and estate agents acting in each case. You will probably have to ask other estate agents for this information. Some of them can be pretty vague in the information they hold, particularly for those further away in any chain. So, asking for “chapter and verse” tends to make them ask the right questions of other agents.
If you are happy that the buyer looks as if he can proceed, then you should instruct your solicitors to get on with the conveyancing for you. You may want to contact Richard Webster & Co. for an estimate of conveyancing costs. If you are looking to buy you may want to have a think about the issues that can arise when choosing a property to buy.
3. Making Sure the Transaction goes through.
This is the most difficult bit. Buyers may not get their mortgages, or their buyer might not do so, or somebody else in the chain may pull out. If you are buying another property, there may be a problem in the chain above your seller.
Also, remember that things change. For instance, a date may have been suggested for moving 6 weeks beforehand, and you may be happily proceeding towards a completion on that date. But someone else in the chain cannot now achieve that because of some delay or the other. The point is that you won’t get told – you have to keep checking! You may even ring all the people in the chain and they will all say they are happy with the date. But did they actually check with their solicitors to see if it was still possible? You then need to check periodically that this information hasn’t changed, perhaps because someone has fallen out of the chain and hasn’t yet been replaced!
Continuously checking the chain…
You will have your solicitor to help you, but none of us have the time to spend carrying out detailed checks of chains, etc. At Richard Webster & Co., we try to do this as much as we reasonably can, because we offer a personal service, and are not stuck in an industrial unit somewhere doing “volume conveyancing”. Even so, we cannot continuously check every link of every chain our clients are involved in. A good estate agent should be able to do this and have much more time to do it – they also get paid much more than we do!
If you are not using an estate agent, you will need to find out as much as possible about the chain yourself and ask your solicitor to do the same.
You will have to balance the cost saving against the possible benefits of having someone following up and checking things for you to make sure the transaction goes through. Most agents don’t get paid if the sale doesn’t exchange and complete, so they have a vested interest in making it happen!
With ever increasing use of the internet it may be that the traditional estate agent with a local office will begin to fade and some of the traditional services in checking chains etc. will not be there in the future. Certainly some agents do not have much idea even now about what to do to check progress and make sure things happen – they think all they have to do is show people round houses and then their job ends – but it doesn’t.
If you wish to discuss the above article or feel that you require any further advice on conveyancing or any other property-related matter, you are encouraged to contact Richard Webster & Co. for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.
Richard Webster is the founder of Richard Webster & Co. which a specialist in residential property and conveyancing and is accredited by The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Please do not hesitate to contact the firm on 023 8000 4321 for any queries that you may have in relation to any residential property matters.
This article does not present a detailed statement of the Law and does not constitute as legal advice. This is a summary only and legal advice should always be sought on an individual case basis.