Most people, when faced with the prospect of placing their house on the market, will not consider doing so without using the services of a real estate agent. Using an agent to take care of the nitty-gritty of selling a property does have its advantages, yet it also has some drawbacks – large commission costs not least of these.
Experts have suggested that as many as one property in four is sold privately by the owner, without ever requiring an agent. While it takes time and effort, and a little knowledge gained prior, the choice to sell without an agent is not as difficult as agents would have you believe.
There are a number of steps which should be followed to have success in selling your own house on a private basis:
· Prepare Your House for Sale
First impressions count, so ensure your property is up to the task. Declutter the rooms, make sure there are not too many very personal items on show (eg photographs, kids artwork etc), and clean up the yard. Make sure carpets are clean and paint is not peeling. If you have indoor pets, consider boarding them elsewhere while your home is on the market. Walk through the house and try to see it through an inspector’s eyes. Also, be prepared to discuss the best features of your property as selling points.
· Set a Realistic Price
Pricing is often the first thing which potential buyers base their inspections on, so appropriate pricing is of paramount importance. Look around your neighbourhood for comparable homes for sale and use these as a guide, or enlist the services of a professional appraiser. Once you settle on a price, be prepared to re-evaluate if necessary.
· Show Your Home
Have a plan for when interested parties call to view your property. For all calls, take down their name, contact phone number, and set a mutually convenient appointment time. Make sure confidential and valuable items are put away out of sight, so the viewers can look around without being shadowed. Be available to answer questions, while giving them time and space. Try to keep numbers to a minimum at a time. It’s a great idea to have close at hand receipts or information regarding renovations, repairs, heating costs, etc, in case prospective buyers enquire as to these details.
Be prepared in advance with a conveyancer or real estate lawyer ready to assist you in closing the sale. All legitimate offers should be considered, before you accept, reject, or counter it. Try not to take offers personally if they are lower than you wish; only counter an offer if you believe the buyer is willing to negotiate.
· Making an Agreement
Once an agreement has been reached, exchange names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers of solicitors or conveyancers involved on behalf of all parties. The buyer should have their solicitor draft details of purchase/sale agreement and have these sent to your own solicitor. This puts the onus on the buyer to prove their intention to buy is serious. The respective solicitors will review the agreement to mutual satisfaction.
· Close of Sale
The seller and buyer must agree on a closing date; this is when purchase price is paid and deed to property and keys are handed over to the buyer. This date must allow time for conditions to be met, and legal searches etc to be completed by solicitors. The closing date is the date by which the seller must have fully vacated the property.
Last but not least…
Selling your own house is an exciting time and, in doing so without agency commissions, you will have saved a significant amount of money. So treat yourself a little!