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Selling privately – the diy approach

Selling privately is easy..right? Wrong! Estate agents aren’t well paid for nothing. Here we will show you:

√ How to plan for the sale
√ How to price your property the way the professionals do
√ How to promote your house
√ How to prepare yourself and your home
√ Tips to make your house sell quickly
√ How to attract the best buyers
√ How to negotiate the best deal

The widespread use of the internet is encouraging more and more people to go it alone. Selling privately is far more popular in the US where estate agents' fees are much higher. After all it’s cheaper right?

Well, not necessarily…

Here we show you how to get a private sale cost-effectively so you don’t end up incurring the costs of both a private house sale and estate agents' fees and losing valuable time in the process. In a hurry? Read our Six Top Tips for a quick private house sale.

Let’s take a look at the six biggest mistakes commonly made when selling privately. That way, you can plan right up front to decide whether the do-it-yourself approach is for you and if you conclude it is, to avoid common pitfalls:

Pitfall Solution
Arrive at the wrong price Be an informed seller – just what we told you right at the start. Do what the professionals do – research.
Fail to present their home looking at its best It takes time to de-clutter, depersonalise and smarten up. That’s right. Time and effort.
You don’t market the house correctly You need to know your audience and time frame and market the house accordingly just like any product.
Fail to find the best buyers Qualify potential buyers so that you know they can buy and move within your timeframe.
Don’t plan & organise for viewings or open days You’ll need to plan for ‘show days’ and have a script for viewings. We show you how to be professional and create a positive lasting impression.
Sell for too low a price Brush up your negotiation skills. If you don’t have any, we show you how to cover the basics.

In short, we show you how to plan your sale without an agent. On the plus side you know the property better than anyone. Who else is better qualified to talk it up? Also you're not tied to the conventions of estate agency advertising. But selling privately can be demanding. Your negotiation skills are unlikely to be so polished but if you are in doubt there is safety in numbers. Try to work as part of a team. More about this later. First things first.

Selling privately – the secrets of success

Grasp the basics of selling privately and you're off to a flying start. You can then begin to understand how to influence your house sale. Then you can begin to plan your sale.

Selling privately can take months – but it doesn’t have to. To make a private house sale work you must understand how the type of house, its price, promotion and presentation can impact the speed of sale.

There are three essential ingredients to selling privately sucessfully:

√ You must devote time to the task
√ You must have or acquire some marketing skills
√ You must have or acquire some degree of negotiation skills


Advertising your house for sale

Selling privately means you'll need to design and organise some advertising. Advertising appropriately for your house and audience represents special challenges. Some owners who need a quick sale supplement their agent’s activities with their own adverts – which is OK as long as you appreciate that you may end up paying the agent’s fees in any event (it depends on the contract you have negotiated).

More and more people are selling privately using a property web site.

Ultimately selling privately is all about promotion – it’s almost certainly better to use a number of different tactics in combination to reach the widest audience. After all, promotion of your house needs to find and attract the right buyer. When selling privately we would suggest using newspaper advertising too because these are uniquely placed to cater for your local market.

Organising advertisements in newspapers is not as difficult as you might think. The real challenge is getting your advertising to stand out from the crowd.

It is a quirk of property advertising in the UK that property advertising is extremely bland. Unlike agents, you do not have to be bound by these conventions. Property advertising needs to grab people's attention. And hopefully their imagination.

And just because you are selling privately it's unwise to skimp on arranging to have an advertising board set up outside your house. Evidence suggests that using advertising boards dramatically increases the number of viewings.

Your plans to get a quick sale by selling privately may fall over if you don't use one!

Tips on selling privately for a quick sale

Make use of all the available space & don’t have any rooms empty of furniture.

Get a friend or two to give you feedback – chances are you’ll be so familiar with the property and comfortable with its quirks you’ll fail to spot opportunities for improvement.

De-clutter, depersonalise and tidy up.

Do what you can to enhance the house’s selling points especially if there is no obvious ‘wow’ factor.

Likewise remove any imperfections likely to create a reason not to like your home.

Do what you can to build trust – prepare an information pack for viewings that buyers can take away. This should have details of the house, the area and any surveys or work you have had completed on the house.

Especially in today’s market draw attention to any opportunities for the buyer to add value.

Not confident about your ability to get your house ready for sale? Or doubtful you can devote enough time to the exercise? Consider making use of home staging techniques. Or find a home staging company to do it for you.

This really can add thousands of pounds to the value of your house.

How to attract and recognise the best buyers

If your advertising is successful you should be attracting buyers looking for a home just like yours. As well as finding out who is a serious potential buyer there is a more general need about being careful whom you invite into your home.

Therefore you need to qualify potential buyers to weed out timewasters. The most productive way to help you hone in on the best house buyers for your house sale is to develop a house buyer enquiry form. The form can guide your initial conversations with people expressing an interest in your house. When you're selling privately, it is the only way to find the best buyers. It will help you think like a broker and estate agentby lending focus to your conversations with prospective buyers.

Our house buyer enquiry form has been developed with mortgage brokers and estate agents - it really works. You don't need to follow our example slavishly but you do need to build up a picture of whether a potential buyer is genuine and whether their circumstances fit in with your own plans. When carefully designed the form can track all your contact with potential buyers.

Some lines of questioning may seem too personal. But if you don't ask, who will? Remember. When selling privately you're trying to think like an estate agent or mortgage broker. There's no getting away from the need to explore buyers' financial circumstances.

Holding open days and managing viewings

If you’re sociable by nature or not an open day can work wonders for your selling strategy. But as a tactic to use when selling privately there are traps for the unwary.

An open day gets many visitors to the property at the same time making good use of your time and gives you, the person who knows most about the property a chance to sell it. You don’t need selling skills to do this well, just enthusiasm and common sense.

You should tailor your open day to your target audience. A trendy loft will appeal to a different crowd than a victorian terrace family home. This means that the style of your open day needs to be adjusted accordingly. For example an opening evening will work best for properties targeted at professional couples. A weekend lunchtime event will work better for families.

This technique can work especially well if your selling with agents, otherwise you have got to do plenty of marketing. Not just very local advertising such as leafleting but preferably through a medium with a wider audience such as a newspaper. If you rely simply on local leafleting you risk only have nosey neighbours for company!

Another advantage of having an open day (or holding 'block viewings') is that if your marketing is successful you’ll engender a bit of competition among potential buyers.

In advance of viewings of any kind:

√ Think about what you will do with your pets and any of their accessories like cat litter trays
√ Give everyone in the family a role or job or ask them to leave
√ Pay particular attention to lighting, heating and smells. It all adds to the ambience you create
√ Remove and tidy clutter
√ Make sure everything is spotlessly clean

To make the most of any viewings don’t forget to:

√ Take the names and contact details of everyone who attends
√ Give everyone a tour
√ Have a fact sheet or information pack available on your house and the local area
√ Add visitor comment forms so you can get feedback
√ Look for other ways to get trust eg have surveys done to include in the pack or searches along the lines of a Home Information Pack
√ Get face to face feedback / comments too

Top ten tips for negotiating the best deal

House sale negotiations bedevil private sellers who let their emotions rule their behaviour. If you do nothing else keep yours in check.

Selling privately for the first time? Our tips on house sale negotiations for private sellers is a must read.

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