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Selling a house

Private house sales

By Joe Elvin

Article 10 of 12

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Private house sales

Find out how private house sales work, how to conduct a property viewing and when selling your house privately isn't a good idea.

Private house sales allow homeowners to save thousands of pounds by avoiding hefty estate agent fees.

Selling your house privately can be a good idea if it's a buoyant market - where there's likely to be an abundance of potential bidders and homes are selling quickly - or if you already know someone who wants to buy your home.

A private house sale will involve a lot more effort, though, as you'll have no agent to help advertise your property or show people around your home.   

Here, we suggest some of the best places to advertise your property if you want to sell it privately, and explain what documents you'll have to provide to a potential buyer. 

How to advertise a property for sale

Around eight out of ten property buyers already live within five miles of the home they purchase, so spreading the word of the sale around your local area is ideal. 

You could advertise in the local press, including advertising-only newspapers, as well as local noticeboards or smaller local publications, such as parish council newsletters. 

Most online property portals are typically aimed at estate agents, but there are some websites, such as houseweb.co.uk and thehouseshop.co.uk, that offer basic packages that allow you to advertise your house relatively cheaply. If you're keen to secure prominent advertising on the major property websites, consider using an online estate agent.  

If you put a 'For Sale' sign up outside your property, you'll need to ensure it complies with legal requirements regarding its size; your sign should be no larger than 0.5 square metres, or 0.6 square metres if using two signs joined together. They must have a different advertisement on each side. 

Preparing documents for a private house sale

You'll need to provide potential buyers with documents explaining the finer details of your home. 

You should create a detailed room-by-room guide, listing the dimensions and points of interest for each room, including the number of windows, telephone lines, radiators, electrics and TV cable points. Imagine the route you will take to show buyers, and follow this room order in the particulars. 

A floor plan is often a major selling tool, while the energy performance certificate, recent energy bill and interior and exterior photographs are also desirable. 

There is plenty of free software available online which makes it simple to create a floor plan for your property - just search 'create floor plan' - and our EPC explained page tells you how to get hold of an energy performance certificate.

How to conduct house viewings

The manner in which you show people around your home has a huge impact on whether they decide to make an offer. 

Before showing anyone around, ensure the house looks as presentable as possible. Is it tidy? Are the windows clean? Does anything need repairing? Does your garden look cared for?

Greet your buyers at the front door and remain positive about the property. The atmosphere you create will influence how people feel about your home.  

Consider writing down all the things you like about each room to work into the conversation. These show your home's advantages over similar properties. 

It is usually best to start the tour in the living room, complete the rest of the downstairs area, move upstairs, then show them the garden. At the end of the tour, ask if they have any questions about the property or the area in general. This will allow you to ease any nagging worries they may be harbouring, and could help you market your property better in the future.   

Find out more: viewing a property - our buyer's guide to property viewings could help you prepare  

When should you use an estate agent?    

If your property has a complicated leasehold situation, or if ownership is disputed, you're probably better off leaving the sale to an experienced estate agent. 

If you don't sell your property or gain any interest within 8 to 12 weeks, consider taking the property off the market for a while before putting it back up for sale through an agent. 

When a property has been on the market for a couple of months, buyers can sometimes be reluctant to match the asking price, as they often suspect there is little competition for the property.  

Estate agents and private buyers

If you know of someone who might be interested in buying your property, but still want to put it on the market with an agency, tell your agent (in writing) that you may have a private buyer before you sign the contract. 

If the private buyer dealing directly with you subsequently purchases your property, you won't have to pay the estate agent's fee.  

Find out more: estate agents: finding the best - tips on choosing your agent 

Case study: buying a house privately

Amy and James couldn't find a suitable property listed with an estate agent, so they ended up organising a private house sale.

Watch the video to find out how they bought their dream property without the help of an estate agent - a benefit for both them and the seller in this case.

  • Last updated: December 2016
  • Updated by: Joe Elvin
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