Us Brits do love a good moan about estate agents and their hefty fees, and savvy consumers are constantly looking for new ways to beat the suited and booted, hatch back-driving agents at their own game. Online estate agents and private house sales services have definitely provided effective low cost alternatives to the high street estate agent, but is it actually possible to sell your home for free? With no fees whatsoever?
With estate agents charging anything from 0.75% – 3% for their services, homeowners may want to seriously consider whether it’s worth using one when there are so many more affordable options available online.
Taking the average UK house prices of around £200,000, and the typical high street agency fee of 1.5%, a seller would expect to hand over £3,000 to their agent. While £3,000 may not seem too extortionate when you compare it to the value of the asset you are selling, I think most of us would find that under any other circumstances, shelling out £3,000 for a service that you could do yourself for a fraction of the cost seems ridiculous. This is not to say that estate agents don’t provide a valuable service – they take all the work out of your hands and allow you to sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that an experienced professional is watching over your house sale. But think about what else you could have done with that £3,000 commission fee: a family holiday, a decorating budget for your new home, a very fancy Chanel handbag, whatever takes your fancy!
Online estate agents, such as PurpleBricks, provide a middle ground between the all-singing all-dancing high street service and the DIY approach of private house sales. Selling with an online agent will usually cost somewhere in the region of £300 – £1,500, a fraction of the price charged by the traditional high street estate agent and they don’t charge commission, so you will pay the same flat fee no matter how much your property is worth. For owners of high-end homes, this model can yield serious savings – for example the owner of a £2,000,000 property would pay £30,000 in commission to a traditional agent, so would save over £29,000 selling with an online agent.
While online agencies do provide a low-cost options for sellers, you will not be able to sell your home for free. So what are your options if you are determined not to pay a single penny? Is it even possible to actually sell a home for free?
You may be surprised to hear that the answer is YES!…. ish
Many online estate agents will offer a significantly reduced price compared to their high street equivalents however, property marketplace TheHouseShop.com offer a unique service to their users, the ability to list their properties for free. Obviously the significantly lower cost of this route to market does result in more work being required on your part – you will have to create your online property listing, market your home to buyers, monitor your listing’s performance, handle enquiries, arrange viewings, conduct viewings and negotiate offers. But while we are getting closer to a truly free way to sell your home, we’re not quite there yet.
Private sales websites like GumTree will charge £9.99 for a property advert and you have the option to pay more to get the advert seen by more people on the site. However, websites such as TheHouseShop.com allow sellers to list their property completely for free as well as offering a whole host of other products and services to help you after the sales process.
- Create your property listing, using the quick and easy to use advert creator which will upload your advert to the website in less than 5 minutes
- Get seen by thousands of buyers, your advert will automatically get listed on multiple property websites to expose it to millions of potential viewers
- Connect directly with buyers, you will be able to receive all buyer enquiries via email and remain in control so you can easily find a buyer
- Sell your home and save thousands of pounds, once you have accepted an offer then we can also help you find solicitors, removals companies and a whole lot more
One of the benefits of a private sale is that you can communicate with potential buyers directly and are able to speak to and negotiate with them once you’ve found through the service.
While the power of online property portals has increased dramatically over the past 5-10 years, it is probably a bit of a long shot to rely on your online listing alone to find you a buyer in your 2 week window. To up your chances of finding a buyer free of charge, you will need to think outside of the box and take some inspiration from the Extreme House Selling trend in the United States. Extreme House Selling was used by homeowners during the economic downturn and subsequent property market crash in the US to give their homes a competitive edge in a tough market. While estate agents will typically use the same blanket marketing for all their properties, private sellers had more freedom in how they advertised their homes and were dreaming up weird and wacky ways to attract buyers.
The Extreme House Selling trend quickly made it’s way across the pond and now UK homeowners have been doing anything and everything in their power to sell their homes. One seller baked a few thousand cupcakes with images of his home iced onto them and handed them out at local shopping centres and transport hubs with mini brochures about his property. Another seller painted a giant For Sale sign with contact details on his roof to attract interest from the many pilots and passengers flying overhead from the nearby airfield (you can check out some more weird and wacky Extreme Selling techniques here).
The aim of Extreme House Selling is simply to draw media attention to your property. It’s not so much about the actual stunt you use, but more about the fact that by using that stunt, you have attracted local press to cover the story and put your property in front of thousands of people who you would otherwise not reach. However, it’s not always as easy as you might think to attract press attention so you will have to adopt a ‘go big or go home‘ approach to your Extreme House Selling stunt to guarantee any coverage. Social Media is a great free tool to help with your Extreme Selling adventure and is a relatively low-risk way to try out your ideas and see what kind of response you get.
Simply put: selling a house for free is not easy (not impossible, but not easy) – selling a house for under £100.00 is a much more realistic goal. The meagre £100 spend could go towards your wacky Extreme Selling idea, or could secure you 4 months listing and a For Sale board from a private sales service.
But if you are truly determined, I think we can say that with luck on your side, some inventive marketing ideas, a 2 week free trial and some time and effort, it really is possible to sell your own home for free!
And let’s be honest, even if you don’t manage to sell your home without spending a penny, if you’re willing to put in a little work and look beyond your local Foxtons, we can all save a sizeable chunk of change by Doing It Ourselves.