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Should I Sell My House via Estate Agent?

Can you actually sell a house without an estate agent? 

You absolutely can – but you won’t get 100% of value of a property.

Let’s face it: estate agents aren’t exactly the most trustworthy professionals, are they?  To become an estate agent, you don’t need formal qualifications, so the barrier to entry is as low as any double-glazing salesman or second-hand car dealer. So, what do estate agents do? What makes a good estate agent?

You need to sell your house, so the big question is, do you instruct an estate agent or sell a house yourself without an estate agent?

The answer depends on your circumstances because if you need to sell NOW, an estate agent might be unable to help you. 

Table of Contents

Do I really need an estate agent to sell my house?

If you need to get maximum value out of your property AND it is mortgageable, AND you aren’t in a rush to sell, then hiring a great estate agent makes perfect sense.

On the flip side, if you need to sell quickly and the property needs work or has title issues, then selling to a cash buyer makes a lot of sense.  The benefit of a cash sale is the certainty and speed of the sale, without the hassle of endless viewings and months wasted in the process.

This guide will help you make an informed choice.  We will tell you what you should look for in an estate agent.  How do you spot a dishonest estate agent who refuses to do viewings?

Cash or first time buyer: which is better?

Who offers more first-time buyers or cash buyers?

An owner-occupier, such as a first-time buyer, can pay more every single time.  However, the sale can take up to 4 months; there will be a survey, and they can pull out of the sale.  This leaves you with solicitors fees to pay.

This table compares pros and cons:

First Time Buyers

Cash Buyers

The price achieved as a percentage

First-time buyers are buying for themselves and not looking to make a profit; hence, they can offer 89% of the value of a typical home.

But this does come with a lot of caveats, such as a squeaky clean surveyor report, satisfactory searches and their ability to secure a mortgage.

Cash buyers will be buying with cash and looking to make a profit.  Expect to receive an offer of around 70% of value.  This is because they have factored in other costs:

  • Stamp duty 3%
  • Legal fees 2%
  • Holding fees 2%
  • Resale fees 3%

 

So, a cash house buyer will be ‘all-in’ at 80% value and looking to refurbish the property and sell it on for 90% of value.

Timeframe & costs

If your estate agent isn’t performing, you could end up changing estate agents. 1 in 2 sellers do.

Buyers renegotiate the price after the survey particularly if mortgage valuation is lower than the offer.  Expect the process to take around 6 months to allow for conveyancing.

 

As there are no surveys or delays with valuations, cash house buyers should be able to complete the purchase in 10 days.

Please do look out for charlatan cash buyers offering you 80% of the value, then delaying the sale and finally dropping their offer price at the last minute!

Always substantiate your offers by checking for bank statements and on the Companies House for ‘Charges’ as this will suggest borrowing money to pretend to be a cash buyer.

When an estate agent claims to have lots of buyers on their books.
Estate agents often claim to have lots of buyers for your property, but how many of them are in a position to make an offer? We call them liar buyers.

Are online estate agents better than high street?

Each type of estate agent has its pros and cons. Our team have been buying and selling property for many years.  We’ve worked with a whole gamut of property professionals, including many un-professionals. 

So, we’re well-placed to present the arguments for each option.

Whether you’re looking to sell a house, bungalow, flat or maisonette, the choice of agent will affect your selling experience and the eventual outcome – whether it sells at all, how quickly it sells, fees charged and how much money you ultimately make on your property

Many sellers approach us, having been disappointed with their agent, and are looking to sell to us directly for cash.  We’ve written this article to save you time, money and stress of dealing with estate agents and potentially help you avoid the same mistakes.

Let’s look at the positives of different types of estate agents and why sellers instruct them.

Why use a high street estate agent?

Local estate agents on the high street have a deep understanding of the local market, including property values, trends, and buyer preferences. This knowledge enables them to give accurate and realistic property valuations, assisting sellers in pricing their homes competitively.

A high street estate agent is a more traditional way to sell your house, but you are dependent on the staff in the branch being available.  Estate agents are great at sales; many have been struck off for their dubious and dishonest selling techniques.

  • Office hours only – They will generally work strict office hours, often 9 am to 6 pm latest.  Many cannot answer calls around the clock.  Some have a call answering service that will know nothing about the property and pass the message on.
  • Proactive matching service – High street agents will contact prospective house buyers on their marketing lists to match them up with suitable properties like yours.  Quite a few will have moved on since their original enquiry, so ‘I have buyers’ is a myth.
  • Viewings arranged for you – They will arrange suitable times for the buyer to view your property, ensuring a representative from the estate agent company is also present to guide the client and introduce all aspects of the property.
  • Fees – High-street agents can charge as much as 3% plus VAT for selling your property but only get paid when the property is sold.
  • Staging and presenting the property – Estate agents often advise sellers to consider staging their house with different furniture, vases, accessories and aspirational lifestyle elements to achieve a faster sale. You could spend thousands on interior design without guarantee of selling your house quickly or at all.

Is it better to use an online estate agent?

If you want to handle the home sale on your own, using an online estate agent can make you feel more in control of the selling process. 

Some online estate agents offer additional benefits you won’t find from a traditional high street branch. However, the drawbacks are usually the lack of personal attention you’ll receive.

  • Extended opening times – They are often available to answer calls and messages outside business hours, sometimes via live chat, or an automated chatbot may guide you to the appropriate information on their website or FAQs.
  • No assistance with viewings – You may have to conduct viewings with online estate agents.  This can put you in an awkward position as you could be haggled on the price if negotiation is not your strength.
  • Fees – Some online estate agents also charge upfront fees.  Non-refundable, of course, with no guarantee of a sale. 

While estate agents can promise you the world and often result in disappointment if you are looking to sell in a hurry, they may not have the buyers lined up to buy your home.

You may have already tried to sell via an estate agent and met with false promises; delays and broken chains may scupper your plans. 

If you need to sell your house quickly, you will need a cash buyer, such as us, to make a cash offer and complete the purchase within a few days – or a timescale to suit you if you are in a property chain

High street and online estate agents often promise immediate property sale, mainly to convince you to sign up so they can secure your business. Still, often the reality is not quite as rosy.

Suppose you have plenty of equity in an inherited property. In that case, it makes sense to sell to a cash buyer because the longer your solicitors act for the estate’, the higher your probate bill will likely be – leaving you with little inheritance. 

Selling without an estate agent often makes sense if all beneficiaries take a 10% discount for a quick sale.

Many sellers prefer the certainty and speed of dealing with a reputable buyer. 

Our ‘We Buy Any House‘ service removes the stress of dealing with dodgy estate agents and non-committed buyers.  Sell in just a few days rather than waiting for months.

A couple signing estate agents contract.
Before you sign away on the dotted line.... Don't give your estate agent six months exclusivity to sell your home.

Is it worth using an estate agent?

Selling a home is something most people do once every seven years, but for estate agents, it’s a daily task. They are experienced in handling various issues that may arise. A competent agent will have a deep understanding of the local market and will be able to offer proof of the prices and types of properties they have successfully sold in the area.

  • Accessibility and high street presence – Traditional estate agents offer the convenience of popping in while you’re out shopping or on your lunch break.  When was a high street estate agent last had a buyer walk through their doors?

    Many buyers prefer the convenience of being able to find your property on Rightmove or other online property portals, and if they are interested, they can call an estate agent or make an enquiry via an online portal.

  • Relationships and outreach – Geared towards matching the houses on their books with potential buyers, you will feel reassured that an estate agent will constantly try to find someone to buy your home.  Your property will be one of the hundreds on their books.  The downside is that the buyer may be fickle, non-committal to the process, or loose in specifying their requirements. To this end, one in three sales falls through prematurely.
 
  • Marketing and photography – Estate agents spend money on quality photography to showcase your property’s features when advertising in the shop window, their website or mail-drop leaflets to local residents. Increasingly popular are the 3D videos and interactive house tours you see posted online, which allow a thorough virtual inspection without leaving your house.  You’re not getting it for free, though.  It comes from the upfront fees you pay, and this money will be wasted if they don’t sell your property.
 
  • Negotiation skills – An estate agent’s job is to negotiate between buyer and seller to find the middle ground on wants and needs, barter on price to suit both parties and make the deal. This is great if you feel too anxious or lack the confidence to do this by yourself.  
 

Our Property Saviour team includes several skilled negotiators who have bought and sold houses, commercial buildings, land and investment portfolios. 

We’ve cut through the red tape, overcome the legal hurdles, sorted the land registry issues, evicted the squatters, resolved the planning permission bungles and successfully sold properties that had no chance of selling via traditional methods.

We offer you a real alternative to selling via an estate agent.

Some online estate agents pretend to be cash buyers without the cash.
Some online estate agents pretend to be cash house buyers - but they don't have the cash. Traditional estate agents claim to 'cash house buyers' on their books so who should you trust? Ask for proof of funds. We'd happily provide it.

What are disadvantages of dealing with an estate agent?

Here are the disadvantages of using an estate agent to sell your house.

Over-valuing properties to win your instruction

If you have invited an estate agent to give you a valuation, ask them if they are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

If you instructed them to perform a RICS valuation, would their current valuation match the RICS valuation? If they hesitate to answer these questions, you have a good indication that they will have overpriced your property.

This is why we end up with down valuations.

Wavering commitment and enthusiasm

Many estate agents are rewarded for simply getting new properties onto their books and are not usually in a hurry to sell your house fast and lose your ongoing business.

They can get bored without movement and put their energy into another exciting sale. You’re left wondering what’s happening, chasing and feeling anxious while they proudly display yet another sold sticker on a property in their window.

Estate agent fees

High street agents can charge as much as 3% plus VAT for selling your property but only get paid when the property is sold. This delayed gratification often causes estate agents, especially the less-experienced junior negotiators, to become bored with any problematic property and seek other sales that offer the adrenaline high of a faster reward.

Unwillingness to take on risky properties

If the property needs improvements, such as a new kitchen, bathroom or central heating system, it will put off many buyers. 

It is the sort of property that we would love to buy. Do you want to spend weeks or months making your property fit to sell? And then, when you eventually do get it on the market, do you want to wait months to get an offer? 

Can an estate agent help you sell your house quickly when all they do is advertise your property online and wait for the phone to ring? We would instead give you the certainty of a quick cash sale through Property Saviour so you can relax and move on with your life.

Estate agent contracts - sole v. multi-agency agreements

 

Suppose your property is not likely to be a straightforward sale, for example, if it has structural defects, has damp or needs a dramatic renovation to be appealing. In that case, you won’t risk going with a “sole agency” agreement as you will limit your options to one agency. 

Multi-agency contracts are often more suitable – you can advertise across several agents.  However, both estate agents will each require a higher percentage commission as they aren’t guaranteed their commission, so they want more in fees to pay for their risk, time and inconvenience.

Lengthy sales and conveyancing process

If you want to sell a house fast with an estate agent, you may be disappointed as it can take 3 months to 6 months. 

This will depend on whether the buyer has secured a mortgage offer in principle, whether the solicitors for both sides are proactive in their conveyancing duties, the bank’s appetite to lend in a changing market, and whether your buyer has fallen in love with another property in the meantime.

It makes a lot of sense to try and sell your house yourself without any estate agent, as you’ll save on fees and deal directly with potential buyers.

Estate agents will use every trick in their book to keep you as a seller.
Estate agents are known for their tricks. The moment you serve a notice, you'll get flurry of 'buyers' but no offers!

Buyer affordability, high interest rates and Cost of Living Crisis

The cost of Living crisis and higher interest rates have put off many would-be buyers as the media talks about a ‘property market crash’, so people would rather wait and see.

Nothing is certain - unless you sell to Property Saviour

The main takeaway here is to remember that nothing is certain in the property world, and a buyer who thought they could afford your house may suddenly pull out of the chain after months of negotiations, leaving you back to square one.

If you sell your home to Property Saviour, there is the certainty of a fast sale as we are the buyer, have the funds, and are happy to prove it. 

black book of cash house buyers
Estate agent wanting to win your trust will tell you that there's a long queue of cash house buyers for your home.

The Liar Buyers: the black book of buyers

Estate agents have often claimed to have a list of buyers, but the reality is that most of these buyers were landlords who would want to buy your house for a knock-down price.

These investors are now running for the hill since they cannot make a profit.

Property investors are selling up whole portfolios because of tax changes, including no longer being able to write off mortgage interest as a tax-deductible expense and the imposition of additional stamp duty (SDLT).

There is still a lot of uncertainty around the changes the economy will bring with elections around the corner. 

Here at Property Saviour, we help sellers sell their homes without using any estate agency by offering them cash for their property, there are no fees to pay.  We’ll even pay £1,500 towards your legal costs and complete it when it suits you – whether in the next 10 days or longer.

"Cash offer was more than I thought it would be" - Ellie Gordon (Google review)
5/5

We're human and we care

We realise that our clients are often in a challenging situation, worrying about the bills or worrying about a problematic property.

This can affect your emotional well-being, and some people feel hopeless, depressed or even suicidal. 

Our team are very sensitive to the issues you will be facing. Be honest with us. That’s all we ask. Let us help you break free.

auction hammer

Genuine cash buyers​​

As professional cash house buyers, we are not reliant on mortgages, therefore we can buy your property with great speed and efficiency.

Our average completion takes just 10 days! This includes weekends too. Our fastest cash house sale took just 5 days!

Sell

We can exchange contracts in days​

  • You tell us when you’d like to exchange contracts.
  • We can provide proof of funds and exchange contracts in days.
  • We will complete – often in under 10 working days.
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We pay your legal fees

If you choose to sell with Property Saviour, we will pay your legal fees of up to £1,500.

Sell with certainty & speed

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