In the last blog I talked about disappointment, in this blog I’m talking about selling a house. Sometimes they can lead to the same thing if you don’t hire the best estate agent for you!
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, you can read my disclaimer policy here
I thought as part of my Lifestyle Tuesday, I’d start a series giving some rough ideas about buying and selling houses from a layman’s point of view. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I thought maybe I could give a few hints and tips if you are starting down this path. Buying and selling houses is one of THE most stressful and emotive things you will ever do. I’ve done it three times now, and it never gets any easier. We were never really happy with our second house purchase, it was bought in a hurry (long story) the layout was wrong, we had a shared drive, the list goes on. So over the years we tried to sell it several times, but we were thwarted each time with things like the crash in 2008 etc.
In 2015 we decided we were going to put the house on the market and leave it there until it sold. These are the things we learnt about the process over the year it took to sell our house.
Choosing your estate agent!
The thing to remember is that estate agents are salesman. They will tell you what they think you want to hear. So before you even let an estate agent into your home, do your own research! Use a tool like Zoopla to gain a realistic idea about the true value of your house. Many people fall into the trap of thinking just because their home is nicely furnished and decorated and in their opinion it looks better than their neighbours, that this will translate into being able to ask more money. All these things will indeed make it more appealing to viewers and easier to sell, but those things may not translate into extra money.
Like many things, never just get one estate agent in. Get several. Some of them will come into your house and they will seriously shmooze you! They will gush about your house, when you know damn well the kitchen is dated and let’s the house down. They will still try to persuade you that you’ll be able to get the top price and that you should take the house to market at this price. This comes back to being realistic. People are not stupid. They will see that the kitchen is dated, and of course they will want to replace it. Which means in most cases they will expect some money off and put in a lower offer. At the end of the day, the cold hard fact is that estate agents want you to sell your house for as much money as you can, so they have a bigger pay day themselves.
Ask them how and for how long they market the house. We found that some estate agents only actively marketed our house for a limited time. This means that they would only put it in the paper (how retro?) for two weeks, or if people came into the branch they would ‘suggest’ our house. After that time, the house became any also ran, in other words potential buyers had to actively ask about it to be given any details. If you are considering a small independant estate agent always make sure they use Rightmove, most people use this website for house hunting these days.
Consider using multiple estate agents. There are pros and cons to having multiple agents involved, again do your research thoroughly before making any decisions. Ask about the multi agency agreements they offer and if they still require payment if another agent sells your house. In my experience all parties will expect some recompence for marketing your house, whether they sell it or not. Which of course means more cost to you.
Ask friends and family for opinions on local agents. There is no better recommendation than word of mouth from someone who has used a particular agent. Just because you have invited an agent into the house for valuation/consideration do not feel pressured into going with that agent. Ultimately an estate agent works for you, and therefore you are hiring them. If you don’t feel comfortable/happy with them, don’t employ them!
Ask about assisted viewings. Assisted viewings are so much better, no awkward not knowing what to say to people when they come through the door. In my experience as the homeowner you have a tendency to point out the bad bits of the house, it’s almost like you can’t resist giving a candid view. Do be careful though, even though we asked for assisted viewings we rarely got them. There always seemed to be an excuse, not enough staff, it’s a Saturday etc. So if this is an important element of your requirements, you may well have to be flexible on the times you are willing to let viewers into your house.
Finally before you give an agent the green light, look at their photographs on selling sites. Are they good quality? Are there lots of photographs? Do the descriptions give a good idea/feel of the house. Is there a floorplan? Does the overall presentation of a property make a good impression. Ask about feedback. All feedback from viewings is good feedback. It might sting a little at times, but at least you will know anything that might be turning potential buyers off. Not all estate agents actively seek feedback, and in some cases are reluctant to pass it on if it’s negative. So do find out their thoughts on feedback.
Trust your instincts where Estate Agents are concerned. If they make promises that seem to be too good to be true, as with anything, they probably are. As I said right at the beginning do your research. The more knowledge you have, the better position you are to make informed decisions and see through any sales patter! If you are completely new to house buying, it’s always worth doing a bit of reading. Of course there is a wealth of information out there on the internet (what did we do before the internet?!) and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of books available. I bought two books, firstly House Selling for Dummies. A really good simple book with nothing too indepth or complicated. Then when we were selling our last house I bought one from Phil Spencer called Adding Value to your Home. Some really good tips and tricks, without spending too much money.
Good luck if you are just about to start on this journey, and if you have any tips of your own please add them in the comments!