Selling Your House Without An Estate Agent

With all the resources available to us nowadays, it’s no surprise that some homeowners are looking to circumvent the estate agent and undertake a little DIY house selling instead. Estate agents fees for finding a buyer for your property generally run into the thousands with many taking as much as 1.8% of the sale price. In comparison, you can list your house on a selling site for just a few pounds and, at first site, it seems like a no brainer.

Becoming a DIY Seller

Actually we’ve been doing this kind of thing with many aspects of our lives for a while so it’s no surprise that the act of selling a home is leaning towards the DIY market. We sell cars online, get rid of our old games and books and even hire and fire staff ourselves, rather than using middlemen like second hand shops, dealers and agencies. With property websites more geared to estate agents, there has been a rise in the number of websites that are specifically aimed at private sellers – they work in much the same way as the big sites and charge a fee for advertising, normally tiered to your specific requirements. A lot of people are conscious about the effort that goes into doing it yourself but as we’ve previously discussed there are some important questions you can ask yourself in order to find out if it’s truly for you.

5 Tips for Advertising your Property

  1. First of all you need to find the right site to advertise your property and that can involve a good deal of research. The number of sites offering this kind of service is beginning to increase but not all of them are up to the standard you would expect so it pays to check them out before you put your house up on their pages.
  2. DIY sites offer a range of services that could well bump up the cost to around £500 or more, helping to arrange home visits and negotiations with prospective buyers. You need to decide how much you want to do yourself and how much you want to hire out.
  3. Once you have found the DIY site for you, then the next step is to decide on the price you want to ask for your own property. This is something that estate agents generally deal with and have experience of doing. You need to be realistic in your asking price – check what similar houses are going for in your area and keep your valuation within that.
  4. Take photos of your property, if possible professionally. They should of course show your property in the best light and can be uploaded digitally, normally for a small fee for each picture. Adverts with photos have much more chance of attracting a buyer’s attention and the more you include revealing the look and feel of your home the better.
  5. Do you need a For Sale Sign? If you want people in your area to know that your home is up for sale then yes you certainly do. Many DIY property selling sites will actually provide you with a for sale sign, costing around £30 to put up.

Describing your Home

For many people this can often be the most difficult part of the process but can really help boost buyer activity if you get it right. First of all you will want to produce something that is honest and revealing and include details such as whether there is room (and planning permission) for improvements and extensions. Whilst your blurb shouldn’t have overly flowery language, you might want to think carefully about what attracted you to the property in the first place and what you most love about it.

Energy Performance Certificate

If you haven’t sold a property in a while, you may not know that you will need an Energy Performance Certificate for your property. That means employing the services of a registered assessor who will give your property the once over and decide how energy efficient it is.

Arranging Viewings

One of the most important things you are going to have to cope with is arranging viewings for prospective buyers, which means showing them round and answering all their questions. This is not everyone’s cup of tea and you need to be sure that you have all the answers you need to hand. You also have to be as flexible as possible with the times you allow appointments to meet the needs of your potential buyer.

Negotiating the Price

Make sure that you have a price that you are not willing to go below before you even start negotiating with a prospective buyer. This is one area that requires the ability to gauge when to stick or twist and most of us don’t have that particular skill set. If you have a potential buyer who has better negotiating skills you may find yourself being backed into a corner and settling for somewhat less than you intended, especially if you are looking for a quick sale.

asking price

Employing a Good Solicitor

There is a fair amount of paperwork involved in transferring ownership of a house which will need the services of a good solicitor who is aware that you are selling the property privately and will be able to make sure you have everything in place and ready to go.

Choosing Between DIY Selling or Estate Agents

Overall, there are four issues you need to consider when deciding whether to sell on your own or go through an estate agent.

  • The benefit of not having to pay fees versus potentially missing out on a slightly better price for your property.
  • Learning how to sell your house yourself against having a ready-made source of information and expertise.
  • Having to handle all potential buyer viewings against letting the estate agent do it.
  • Handling the negotiations yourself as opposed to having someone else with more experience champion your cause.

How To Sell Your House Fast In A Slow Market

Whilst house buyers often wrestle with the problem of finding the right home and a mortgage, property sellers at the moment are having to cope with a slow market that means a fast sale is pretty difficult to achieve.

Even in the current environment, however, there are some key ways in which you can boost your chances of a fast sale.

The housing market that practically slowed to a standstill in 2014 has actually started to pick up, but the growth is slow. With people feeling a little more punch in their pockets after the falling cost of food and petrol prices, consumer confidence has been given a lift since the turn of the New Year. Despite this, the underlying problems are still there – first time buyers are potentially being priced out of the market and the impact of any new stock being built has yet to be felt, despite projects such as the one in Newton Heath in Manchester.

So if you have a house and you want to sell it, is there any way you can make the deal go through quickly and still net a decent profit? Here’s our quick guide to how to sell your house fast in a slow market.

The Price is Right

With so much capital tied up in any property, most of us want to get the best deal possible when it comes to selling a house or flat. Dramatically slashing the price you want is, of course, the quickest way to get a fast sale. For most property owners, though, it is simply not an option. You have a mortgage to cover, not to mention the purchase of your new home.

Having said that, you need to make sure that you are asking a reasonable and competitive price for the property in your area and you will be able to gauge this with the help of a reputable estate agent and by checking out house sales in your local area.

Attract the Right Potential Buyers

There may be plenty of people who want to view your property but perhaps not that many who want to put in an offer. You need to decide on the type of buyer you want to attract and gear your advertising to them. For instance, if you are looking to attract a professional couple you might like to highlight how close to some great amenities you are and the fast broadband connection your property gets. If you live in a family area then the local schools and play areas could well be as important as the number of rooms you have or the potential to expand.

Introduce an Aspect of Competition

Running an open house event is one trend that has taken hold in cities such as London. Basically you have a limited time when your home is open for viewing with a number of people arriving in a short period and then leaving sealed bids for the property. It is touted as being the main mover for a quick sale and is a prime way for sellers to get their property sold over and above the asking price.

The whole process creates a sense of competition but there are some caveats to be aware of – not least that the highest bidder will be more likely than not to back out before the sale is completed. It also works better if there is a high demand which is not a problem in areas such as London but may be more problematic in other parts of the country.

House Savings and Sales

Front of House

First impressions count for a lot and many home owners forget about one of the most important parts of their property. Front of house appeal is vital if you want any hope of a quick sale. Many sellers will spend money doing up their home to make sure it has extra selling power for potential buyers but quite a few ignore the outside appearance.

A potential buyer may not be that interested in the shape of your windows but he or she will almost certainly be wondering where they are going to park their car. That aside, making your front of house as attractive as possible can make a big difference and can even influence buyer opinion once they are in your property.

De-Clutter and Create Atmosphere

There are big things and small things that you can do if you want to sell your house fast in a slow market. One area that people also often forget is to make their home look as de-cluttered as possible. The last thing a potential buyer wants to see is your personality scattered all over the place. They actually want to be able to impose their own personality on the property and you can help them visualize all the possibilities by reducing your own impact.

The balance is a difficult one to achieve especially if you are still living in the property as most people are. Remember, a good number of people are looking to move to a larger property and if your house is cluttered then it may not look as roomy as they would like.

Instruct the Right Property Agent

One of the most important ways to get a quick house sale is to actually employ the right property agent. As with most industries, not all estate agents are made equal and selecting the right one is always an imperative. There are some who are prone to bad practices and others who will always have your best interests at heart – obviously you want to choose the latter. That’s why you shouldn’t settle on the first estate agent you come across but shop around, as with most things, for the best deal.

Make Sure Your Solicitor and Paperwork Are Ready to Go

Finally, make sure you have everything in place that you need for when the sale is about to go through. Many a house sale has floundered because the sellers have not been prepared and the buyers have given up and found somewhere else to live because there have been too many delays. Make sure you have your solicitor on standby and your paperwork ready to go.

Get Cosy with the Home Interiors Trends this Autumn/Winter 2015

If you’re lucky enough to have found your dream pad – whether it’s rented or bought – then issues such as the colour of your tea/coffee canisters, how textured the cushions are and whether or not John Lewis or Marks & Spencer is best for bed linen are suddenly about to become sooooo important.

And if you’re the type of person who likes to remain ‘on trend’ – whether that’s with your clothes or home interiors, then you’d better read on because we’re about to tell you what’s trending indoors this autumn/winter.

That’s because having researched all the major websites and interiors supplements/blogs we feel expertly placed to advise you on the interiors trends for the chillier months ahead. And the following is best – in our opinion – of what we can look forward to come September:


First up, we’re definitely getting more seasonal with our colours. The shades designers are focusing on for the coming months are greys, darker blues (midnight and ink) and mossy greens. It sounds a bit dull, but really it’s not all that bad – especially if you’re a fan of shabby chic, as you can see from this London sitting room, featured in The Telegraph’s interior design list recently:

AW 15 Interior Colours

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 Fans of that other popular metal needn’t worry though. For as well as silver, the colour gold will also be big this autumn/winter, especially when contrasted with black as in the following bedroom:

AW 15 Bedroom Colours

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There’s no getting away from it – Rattan is huge this autumn winter. Why we’re not quite sure since we’re about to start putting our porch furniture away and in our huts, not the sitting room. However all the big interior design bloggers are gushing about this natural straw being the texture to note this November and beyond. And considering rattan’s eco credentials, maybe that’s not a bad thing after all. This modern kitchen looks great with this rattan lampshade (which, in turn, blends in beautifully with the rustic looking table):


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But what about the bathroom we hear you ask. Yes, and we’re getting there – although not quite here as in the image below.


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Just think about all the spiders lurking in the foliage, getting ready to pounce as you chill in the bath! Yes, interior design bible Houzz reckons living walls are going to be big in the bathroom this year. However, for the more realistic amongst us, the following is probably a better bet for refurbishing a bathroom:


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As you can see it’s all about simplicity and minimalism in the bathroom. Wall hanging toilets remain popular and sinks are still like bowls which have been absent-mindedly left on a console table. Textures are wood and natural stone (if your budget allows). Lighting is important (but it has to be warm white LED which, thankfully, has improved immensely in the past couple of years).



Meanwhile, other trends which can squeeze into various rooms in your home include laser cut metal. Yes, this design trend is no longer restricted to greetings cards and wooden toys. You’ll now find it on cutlery canisters, letter holders and mirror frames:


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You’re going to be seeing a lot of textured ceramics this autumn/winter too – such as this new collection from a well-known UK high street store:


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Ok, it’s Zara!

And finally, we started this post talking about – amongst other things – cushions. These are easy to keep bang up-to-date because unlike some other items for the home they don’t cost a lot but can make such a difference to a room (especially if you get curtains to match). Anyway, this year’s Pantone colour is marsala so it goes without saying that cushions which contain this red wine/cement-like shade simply can’t help being fashionable:


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We hope the above gave you some inspiration. If it did get you fired up, why not take a look at some other decorating ideas on how to use colours effectively to sell your home. Enjoy!

Advice on Becoming a Silver Landlord

With the introduction of new pension rules that give us all more control over how we handle our money in retirement, one area people are seriously considering investing in is the property market, particularly buy to let. On the surface it appears a win-win situation with income being derived from monthly rental fees and the value of the property hopefully increasing over a period of time.

There are, of course, various pros and cons that new landlords need to consider before they decide to delve into their pension pot.

Before you cash in part of your pension and head off into the rental market with reckless abandon, do your sums first. You will need to get some pretty good advice and give yourself plenty of time to reach the right decision. Moving into the buy to let market is not for everyone. If you have spent the last forty years building up a nice pension pot then you don’t want to throw it away in a moment of madness.

Assuming that you have weighed the good and bad and made an informed decision about the amount of money you have available then here is some good advice about how to make the best of your investment.

Choosing the right property

Key to making it in the property letting game is finding the right flat or house to rent out. That may sound like an obvious thing to say but it is one that new landlords often ignore, more concerned with the right price and how much they can get for a mortgage than location, location, location.

The good news is that a pension can be classed as a single income when it comes to judging whether you can get a lender to give you a mortgage or not but that shouldn’t cloud your attempt to find a property that is in a good location and has great rental prospects.

Pick an area that people will want to live in – like Goldilocks and her porridge, the best choice is often one that is neither too cheap nor too expensive. Of course it pays to do your research if you are looking at a specific area. Find out what kind of properties are being rented out and how much tenants are paying, then compare that to the amount you are likely to have to pay in mortgage repayments.

Identifying your market

Hand in hand with choosing the right property is what market you are aiming at.

  • Are you buying in an area where a high percentage of tenants are students?
  • Do you want someone professional who will look after your property more responsibly?
  • Would you prefer a family who are likely to want to rent over a longer term?

If you are carrying out all the landlord duties yourself then you will need to choose your type of tenant carefully.

Your responsibilities as a landlord

Becoming a landlord is not just a simple case of buying a property and throwing a couple of tenants in there, hoping for the best. You have responsibilities towards your tenants that will include providing maintenance if something goes wrong and installing safety devices such as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. There are also a number of regulations to be aware of such as the circumstances when you can put up the rent and where to go to if there is a dispute that needs to be settled.

Renovations and maintenance

Before anyone moves into your new rental property you will need to ensure that any renovations have been carried out. Tenants are not going to want to move into a property that is run down, has dirty carpets or paper peeling off the walls. You will also probably need to install the basic home comforts such as a cooker and make sure that the plumbing and electrics are all up to standard. As a landlord you will also be liable for the on-going maintenance of the property, which means it is a good idea to have a number of contacts such as plumbers and electricians who you can reliably call on in the event of an emergency.

Silver Landlord

Finding the right tenants

For private landlords who are doing all the work themselves, it’s a lot easier with our access to the online world to find tenants for a property. You just need to advertise on a site like Zoopla or Right Move and wait for prospective tenants to contact you.

Of course, it’s one thing finding someone to rent your flat or house, it’s entirely another to find the right tenant who will cause few if any problems. That means you will need to undertake credit and background checks, including perhaps checking the prospective tenant’s last landlord for information. Fortunately, there are a number of online agencies that can help you check on potential tenants and it really does pay to have someone who knows what they are doing undertake this side of things.

Staying on top of the legal stuff

When a tenant moves in there is usually a tenancy agreement, a list of conditions that both parties are expected to adhere to. This will also include an itinerary of the property in the flat or house including things like furniture, cooker, fridge and so on that need to be kept in good condition. It is always better to have access to a qualified and respected solicitor when you are putting all the legal matters together, as well as giving you a reliable backup to turn to if there are problems during the tenancy.

Using a letting agent

If you are a silver landlord and have recently retired but are looking for another career in later life, then it might seem sensible to take on a project like letting out a property. If you have experience in the industry then it’s not a bad idea especially if you have time on your hands. Many silver landlords make the choice to employ a letting agent who can handle specific aspects of the letting, such as finding the right tenants or collecting the money.

Letting agents generally charge a fee of 10 and 15% of the rent collected in exchange for various services. If you just want to collect the money and not get involved with the day to day running of the property then the agent can also handle maintenance including monitoring the tenants. Taking your time to choose the right letting agent is important – it not only pays to shop around but check with existing landlords to find out their experiences.

Whilst on the surface it sounds a great idea to invest some of your pension pot in the buy to let industry, there are plenty of things to consider before you actually part with your hard earned cash. Our advice is to do all the research first and make sure you aren’t putting your future finances at risk. Done properly, renting out a property can bring in valuable extra cash for your retirement as well as giving you an investment that should hopefully increase in value over the coming years.

Empty Nesters

If your children have grown up and left home, at some stage it may hit you that:


  • Your home is now too big for you and is costly to maintain and run – so downsizing may give you a more comfortable lifestyle by reducing bills and maintenance costs.
  • Now you are free of responsibilities, you can follow your dreams and retire abroad.
  • While you love your home and don’t want to move, is there some way you can bring in an income from it.


What are your options?


Making any big life decision needs lots of consideration to make sure it really is the best thing for you to do. Here at My Online Estate Agent we have put some tips together for all of you empty nesters out there about on what you need to know about selling, renting and moving. We hope this will help you to make an informed decision as to the next and the right step.


Downsizing or moving abroad


Earlier this year, the Daily Mail reported how downsizing your property can generate a £100,000 windfall. This is due to the current high demand for family-sized homes which means sellers can charge a premium.


Obviously this is case dependant but with that sort of potential profit, you could have a healthy lump sum to put towards a smaller home, or towards your Spanish villa / Florida beach house etc.


If you are selling your home via a traditional high street estate agent, the commission fees could seriously eat in to a chunk of your profit. Here’s why:


  • The average three-bedroom semi-detached house in England and Wales is now worth £181,619.
  • Estate agency fees range from 75% up to 3.5% of the agreed selling price for your home depending on the type of contract you choose.
  • Sell your home at the average England and Wales asking price, and you could pay up to £6,356 in estate agency fees.
  • Sell your London home (where the average property value is £481,820) and you could face estate agency fees of nearly £17,000!


We recently spoke to Tony Clarke about why he chose against this method:


Sell your home privately


Alternatively, you may wish to sell your home privately. There are a number of different services you can choose, from those where you do everything yourself (such as taking photos, writing up the details and providing floor plans, organising viewings and negotiating with prospective buyers and so on). This can save you a substantial amount of money, giving you more to put towards your new home, whether it is a bungalow in Broadstairs or a Finca in Fuerteventura! If you go down this route, make sure that the website you use will advertise your property on all the major portals, otherwise you may not get the viewing interest that you want.


Fill your nest!


If you want to stay in your home, then there is an old but still very relevant article in The Guardian that provides some great ideas about renting out your home. From taking in full time lodgers (via the Rent a Room scheme) to foreign students during the holidays, there are lots of options.


You can even do holiday house swaps with like-minded people in different countries so you get to keep your home and enjoy foreign travel and free accommodation for several weeks at a time!


What next?

Being an empty nester doesn’t mean you have to downsize – unless you want to of course! It generally comes down to what is right for you but with all of these options on offer, whether you want to sell, rent or swap; it really is a great position to be in when starting your new chapter.