Selling a traditional standard construction house can be difficult at the best of times. When you’re faced with the challenge of selling a non-standard construction home, like a BISF house, it can seem like a daunting task.
So, how can you improve your chances of selling a BISF House?
You can improve your chances of selling a BISF House by:
- Picking the right estate agent
- Considering alternative selling methods
- Pricing the house appropriately
- Researching BISF-friendly insurers and lenders
- Carrying out necessary upgrades & repairs
- Making the house more energy efficient
- Tidying the property
Although it might take longer to find a buyer, it’s not impossible to sell a BISF home. From picking the right estate agent to selling by auction, there are things you can do to improve your chances of finding a buyer.
Over the last few years, I have spoken with and helped many dozens of people sell their BISF homes. This article sets out my 7 top tips to improve your chances of selling a BISF home.
Want to find the best way to sell your BISF home? Our free quiz can help guide you in the right direction:
What are the common problems you might face selling a BISF Property?
Before we look at how to improve your chances of selling, let’s look at the common problems you might face when selling a BISF property.
BISF houses often come with a number of associated problems that can ultimately make them harder to sell in the long run. Problems associated with BISF houses include:
- Difficulties obtaining a mortgage. You can get a mortgage on a BISF house, but your choice of lenders will be limited due to the non-standard construction type. Mortgage lenders favour houses built according to standard construction criteria.
- More expensive to insure. BISF houses can be harder and more expensive to insure. This is because they are a non-standard construction property, and so the insurers feel the potential risk and repair costs are less predictable than those of a traditional build.
- Dispelling common misconceptions. Many buyers and estate agents alike will have misconceptions about BISF homes, such as they are “temporary dwellings” or “defective” under the Housing Act 1985. It can be very difficult to navigate a sale of a BISF house when the prospective buyers are being fed false information.
- Can be expensive to repair. BISF properties can be expensive to repair. If the property has defects, it is likely that you’ll need to hire a specialised tradesperson to carry out the necessary repairs.
- Asbestos. Asbestos can be found in the corrugated asbestos cement roofing sheets of some BISF homes. This will be picked up in the buyer’s survey and can put prospective buyers off. It will also make the property considerably more expensive to insure.
1. Pick the right estate agent
In my experience, many estate agents do not have sufficient knowledge of BISF properties and can end up scaring potential buyers away with false information.
When selling a non-standard construction property, it is more important than ever to pick the right estate agent to improve your chances of a sale. Here are my tips to picking the right estate agent for the job:
- Look for an agent with BISF experience and local knowledge. You want to make sure the estate agent you go with has experience selling a BISF property like yours. Going with a local agent will be an advantage, as they’ll understand local markets and how BISF properties perform in the area.
- Ask local family, friends, or neighbours for recommendations. It always helps having a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust. As you know from our ultimate guide to BISF properties, BISF houses come in pairs or terraces, so there’s a chance your neighbours might have a good recommendation for an agent with BISF experience. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the “for sale” boards popping up in your neighbourhood too.
- Read reviews online. Reading reviews online can be a good starting point and way to get a feel for the level of service an agent can provide.
- Look at their professional marketing materials for other properties. Take a look at their marketing strategy. Check to see if they are using the big property portals and whether their photographs and floorplans are of good quality and presenting the properties well.
- Shop around. Make sure to shop around and interview any shortlisted agents. You want to make sure they have good knowledge of the local area, BISF homes and come across as proactive and motivated. Check to see if they have other BISF properties listed with them, as this may mean they have suitable buyers on their books.
Having an agent with experience selling BISF properties will ultimately be invaluable. They’ll be able to dispel myths to buyers, have a great understanding of the local markets and how other BISF properties have performed in the area, and market the property fairly.
2. Consider alternative selling methods
If you are struggling to find a buyer on the open market, or you want to achieve a quick sale, there are alternative ways to sell a BISF property that might be better suited to your goals.
The alternative ways to sell a BISF house are:
- By auction. Auctions offer a great balance between speed and price, and tend to attract more experienced investors who won’t be put off by the BISF property type.
- To a reputable house buying company. This option is only suited to sellers who are after a quick sale, and who are willing to compromise heavily on price.
We've designed this quiz specifically to help home-owners like you find the best way to sell their home. Click below to get started. I'll also connect you with the best local companies (ones I know and trust), who can help with your sale.
2.1 Sell by auction
If you want a balance between price and speed, then consider selling your BISF home by auction. With auction, you’ll get a higher price than selling to a house buying company, but it’ll be a much faster sale than selling through an estate agent.
Selling a BISF house by auction can be a great option if you are:
- Looking for a faster sale. Auctions can typically be wrapped up within 10-12 weeks, with a much greater deal of certainty that selling on the open market.
- Struggling to find a buyer on the open market. Auctions tend to attract more experienced investors who will not be put off by a non-standard construction property.
- Do not want to carry out repairs or improvements before selling. As I said above, auctions tend to attract more investors who will be looking for opportunities to add value. If your BISF house needs work, investors will see this as a plus.
One of the main advantages of selling by auction is that it’s a more likely sale than selling with an estate agent.
According to data from EIG (the industry standard for property auction data), over the past 12 months around 78% of properties that went to auction sold successfully.
By comparison, only around 51% of properties listed with an estate agent sell successfully!
You also get fewer fall-throughs, as buyers in traditional auctions are contractually bound to complete the purchase once the hammer falls and must pay a hefty deposit upfront.
Less than 1% of auction sales fall through after they’ve been agreed, compared to a whopping 25-40% of estate agency sales!
2.2 Sell to a reputable cash house buying company
The quickest way to sell a BISF house is to sell directly to a reputable house buying company.
The house buying company I work with can offer you a formal, guaranteed offer within 24 hours and can buy your house in as little as 2 weeks or a timeframe to suit you. This can seem extremely appealing if you want a fast sale.
However, keep in mind that you will take a hit on the price you receive in exchange for the speed and certainty this option offers.
House buying companies tend to offer about 80-85% of the market value for your home. And because BISF houses can be difficult and take longer to sell than traditional brick-built homes, the offer you receive could be less than 80% to factor in the risk.
Complete this short quiz to find out if selling to a house buying company is the right option for you. Please note that the quote you receive may be lower than 80% because of the challenges faced with selling a BISF property.
3. Price the house appropriately
You can improve your chances of selling your BISF home by setting a realistic asking price. This will help to generate lots of interest and get more potential buyers through the front door.
Here are my tips for pricing your BISF home appropriately:
- Do your research. A great starting point is to look at the prices of comparable BISF properties in your area that have recently come on the market, sold, and have recently reduced their asking price. This will give you a good idea of the current market value of houses like yours.
- Speak with local estate agents. Speak to local agents with experience selling BISF properties in your area. They should have a good understanding of the market in your area for non-standard construction properties and can give you an estimate of the likely selling price of your property. Be sure to shop around and get at least three valuations.
- Location, location, location. Is your property located in a desirable location? BISF homes in sought after areas with good schools, transport links, and amenities will be priced higher than BISF homes in less desirable locations.
- Consider the condition of your property. If your house is in good condition, you can price it higher than a similar property that needs repairs or renovations.
- Be realistic. It's important to be realistic about the price you set. Overpricing your property can discourage buyers and ultimately make it more difficult to sell.
4. Research BISF-friendly insurers and lenders
Generally, it is harder and more expensive to insure and obtain a mortgage on a BISF home because of the perceived additional risks associated with a non-standard construction home.
Prospective buyers are therefore likely to have concerns around the insurability and mortgageability of a BISF house.
If you can provide interested parties with options of BISF-friendly insurers and lenders, this will make the property much more appealing to potential buyers.
A good starting point would be to provide the details of your insurer and lender. You can also speak to your BISF neighbour to see if they’re willing to give you the name of their insurer and lender so you can provide prospective buyers with options.
It’s worth giving the companies a ring to double check that they still insure and lend on BISF homes, as criteria is changing all the time.
5. Upgrades & repairs
It’s likely that any buyers will request an invasive survey of the property before buying, and any issues such as corroding stanchions are likely to be picked up at this stage.
Some buyers will be put off by the prospect of repairs, so you can increase your potential buyer pool and asking price by making any necessary repairs before you put the property on the market.
5.1 Asbestos roof
Asbestos can be found in the roofs of some BISF houses in the bold-roll white cement asbestos sheeting.
Asbestos roofing will be picked up by a survey and can put potential buyers off. It will likely also make the property considerably more expensive, and trickier, to insure.
Replacing the original asbestos roof will likely make the property more mortgageable and insurable for prospective buyers and will mean you can increase your asking price.
It shouldn't take too long to replace an asbestos roof, but it will obviously involve a cost. Remember to get a quote for the safe removal and disposal of the asbestos, as well as the labour, scaffolding and materials of the new roof that will be fitted in its place.
5.2 Do I need to carry out the repair works before selling?
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you’ll produce a buyer or achieve a higher price if you carry out any necessary repair work.
If you decide that selling by auction might be the best route for you, doing no work to the property might actually work in your favour. Investors will see the potential in the property and the work required as an opportunity to make money and so it might be more appealing to them in its current state.
6. Make the house more energy efficient
BISF properties in their original form are amongst the most thermally inefficient properties in the UK, according to NonStandardHouse.com.
Carrying out some insulation improvements on your BISF home before you put it on the market may improve your chances of achieving a better price. Propertymark has said "if a home improvement moves your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) up a band [it] could add thousands to the sale price!"
However, there is no guarantee and so you may want to leave the home improvements to the new owner.
There are several ways a BISF house can be insulated, including:
- Loft insulation. Adding loft insulation can benefit your property’s energy efficiency and, in turn, improve its EPC rating. However, it is unlikely to have a great impact on the amount of heat lost through the walls of BISF homes.
- Internal wall insulation. Although cheaper than external wall insulation, this method is more disruptive and can be risky, as it can cause serious structural issues if done incorrectly.
- External wall insulation systems. This is the most effective way of improving a BISF home’s thermal efficiency and kerbside appeal, without disruption to the household. However, it is the most expensive option. This method is recommended by Cornerstone as a “good means of insulating BISF properties without risking condensation near the steel frames”.
Make sure to get a professional in when insulating BISF homes, as certain products and installation methods can create condensation problems. Although this doesn’t sound like much of an issue, condensation can cause the inner steel structure of a BISF home to corrode and create unwanted future structural problems.
7. Tidy the property
Tidying and decluttering your BISF house is a cheap but seriously effective way to appeal to more buyers.
A tidy and well-presented property can greatly improve your chances of selling for a few reasons:
- First impressions count. Make sure your property is clean and decluttered for the marketing pictures. A clean and well-maintained property will stand out to potential buyers and make them more likely to want to book a viewing.
- Helps buyers imagine themselves living there. A tidy property allows potential buyers to easily picture themselves living in the property, which can make them more likely to make an offer. It’s important to give buyers the opportunity to visualise how they would use the space on offer.
- Shows that the property has been well cared for. A tidy property shows prospective buyers that the house has been well cared for and can give them greater confidence in the property’s overall condition. Remember though that buyers will be getting a home survey if they wish to proceed which will flag any problems.
- Makes the property look more spacious and airy. Buyers are often looking for spacious and airy properties. Get clutter away from any windows and give them a clean to maximise the amount of light in your BISF home.
- Increases the property's perceived value. A tidy property can increase the perceived value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers. Research from find-a-tradesperson platform Rated People found that clutter, dirt, and bad smells were found collectively to knock just over £53,000 off a property’s value!
Tidying and decluttering your BISF home will cost you nothing and can make a dramatic difference to the marketing photos and success of your viewings. You can always call in those favours your friends owe you to lend a helping hand!
If selling your BISF home feels tricky and you don't know what to do next, I've designed this free home-selling quiz to help you:
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert