Selling a house is one of the biggest financial decisions we can ever make. It doesn't just affect your financial life though - it affects your whole life! So it's really important to have the best and most successful sale you can...
So what's the best way to sell a house?
With property, things are never as straightforward as you'd hope. There isn't one "best way" to sell.
There are many different ways to sell, and the best way to sell your house will depend on what's most important to you:
There isn't one "best way" to sell a house. It depends on what your goal is. To get the best price possible, you should sell through a good local estate agent. To get the fastest sale possible, you should sell to a cash house buying company. For a good balance of speed and price, you should sell by auction (especially if your property has some issues).
Online estate agents seem like the cheapest way to sell your home, but in my opinion this is a false economy. Although you save on fees, it can cost you a lot more if you don't achieve as high a sale price. Therefore I don't recommend it for most sellers. I'll cover this in more detail later on.
In this article we'll do three main things:
- We'll break down the factors most important to a good house sale. (Speed, certainty, price achieved, and fees paid)
- We'll cover why the sale methods I've suggested above are the right fit for the different priorities
- I'll tell you the exact next steps to take to find the best estate agent, cash house buyer or auction house for your property.
1. What makes a "good" house sale?
When we ask about the "best way" to sell a house, what do we mean?
From my experience, we’re talking about 4 things that make for a "good" house sale:
- Speed. How fast is the sale going to be done, and how easy will it be?
- Certainty. What are the chances of success, and how much peace of mind will you have throughout the sale?
- Price Achieved. Did you get the highest possible price, or did you have to compromise?
- Fees paid. How much did you have to pay for the service?
Now... you might think that #3 and #4 are the same. And they kind of are - they're both about how much money you end up with.
But as people, we really don't seem to think in those "bigger picture" terms. Instead, we often look for "the cheapest way to sell a house". So for the sake of this article I've split them out, and we'll address each one separately.
So the question about the "best way to sell a house" basically becomes "how should I sell my house to get a quick, certain sale at a high price with the lowest fees?".
As you can probably imagine, there's no good answer to that question. Unfortunately you can't have it all. You can't have the fastest sale and the best price.
As with anything in life there are compromises to be made. The compromise basically comes down to this:
The higher the price you want, the longer it's going to take.
Check out this doodle I made for you.
So this is where this article can really help.
It’s not so much what the “best way to sell your house” is... it’s about the “best way for you”. So you need to dig just a little deeper, and figure out what question you're really asking.
Do you want the fastest sale? The highest price? The best chance of success?
In this article, we're going to answer these questions for you:
- How can you sell your house for the best price?
- What's the fastest way to sell your house?
- What's the cheapest way to sell your house? (We'll also cover why this is a BAD idea for most people).
Let's get started!
2. How to sell your house for the best price
Forget what you know about property and estate agents and everything else for now. Let's take it back to basics for a second.
If you want to get the best price for your home, you need two main things:
- You need as many of the right people to see your house as possible. Every buyer will have a different feeling about what your house is worth to them. The more people who see your property, the more likely you are to find the one who's willing to pay the highest price. (More buyers also means more competition between them, which drives up the price further).
- You need someone to negotiate effectively with the buyers to drive the price up. Buyers won't just come out and tell you the highest price they're willing to pay. There are intricate negotiations that need to take place to really pull that highest price out of a buyer.
You need to do each of these two things as effectively as possible to get the best price for your home.
2.1. How estate agents help
The two things we've listed above are exactly what you pay an estate agent to do:
- Estate agents get your property in front of as many buyers as possible, and
- They negotiate with buyers to get you the highest price.
Now, I'm not saying that all agents actually really do this, or that many are even any good at it... But ever since estate agents were first "invented" in the 1830s, that's been the general idea. And for this service, you pay the estate agent a fee.
Estate agent fees
As with any professional service, the idea is that your estate agent should make you more money than they cost you.
And I believe, still, that finding the right estate agent will MAKE you money, not "cost" you.
Finding the best estate agent is an art in and of itself, and we'll be writing about that in the future.
In the mean time, get a recommendation from a local friend or family member. Failing that, services like GetAgent.co.uk, the price comparison site for estate agents, are about the best you can do.
Trade offs & why cutting corners affects price
So we've established that to get the highest price you need buyers, time, and negotiation power.
If you take any of those things away, you're going to compromise on the price you get.
- What if you want a faster sale? You'll end up having fewer buyers see your house, and it'll result in a lower price. (Remember, new buyers are coming into the market all the time, and they may be willing to offer more for your house. Waiting for them to show up is just part of the game).
- What if you want to save on costs? Want to save on costs by not having someone negotiate the sale for you? Again, you're likely to end up with a lower sale price.
In other words, if you want a faster sale or if you want to save on fees, it's going to affect the price you get. You'll end up not selling for the best price.
So if you want to get the highest possible price for your home, you'll need to sell through an estate agent. It means waiting around a while, but it's the only way.
Any other sale method (auction, online agent, cash house buyers) compromises on those two key things you need, and will result in a lower price.
We'll have a full, in-depth article coming soon on how to sell your house for full market value. Subscribe for updates in the meantime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But what if a long wait isn't what you're looking for?
3. The fastest way to sell your house
This comes as a shock to a lot of people, but it shouldn't:
Not everyone wants (or needs) to get the highest price for their home.
Some people are happy to compromise on the price they get if it means a quicker, easier, less stressful sale.
That's what this section's about.
Let's take it back to basics again first. What takes all the time when selling your house with an estate agent?
Broadly speaking, it's four things:
- Waiting for buyers and offers
- Waiting on solicitors
- Waiting on mortgage companies
- Waiting on the rest of your chain
As we covered above, all this waiting does result in the best price for your house... but it can take a long time.
3.1. How long does it take to sell your house with an agent?
According to TheAdvisory.co.uk's "Time To Sell" benchmark study, when selling with an estate agent it takes an average of 14-23 weeks to sell your house.
This is just the average though...
Some people get lucky and have it done faster, but the opposite is true too... a lot of people end up waiting a really loong time to sell their house.
This just isn't a fit for everyone.
3.2. Cash house buying companies
Thankfully, there is an option that provides a much faster, easier way to sell: You can sell your house directly to a cash house buying company.
This is undoubtedly the fastest way to sell your house.
These companies can make you an offer in as little as 24 hours, and then buy your house in as little as 2 weeks.
How do they do it so fast? Let's revisit the 4 "long waits", and how property buying companies reduce them.
- Waiting for buyers and offers. Cash house buyers are your buyer, and they offer within 24 hours. No wait here.
- Waiting on solicitors. House buying companies work with the best and fastest solicitors. They also "short circuit" the legal process by sidestepping many of the specific things that cause delays (such as searches, detailed enquiries, etc).
- Waiting on mortgage companies. Professional house buyers will either have cash funds, or a pre-agreed commercial lending facility. Either way, there's no waiting for financing.
- Waiting on the rest of your chain. Cash house buyers are chain-free, so no waits here either.
I've written more about specifically how these companies speed up the process here.
3.3. Downsides with a fast house sale
There are two downsides with these types of companies.
1. Lower sale price
Firstly, they usually offer about 80-85% of the market value for your home. Although they'll cover your legal fees and estate agent costs, it's still a significant hit on the price.
Click here to see under what circumstances a cash house buyer might be right for you:
2. Some disreputable companies
The other big drawback is how poorly-regulated the "quick house sale" industry is.
Bad practices are absolutely rife, and there's very little oversight. Why?
Firstly, the National Association of Property Buyer's "code of practice" is very lax. Secondly, few of the sellers who are affected by malpractice write formal complaints, allowing the perpetrators to continue.
Online reviews are so easily scammed too, and can't always be trusted. (Companies can easily plant huge numbers of positive reviews, and can even campaign to have negative reviews removed).
We've been around this industry for years though, and know who the genuine companies are. We can put you in direct contact with the most reputable and highest-paying companies. Call the number below.
4. The cheapest way to sell your house
This is a fair question, and one that a lot of people ask. But after selling your home, the price you walk away with isn't just about how much you paid in fees...
It's about the overall sale price you achieved, minus the fees you paid.
Remember, as with any professional service, the idea is that your estate agent should make you more than they cost you.
I've written more about this in the article below:
A good estate agent will find you more buyers, and negotiate more effectively. These things result in a higher price - even after paying their fees.
Let's compare two scenarios. Which would you prefer?
- You sell your house for £200,000, using a free online estate agent.
- You sell your house for £210,000, using a local estate agent who charges 1%+vat (£2,520 in total).
I know which I'd prefer. You're around £7,500 better off in option 2, even though you pay around £2,500 in fees.
This is how using a free (or cheap) online estate agent can be one of the most expensive decisions you can make.
4.1. My advice on low-fee estate agents
I've personally paid over £300,000 in estate agent fees over my career. I've never opted for free or cheap online agents, and I won't in the future.
Is every high-street estate agent worth the money? No. Unfortunately not. A lot are very poor.
But I believe that if you find the right estate agent, they're going to make you more money than they cost you.
So it's not so much about the "cheapest" way to sell your house... It's about getting the best financial outcome overall. And I believe that finding the best local estate agent contributes to that - even if they have a meaty fee.
Colby Short, founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk agrees. In an interview with Property Industry Eye, he said "the low cost, DIY approach of the online sector is no substitute for the value of a traditional, full-service agent”.
So the key takeaway?
Don't look for the cheapest way to sell. Look at who'll do the best job and get you the highest price. Even if their fee is higher, you'll have more cash in your pocket at the end.
Read our full guide on the cheapest way to sell your house to learn more.
We'll have more guides coming soon on how to find the best estate agent for your property. In the mean time, call us on 0330 223 5568 for help. We'll talk you through which agent we'd choose in your area, and can put you in touch with them.
5. My recommendations
During my career I've bought and sold nearly 150 of my own properties, and sold hundreds more for clients. Here I'll share my recommendations for how I'd sell a house, depending on what my priority was.
If you want the best price...
Sell through a local estate agent. The process will take some time, but you'll end up with the highest price eventually.
We'll have guides coming soon on finding the best estate agent. In the mean time, call us on 0330 223 5568. We'll research your market and share our recommendations.
I suggest staying away from online estate agents. Their fees are lower, but they've achieved lower costs by replacing people with technology. Although this works for most industries in the 21st century, property is a business about people, and about relationships.
Code can't sell someone on a property, and it certainly can't negotiate a higher price for you. So find the best estate agent you can - they should make you more money than they'll cost you.
If you want the fastest sale...
Sell to a genuine house buying company. There's a compromise on the price, but you can have a formal offer within 24 hours, and can complete in as little as two weeks.
There are still rogue traders in this industry, so contact us on 0330 223 5568 for a referral to the most reliable and highest-paying companies.
If you want a balance (or have a problem property)...
If you want a balance between price and speed, then consider selling 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.
You can find the best auction house on our comparison tool. Alternatively, call me directly on 0330 223 5568 and I can put you in touch with the right auction house for you.
Auctions can typically be wrapped up within 8 weeks, and the price you achieve can be very reasonable. When selling "problem properties" (for example, homes with subsidence or Japanese Knotweed), you may even achieve a higher price than selling through an estate agent.
Contact us on 0330 223 5568 for a free referral to the best auction house for your property. Alternatively, learn more about how selling your house at auction works, and the benefits of selling by auction.
By Matthew Cooper, Founder of Home Selling Expert