Selling a house can be an expensive business. If you’ve not done it before, you might be (unpleasantly) surprised by the costs that are involved and how quickly these can add up. If you’re not careful, the bill for selling a house can significantly reduce the amount you walk away with.
So, how can you save money when selling a house?
- Ditch the Estate Agent. There is no law to say that you must use an estate agent for marketing your property. Agency fees are one of the biggest costs involved in selling a house.
The average rate for a high street agent is 1.43% of the sale price, which, for a property that sells at the current average price of £271,000, would be £3,875. And some estate agents charge as much as 3%, which would amount to £8,130 in fees for the same property.
By selling privately (without an estate agent), you can slash the cost of selling by thousands of pounds. However, be prepared to take on all the tasks an agent would typically undertake — valuing the property and deciding on an asking price, marketing, hosting viewings, negotiating. This is a significant commitment of time and energy. You’ll also have to get creative with marketing as the major property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla do not allow individuals to list properties. An alternative to going it alone is to find a company that buys houses for cash. A genuine quick house sale company can buy your home fast, and there are no estate agents fees to pay (which compensates somewhat for the slightly below market value sale price).
- Be Prepared to Negotiate.
Take the time to research and understand the market before you sell. If there are more eager buyers than there are properties for sale, it’s a “sellers’ market,” and you will be in a strong position to negotiate on all aspects of the sale.
Be prepared to fight for the best sale price, estate agent commission rates and any other services related to the sale of your property, such as removals. Any businesses involved in house sales and moves will be fighting over limited customers, so they will probably accept a discounted rate.
You’ll need to understand the current property market and also the house sale process to negotiate effectively. For example, if you’re using an estate agent, they may undertake negotiations over the sale price. And if you’re going to haggle over the cost of removal services, be mindful that most people move on a Friday, so this is the most difficult time to negotiate a lower rate.
- Only Undertake Necessary Home Improvements
Many homeowners delay the sale of their house until they have completed a long list of repairs and home improvements. While it is generally a good idea to complete minor repairs, such as dripping taps and broken door handles, there comes a point where the investment you make in improvements offers diminishing returns.
Write a list of all the repairs and improvements you think need doing, then put them in order of priority. Remember, you’re doing this work to help your property sell and to sell for a reasonable price, not to make the house more enjoyable for you to live in.
Focus on changes that will either help your property to sell or boost its value. This might include refreshing dated or deteriorating decor, repairing dripping taps, replacing broken light bulbs and removing limescale build-up in kitchens and bathrooms. Think carefully before investing large sums of money in major refurbishments, such as installing a new kitchen. Unless the cost of the work is less than the value added, it’s probably not worth it. The new owners may have different tastes to you and might rip the new kitchen out as soon as they move in anyway!
- Set a Reasonable Asking Price
It may be tempting to go with the highest valuation you receive or to bump the price of your home when there is high demand, but beware. The number one reason houses fail to sell or take a long time to sell is that the asking price is set too high. Research by Rightmove has found that setting the right asking price from the start doubles your chances of selling.
The longer it takes to find a buyer, the higher the cost of selling. You will have to continue making mortgage repayments and covering maintenance costs until the property sales. Furthermore, setting a reasonable asking price will attract more interest to drive the final sale price up. In comparison, an overpriced property may not even show up in search results for potential buyers who have set a budget cap below the asking price of your property. Anyone who views and likes your home is likely to try negotiating the price down, so you may end up with a lower final sale price by asking for too much in the first place!
- Save on Removal Costs
Okay, this one is more about saving on moving rather than selling costs, but it’s all part and parcel of the house sale process.
You can save a lot of money on removal costs by being strategic about when you move. The most popular day for house sale completions is Friday, which is the most expensive day to move. If you can arrange to complete on a day in less demand, you could save hundreds or even thousands of pounds in removal fees.
If you don’t have many belongings or far to travel, a DIY move could save you even more money. Enlist the help of friends and family who will be happy to help transport all your boxes in exchange for a takeaway and a bottle of wine.
There are lots of ways to save money when selling a property. Do your research and think carefully about what services you need, make the most of opportunities to negotiate a better deal and accept the need to compromise in some areas, such as your ideal moving day, and you can cut the cost of selling up and moving by thousands of pounds.