Have you been trying to sell your house for months, with little interest? Perhaps you've received some offers that are disappointingly below market value, or maybe you have received no offers at all. Either way, the situation quickly becomes frustrating and demoralizing - it's hard to keep believing that you'll eventually make the sale you need.
In the meantime, you may find yourself worrying about your financial situation, all too aware that some of your money is tied up in this property you just can't seem to shift. If you've never considered online express estate agents before, then perhaps now is the time.
We'll begin with a comprehensive comparison between high street and online express estate agents - contrasting costs, time, service and local knowledge. Next, we'll look at nine effective things you can do to try and achieve the quickest house sale. Finally, we'll work through six significant benefits of opting for express estate agency services, so you can ultimately make the right decision for you.
Chances are, if you've been struggling to sell then you're probably already working with an estate agent. If you're thinking about going down a different path, it's smart to start out by comparing estate agent services to their most obvious competitors - online express estate agents.
Cost is the most obvious point of comparison here. Online express agents don't have to maintain shops or pay a large body of staff, so they tend to be a lot cheaper on the face of it. At an estimate, you'll be looking at no more than £1,000 to sell your property to an online service. In contrast, traditional estate agents ask for a percentage of the sale price - up to 1.7% - 3%, meaning they can make a lot more from an expensive property even though they're not actually doing any more work.
However, online agents may ask you to pay a fixed amount regardless of whether there's a successful sale, and may require you to use other aspects of their services (like conveyancing options that are more expensive than local prices).
It's hard to predict the precise time comparison between online express agents and traditional estate agencies, but in general the former tends to get the quickest house sale. They sell themselves on this convenience and efficiency. However, the key question here is really how many enquiries you can expect from the two types of service. Most reviews suggest that you can expect a similar amount of traffic. After all, around 90% of all property buyers do their home research on online sites, and that's also where your traditional estate agent probably goes for their own enquiries.
Before committing to either option, it's worth posing this exact question, and asking both service providers to give you some hard data on how much interest they get on the average property, as well as how long they usually take to sell.
Crucially, when you work with an online express estate agent, you won't get the same fees covered that a traditional agent would cover. For example, traditional agencies send a staff member to viewings if you can't attend, and also screen time-wasting enquiries. In contrast, with an online service, you'll be expected to show any prospective buyers around the home yourself, and filter out any time-wasters by asking pointed questions during the viewing.
Another difference in service is that you can expect an account manager at a traditional estate agent, who will be dealing with a number of different potential buyers, however, an online express estate agency will often have a few dedicated agents focused on a purchase without the unexpected trials and tribulations of the various interested buyers.
Although cost was likely your first thought, the difference in local knowledge is probably just as important. When you work with a physical estate agent, they'll likely be based near your property and have a sophisticated sense of how that local market works. They'll be reliable estimators of what homes are worth, and may have potential buyers already lined up to match with your property.
Local knowledge is also useful when it comes to solicitor involvement. Traditional estate agents have relationships here that online agencies tend to lack. This can make the process bumpier or slower, requiring more explanation and negotiation at each major step of the legal process.
When it comes to a property buying company, this may or may not be the case, so if this is important to you, then you should find out if your area is one covered in their expertise.
Now, let's turn to the question of how you can speed up your sale. Aspects will always be out of your control, but the following things will help you get the quickest house sale whether you use a traditional service or an online express agency.
Think about how your potential buyers will first see your home. Try to imagine you're seeing it for the first time yourself, and note what looks great and what stops you in your tracks. In particular, prospective buyers should see a neat, beautiful garden in its best possible shape, and a good-looking driveway. In addition, look at the building's exterior with a critical eye. Is the house in need of repainting? Are all the windows clean? Is there errant moss? All of these little details matter, and it pays to both anticipate them and address them even if it costs. In sum, you want to make it possible for people to immediately be able to fantasise about living their lives there - all before they even step through the doorway. If they get a bad first impression, it'll be hard to shift.
It's not just your own property that matters when you're showing prospective buyers around. They will also be judging the area, trying to figure out if it's the kind of place they want to live. This is especially true if they have children when making assessments about whether this will be a safe, pleasant place for their family. Are there overflowing bins, or dumped furniture? Do people litter, or do they work as a community to keep the local area looking nice? Some of these things won't be possible to address, but others could be fixed with a polite word to a neighbour or a little extra work on your part.
Once you get your prospective buyers inside, one of the first things they'll notice is whether your home seems cluttered. Is the hallway full of shoes lying around in an unorganised way? Do people dump layers of coats on the back of a chair? Do your tables look clean and tidy, or are they covered in layers of papers? Do what you can to get things tidy and neat, as this is not only more pleasant but also helps you give the illusion of more space in your home. Take special care in the kitchen, too, where unwashed plates or leftover food can smell bad as well as putting buyers off on a subconscious level. Again, you want them to imagine themselves there, so show them how happy, conscientious people can make the place look.
You've probably already thought about this, but never underestimate the power of giving your home a thorough spring cleaning before you let people in. Not only does this make the home look better, but it also helps you with your move as you'll be getting rid of things you no longer need. This can be a time-consuming process, but it's one of the cheapest and most powerful contributors you can make to how buyers see your home. It's truly transformative in most cases, and also gives people more space into which to project images of their own furniture and possessions. You may also want to consider paying for extra services, such as carpet cleaning or professional furniture cleaning.
While we're encouraging you to put a lot of work into how your home looks, we want to discourage you from making any massive changes. You don't need to get a brand new bathroom suite put in or replace all the kitchen cupboards - consider that many people will make their own major changes anyway. Big changes are both unnecessary and expensive, when tidying and organising the home is just as effective a way to give a good impression. Of course, there are cases where aspects of the home do need replacing, but this should only apply to things that are massively outdated, are malfunctioning or are obviously damaged.
The above isn't meant to imply that you shouldn't make any changes beyond tidying, however. Indeed, small and inexpensive changes quickly add up to give your home a fresh, attractive look. Here, good examples include giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, rearranging rooms to maximize space, and replacing cheaper furnishings like tired pillows or tacky ornaments. Keep things looking good but fairly neutral. Once again, this is all about buyer psychology, helping to encourage people to feel like they could easily put their own unique stamp on what is already a beautiful home. If you need some inspiration, check out local listings and take a cue from some of the most appealing properties on the market.
Cleaning all the windows is another fairly minor task that can have a powerful impact. It's particularly important on brighter days, when every smudge and streak on a window will be lit up. And since you've already worked on the garden and driveway, keeping the windows in great condition also encourages prospective buyers to look out and re-admire the exterior of the property. On a similar note, it's wise to give all mirrors a vigorous cleaning and polishing. As with the windows, this just helps to keep your home looking extremely clean and tidy. And, of course, the same applies for any other reflective surfaces in the house, such as any steel appliances and taps in the kitchen or bathroom.
Adding flowers or plants to your home is a cheap and easy way to bring some life to the property and infuse it with a sense of optimism. Greenery is an especially good addition to any spaces that are supposed to be peaceful and relaxing, such as the bedroom and any study spaces in the property. Aim to avoid plants and flowers that are commonly allergy inducing, however, in case you make prospective buyers have a sneezing fit! An alternative is to buy artificial plants or flowers, but you usually need to pay quite a bit of money for these before you can acquire ones that come close to imitating the real thing.
Finally, we all know that stuffy and claustrophobic feeling of being in a place with stale air. Not only does this encourage unpleasant smells to stick around in the home, but it makes everything feel less clean and fresh. All you need to do to combat this is to open the windows regularly to keep replacing the air. It's also smart to cook fairly conservatively during the viewing period, as you can get surprise viewers who don't necessarily want to feel like they're in an experimental restaurant when they walk into your hallway.
Scented candles and reed diffusers are also a nice shortcut to good smells, though it's best to use them sparingly so as not to be overpowering.
If you want to avoid all of the expense, thought and preparatory work that goes into making a traditional sale happen, an online estate agency can offer you a quick cash buying service that could be completed in as little as a week. Here are the key benefits of choosing this route.
Firstly, and most obviously, a quick cash sale means the stress of property-selling is immediately behind you. Plus, you have instant access to cash, which you may need for any number of things, from paying off debts to moving to a new country or simply buying a new property. You're in control of the timing, which a traditional sale puts you at the mercy of both luck and the work ethic of other people.
There are all sorts of situations in which you might want a property sale to be discrete. Divorce or separation is perhaps the most common, where you would really prefer that there wasn't a large "For sale" sign inviting the scrutiny of your neighbors.
Quick online sales don't involve signs or obvious viewings, and if you want to get away to start afresh somewhere else then you can do that almost immediately - all without having to answer any awkward questions.
Due to the control you have over the sale process, you also get to agree on a completion schedule that suits you. The standard time is 1-2 weeks, but this is negotiable if you want to slow it down or urgently need to complete at a quicker pace. This creates a seamless transition from your old property to whatever you're doing next, rather than adding extra stressors to your life.
Unlike traditional estate agencies, quick cash buyer agencies don't hold hidden fees over your head. You don't have to pay them a percentage of the sale price, and any valuation of the property is provided by the service. Plus, you can often expect free legal advice from someone independent, who is there to help you understand the quick cash sale process and to help ensure that you get an appropriate deal on your home.
At our agency, we understand that many sensitive factors drive people to need to sell their properties. No matter what's going on in your life, if it's affecting what you need from us then you can tell us in confidence and we'll work with you to make an appropriate plan. We've heard all kinds of stories from a wide range of people, and we offer a compassionate, non-judgemental service from the first exploratory call to the final sale payment.
Most importantly of all, a quick cash buyer service doesn't need your property to be in any particular condition. At PropertyBuyer.co.uk, we buy everything from large, recently updated properties to small cottages that have fallen into disrepair including derelict properties. We pride ourselves on buying any kind of property, regardless of how it looks or what difficulties it may face. The same applies to location - we don't need you to be based anywhere specific, and are interested in properties located in Essex, London and all over the UK.