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Is Buying a House Privately Worth it to Avoid Estate Agents?

Estimated reading time 10 minutes

In most cases, when you look to buy a new house, the first place you head is the estate agents. Whether it be online, or on the high street, you browse their properties in the hope that something piques your interest and can soon become your dream home.

At the time, the thought of the lengthy process, the chain breaks and of course, the cost doesn’t enter your mind. You’ve found a house you love! It can be done differently though. In a way that delivers benefits to both the buyer and the seller.

You can buy a house privately and bypass the need for an estate agent altogether. Saving time and money for all involved.

In this edition of our blog, we look at the process in a little more depth so you can see if it is worth avoiding the estate agent altogether.

What is a private house sale?

A house being sold privately is one where the sales process has no estate agent involved at all. Instead, everything is managed by the seller. From advertising the property, through to completion. With a great chance to avoid a property chain collapsing, it is a popular way to secure a fast sale and purchase.

Can you buy a house privately without an estate agent?

Of course! Whilst it may not be the most traditional way of purchasing property, it is perhaps more common than you think. You may think you need to be a cash house buyer if you are bypassing an estate agent to buy a house but you don’t! You can still get a mortgage on a property you are buying privately. The lender is more concerned about whether the loan is a safe investment. And with conveyancing, and a survey carried out, it is likely they will have the same confidence in lending to you without an agent involved as they would if there was one.

You may also find that there is a much better price available when you buy a house privately as there is no risk of the inflated commission an estate agent is trying to make. Where your seller will want to make as much money from their sale as possible, they ultimately want a fast house sale and may be more open to negotiations without the interference of an estate agent. With estate agent contracts sometimes being complex, confusing and costly, a private buyer is often one favoured by the seller.

How do you find a house to buy privately?

With properties for sale, you would in most cases hunt at the estate agent to see what is available. When a property is sold privately though, you may have to do a little more digging. Compared to an estate agent, this may be a little time-consuming. After all, the properties aren’t sitting in a shop window waiting for you to pick one.

Start by finding an area you want to purchase a house in. There are often groups on social media where people list their houses for private sale.

You could perhaps also advertise that you are looking to purchase. You could do this by harnessing the power of the internet and telling people that you are looking. You could also look at creating some literature that could be posted in local shops, posted through letterboxes or put in your workplace. This could alert people to the idea of a potentially fast house sale if they were struggling with selling through estate agents.

How do I make an offer on a house I want to buy privately?

With no estate agent to go through, you simply go directly to the owner. The offer can be made verbally or in writing, but it must be accepted in writing. However, you can opt to use your solicitor for this. That way they can ensure that the acceptance of the offer fulfils the legal obligations.

Once the price is agreed upon and the offer is accepted, you can begin the conveyancing process, just like you would if an estate agent was involved.

How do I buy a house privately without an estate agent?

One thing that often confuses some peopleis that an estate agent doesn’t do much for the buyer other than act as the middleman. Their chief responsibility is delivering on their promises to the seller. As a result, buying a property privately is more or less the same as if you were dealing with an estate agent. Except you stand to save more cash and may get things completed much quicker.

Once you have found a property, you want to make sure that the price being asked for is realistic. This is perhaps one of the times you or the seller may bring an estate agent into the mix. Their knowledge of the properties in the local area will help establish an approximate price for the home. Liaise with the seller and perhaps have two or three agents value the home. With the figures you have been given, both you and the seller may be able to negotiate a price that works for both parties.

During this time, also look at the property portals such as Zoopla. You’ll get further evidence of what prices are like for the area.

Once happy, make your offer and get your conveyancer to work through all the legal parts of the purchasing process.

Just like when purchasing a property via an estate agent, the conveyancing solicitor will draw up contracts, check the lease terms and make sure that everything is in order. Once contracts are exchanged, the process again, remains just like if you were using an estate agent. The deposit funds are transferred, and the keys become yours. It really is that simple!

Can I get a mortgage to buy a house privately?

Yes, and in many cases this will be how privately purchased properties are paid for. Of course, if you are in the position of being able to purchase outright with cash, you can. A mortgage lender has no direct dealing with the estate agent and is more likely to deal with your solicitor and yourself than anyone else.

Could I buy a house privately from a family member?

Yes, purchasing a house privately from a family member could perhaps be a great way to secure a premium property at a cheap price.  However, the favour of selling cheaply to a family member could pose a few problems. If there is an outstanding mortgage, it still needs to be paid off. There can also be inheritance tax issues to contend with.

This should also be done with a great deal of thought too as it is possible to have the purchase reversed by the authorities. If they deem that the property was purposefully sold at a cheap rate to avoid paying care home fees, the sale could be disregarded and see the property still in the name of the initial owner. This can all get quite messy so it is essential to seek legal advice if planning to purchase from a family member.

How much does it cost to buy a house privately?

In theory, it costs nothing to buy a property from an estate agent. The majority of costs are covered by the selling party. That being said, the potentially over-inflated price means that although there are no fees to buy the home other than its actual price, you could be spending thousands more than if buying privately from the owner.

The costs you should be aware of are:

Stamp duty: As with any house purchase, stamp duty will apply if the value of the home is more than £250,000 or £425,000 for first-time buyers.

Mortgage fees: If you are not a cash house buyer, you will still need a mortgage to purchase the home. Fees for this vary but you could expect anything from £1500-£3000, in some cases more.

Legal fees: Your conveyancing solicitor will be making sure everything is above board for your purchase. This can be costly so it may be worth getting a few quotes in advance of making an offer on a property. Expect to pay around £2000.

Property surveys: A homebuyer’s report and a structural survey will be essential and give you added peace of mind that the property is in a fit and proper condition.

Advantages of buying a house privately

Whilst purchasing via an estate agent may seem the natural way to go, you stand to benefit from a few positives if you purchase privately:

  • Potentially cheaper property
  • A speedier process with no chain involved
  • Direct negotiation with the seller allows for no middleman and an easier communication channel.
  • More control over the purchasing process means you can work at your own speed and not have the pressure from an estate agent to make offers, attend viewings and complete paperwork when it may not be immediately possible.
  • Personal connection with the seller may lead to more transparency and as a result a smoother purchasing process.

Disadvantages of buying a house privately

Of course, with everything, there are disadvantages to run alongside the advantages.

  • There is a potentially limited market meaning you could be spending a long time trying to find a suitable home.
  • Having an estate agent on side can mean help with some of the paperwork involved. They are experts in the trade and have significant knowledge that could benefit you.
  • Your negotiation skills may not be the best so when you buy privately, you could find yourself paying more than you were willing to. An estate agent will be able to skillfully negotiate on your behalf to bring the price down.
  • With the seller not being experienced in selling property, there is every chance they have missed some vital information. Whilst providing the home information pack is a legal requirement, there is every chance the seller has missed out some documents inadvertently. With an estate agent, this won’t happen.

Ultimately buying a house privately can be a great way to secure a property a little cheaper and perhaps much faster than using an estate agent. Saying that, as mentioned in our list of disadvantages, you are potentially limiting your potential property options and are missing out on the expertise that the estate agent will be able to share with both the seller and the buyer. Check out our ultimate guide to buying a house for more information.

Another way that a property can be sold quickly is through a company like Bettermove. We are sell house fast experts. This means we can get homes sold in as little as seven days! With a team of cash house buyers ready to make an offer, the lengthy waits for a sale and the risk of a broken chain is removed as we sell your house online. And, perhaps the best bit, we sell your house for free. No costly fees like those an estate agent adds on!

Why not contact us today to find out more?