Selling your own house: save a fortune, or cost you thousands?

15 Apr 2013

In a recent article by BBC financial reporter Brian Milligan, the pros and cons of DIY house selling were set out.

Conveyancing solicitors witness private selling from time to time, and many will be concerned that their selling client may have under sold their house, or exposed themselves to a lot more representations during the sales process than an estate agent would have made. After all, estate agents are to some extent protected by their written disclaimers.

But would a conveyancing solicitor recommend DIY selling? Some most certainly would not, and others will of course warn of the similar caveats as presented by Brian Milligan.

For those against the idea, the worry that the price is too low, and the length of time it might take to sell, are perhaps the most pressing concern for conveyancing solicitors:


Estate agents can easily pay their own commission, sometimes more than once over, by squeezing a buyer for those extra £000s. This is something that you may feel uncomfortable doing, or you may fail to appreciate that the buyer is ‘trying it on’ and making a far lower offer than they would be prepared to go to. An extreme example is one reported by Pearsons estate agents in Romsey

Because of their expertise, estate agents will have developed these skills over time and on each successful sale will build on them. They are polished in their skills of negotiating and re-negotiating (e.g. just at the point of exchange, a price reduction comes along, tactical or based on a survey. Having an estate agent who has seen this time and time before can save you £000s).

On the market too long:

A good estate agent can sell your home faster than you can. An established local estate agent will have a large contact of people – their register/database – who are looking to buy a house.

Indeed, an experienced estate agent is backed by a wealth of information about the housing market, both their own recent sales prices, competitors, valuations from their Chartered Surveyor contacts, the statistics offered to estate agents on Rightmove. Estate agents live and breathe houses every day which makes them well-equipped to know the do’s and don’ts like the back of their hand. Many estate agents – like conveyancing solicitors – continuously improve their skills via estate agency seminars and briefing sessions.

Estate agents are expert in preparation of their sales particulars, and a DIY approach could put off a lot of serious buyers or make others think ‘where else in the house has the homeowner cut cost’. Estate agents invest heavily in maximising the potential reach of their audience to give them, and you, the best possible chance of finding the right buyer for your property at the best possible sale price. Rightmove being one tool which is not open to the public for private sales, as well of course as their own offices, billboards, postal adverts, newspaper adverts.

However, do remember that estate agents do not just find a buyer, they also keep involved during the legal conveyancing chain to make sure everything is running smoothly for the sale of your property. There is nothing worse than a buyer withdrawing because the legal process is taking too long, and then you accept a lower offer from a new buyer because you have lost hope and perhaps have become desperate. No estate agent is there to comfort and bolster your resolve. Estate agents can assist conveyancing solicitors with issues and with chasing other parties in the chain. They know the right questions to ask to help keep the chain in tact.