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Ever wondered what estate agents do to earn their commission? Fancy trying to selling your home without one. Here's how...

About estate agents.
They take your house, sell it in two days, and that's the last you hear from them - until their bill for 2.5 per cent of the purchase price arrives, that is. So, if you think you can do it all without their help, why not have a go?

Getting the price right
If you've got a great property that your friends have always admired, it's in a good area and the market is buoyant, the sky might seem like the limit. But that's not to say that you should pluck an inflated sum out of the air simply because you love your house so much.

sell your home onlineNew book "Save Thousands Selling Your Own Home: Learn an Estate Agent's Secrets and Make More Money Selling Your House Yourself

With this book you benefit from the inside knowledge of an estate agent, cut out the middle man entirely and keep the commission fee in your own pocket. And if you choose to work with an agent, then by a greater knowledge of the house selling process you'll stay in charge and sell your house faster. Tony Booth covers the following essentials: the best time to sell; successfully marketing your property; preparing for viewing; negotiating the best deal; understanding the legal processes; working efficiently with your solicitor; and the top ten selling and moving tips.

The best way to start is by asking an agent to value it, to give you an indication of the current state of the market. Then compare your valuation with other prices in your street and be brutally honest about the condition of your property. There is no point in adding £30,000 for good luck and then negotiating downwards - unless you're a shop steward, of course. It is better to settle on a price that you are happy with, allowing a little room for manoeuvre. A lot of sellers find it stressful when agents keep nudging up the price - they often prefer to settle for a calmer life and a few thousand pounds less.

Telling the World
The next step is to get your marketing sorted. After all, you are entering the market cold, unlike the estate agent who has a file full of people just dying to buy. Unless you can organise a filing-cabinet raid, you will have to root out potential purchasers by other methods.

Advertise your property in a good-quality local rag. If you place an advertisement in a national daily or a Sunday newspaper that has a good property section, make it stand out from the crowd - the majority of classified ads will be from agents and make boring reading. An ad costs from about £4 to £15 per line in a newspaper with a large circulation. Some of the Sunday papers might even offer a discount if you run it on a weekday as well.

Using the Internet
Sites like this are fast becoming popular and offer you a wider audience than the traditional Estate Agents window. These offer indepth search facilities allowing browsers to find exactly what they want. Some will enable you to upload photos of your property too. A photo says a thousand words so make sure you use them if the site allows it. We allow you to include upto 6 photos

A for sale board
If you want your own board, a sign maker will make you a double-sided board complete with post for about £30, or it's an easy job to do yourself. Keep the message simple - 'viewing by appointment only' and your telephone number should be enough. If you live in central London or a conservation area, check to see if there are any restrictions as you could be fined for displaying a board without permission.

If your PC skills are not up to much, get some help from a small printing company. You provide the text, and for about £40 you will get a bespoke leaflet with artwork, output on an ink-jet printer. Each subsequent print will cost about £1.50. Be honest, imaginative and informative in your description - avoid the clichès of estate-agent jargon. If the fourth bedroom is really a box room, find a fun way of saying that you can't swing a cat in it. Avoid 'has possibilities' when they've defeated you for five years. If the 'garden' is actually just a paved courtyard, don't exclude a mention of it, but be honest - and then go out and buy some great pots.

Local centres
If you live in a catchment area for a school, or close to a hospital, university or large employer, ask if they have somewhere you can advertise. A noticeboard or an in-house publication might turn up a buyer. A wanted note Look for that letter that came through your door from a desperate would-be buyer, even if it is a few months old. They'll be even more desperate by now or may have friends who are looking.

Managing the response
Having arranged your marketing, the next step is dealing with the rush of inquiries. There is no need to man the phone every hour of the day, but don't place an advert and then go away for a week. Buyers will not mind leaving one message, but they'll probably give up after the second goes unanswered. They will also expect you to get back to them quickly Remember, you are not selling a rabbit hutch but making what could well be the biggest deal of your life.

A mobile phone is fine for establishing contact, but beware of detailing your property to a full train compartment. You will not be performing at your best. If you are using the family phone number, make your answering machine talk sense - nobody wants to listen to a singsong message from Sally, Fred and the twins. Get your teenagers to do their phoning elsewhere so that they're not constantly hogging the line.

Make a list of the questions you want to ask a caller before sending them out a leaflet. What exactly are they looking for? Do they have a property to sell? How quickly can they move? Do they know the area? That should sort out the time wasters.

Be prepared
Get on the phone to your solicitors or conveyancer (check our links section) and let them know what you are up to, but be ready to ignore the warnings about not using an estate agent. Get the paperwork under way, along with anything else that will reduce the time it takes for a sale to go through. This will impress a buyer and show that you are committed. A pre-sale survey will prepare you for any potential problems.

Well saved
At the end of all this, with a successful sale under your belt, you can sit down and count your savings. It's really all about commission, and you may be able to save between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent of the house's value, which should be enough to pay for a holiday to get over the move! Our handy savings calculator can show exactly how much you save when you sell without an estate agent.


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