1. Reduce Your Asking Price with the Estate Agent
If your property is already on the market, you may want to consider dropping the asking price.
Of course, it may feel like a bitter pill to swallow – but it’s worth remembering that you’re probably in the same boat as many other sellers.
Also, there’s a chance you’ll be able to negotiate down the price you pay for another home you buy (if it hasn’t dropped already).
How much of a reduction is entirely up to you. However, you should ensure that the value is competitive so you can attract more potential buyers.
Before you go ahead, it’s worth diving into some local research…
The good news is that it’s never been easier to check house price trends in your area for free.
These tools will help you see what properties have sold on your street and how your house is priced compared to others.
Of course, they do not take into account differences in size and other features of your property.
For instance, if you have recently refurbished, had an extension or your garden is larger than your neighbours, then your house is going to be worth more.
But, sometimes it’s still not so easy…
For example, what if you’re finding it hard to get enough sold comparables? Perhaps people enjoy living on your street and rarely sell up? Or a few years have passed since the last sale and there are clear signs that the market has changed.
In such cases, it wouldn’t make sense to rely on sold prices alone.
First off, it’s worth widening your search to 1/4 mile on Rightmove’s House Price Tracker. You may be able to see some similar properties to your own that have sold more recently.
Also, spend some time to see what other properties are on the market using Rightmove and Zoopla.
Remember to check the box: ‘Include Under Offer, Sold STC…’ You can then see how long these properties have been up for sale on the listing itself.
You’ll also get a feel for what’s happening simply by having a look around the area. For instance, more FOR SALE than SOLD signs is generally a sign that things are slowing down.
Should you mention to the estate agent that you’re looking for a fast house sale?
It can be worth it. Some agents have serious buyers on their database who can move quickly and are willing to pay a good price.
Yet be careful not to give away too much information so you can get the best possible outcome. It’s important to make sure that you’re always in a strong negotiating position.
Understand Broader Property Market Trends (April 2020)
It’s also important to keep an eye on the broader market patterns to see if general price trends are pointing downwards, upwards or somewhere in between.
When valuing individual properties, Land Registry is our ‘go-to’ reference point as the data is based on sold house prices.
Other useful indices include Nationwide (the data tends to be biased towards the south of England) and Halifax (the data tends to be biased towards the north). Rightmove is helpful but it’s based on asking, not sold prices. LSL Acadata is another but we’ve always found their calculations a little confusing.
Below is a regularly updated graph which shows the latest data from these indices (since the 2016 EU referendum):
There are also regional differences to take note of. At the time of writing, for example, many regions across the Midlands and the North are seeing growth. This comes after years of sluggish price movements compared to London and the South East.
Lastly, it’s worth keeping an eye on the state of the economy as a whole. A healthy state of affairs generally filters into the housing market. The unavoidable question of how Brexit will impact house prices looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.
2. Work With a Different Estate Agent
Whilst there is no ‘best’ time to sell a property, the marketplace across the UK tends to be busier during the spring and late summer months.
As a bare minimum, a good estate agent will do the following:
- Provide you with solid advice on how to market your property in the best way;
- Avoid overpricing your property to win your business;
- Send you regular updates on the number of online views your property is getting – using Rightmove and Zoopla reporting tools, for example;
- Give you instant, unbias feedback on the viewings;
- Keep in touch with you regularly and answer any questions;
- Respond to your emails or phone calls in a timely manner;
- Ensure your property is well-exposed on the main portals and niche websites;
- Explore innovative marketing opportunities, through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On this note, be wary of agents that say they have ‘databases’ or ‘waiting lists’ of buyers which can go stale very quickly;
- Provide you with information on how the market is performing in your area;
- Give you honest, constructive advice – backed up by solid data if your property is overpriced;
- Not partake in estate agency tricks. Examples include showing around ‘window shoppers’, lying about the real interest in your property to keep you on board, not checking buyer credentials…
Should you find that the estate agent is not proactive enough, and there are no contractual restrictions, you may want to consider swapping to another firm.
We generally do not recommend having two estate agents marketing one property as it can give the wrong signals to prospective buyers. Some would go as far as to say that you could look a little ‘desperate’.
Should You Use an Online Estate Agent?
Online estate agencies have grown phenomenally in recent years.
Embracing the fast growth of technology, they claim to offer a more efficient level of service compared to traditional agencies. There are many sellers that have achieved success using these platforms.
Each has its own fee structure, but the majority tend to charge an up-front payment. They will then take photos, floorplans and set everything up for your property to go live on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
They’ll then usually use call centre staff or local experts to manage the viewings and sales process.
If you’re not comfortable with paying money at the start of the process, most now offer the option of paying later (usually after 6 to 12 months). Note that the charge does end up higher.
Generally, however, the overall costs of selling using an online agent usually work out cheaper.
The Downsides of Online Estate Agents
Although many online agents are becoming more customer-centric, the level of service you’ll get is usually less personal.
Many agents on the ground are inexperienced and don’t understand their local patch in the same way as traditional agents do. It’s arguably estate agency services ‘by numbers’.
Furthermore, you could end up paying for a service without a guaranteed buyer in place.
There’s wide evidence of people signing up to online estate agents that are obliged to ‘stick it out’ despite the poor service levels.
3. Auction House Sale (Online / Offline)
Auctions are another way to sell your property quickly.
The majority of buyers are either professional investors, small builders and people looking for ‘fixer-uppers’ (i.e. properties in need of extensive refurbishment works).
The key benefit is that once the hammer falls, contracts are exchanged, and the buyer must immediately pay a deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price).
The buyer is then under a legal obligation to complete – most commonly within 28 days – or he/she will lose the deposit.
Below are some other notable advantages:
- You’re likely to be dealing with more serious, professional buyers who know what they want. This means that you should be able to sell regardless of any legal or physical issues with the property;
- The good auction houses are regularly attended by professional buyers. The reputable operators should also have a database of active investors interested in bidding on your property;
- If you’re selling a tenanted property auction buyers are more likely to be interested. Landlord buyers are also used to dealing with issues like voids, rental arrears etc. (although they’ll probably look for a lower price);
- Assuming your house sells in the auction room or on the online platform, you can rest assured that things will happen. Buyers have too much to lose if they don’t complete on the sale;
- Sometimes seen with estate agency sales, buyers cannot suddenly drop the price at the eleventh hour (known as ‘gazundering‘).
However, it’s worth taking note of some of the disadvantages:
- Auction sales are not as fast as you may think and can often take 3 or 4 months. This is because auction houses need to market your property before the auction day to attract a decent amount of potential buyers. Then, once the sale is secured, you’ll then have to wait at least 28 days for completion. If you have debts to pay off or need to stop repossession, the time it takes for things to go through may not be enough;
- Auction buyers will still want to see the property before they decide if they’re going to bid on the day. You therefore won’t be able to avoid a fairly constant stream of viewings, open days and surveys/valuations.
- The fees you’ll pay will almost always be higher than with an estate agent. This is because the auction house has to pay for extra marketing, auction room hire and administrative costs. Your legal fees would also be higher as solicitors need to produce the legal pack and deal with pre-auction enquiries;
- There can be conflicts over what the ‘reserve’ price should be. If it’s too high, you’re at risk of it not selling and facing abortive costs;
- In the same vein, auction houses sometimes play the same games as estate agents and overprice properties to win instructions. Make sure you avoid this trickery to not end up back at square one.
4. Changing Your Mortgage Terms
Payment ‘Holiday’ with Your Lender
In certain circumstances, your mortgage company may consider some kind of break with your monthly instalments or temporarily accept lower payments.
For example, you may have a case if your family has hit hard times financially due to illness, bereavement or other life-changing event.
First off, we would suggest contacting your mortgage company to have a frank and open discussion about your situation.
Remember that the mortgage company is not a charity and will want to know when things will get back on track.
They may also impose a strict deadline in addition to extra payments or interest in the future.
Please note that, should the lender extend the length of the mortgage term, you will have an extra financial burden down the line.
Therefore, always be prepared. If interest rates increase, for example, your mortgage payments may end up way higher than what you can afford.
Change from a Repayment to an Interest Only Mortgage
Similar to the above, your lender may consider changing your monthly payments to interest only. Again, this could be an option if you are struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments.
In this scenario, there is a ‘roll up’ of the repayment of the mortgage to another date.
As with any change to the terms of your mortgage, this could have a negative effect on your household finances in the future so please think about such plans carefully.
Worried About House Repossession?
If you have been missing mortgage payments and receiving arrears letters, your lender may start repossession proceedings.
In such situations, it is important not to panic.
In our 16+ years of experience, there is often a very simple solution and you will probably not have to sell at all.
Check out our guide on how to stop repossession.
Remember that communication is key. Mortgage lenders generally do not want to repossess people’s homes and have a legal obligation to listen to your circumstances.
5. Renting Out Your Property
Choosing this option has grown in popularity in recent decades, especially as more people can access buy-to-let mortgages.
Assuming you have somewhere else to live, letting out your property has a number of clear advantages…
- Although sometimes slower than people often believe, property always goes up in value over the long-term. Holding on to your home means you can build up your wealth and/or fund your pension pot;
- You may not get your ideal price by selling now. Holding on to the property, perhaps for a year or two, could mean you’ll eventually get what you want;
- If you have another job in a different area, you could let your property and take that income to rent another place or add to your savings;
- You may be moving in with your partner – letting your property means you can still keep your home (to either sell or move back into at a later date);
- Provided that the financials work, you can take out some of the property’s equity in and spend it on another property. Over the long term, you can even think about building a property portfolio;
- Keeping the home means that your children or other heirs can use the equity to get on the ladder at some point in the future;
- You can supplement your ongoing income or perhaps even cut down your working hours.
Becoming a landlord, however, is a business decision and often not the ‘bed of roses’ painted on the property programmes! This is especially the case if you have an emotional attachment to your home.
Below are some of the key issues to bear in mind:
- If you are looking to remortgage your property for buy-to-let purposes, these days the criteria is stricter than ever. Under Prudential Regulation Authority stress-testing rules (set by the Bank of England), lenders will want to see that the rent you achieve will comfortably cover the loan. This may mean that you’ll have to put down a higher deposit to secure finance (especially in higher valued areas);
- Buy-to-let mortgage lenders will also want to know about your salary and other income sources;
- Be careful about the types of tenants that will live in your property. Although the vetting processes are fairly robust these days, it doesn’t always mean things will be plain sailing. Evicting bad tenants is challenging at the best of times;
- Remember that you will need to approach your lender to request a ‘Consent to Let’. It usually isn’t a problem, but they may limit the amount of time you can let the property. Therefore, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions;
- Make sure you seek out appropriate tax advice before going ahead. If you keep your property in your personal name, for example, watch out for Section 24 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015. This legislation significantly limits the amount of mortgage interest you can deduct against tax. You’ll also have an extra Capital Gains Tax (CGT) liability when you sell up which you wouldn’t have if you lived in the property as your Principle Private Residence (PPR);
- You will have responsibilities as a landlord such as annual gas checks. You must also deal with repairs and maintenance issues promptly;
- Generally speaking, tenants do not treat homes in the same way as owner-occupiers do. Although you will take a deposit to potentially cover the costs of damage, you can almost always expect to have a series of repairs and/or redecorating to do when a tenant leaves;
- Many landlords are actually leaving the sector. It’s worth speaking to other landlords you may know of to get a feel for what it would be like.
As landlords ourselves, the directors at Property Solvers are more than happy to provide any advice based on our own first-hand experiences. The best way to contact us is via our generic email at [email protected].
6. Use a Bridging Loan
This option is often used by people facing a broken house sale chain, but there may be other reasons.
A bridging loan is essentially a short term mortgage. You essentially borrow cash to buy a home whilst you look for a new buyer.
Although the money is not easy to come by, bridging lenders processes are not as detailed as mortgage companies. Therefore, if you have a sufficient amount of equity in your house, you should be able to secure this type of loan.
You would usually have to look for a specialist broker to help you with this. They’ll contact the most suitable bridging lenders based on your circumstances.
There are two types of bridging loans you’re likely to come across: open and closed.
Open Bridging Loans
Open bridging loans are for an extended period and have no predefined end date.
Terms generally vary from 3 to 12 months but can stretch out further. You’ll therefore need to be careful that the costs do not get out of hand.
Closed Bridging Loans
This type of bridging loan is used where there is more certainty with the end date. The interest pay rates are also cheaper.
For example, if you have exchanged contracts already, the loan repayment date can be arranged in line with the sale completion.
How Much Will You Have to Pay?
This will vary in line with the terms of the loan, but the rates are often triple what you would pay for a standard mortgage.
Generally, however, closed bridging rates will be lower as lenders perceive them as less risky.
The bridging lender will also want first charge security on your property. In the event that you default on the loan, they want to be sure that they will get their money back through repossession.
Bridging Loan Risks
- The costs are high (expect to pay at least 12% interest per year solely on interest). Make sure you do your calculations to see whether it’s actually worth it – especially if you plan to take out an open bridging loan;
- In addition to the interest, the bridging loan company will charge you extra to process the loan (known as ‘entry’, ‘exit’ or ‘arrangement’ fees);
- You will usually have to pay extra legal fees to administer the loan;
- Remember that you could risk losing your home if you cannot keep up with the interest payments;
- This industry, by and large, is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Compared to standard mortgages, you’re generally not as well protected.
7. Use a Fast House Sale Company
Today, firms like Property Solvers are increasingly considered as a legitimate way to get a quick house sale.
Our service is certainly not a ‘last resort’ option.
Contrary to popular belief, many of our own clients are far from ‘desperate’ or in vulnerable situations and simply want to avoid the hassles of an open market sale.
What’s more, most sell house fast firms these days will cover your legal fees. As it’s a private and direct sale, you also won’t have to pay any kind of estate agency commission.
Would You Have to Sell Your House Below Market Value?
The trade-off when using firms like ours is that the offers typically lie at approximately 75% and 80% of the market value.
While this may seem like an unfair amount of money to lose from your home’s value, it’s worth observing the following:
- The decent quick house sale firms will explore the options outlined above before highlighting how their own services work. We often find there’s a very simple solution, meaning a fast sale isn’t necessary;
- Sales are exchanged and completed in 7-28 days – much faster than all of the options highlighted in this post;
- Fast sale companies like ours won’t play games or tricks like dropping the price at the last minute. In essence, what we pay is what we say;
- We’ll buy properties in any physical condition;
- Issues like restrictive covenants, negative easements and other third party consents are problems that we’ll deal with ourselves after the purchase;
- Firms like ours take on a number of risks when buying in such short timeframes which need to be factored into the price;
- Similarly, we’ll buy tenanted properties with disruptive tenants, voids or in major disrepair;
- You’ll save on a number of ongoing costs from mortgage payments, household bills and other debts you can’t clear.
Quick House Sale Company Checks
Although more people are accustomed to how companies like ours work, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful.
Unfortunately, sell house fast scams are still present.
These days it’s quite easy to set up a ‘fast house sale’ website and call oneself an expert. This often means that home sellers get bad advice from amateurs who don’t have their best interests at heart.
For this reason, below are some of our recommended checks:
- Make sure you can find the firm on Companies House (you can also view company accounts, see how long they have been in business and download other relevant information). Remember that many sell house fast companies have similar names;
- As a minimum, ensure the firm is registered at The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) and the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB). Property Solvers is registered with the Trading Standards (Approved Code), the Information Commissioner’s Office (data protection) and the Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulatory body. Our work is also accredited by the National Landlords Association (NLA);
- If the buyer is an individual, ask for their personal credit report (from a reputable agency such as Experian or Check My File). You can also obtain more specific information about the company Directors using these services;
- Often, it’s a good idea to check the company that will be buying the property from you. It’s not a bad thing if it’s a different company (and fairly common practice), but make sure that your solicitor does all the relevant checks;
- It’s usually unnecessary, but you may want to confirm that the company has cash funds to buy your house. We sometimes show clients an up-to-date bank statement or a letter from our solicitor (registered at The Law Society). An undrawn debt facility is also valid, but you may want to check the details of the loan;
- Make sure there are no hidden charges. You should not be paying estate agency fees as this is a private sale;
- If there are any questions you have about the sales contract, do not be afraid to ask your appointed solicitors. The quick sale firm can also ask on your behalf;
- Ask the firm to provide you with reviews of previously satisfied customers. Also, check any bad reviews online;
- Check that the firm has a legitimate office address. They should have no issues with having a face-to-face meeting at their office or in your home;
- Confirm how long the directors and senior management have been in the property business for;
- Check the age of the fast sale company’s website here;
- Have a look at their social media pages. Make sure they’re active and full of useful information. As examples, you can check Property Solvers own Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles;
- Ask for their previous track record of getting house sales completed quickly. If they can’t back up their services, then it’s best to either find another firm or keep the property on with an estate agent;
- Request confirmation that the price will not be dropped at the last minute. A letter from their solicitor confirming that this will not happen is enough.
The Property Solvers Fast House Sale Process
Where needed, our guaranteed cash buying process means you can sell your house quickly (in as little as 7 days).
There are also no legal, estate agency or other associated fees to pay.
We take on properties in any condition and can help in a range of different sales situations. Please click on any of the boxes below to find out more:
After our initial investigations, we will come back to you shortly after with a no-obligation offer. At this point, we can also show proof of funds to demonstrate our commitment to purchase.
If you accept the price, we can visit within 24 hours (or less where required). With your permission, this may coincide with a professional survey.
We will run through how the service operates and confirm that you are completely happy to move forward.
We will not force you to sign any kind of option or ‘tie-in’ agreement.
Once you are absolutely sure, we follow very similar conveyancing procedures as if you were selling through an estate agent.
The main difference is that we are cash buyers, so we do not have to deal with mortgage applications or many other common delays.
We can exchange contracts in as little as 24 hours, with completion in the following 7 days.
Furthermore, our legal team has extensive experience in dealing with fast property sales.
We would be more than happy to provide you with a free valuation and run through the various options (with no obligation).