The Internet is now far & away the most effective marketing medium for attracting house buyers. You will not find an estate agent that disagrees with that fact.
A recent survey by "The Negotiator" magazine (The UK's largest circulation magazine for estate agents) found that:
In short, the survey highlights the dominance of the Internet as the #1 method for finding buyers and the demise of press advertising.
So, now that you understand how important the Internet is to the success of your sale, here's the real question....
"Where on the Internet will your estate agent be marketing your property"?
The answer is via one or more of the 5 major property portals:
It goes without saying that having your property advertised on one of more of these portals gets you sale off to a good start.
However, there are more places on the Internet where you'll find housebuyers, places your estate agent's marketing efforts will not reach.
There's even a die-hard group of homebuyers out there that are so fed-up with UK estate agents, they refuse to have anything to do with them (they'll only deal direct with vendors or house builders).
Considering it only takes one buyer to make your sale, it makes sense to find all these other house buyers and get your property in front of as many house hunters as possible....
If you know how to privately exploit the Internet you can quickly & cheaply reach an extra 3-4 million home buyers on top of your estate agent's efforts.
"Selling Dual" (as it's called) is not a new idea.
In fact a growing number of proactive sellers have been using this tactic since the late 1990's.
They have found (as you will) that advertising your property privately on the Internet alongside the efforts of your estate agent is a simple and effective way to:
Of course, having found a property buyer you can always let your estate agent progress the sale if you don't wish to do it yourself.
You will have to pay the agent's commission but the important job of selling your property will be done.
Now, before you advertise your house on any "private sale" websites, you need to be aware that not all websites are created equal and some are not safe to use at all!
As I've discussed in other guides, the type of contract that's in your best interest is one where your agent is instructed on a "sole agency" basis.
Effectively this means that out of all the estate agents in existence, he's the only one you're letting market your property.
The biggest mistake made when using the "selling dual" tactic is choosing to advertise with a "private sale" website that breaches the terms of an agent's "sole agency" agreement.
If you make this mistake you'll have to pay the estate agent's fee even if you find a buyer yourself.
To totally guard yourself against this it's best to understand a little background information....
Up until December '05 all "private sale" websites were legally classified as "publishing companies" & many homeowners had started to cotton-on to this idea of "Selling Dual".
The way we see it is this:
The success the public were having in finding buyers themselves worried estate agents. They saw this growing trend of "Selling Dual" as a threat to their stranglehold over the industry.
Estate agents argued that "private sale" sites were misleading the public by calling themselves "publishing companies".
They felt that some "private sale" websites were actually engaged in Estate Agency work (as defined by The Estate Agency Act 1979) & should really be classified as "Estate Agency businesses"....
The Office of Fair Trading was pressurised into investigating the issue.
Now, why would estate agents be keen to have "private sale" websites classified as "Estate Agency businesses".
Was it out of their heightened sense of civic duty?
Maybe? Then again maybe not!
Perhaps their real motivation lies in the statutory wording of an estate agent's "Sole Agency" agreement.
Now, according to the statutory wording you only have to pay your estate agent's commission if they, or another agent finds you a buyer.
"Sole Agency" contracts do not prevent homeowners from finding a buyer themselves, whether that's by advertising in the local press, a supermarket notice board or an online "publishing company".
So I think it's pretty clear....
Having private sale websites classified as "Estate Agency businesses" would clearly be in the interest of estate agents & would put a stop to the growing trend of "Selling Dual".
You may be wondering what came of the Office of Fair Trading investigation that I mentioned earlier?
Well, in December 2005 the OFT issued guidance on how to determine whether a private sale website was engaged in estate agency work or just straightforward publishing work.
Unfortunately this guidance muddied the water somewhat and has caused much confusion (a situation not helped by some members of the national press who in my opinion reported on the guidance inaccurately and a little irresponsibly).
The press took the opportunity to create sensational headlines by inferring that the OFT guidance meant homeowners were no longer allowed to use private sale websites alongside a traditional estate agent.
This was plain wrong!
All the OFT guidance really said was that if you use a private sale website that engages in activities considered as "Estate Agency work", then you will still have to pay your estate agent their fee.
So to remain safe, all you need to do is choose a "private sale" website that does not engage in what could be considered "Estate Agency work".
Looking at the OFT guidance I mentioned earlier, it considers that in a court of law the following activities are likely to come under the definition of "Estate Agency Work":
Many private sale websites are unwittingly engaged in what a court would consider to be estate agency work. Because of this, you need to be very careful which one you choose.
Before you sign up with a "private sale" website you need to read your estate agent's contract & make sure they haven't slipped in an "Exclusion of Private Internet Advertising" clause.
This clause would mean that even if you choose to advertise privately with a "private sale" website that has been approved by Trading Standards, you'll still have to pay the agent's fee.
If you find this clause in your "Sole Agency" agreement the estate agent will effectively have converted the contract into a "Sole Selling" agreement.
This could be considered to be in breach of the Estate Agency Act 1979 (and other Trade Descriptions regulations), if he is referring to the agreement as "Sole Agency".
This is an underhand tactic and you would do well to have the clause taken-out or simply go elsewhere.
To maintain good working relations, I would recommend you let your agent know (before you sign contracts) that you intend to use a private sale website.
Be wary of the agent that puts up too much of a fuss. If they have confidence in their ability to find you a buyer then they will welcome the challenge.
Another point you should be aware of is that some agents have large paranoia about sellers and buyers colluding against them.
Make it clear to your agent that if you end up selling privately to a buyer that they previously introduced....
You will honour their fee.
On the other hand, if you find a buyer and your agent attempts to take the credit, always ask to see documented evidence that the agent had at least:
Just having a buyer register their details with the agent is not enough (in my opinion) for an agent to claim that they've earned their fee.
Finally, it is one thing to take a proactive role in your sale. It is another thing to antagonise your estate agent so always use the "For Sale" board they provide.
Within the premium "multi-listing" marketing packages that "Private sale" websites provide a "For Sale" board will be included.
For the "Dual" method of selling, this board is not needed so you can save around £40 right off the bat - this will bring the cost of using a private sale website down to about £130 - £140.
Using the websites board in place of (or alongside) your estate agent's will have a negative impact on your agent's motivation and be at odds with the whole reason you're using "Dual" method in the first place.
As soon as you've settled on an asking price and have a good set of digital photographs - sign up with a "private sale" website.
Doing this will:
Wishing you complete success with your sale,
Gavin Brazg (Editor)
p.s. Please let me know if you've found this guide useful. If you have any thoughts or feedback, I'd love to hear from you.
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