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Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

by Sarah Halloran

If you’ve found the house of your dreams and you’re sure you can afford the repayments on it, it’s time for some serious negotiation.  It can be very tempting to offer the full asking price, especially if you’re up against other buyers.  However, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture is always a good idea when making a purchasing decision of this magnitude.  Remember, you’re going to be saddled with a mortgage for, in most cases, at least 25 years.  Carrying out research, analysing the competition, and considering ways to go in with a lower offer will help to reduce payments and could secure more equity in the future.

Engaging in some polite information-gathering with the vendor and carefully inspecting the property for any flaws might help to reduce the asking price in your favour.  Your own situation is also a major factor and many vendors will be happier to accept a lower offer from a first time buyer than the asking price from somebody in a long chain.

There really is nothing sneaky in asking a few pertinent questions when you go to view a house.  You might find out that the vendor wants to move quickly or that they have been let down in the past by another potential buyer.  These key facts could assist you in making an offer and having it accepted.  It’s all about seeing how the land lies and making a judgement.  Many vendors, given the current market conditions, will be open to negotiation.

Below, we’ve laid out some top tips on how to haggle like a pro!

Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle

It’s expected!  Properties are often priced higher than the price expected and the estate agent will expect a lower offer to be made.

How Much Can You Afford?

From the start, decide what you can afford and stick to that budget.  Don’t be tempted to overstretch.

Be Clear On Your Position

You’re in a really good position if you’re not part of a chain, or if you have a mortgage in principle.  Make sure the vendor is aware of your situation from the start and make them remember you in a really positive light.

How’s the Market Behaving?

Haggling successfully depends largely on what the market is doing.  It’s a buyer’s market right now so don’t be afraid to put in a lower bid.  Check out the advice regularly on the Big Property Website and our blog to find out more about the current market situation.

Check Out Sold Property Websites

There are many websites showing the houses being sold in each area and the price they were sold for.  This is a great way to do some research.  Find out how long the house has been on the market too and whether the asking price has already been reduced.

Check Out the Competition

Try to find out if any offers have been made and how many other people are interested.  Depending on how serious you are about the house you may enter into a bidding war and possibly even a ‘sealed bid’ situation so it’s good to know from the start how you can outwit the competitors.

Factor in the Flaws

If you have noticed the windows need replacing or the guttering has seen better days, you could use these points to factor in a lower bid.  A full survey will also highlight any flaws that need urgent attention and could help you negotiate thousands off the asking price.

Making an offer on a house is going to probably be the biggest purchasing decision you make during your lifetime.  Being confident with your position and the information you have gleaned from the vendor can go a long way to securing your dream pad for much less.  You have nothing to lose – if your first offer is declined, and you can afford it, simply bid go in a little higher.  Haggling on a house is like haggling on any other item and if you do your homework you could reduce the price drastically making for a very smug face indeed!

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How to Sell Your Ex-Council Property

by Sarah Halloran

Last week we published an article on buying ex-council property and the savings that can be made, but what about selling your ex-council property?

Selling ex-council property can be a little tricky for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it can be difficult for prospective buyers to find the funds to buy ex-council properties.  And secondly, first time buyers are thin on the ground right now and this is the market your property will appeal the most to.

Whilst there are many resources online for helping people to buy a new home there seems to be a real shortage to help those trying to sell their home.  Here are a few things to bear in mind when selling an ex-council property.

  1. Ex-council properties are usually priced for a lot less than those built privately. Depending on the location and type of property, your ex-council house could sell for up to 40% less than comparable properties in the same region.  However, this is only a rule of thumb and this isn’t always the case.
  2. Most prospective buyers of ex-council properties are first time buyers, investors or people on a tighter budget.  Think about this when trying to sell your property as it’s important to know who your potential buyers are.
  3. The market is slow right now and will make selling your property that much harder.  However, everything depends on your location, the property itself and how many potential buyers you can attract.
  4. Just like a private house sale, ex-council properties require a valuation.  However, ex-council house valuations aren’t always so straightforward as they can be located in estates where the majority of properties are still owned by the council.

If you are just starting out in the house selling process there are many resources available to help you.  Just remember that selling an ex-council house requires the same attention as selling a private house.  It’s always advisable to hire the services on an estate agent and you’ll find most have invaluable expertise when it comes to selling ex-council houses and flats.

A good agent will steer you through the process ensuring your house is listed and advertised in the best possible light.  They can even show prospective buyers around your home if you are unsure of how to do this or you are uncomfortable doing so.  The great thing about hiring an estate agent is that they can handle the selling process for you ensuring all the great points of your home are highlighted.  An estate agent also has the required knowledge to give your house a fair valuation given the state of your property, the location and other similar properties in the area.

sell ex-council propertyIf you have sold a property in the past then perhaps you might want to get more involved in the process or even selling privately if you are brave enough!

Of course, supply and demand for ex-council properties varies, but if your property is well priced you may find you sell your home quite quickly.

This is especially true in London and other major cities.  Here there is always high demand from buy to let investors and in major cities there is already a market so you should be able to find lots of resources to help you sell your ex-council property.

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Adverse credit – Why it pays to be honest

by Sarah Halloran

It’s getting increasingly difficult to get a mortgage these days even if you are simply looking to switch existing borrowing to a new property. Due to the current economic climate, banks are quite sensibly revising their lending criteria and choosing borrowers very carefully.

Part of the arduous mortgage application process involves a credit check and this is where so many mortgage applicants are declined.  Proof of income, employment status, and credit worthiness are thrown into the application mix to create what can often seem like a really tough and to some unfair process.  The simple fact is the banks want to be sure you can pay the money back.  Before you begin the mortgage application process,  it’s really important that you understand the implications of making an application and the agreement you are entering into.

Even if you have been with a lender for years and want to extend your borrowing you will usually need to undergo further credit checks.  After all, your circumstances may have changed or you may have acquired some adverse credit on your credit record since your last application.  One of the most frustrating things about the credit check is that lenders often refuse to tell you why you were refused a mortgage.  This is frustrating on two counts.  Firstly, you are being declined the chance to buy the house of your dreams and secondly you have no idea how to go about rectifying the situation.

Of course, if you know you have adverse credit then you should be honest and make sure you mention this in the appropriate area on your application form or if you are using a mortgage broker, let them know so they can scour the market for lenders who are most likely to consider your application.  Most lenders prefer an absolutely clean credit file or at the very least a file with no late payments or arrears within the last 6 months.

There are some lenders who will give you a mortgage if you have adverse credit, but they will often do so at a premium rate.  They need to protect their interests as they see you as more of a risk than somebody with a clean credit record.  This option might work for you, but you need to go in with your eyes open and make sure you really can afford to meet the monthly repayments.

The best way to avoid the disappointment of a declined mortgage is to check out your credit file before anybody else does.  This will give you the opportunity to resolve any conflicts or misinformation on your file or to wait a few months before you make an application.  Remember, every application you make is recorded on your file too and you will look unfavourable to lenders if you have made many applications over a short space of time.  There are many ways to check your credit file online and for a relatively small fee.  You could save yourself a huge amount of money, time and anxiety in the process.

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Have you Seen Sarah Beeny’s new TV show?

by admin

If you haven’t, you can catch Sarah Beeny‘s Restoration Nightmare on channel four on thursdays at 8pm.

In her new series Sarah tackles the 97 room Georgian Mansion she bought ten years ago with her husband, a property developer himself,  in an attempt to restore it to its former glory and to make it a venue for weddings and events.

Channel four says:

‘It’s time for Sarah Beeney to practice what she preaches as she tries to save a stately home in Yorkshire from ruin.  Rise Hall has been home to Sarah, her husband Graham and their ever-expanding family for the last ten years.’

Sarah Beeny is best known for her TV series Property Ladder and last year launched private houses sales website Tepilo, which helps individuals market their house online without an Estate Agent.

Sarah Beeny's Restoration Nightmare on channel four

Does this prove the national obsession with property is no less strong than pre-2007?  Or is this more ‘aspiration media’ – watching someone do what we’d like to do, without the effort or glory?  Like River Cottage and Eat Love Pray however, you wonder if its really possible for most folks to take on this type of experience without TV/ book income.

If you have seen Sarah Beeny’s new show feel free to share your review or comments below.

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Direct marketing approach from Tesco Estate Agency business

by admin

Having sold a house recently it was interesting to see the kind of direct marketing that a For Sale sign attracts – having erected both a private For Sale sign and one from The Best Estate Agent in Reading.

Having displayed a mobile number on the Private Board, the first approach was by text message:

We would like to make you a FREE cash offer for your property.  If you are interested please visit (website)

And there was me expecting to pay for offers from people who’d never been inside the house!

Most of the Estate Agents who valued the property but that I didn’t use wrote often to remind me that they were still there, should I need their assistance.  A good bunch in general and I could have selected any one of 3 that I liked (see my previous article on how to choose the best estate agent) so I didn’t mind at all hearing from them.

The approach that intrigued me the most was a postcard from ‘’, the ‘Online Estate Agency’ (my words), set up as a partnership between Spicerhaart and Tesco this spring. estate agents postcard direct marketing

As you can see the card was posted and addressed to’The Homeowner’ and printed and signed with a handwriting font to give the personal touch.

This week, the house having been under offer for the past three, I found another letter on the mat, this time in an envelope but still addressed to the homeowner.

isold are using direct marketing to win business

Actually this is quite a strong proposition from spicerhaart, and the approach gives us some insight into isold’s intentions.  I’ve said for a while that I believe what I term ‘online estate agency’ will be the biggest growth area in Estate Agency and will take more business from ‘traditional’ high street agencies than the For Sale by Owner model offered by websites such as Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo.  Not that the for Sale by Owner model is flawed, just that many people, in my experience, are not ready to fully ‘go it alone’ even if they question the traditional method.

The winning proposition that Online Estate Agency offers is the low fees, due to the lack of High Street office, but with the comfort of having a professional Valuer/ Negotiator to value the house, draw up floor plans and support you through the process.  That and the ability to put your advert on the Estate Agent only portals like Rightmove and Primelocation – which do not accept listings from individuals or private property sales websites.

Looking at the website they have launched in only three UK cities, Reading, Bristol and York.  Since the announcement in spring 2010 the business has received little media coverage however and most articles refer to Tesco’s last attempt at entering the property market (in 2007) which ended when Agents and Portals refused to list their adverts with the Supermarket and the business was challenged by the OFT on whether they had become an Estate Agent.

Consumer reactions to the latest offering  (such as those posted under this York Press article) vary from a bit of estate agent bashing and hopes for reduced selling fees to concerns over Tesco’s apparant monopoly over everything.

The original Tesco proposition was sold to Spicerhaart in 2007, who now seem to be running the business ( is registered at the spicerhaart HQ in Colchester) and despite the prominent Tesco branding on direct marketing and the website I challenge you to find the isold page on without using google.

So this does seem to be a softly softly approach this time around, perhaps looking to build franchises in areas that are void of a Spicerhaart office. One assumes that the Tesco involvement is mainly the use of the brand and direct marketing to Clubcard members.  But we’ll see…

What do you think?  Leave your comments below…

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Co-op gives sound advice re: Private Selling

by admin

Whilst researching mortgage options this morning I was surprised to find a page on the Co-operative Bank’s website discussing the pros and cons of selling your house without an estate agent.

Two of the critical ‘cons’ were:

  • one of the first places that buyers will look is a local estate agent and you may find it difficult to reach a sufficient number of potential buyers.
  • if you’re planning on selling your home yourself online, make sure that you check the website’s area coverage, user statistics, claims and other statistics before you commit yourself. Some websites are better than others.

Thats why we recommend marketing your house alongside your estate agent.  There will always be some contacts and clients that he has that you will not reach otherwise – just ensure that if you find the buyer you are not contractually obliged to pay his fees.

To the second point, we would always recommend using a ‘for Sale by Owner’ website that puts your advert on some of the mainstream property websites like, Globrix and Googlebase.  Many For Sale by Owner websites feature very few properties and are do not attract the visitor numbers that you need to find a buyer – on the other hand using them to get your advert onto a national property website gives you great exposure without the cost of the estate agents’ bill.

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Private House Sales in the press again

by admin

A friend of mine drew my attention to an article in the Independant on Sunday last weekend about selling your house privately, if you want to read the article you can find it here.

To be honest it doesn’t say much that hasn’t already been said in the press and includeds the obligatory quote from the For Sale by Owner market’s willing talisman, Sarah Beeny. Sarah has done a brilliant job explaining to the public that there is another way and that it is possible to sell your house without an estate agent.

Its good to see continuing press coverage about private house sales as many people I speak to still don’t even realise it’s possible. Most peope worry about the negotiation or the ‘legal bits’. This is where an estate agent can come in handy but also they can complicate the negotiation as they are an interested party – after all no sale no fee! So if the price is less thatn you want but the potential buyer won’t offer more – of course the estate agent will push you to accept the offer. His job is to make the sale, come hell or high water.

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Can Sarah Beeny sell my house?

by admin

The property section of the saturday’s Telegraph carried a raving review of Sarah Beeny’s private property sales website in which Sarah again set out her vision for the future of property sales. She believes that by 2015 50% of us will be selling our house without an estate agent and that our erstwhile highstreet based salesmen will be viewed along similar lines as insurance and travel agencies where they will be frequented only by people who are too lazy or busy to organise their house sale themselves.

Let’s hear it for Sarah!
is a private property sales portal where UK homeowners can list their property for rent or to sell in conjunction or instead of using an estate agent. The website is currently in the final stages of development and is due to launch in early 2010.

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Ask yourself: Can I sell my house myself?

by admin

When people ask what you ‘do’, what do you say?  It’s easy if you’ve got one of those jobs with a title everyone understands, like doctor, fireman or teacher but when you run a web business you could say a million different things – webmaster, publisher, business owner, entrepreneur, marketer, social media specialist, online something or other – like many small business people.

When I explain that I’m setting up a website to help people sell their own houses inevitably people have a few questions and almost always say ‘what a great idea!’ or a variation thereof.  Often they have a horror story of an estate agent lying/ stalling/ pressuring and other hijinks that estate agents are known for. 

This reaction is always heartening and backs up my research – that people can and will sell their own houses with a little help and guidance.  I feel for decent websites like mypropertyforsale, littlehousecompany and houseladder that have been plugging away for more than 8 years trying to save people thousands of pounds and still many people do not realise it’s even possible to sell your house without an agent.  People are becoming more aware, certainly since Sarah Beeny has launced her Tepilo service using her media profile built up through the channel 4 Property Ladder programme to reassure people that private selling is a viable option.

The kind of questions and doubts I come across often concern the legalities of selling a house and many people are surprised to hear that estate agents don’t have any part to play in the legal exchange of contracts other than introducing buyer and seller and keeping the sale process moving.

It is the solicitors that review all the surveys and searches, create, review and agree the contract.  Estate agents do add value to the process through marketing, sales skills, aiding the negotiation and quite often managing the chain to ensure the sale proceeds – but they are not absolutely necessary and anyone with the time and inclination can sell their house themselves. 

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Private For Sale signs available!

by admin

We’re very excited to announce that our professional Private For Sale signs are available to buy immediately!

Visit online shop

We guarantee you will not find these quality design heavyduty weatherproof signs anywhere cheaper!

These are exactly the same type and quality that estate agents use, only you can save yourself thousands by erecting it yourself to attract your own buyer without using an estate agent.

1 in 3 people find their new home by seeing a For Sale sign.

Even if you have a ‘sole agency agreement’ with an estate agent you can avoid paying their fees by finding your own buyer – but watch out if you have signed a ‘sole selling agreement’ you will still have to pay.

Private For Sale Sign Features

–  2 x 4mm thick weatherproof board

–  We can supply 8ft white post which slides through the middle to create a ‘T’ board

–  All fixings and 2 ‘SOLD’ sashes included

–  Room to add phone number with a large permanent marker (not included)

–  Lovely logo and classy burgundy colours

–  Calls out rather than shouts at you!

–  We can advertise your property online (contact us for info)

Visit our online shop now to order your Private For Sale Sign

A Private For Sale sign advertising a house


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