When you really, really need to sell your property then there are only three practical methods. These methods are Estate Agents, Auctions and Private Sales.
Everyone knows what an Estate Agent does. They will inform you of an attractive asking price for your house. Advertise it in the local paper and on the internet. Create a set of details for the property, which they will send out to prospective buyers and hand out to anyone who comes into their office. They will put a board up outside your house to let everyone know that the property is on the market. They will give you advice when an offer is made. Estate Agents tend to have a bad name in the UK. The story goes that when an offer is made, whether it is competitive or not, the agent is always going to advise you to accept it. Look at it this way: your property is on the market for £100,000 and a prospective buyer has offered you £90,000; the agency is being paid 1% of the sale price, the actual negotiator will receive 10% of the agency fee – now, do you think this negotiator will try to get you to hold out for £95,000 when it is only going to make him or her an extra fiver? (And then they have to pay tax on that fiver anyway). The general consensus is that the agent will try to get you to take any offer whatsoever so that they can bank your cash and move onto selling the next house. This is only partly true in reality. Even Estate Agents have feelings – and every agent I’ve met will try to get you a better price for your place, if they think it is possible.
The second method of selling you property is via an auction. The auction works by filling a hall full of interested investors and playing them off against each other in order to achieve the best price. In reality, if you were to place your property into an auction you would find that it would be up against scores of repossessed properties at ultra low prices. Repossessions only tend to go to auction if they have not been able to sell on the open market previously, their price will have been cut and cut and cut to try and make it sell so by the time it goes to auction, the guide price is likely to be 70% or less of Open Market Value. It is therefore unlikely that if your property was to sell that it would achieve anymore than this.
The third way of selling your property would be via a Private Sale. In the real world, this means offering your property to an investor. These investors advertise via classified ads in the National papers and via leaflet drops. Their copy will state something along the lines of “Need a Quick Sale?” 99% of these investors use creative financing methods to enable them to buy your property without putting down a deposit. Ignore the common misconception that these guys are cash buyers – they will be using mortgage finance in some way. In today’s market these investors will be looking for the achievable rent to comfortably cover their mortgage payments, and for the property to be available at 80% of open market value. If these criteria fit then an investor such as this will usually complete in 28 days.
In a nutshell, if you really need to sell your property due to financial issues, bereavement, divorce, work relocation or any other such reason then your choice of sale method is really set by the level of offer you can afford to take. If you can accept any number – you just want the property off your hands then an auction will find you a buyer. If you could afford to take an offer at 75 – 80% of market value then give one of your local investors a call. If you need more than 80% of the open market value then an Estate Agent is your only choice.