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‘I’m selling my house without an estate agent – but didn’t bank on their skulduggery’

james bore selling his home himself
James Bore, of Stanmore, London wanted to save on the agent fee and thought handling his own sale would be a good learning experience - Matt Writtle

The house listing has the usual details – photos, floorplan, EPC rating. But this three-bed bungalow in Stanmore, north London, doesn’t have an estate agent’s branding; just an email address for prospective buyers to get in touch.

Earlier this month, cyber security specialist James Bore, 40, decided to put his home on the market – without an agent – and is now navigating his new life as a salesman and negotiator.

An agent’s commission would have cost Bore “a few thousand pounds”.

“But on the other hand, it’s a few thousand pounds,” he reasons. “We don’t care about selling in the next few weeks… [so] it didn’t seem to make sense to be paying an agent to really be doing nothing more than a bit of marketing and appointment booking. And on top of that, it seemed like a good learning experience.”

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Selling your home yourself typically saves around 2pc of the sale price that would otherwise line agents’ pockets. Since Bore and his wife, Nikki, put their house on the market earlier this month, they have had six viewings (one of which went on for two hours), and an offer under their asking price of £625,000.

With the market relatively flat – the average price of a UK property fell by 0.2pc in the year to February, according to the Land Registry, compared to a 4.3pc rise the year before – they haven’t ruled out seeking help if they can’t sell it themselves.

“We have the option at some later point of saying, okay, we give up, we will go with an agent,” says Bore.

Originally, they set themselves a deadline of the end of the month to sell, but given how sales in their area are going, “we’re thinking we might extend that a bit”.

Prepping the place for sale took the best part of a weekend: putting together an information pack, measuring up the rooms for a floor plan, and advertising on the likes of Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, and various online community groups.

“It has taken quite a bit of work. I’m not going to pretend it hasn’t. And of course, because we’re doing the viewings and everything else, it’s going to take more work.”

Bore had expected that – but not the skulduggery that attempting to sell privately has brought.

The only raised eyebrows they’ve had aren’t from buyers, but “from agents who keep on telling us how bad of an idea it is to sell without one”.

Some “have used quite underhand methods to get in touch”, like posing as a buyer before attending, and trying to commandeer the sale.

“It has almost felt like they were personally offended by this idea that we thought an agent wasn’t necessary for us,” Bore says.

“I think it’s because it is a threat to their business. There are people who get very attached to what they do and are convinced that they are the one and only way to do it.”

You can easily tell when an agent does show up, Bore says, as they “have all been very, very brief in their visits… the giveaways were in the questions that they asked,” centering on council tax bands, proximity to schools and transport links.

“We’ve never had a genuine buyer or potential buyer ask us about how close it is to the station,” Bore says, “because you can look on a map. It takes five seconds.”

‘The agents’ input was so superficial that I took over’

carrie rose
'I'd sell my house without an estate agent again, I honestly can't see the value in them,' says Carrie Rose

Carrie Rose sold her home solo last year, and says that viewing houses herself, and seeing how superficial the agents’ information was, convinced her to cut them out of the process completely.

“You could tell they just didn’t know the little details that make it special”; like which cafés were worth visiting nearby; where the sun rose, and what the neighbours were like, the 31-year-old reflects.

“I just thought, do you know what? I’m going to sell my house without an estate agent. And I think I can sell it faster.”

She got six online valuations (all of which were free) to ensure she was setting the right price, and began posting it on every community Facebook sales page in the area.

“I work in marketing, so I was like, if I can’t market my own house, then I’ve got a problem.” She used TikTok to gather advice, finding out what angle to set her lens at and how to make rooms appear brighter in photos.

Three weeks, 15 viewings and three offers later, her place was sold.

“Honestly, I don’t see the value in estate agents,” she says (though concedes that for homes above the £300,000 mark, it may be more prudent to get professional help).

“The only thing you need to have is confidence in your own ability to sell… I’ve decided myself every time I’m selling a house, I’m going to sell it myself.”

‘Things can become too personal’

Damian Abel, director of Burnap + Abel estate agents in Folkestone, says he has seen a few buyers come to them in recent months when their attempts to purchase privately haven’t gone to plan.

Sometimes, sales have fallen through for reasons as simple as mortgages not being secured in time; on other occasions, the lack of a middleman means that “any issues then become personal. For example, if there is a problem on a survey, this can lead to arguments and someone deciding not to sell or buy.”

Without an estate agent, he adds, “you are negotiating yourself, and may say or agree to something too early, therefore losing out on money”.

A clutch of agent-free services such as Purplebricks (bought out last year by rival Strike for £1) and Hiizzy should theoretically have made sales simpler – but those in the industry warn that without professionals helping the deal move along, sellers could end up losing money.

Abel went down the private route himself last July, when he bought a friend’s parents’ home.

“Although I do the job on a daily basis, I actually found it a lot more stressful than any other time I’ve moved. All enquiries, problems, etc, came directly to me. Normally the sellers, buyers and all those involved do not actually know the depth and amount of calls that are made during a process.”

That future may await Bore, should he end up going through with a private sale.

“I wouldn’t say [I’m] optimistic” about finding a buyer quickly, he says. “But compared to other houses we know about on the market we’re getting a good number [of viewings] and very positive feedback.”

Have you attempted to sell your home without an agent? Write to tell us about your experience at money@telegraph.co.uk