A new website is offering to contact owners of homes that are not for sale, on behalf of people who would like to live in their house or flat - and, if the sellers agree to move, they would avoid estate agent fees.
Knock for Sale describes itself as “a simple way for homebuyers and sellers to connect.”
For a £5 fee it offers to send a card to the owner of a property identified by a buyer, even if it’s not on sale. And it claims that those owners who respond to the invitation would avoid agency fees.
The Knock for Sale website says in relation to buyers: “Knock for Sale allows you to respond — free — to buyers who are keen to buy your home. Estate Agents’ commission? Knock it off. Estate agents’ commission can vary from one per cent to as much as 3.5 per cent (including VAT). The average house price in the UK is £226,000 (RICS, November 2017) resulting in a fee from £2,260 up to £7,910.”
Citing a survey conducted with Attest Technologies this year, Knock for Sale claims that: “Among homeowners whose properties are not on the market, around 53 per cent (62 per cent in London) would respond to an enquiry letter, and consider selling.*
In the website’s FAQ section it adds: “Knock for Sale is a simple way for homebuyers and sellers to connect. It allows buyers to contact owners of homes that are not on the market. It also allows sellers to connect with buyers who’ve expressed an interest in their home. No Estate Agents are involved, so no agent’s commission is paid.”
And it adds: “If you are selling the property privately and no formal advertising has or is going to take place, you do not need an EPC.”
When would-be ‘knockers’ register for the first time, the website - presuming those registering to be would-be buyers - asks whether you want a mortgage, a surveyor, a solicitor or a removals firm; however, a spokesperson for Knock has told EAT that the site is funded entirely by the £5 fees and not by referral fees.
Once a buyer is registered, this is the advice it gives:
With no estate agent between you and the seller (called a ‘vendor’ in legalese) you can deal direct with the homeowner. Arrange an initial viewing and, if you like what you see, follow this up with more detailed visits, preferably at different times of the day. Take a family member or friend with you, as their second opinion might be useful.
With no ‘middle-man’, you’ll be able to quiz the homeowner personally, getting answers direct from the person who knows the property best. Then, when you’re ready, make an offer. You’ll have done your research, of course, monitoring prices of recently-sold local properties.
Remember that the seller’s ‘asking-price’ may be higher than the price that could realistically be achieved. (In Scotland, where the law is different, you’ll need a solicitor before you can make an offer.)
Once your offer has been agreed, the procedure is the same as during a traditional transaction. Talk to your bank or building society if you need a mortgage, appoint a professional surveyor if you want a full structural survey and ask your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal details.
And for would-be sellers who register, they get this advice:
As a private seller, you take on the duties of an estate agent, so feel free to pay yourself a big fat fee! Arrange viewings direct with potential buyers, taking care to ‘de-clutter’ and spruce up your home beforehand. First impressions count.
It makes sense to take a few practical precautions. Before each viewing, get the name, address and mobile phone number of the potential buyer. If the buyer calls you, make sure they’re not ringing from a number that’s withheld. Ask a relative or friend to join you during the viewing, never leave a viewer unattended and hide away your valuables.
Also, be careful if the viewer requests confidential information such as details of the property’s security system and times when no one is at home. And be wary of anyone who makes an offer for your property without a viewing.
We recommend you engage a chartered surveyor, who can give you an accurate house valuation based on its true market value.
Alternatively, you can pay an estate agent for the same service. You can also view prices of recently sold local properties online.
Obviously, whether or not you’re prepared to accept an offer below the asking price depends on how eager you are to sell.
What if you have someone who’s interested in buying your property (hopefully, via Knock for Sale) but you still want to put it on the market with an estate agent? In this case, inform the agent in writing that you have a private buyer before you sign their contract.
Then, if your private buyer goes on to buy your home, you won’t have to pay the estate agent’s hefty commission.
Once you’ve agreed a price with your buyer, the procedure is the same as during a traditional transaction. Grant access to a professional surveyor acting for your buyer, bank or building society and ask your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal details.
You can see the website here.