Selling an empty home
Last Updated: 6 September 2023
Selling at a property auction
There are a number of benefits to selling a property at auction, these include:
selling by auction can give you a quick release of funds to have the money in the bank quickly.
selling by auction is fast. It can complete in around 20 working days (sale to completion roughly being 44 days), whereas a private sale can take 120 days from sale to completion
some auction houses offer 'no sale, no fee'. In other words, you can enter your property into the next auction free of charge
some auction companies have daily online auctions and live streamed auctions
with some auction companies its the buyer who pays the admin charge. With competitive bidding, buyers have to register prior to bidding. Some auction companies have local knowledge as well as national marketing, with access to a national database of experienced buyers
The following links to external companies can be used as a starting point for your own research. These companies were found during online research in July 2020. This could help you decide the best way to bring your empty home back into use (as a council we cannot recommend any particular company)
Selling using an estate agent
An estate agent or solicitor can look after the whole process of selling your property. They can do valuations, marketing, negotiate the sale price and the financial and legal process.
They can give professional advice like an appropriate asking price. They tend to know the type of buyer who would be interested in the property. And they'll help tell you what to do to increase the chance of a sale. If your property isn’t selling they could tell you if anything is putting off buyers and what to do about it.
It’s good to build a relationship with your estate agent or solicitor and contact them often for updates. You need to trust them with a very valuable asset. For example you can ask how viewings are going and for feedback after a viewing. It’s good to keep your property at the top of your agent’s mind while it’s for sale.
Costs of selling your property
When you put your empty home up for sale you’ll need to budget for various costs. For example an Energy performance certificate (EPC). Also fees for marketing the property (brochure, online advertising, arranging viewings). There will be agents and legal fees for conveyancing and estate agent charges. These can be between roughly 1% and 3.5% for a sole agency agreement. Remember this may not include VAT (at 20%). You may also want to carry out repairs to the property first. Some agents don’t charge ‘upfront’ costs and only ask you to pay their fee once the property is sold.
How many agents will you need
You can have a sole agent, joint sole agents or multiple agents. Usually more agents would mean that you would reach more buyers which may get you the highest offers. But you’ll also probably pay higher fees.
Multiple agents may be best if there are lots of properties for sale in the area. A sole agent may be best if there are fewer for sale but lots of buyers. A joint sole agreement is when you choose two agents who split the sales commission between them.
It’s a good idea to research first which is the best option for you.
Choosing an estate agent
Choosing the right agent is very important. The right agent could get a really good price but the wrong one could lose you a sale. Remember the agent works for you. Here are some ideas on how to choose the right one:
- personal recommendation, friends, family and neighbours
- try and stay local, the benefits are that local agents know the area and it's easier for them to meet buyers. BUT if your property is unusual or expensive you could choose a national agent who specialises in homes like yours
- visit local estate agents and look for a house like yours. How do the agents behave towards you? Do they seem professional, competent, pushy or uninterested?
- look at the sales brochures in the estate agents and on their website. How good are the photos and the text? Do not underestimate the power of a photograph. If you’re unhappy with the photos, ask to change them
How will agents market your property
Good agents are usually proactive and invest in marketing a property to make sure it sells at the best price. Check to see if an agent:
- would advertise in the papers? (If so, which ones?)
- would advertise your property in their shop window and for how long?
- if your property is more expensive, will they feature it in a national magazine or paper?
- what sales have they made recently on similar properties and how much did they sell for?
- what is their viewing policy? Will they go to viewings with buyers?
- make sure they advertise on the internet on one of the major property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla or primelocation
- make a shortlist of about three agents and invite them to do a valuation of your property. Ask them the reasons for their valuation. But be CAREFUL, some agents will value the property higher than others to win your business and may be doing this to get more commission. The agent who gives a realistic valuation and impresses you most may be the best to choose
- ask them what they will do if your property doesn’t sell as well as expected? Are you happy with their reply?
- are they open at weekends and able to carry out viewings with potential buyers?
Online estate agents
These can be much cheaper than local estate agents but there’s a big variety in price and quality. They usually advertise properties on websites like:
If you choose this route try to get some local agents to value your home first. This will give you an idea of the rough price for your property. Some online agents will carry out viewings for you. Others may arrange a convenient time between you and a buyer. They may charge you for a ‘for sale’ board.
Selling your home yourself
You may choose this route and use a website which lets you list your property and market it to potential buyers. But you won’t be able to market your house on the big property portals. This means your property may not be seen by so many prospective buyers. Although this seems like a cheaper way to sell your empty home, you may not get the best price and it may cost you more in the long run
Some ideas to think about:
- try to get photos taken before you remove furniture. These can be used to market the property, as it can be easier for a buyer to imagine themselves living there
- keep curtains hanging at windows and lamp shades or light fittings to give a hint of home. Bare light bulbs don’t show a home at its best and no light bulbs at all may mean no winter viewings
- go to the property before every viewing if you can. You can give it a quick clean and collect post from behind the front door
- try to keep the property maintained. A burst pipe or leaky water tank could put off a buyer. Keep the house heated if you can even at a low heat. This could prevent all sorts of problems
- clean windows inside and out and replace broken light bulbs. This helps make the house feel light and airy. Rooms feel bigger and more attractive to a buyer
- if you can, give your walls a fresh coat of neutral paint. Even painting the front door can help make a good impression
- do any minor repairs like putting filler in holes in walls or replacing washers to stop taps dripping may make a difference
- de-clutter if needed so buyers can imagine the space if they were living there
- cut the grass and trim bushes in the garden and clean dirt and moss from the patio. This shows buyers the house is still cared for
- if you are struggling to sell your property you could consider furnishing it short term. You would need to let council tax know if you furnish the property