How to sell (or buy) a home without an estate agent

With the average highstreet estate agent charging between 1 and 3% of your property price to sell your home, it’s well worth investigating alternative ways to sell your house and save some money.

And if you’re looking to buy, it’s worth knowing about some of these alternative home selling methods too, so you know where to look to find a good deal!

Here’s how to buy or sell a home without using a traditional estate agent:

  1. Use an online estate agent
  2. Do it (mostly) yourself
  3. Ebay and Gumtree
  4. Facebook
  5. Buy from (or sell to) a friend
  6. Go chain-free with an advance
  7. Raffles
  8. Auctions
  9. Offer a freebie

Use an online estate agent

Rightmove and Zoopla provide massive online directories for property sales and lettings. Getting your property listed on one of these sites is a great way to sell – but you can’t upload the listing yourself; only estate agents can do it.

The good news is, you can now find online-only estate agents that provide all the usual services of a traditional highstreet agent – photography, viewings, etc. – but at a lower price point.

Do it (mostly) yourself

An alternative is to use a company like HouseSimple or Emoov who will list your property on the main property websites like Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation – but you’ll usually have to manage more of the process yourself, such as viewings.

For example, HouseSimple charges £995 upfront, which would save you around £6,500 on the sale of a £500,000 property, for which you get a home visit for valuation and management of the sale through to completion. You can pay extra for managed viewings, mortgage broking, etc.

Purple Bricks offers a fixed fee option for £849 (£1,199 in London) with the option to have accompanied viewings for an extra £300. charges £795 upfront (£995 for London and inner M25) or £1,495 if you pay on completion of the sale (London £1,995), with no fee charged if the property is not sold.

Ebay and Gumtree

There are currently more than 600 property listings on Gumtree and 1,200 homes listed on eBay. However, many of them are overseas properties and some of them uploaded by estate agencies rather than private sellers.

If you are hoping to sell your house online without an agency, bear in mind that while it’s simple and cheap to upload a few photographs of your home, you’ll also need to arrange viewings and negotiate the price yourself.


You could set up a Facebook page for your property but it’s unlikely to reach much of your target audience. However, if you live in a popular area where property sells quickly, you could advertise your home on a local Facebook group which would generate local interest.

Or you could live stream a virtual open day via Periscope

Buy from (or sell to) a friend

It’s also possible to sell to a friend or private buyer, or from a local builder while they are doing up the house but before it goes on the market.

The advantage of this approach is that you are unlikely to get gazumped by other potential buyers and you can move at a speed that suits you both.

You’ll need to agree a mutually acceptable price, which you might agree on after valuations from a couple of local estate agents.

You’ll need to appoint your own solicitors, as it is not advisable to try to do the legal work and searches yourself. Your mortgage company will want to carry out their own valuation.

Even though you may know the house well, it could be worth organising a survey, as there may be issues that the buyer is unaware of that might affect the condition of the property going forward.

When it goes well, this can be a cost-effective and lower-stress option than normal house buying. It gets tricky if there is something wrong with the property and you want the seller – who might also be your friend – to reduce the price. That’s why it’s better to have the discussion about what to do if a problem comes up in the survey as early as possible, and before you have committed a lot of money in terms of solicitor fees.

Go chain-free with an advance

If you are trying to sell your home but you’re stuck in a chain, then there are companies that will advance you up to 98% of your home’s market value in order to enable you to proceed with your purchase.

It’s not a cheap option, though. For example, Nested will advance you 95% of your home’s value, so you can look around for a new property chain-free. In the background, Nested will try to sell your property like an estate agent. But if you take the advance before your property sells, the fee to Nested is 3.5%; otherwise it’s 2.5%.

It is aimed at people whose onward purchase might fall through if they can’t sell their current home, or who need to sell their home quickly, and as an alternative to a bridging loan.


There have been a number of houses which have hit the headlines because they have been offered for sale as a prize in a raffle.

This approach requires caution. Unless you run the raffle in the correct way you could be liable for fines and even imprisonment under the complex rules which govern lotteries and raffles by falling foul of the Gambling Act 2005.

The Gambling Commission points out that many homeowners need to be aware of staying within the law.

You’ll need to pay for proper legal advice and make it clear what happens if you don’t sell enough tickets.

The scheme can work – Melling Manor was sold after former owner Dunston Low sold £2 tickets and raised £900,000 – but other property online raffles have been stopped by local councils and you need to have a fall-back plan if your campaign doesn’t sell enough tickets.


Generally speaking, property sold at auction tends to be either in need of a lot of renovation work, difficult to value, hard to get a mortgage for, or very unusual.

If you are buying, it’s a place to pick up a potential bargain, although most auction properties come with some potential issues and so it’s better for experienced buyers or people looking to develop properties for letting. Once the hammer has fallen, you are obliged to buy, whatever state it is in, so do your research properly and in advance.

For sellers, it is an expensive way to put your property into the open market, with commissions likely to be in the 2.5% range. For this reason, it’s not the best option for traditional sales.

Leaflet the locals

If you have your eye on a particular area or street, and you are prepared to do a private sale, then you could put your contact details through the letter boxes of the current owners.

It’s a strategy which works in sought-after streets where houses are snapped up quickly or sold within hours of coming onto the market. Be prepared to have your finances in place, and to use a solicitor to do the conveyancing.

You can also approach local builders who are renovating a house on a street you are interested in. They may be willing to sell before the property is completed to maximise cash flow, although you’ll probably have to pay asking price.

Offer a freebie

If you are really keen to sell, you could sweeten the deal by throwing in extras, such as a car, furniture, or even pets, although this can also put potential buyers off.

More information

Citizens Advice has some further info on how to organise a private sale. Here on Bankrate you can read our complete mortgage guide, learn about stamp duty, and whether you should get a mortgage broker or go direct.

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Last updated: 2 October, 2019