Have I just married my Estate agent?

Agents commission agreements

Now i want a divorce!

We are an impulsive lot us Brits! Sad proof, if it were needed, is that according to the Office of National Statistics [ONS], 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce inside 10 years.

I’m not sure that a commitment to the marriage contract should fairly be compared to the process of selling a house but, for some house vendors,  sacking their non-performing estate agents, after months of poor performance, can be as difficult and painful as settling an acrimonious divorce.

Over the last 10 years many estate agents have toughened up their marketing contracts. In pursuit of this aim, some well known national estate agency chains have beefed up their contracts with the inclusion of the phrase ‘Sole Selling Rights’.

‘Sole selling rights’ replaces the more acceptable term ‘sole agency’. This tricky clause adds an obligation on the seller to pay the estate agent their full fee whether or not the buyer was actually and effectively introduced by the seller’s estate agent. In other words; if you sell your property to your neighbour or a friend or to a buyer introduced by another estate agent you may become liable to pay your agent anyway and potentially, more than one estate agent fee.

My advice to anyone about to place their property on to the market is to carefully read the wording in the Estate Agents contract first. Check for phrases such as ‘sole selling rights’ or the term ‘ready, willing or able’. Here are some more tips:

  • Never sign the contract while the agent is at your property. Always send them away and take your time to carefully check the words in that contract before signing it.
  • Ask your solicitor to look at it. If you don’t have a solicitor yet. Why not? You shouldn’t put your house on the market without an already appointed conveyancing solicitor in place.
  • Make sure you give the agent a complete list, as part of any contract, of anyone who you know may already be interested. Ie: Neighbours, friends, and ALL viewers from any previously appointed estate agent. Even viewers that didn’t seem interested at the time can suddenly pop up once a few price reductions have happened. This is your ‘exclusion list’.
  • Don’t be frightened to cross out and annotate the hell out of the contract. With legal advice of course!

If you need any advice about any particular aspect please give me a call. Good luck!

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