The Agency Agreement

I you use the services of an estate agent to sell your property you will be asked to sign their Terms & Conditions. As with any legally binding contract you should read it carefully before signing and if there is any thing that you don’t understand ask the agent to explain it or seek legal advice. These are the main clauses in the agreement:

Sole or Multiple?

You may instruct just one or several estate agents. Most people start off with just one agent only switching to multiple agents if the property doesn’t sell within the period of the agreement. If you agree to sell your property through just one agent you must not market it through any other agent during the term of that agreement or you may end up paying commission to both agents. There are a couple of other types of agreement which are quite rare these days. “Sole selling rights” mean that you will owe the agent commission if the property sells during the set period regardless of whether they introduced the buyer or not. This type of agreement is best avoided. “Joint sole agents” is when two agents agree to market your property together and split the commission.

The Period

This only applies to sole agency agreements. Each agency will have a set sole agency period which is likely to range from between 6 and 16 weeks. It is important to remember that even at the end of the term most agents will still require written notice, usually 2 weeks, to terminate the agreement. Multiple agency agreements continue until one of the instructed agents sell the property or you withdraw it from the market. Some agents will also include a clause stipulating that if a sale that they have agreed falls through you cannot switch agents for a set period, usually 2 to 4 weeks.

The Commission

The commission should be entered in to the agreement. This will usually be on a no sale, no fee basis but there are exceptions. Some agents will charge extra for advertising although this is becoming rare. Perhaps the most controversial clause in agency agreements, particularly common in more expensive areas, is your liability to pay the agent remuneration, usually 50% of the agreed fee, if they introduce a “ready, willing and able purchaser” and you withdraw from the sale.

Even if you are signing up to a sole agency agreement the multiple agency commission rate will be entered in to it in case you switch to multiple later. If you are haggling over the rates do not forget this one.

The board

Most agents will state in their agreement that a board will be erected unless you explicitly request that you do not want one.

“Introduced by us…”

The definition of “Introduced by us” is a wide ranging one. It will cover all these scenarios:

  • A buyer who knocks on your door as a result of seeing a “for sale” board.
  • A buyer that views through one agent but later makes an offer through another agent.
  • A buyer that is given details of your property by an agent and then realises that they know you.
  • A buyer who views through an agent but suggests that you do a private deal (obviously!).

And Finally…

Please remember that it is usually the point at which you accept the first viewing from an agent that your acceptance of their Terms & Conditions is confirmed rather than when you sign them.

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