Selecting An Estate Agent
When selecting an estate agent there are a number of points which you will want to bear in mind. For example:
- Is the agent successful at selling houses? Ask your friends and acquaintances and see what agents they have found to be satisfactory.
- Have the agents over-valued your house; or have they perhaps undervalued it? This may not be easy to know but you can try and put a value on the house yourself. To start with look at the local newspapers which advertise houses for sale and check for the prices at which similar houses to yours have actually sold. Also you can ask other agents to value your house.
In addition there are a number of web sites on the internet where details of actual sale prices of houses can be found. Just type "House Prices" into one of the search engines.
- Is the proposed estate agent being paid commissions by a third party for recommendations relating to you and your property? Payment of commission to estate agents by third parties does occur and you need to know if it is going on. You should ask any prospective agent about this before you instruct them; and if they do receive commissions then you may wish to consider using a different estate agent.
- Does the agent advertise adequately in the press? (N.B. Internet advertising alone is not sufficient). Check the local papers and see how the agents advertising looks.
- How often will the agent advertise your house? Every week? Once every three or four weeks? Ask the agent specifically as to this.
- You should be aware that even when the agency has terminated you may still be liable to pay the agents charges if someone introduced by them purchases your house after the agency has been ended, (even though that was some time ago). The purchaser may in fact have been re-introduced by a second agent thereby creating difficulties and perhaps a risk as to further charges. You will want to try to negotiate with any agent an arrangement that if someone introduced by them proceeds a significant time after the agency has been terminated (a certain number of months say) you should not be liable for any charges.
Also you may need to agree with any new agent that if a purchaser introduced by them, had previously been introduced by some other agent, there should be no liability to pay the later agent.
- Your agents should be willing at any time (on request) to provide you with a list of all the persons they have introduced to the Property.
- You should be able to terminate the agency on giving reasonable notice. Be sure to give any termination notice in writing and keep a copy, so as to avoid any arguments later.
- The agents should agree that no liability to pay their charges should arise until the purchaser has actually completed the whole transaction (not just entered into a contract - but paid over the whole of the money and completed).
- Ask if the agent will continue marketing until actual exchange. Until a prospective purchaser has signed and exchanged there is no obligation for the purchaser to proceed.
- The agent should not impose any obligation that they should arrange the Home Information Pack (HIP). It will always be more satisfactory for your solicitor to organise the HIP. See also Home Information Packs, where this matter is more fully explained.
- Ask if the estate agent is a member of any trade association or professional body that will provide arbitration facilities in the event that disagreements arise (e.g as to whether a commission is properly payable).
- The estate agent will probably want you to sign their form of agreement which may be unacceptable as to some matters. If so, then delete the clauses you do not like and write in agreed amendments. Alternatively set out your requirements in a letter and write on the estate agents' contract that "this agreement incorporates the provisions of the attached letter and in the event of any conflict between the two then the provisions of the attached letter are to prevail".
- The articles in these pages are provided for the purpose of background information only. They do not constitute analysis of the law or legal advice to any person. You should consult us expressly for advice and assistance regarding any matters which concern you; and you should not take or fail to take any step merely on the basis of the information provided here and without such advice and assistance.
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Moore Brown & Dixon LLP Solicitors
and Upton upon Severn Worcestershire
and Upton upon Severn Worcestershire