contract with your Estate agent to see when your contract with them
ends. Contracts are usually 3 months long. After that you are free
to change agents. Or you may choose to involve another agent and
re-negotiate your fee with your existing agent.
It is true
that, apart from the OFT, there is no independent body regulating
all Estate Agents, and that Agents do not need any qualifications
to practise their profession. The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) has
introduced a complaints procedure which should cover most agents
and it is also possible to complain to the Office of Fair Trading.
Instructing an Estate Agent can really help you to sell your property,
especially if the property is in any way unusual or if it is the
first one you have tried to sell. Ideally, an Estate Agent will
provide all the following (and more):
· Help and advice - whilst you navigate the selling process
and set a price
· Marketing of the property as widely as possible
· Several possible buyers
· A good value service
However, it is worthwhile knowing some basic rules when dealing
with Estate Agents.
Estate Agents' Services and trusting Internet Sales.
it should be understood, that the Estate Agent does not ever handle
your money for the sale of your house as the money passes from Bank
account to Bank account. All Legal matters are handled by your solicitors.
Estate Agents can perform the whole selling process from the beginning
to the end for you. If, however, you do not just want to sit back
and let the Agent handle everything, you should make this clear
from the outset. In order to maintain a good working relationship
with your Estate Agent, it is important that you decide on how much
you want to participate, and let the Agent know about it.
Suggest an Asking Price
The first thing an Estate Agent will do is to suggest an asking
price. As mentioned above, you should not take their suggestion
at face value but get your own idea of how much your property is
worth. Factors that play a role when setting the asking price are
the time frame in which you want to sell your house and the strength
of the property market.
Take your Agent's suggestion into account, but do not rely solely
Presentation and Advertising
This is one of the key functions of an Estate Agent. Your Agent
will take pictures of your house and compile a list of property
details to put into a standard format for presentation. Make sure
to tell your Agent about all the plus points of the property which
he might not notice in one visit. Furthermore, confirm that you
can check the presentation materials and property description before
they are posted on listings and websites.
The form the advertisements take vary from Agent to Agent, but most
will list your property in their windows and brochures. Some also
place ads in property magazines or local papers, while most have
a website with property listings. A good Estate Agent will make
sure that the advert reaches the target audience. As most buyers
now start their search for a home online it is more important than
ever to ensure that your chosen estate agent advertises widely on
If you want your Agent to arrange and perform the viewings, make
this clear from the outset, otherwise you might incur additional
charges. On the other hand, you might prefer to show potential buyers
around your house yourself in order to point out all its advantages.
Most Estate Agents are fairly flexible when it comes to this.
Estate Agents are professionals in negotiation. Yet the same problem
arises as with property valuations: an Agent's motivations might
compromise his performance. He might be more concerned about securing
a quick sale and advise you to accept the first offer that comes
along. Or he might be so keen on pushing up the price as high as
possible that he scares away potential buyers with his negotiation
We generally recommend you to have a fairly good idea of how much
you want to (and can reasonably) get for your house, and to stick
to it. If your house really does not sell, you can still make adjustments
at a later date.
If you are a hard-nosed haggler who has already beaten down Tunisian
cloth vendors and used-car dealers, you might prefer to take care
of the negotiations yourself. There is nothing keeping you from
it - just let your Estate Agent know!
Typically, an Estate Agent will charge you between 2 and 1.5 per
cent of the sales price as a commission, ( we charge 0.75% ) but
their fees are usually negotiable. One thing to keep in mind is
that your Agent might make a lot of profit if you are selling a
mansion, but a one-bedroom flat in a shabby building in outer Sheffield
won't pay for his children's education. Consider this before you
try to push him below 1.5 per cent.
It is not recommended simply to go for the Estate Agent with the
lowest fee. Read the small print of the contract and make sure the
amount and quality of advertising is sufficient! An Agent's commission
is usually based on whether there is one or more Estate Agency instructed
with the sale. If the Estate Agent is the sole agency, which means
they have the exclusive right to sell your home for about six to
eight weeks, the commission will probably be lower than if you have
a joint sole agency (you instruct two Agents to work together on
your behalf and share the commission) or a multiple agency agreement,
in which case several different Estate Agents compete to sell your
house and do not share the agreed commission.
Some common sense advice: before you sign the contract, read the
small print and negotiate any contentious terms. You should make
sure the time frame for the agreement is set properly; it does not
usually exceed 3 months, after which you are free to switch Agents
if you are dissatisfied. However, if you have a sole agency agreement,
we recommend you push the term down a bit to approximately 6 weeks.
Agreements and Charges
agents get paid and by whom?
Estate agents act solely for you the vendor of the property who
pays them but they may also work hard liaising with your purchaser
so that the sale is drawn to a satisfactory conclusion. Their fees
become due at exchange of contracts, but their invoices are generally
paid upon your authorization, by your solicitor at completion.
This agreement is the most common - it is to be recommended in most
cases because it is the cheapest option for the vendor and the agent
has the incentive to market the property without competition for
a given time. Most estate agents will offer you commission rates
for this agreement at around 1.5% of the final sale price, i.e.
£1500.00 (plus Vat) for a sale price of £100,000. In
a sole agency agreement agents will often request that they have
a set minimum period in which to sell your property without fear
of competition. In fact this minimum time limit is not legally binding,
but in fairness it would be reasonable to adhere to this and selling
through another agent within this period would be bad practice and
possibly extremely costly for you as a multiple agency fee would
then be applicable.
sole agency: This next step up from a sole agency agreement will
cost you more. It means that normally two agents work together to
sell your property (not in competition with each other). You can
expect them to split the commission you pay either 50/50 or 60/40
in favor of the actual agency who introduced the buyer. Marketing
your property like this may be recommended if you want different
agencies to complement each other by exposing your home to slightly
different audiences. Typical rates for this type of agreement would
be in the region of 2.0% or a little more (plus Vat).
3) Multiple Agency: The most expensive way to employ agents to act
for you. You can instruct as many agents as you like to sell your
home, but this is an unusual tactic. Most would be purchasers will
research the market introducing themselves to several agencies at
a time. Generally they will find your property whether one or all
of the agencies send details of it to them. This 'shot-gun' approach
of exposing your home to the market could even back-fire on you
as purchasers can interpret such marketing as a sign of desperation!
Commission is payable to the successful agent only and could be
expected to be in the region of 3.0% (plus Vat) of the sale price.
NB If more than one agent markets your property they must all agree
to the same guide price.