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    Estate Agent Contracts: FAQs and Expert Advice

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 9th Apr, 2024

    These FAQs about estate agent's contracts may be of help to you.

    Estate Agent Contracts: FAQs and Expert Advice
    Consumer help and advice site, Property Road, has the answers to commonly asked questions about estate agent's contracts. 

    ​How long do you have to stay with an estate agent?

    The duration you have to stay with an estate agent depends on the terms of your contract with them. Typically, estate agent contracts can range from a few weeks to several months. It's important to carefully read and understand the terms of your contract, including the notice period and any potential penalties for early termination.

    The exact time frame can vary based on the type of contract you have and your specific agreement with the estate agent. For more detailed information, it's advisable to refer to the contract or consult with a legal professional.

    What is an estate agent's contract termination letter?

    An estate agent’s contract termination letter is a way for you to formally bring the contract to an end. A lot depends on the type of sales contract that you will have signed and whether you need to pay any fees when leaving. Usually, you can pull out of a contract without having to pay the agent any money.

    My estate agent contract was not signed

    This is an interesting question, particularly if you manage to sell the house with the first viewing and you may believe that you won’t have to pay the agent’s commission. However, contract law may come into play and it may be judged that you've got a verbal agreement in place, so it's best to take legal advice with a solicitor who has experience of estate agent contracts. If the estate agent has signed up with the Property Ombudsman then they will have a Code of Practice for them to check they have formal instruction before they market a property to avoid fee disputes.

    How can I negotiate estate agent fees?

    It's essential to understand the market rates and services offered by different agents. Be open to negotiation and discuss fee structures, ensuring they align with the services provided. Comparing multiple agents can also empower you to negotiate better terms.

    What are the differences in estate agent contracts across UK regions?

    Estate agent contracts can vary significantly across the UK, with variations in terms, conditions, and even costs. It's important to be aware of regional differences, especially in fee structures and legal obligations, to make informed decisions.

    How does digital marketing enhance the visibility of my property listing?

    Digital marketing significantly enhances the visibility of property listings through various online channels. By leveraging social media platforms, search engine optimisation (SEO), and targeted online advertising, digital marketing strategies can attract a wider audience.

    This approach ensures that your property reaches potential buyers who are actively searching online, increasing the likelihood of a quicker and more successful sale. A good digital marketing agency can also help you with creative and engaging presentations of properties, making them stand out in a competitive market.

    What should I consider when choosing an estate agent?

    Key factors include the agent's experience, local market knowledge, marketing strategies, and past performance. Consider their approach to marketing your property and how they plan to achieve the best possible sale price.

    What steps should I take if I disagree with my estate agent?

    Initially, try resolving issues through direct communication. If unresolved, refer to your contract's dispute resolution clause. Seeking advice from a legal professional or a relevant regulatory body can also be helpful.

    Can you explain the difference between exclusive and multi-agency contracts?

    Exclusive contracts mean you're working with one estate agent only, potentially for a lower fee. Multi-agency contracts allow several agents to market your property, possibly increasing exposure but often at a higher fee.

    What is the estate agent contract cooling-off period?

    Estate agents must give clients 14 days in which they can change their mind about instructing them to sell the property without incurring a penalty. The 14 day period begins from the day the contract has been entered into. You must also be made aware of the right to cancel and if the agent has not told you this, then you may be able to get out of the contract sooner. (If you really want the detail, it's part of the  Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013).

    Is there a cancel estate agent contract letter template UK available?

    Yes, there are lots of these estate agent contract letter templates available to cancel the contract, though, you really should restrict your Internet search to the last 12 months to ensure that is up-to-date and will use the correct terminology.

    I want to give my estate agents 28 days’ notice

    Regardless of the reasons, you are free to give your estate agents 28 days’ notice, or less, depending on what your agreement states. There may have been fees incurred that you may be asked to pay, but then you are free to take your house off the market or switch to another agent.

    My estate agent is not performing - what can I do?

    If your estate agent is not performing, for example, they haven't found any potential buyers, then you need to speak with them first to express your dissatisfaction. You then need to check your agreement terms to see if it's possible to change to another agent and if so, check whether you need to pay fees when leaving - the agent may have incurred marketing costs such as advertising.

    What are estate agent fees in Scotland?

    While there are some differences to the home selling process between England and Scotland, the fees are charged in similar ways. The rules are detailed in the Scotland Act 1998 and the Estate Agents Act 1979.

    Future liability you may be responsible for

    Finally, you really need to appreciate any future liability you may be responsible for in the agreement you sign.

    This will be an issue if you sign up with a particular agent, and find you don't like their service or they aren't really trying to sell your home so you may decide to leave. You will then serve your agreed notice period and switch to another estate agent.

    After doing so, and several weeks later, imagine that the property sale goes through and you pay the commission to the new estate agent for their services.

    However, the issue with liability means that the initial estate agent could then argue that the home purchaser was introduced by them, and this could be raised at any point after leaving their contract.

    This means that you really should read the estate agent’s contract carefully so that you understand what your future liabilities will be when you sign up beyond the contract’s original terms.

    Issues over an estate agent’s contract

    If you really are concerned about any issues over an estate agent’s contract, then it is advisable to speak with a solicitor because they'll have years of experience and the relevant expertise to see whether there are any clauses that you should not agree to and whether the contract is good for you and not just for the agent. Good luck!

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