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  1. Blog
  2. Changing estate agents - How do I switch estate agent?
Estate agent help and guides
01 May 2019

Changing estate agents - How do I switch estate agent?

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher
an estate agent points out contract terms with pen

Table of contents

  1. 1. When should you change estate agents?
  2. 2. Can you change estate agents?
  3. 3. Considerations when deciding if you should switch estate agents
  4. 4. Why do you want to switch?
  5. 5. How to change estate agents
  6. 6. Important things to do when changing estate agents
  7. 7. Will switching estate agents cost me more money?
  8. 8. FAQs

You sign up with an estate agent, put your house on the market and wait. Months go by without a buyer, leaving you frustrated. Should you switch agents, or stick with the one you have and keep your fingers crossed?

When should you change estate agents?

Changing estate agents — especially after your listing is live — is a big decision. There’s an element of risk involved, and it’s never easy to say ‘you’re fired’ to anyone. Still, the benefits of switching away from an underperforming agent can’t be overstated.

Sellers tend to change agents for a range of different reasons. You should consider changing estate agents when:

  • Their agents aren’t responsive — or don’t communicate enough
  • They haven’t had many (or any) house viewings
  • Their properties aren’t advertised on Zoopla or Rightmove
  • Their agents are pushing for a price reduction

If the pros and cons of switching estate agents are making your head spin, you’re in the right place. We’ll begin this guide with the burning question: can you change estate agents? Then, we’ll talk about what to consider before moving from one agency to another. After that, we’ll show you how to switch agencies, step by step. Finally, we’ll explore common FAQs about changing estate agents.

If your property has been on the market for months with little to no interest, then the chances are you’ll be considering whether your estate agent is doing their job properly. You may even come to a point when you decide to stop working with them and look for another provider, either because you’re dissatisfied with their performance or they’re not responsive enough.

Unfortunately, though, switching or changing your estate agent isn’t always as simple as it may seem, with many homeowners tied into contracts with a particular agent for a minimum period - or worse still, tied into fixed-fee agreements that mean they’ll have to pay the agent, whatever happens. Below, we share more information on how to switch successfully.

Can you change estate agents?

Many people wonder if they can change estate agents after listing their homes. Is changing estate agents even legally allowed? In short, yes, it is and you can change estate agents - but you might be subject to a minimum tie-in period.

In layman’s terms, a tie-in period is the minimum amount of time — usually measured in weeks — your estate agent has to market your house. Tie-in periods are usually included in agency contracts, and they typically range from 4 to 12 weeks.

Some agency agreements don’t stipulate tie-in periods. Others include tie-in agreements, but don’t charge sellers fees if they decide to exit early. Others contain strict fixed-term tie-ins and hefty fees for early termination. In short, check your contract for conditions before making solid plans to change agents.

Considerations when deciding if you should switch estate agents

Should you change estate agents, or is it better to stick with the one you have? Before bailing out, consider the following things:

  • Are you on a fixed fee contract? If so, you might have to pay your current estate agent a fee to exit the contract.
  • Do you have a sole agency agreement or a sole selling rights agreement? If you’re bound into a sole agency agreement, your agent will only receive a fee if they find a buyer. If you’ve signed a sole selling rights agreement, you’ll have to pay the fee, no matter what.

Before you switch, you should take a good look through your agreement with your estate agent to understand your position and rights. Most agents have an exclusivity agreement in place, which means you must stick with them for a minimum period. This can vary depending on your agent and local competition, but it’s usually one to three months - and some agents also allow homeowners to pull out if they give a certain period of notice. Look for this information in your contract and speak with a solicitor if you’re confused about your rights.

Selling a home is complex. If you’re confused about your rights or your obligations as a seller, consider speaking with a qualified solicitor.

Why do you want to switch?

Now we’ve got the legal stuff out of the way, a quick question: why do you want to switch to another estate agent? It’s easy to make emotionally-charged decisions when you’re stressed about selling your home, so it makes sense to create a list of reasons why you’re unhappy with your current provider. Note down the positives too. Being balanced will encourage you to make a rational decision about whether to leave your current agent, and will help you understand what you require from your next one.

  • My agent doesn’t communicate: If your estate agent doesn’t respond to emails or doesn’t keep you in the loop, then that’s grounds for dismissal; they’re not doing their job and they’re not providing good customer service.
  • I’ve had no house viewings: Consider the reasons why you’ve had no viewings. Is it because of your agent's marketing efforts? Is it because your home isn't staged well? Are there other factors impacting your sale?
  • I can’t find my property online: Most estate agents include online listings on sites like Zoopla and Rightmove; if you were promised these and you can’t find your property online, then your agent isn't doing their job properly. Look to switch ASAP.
  • My agent is trying to reduce the price: Some agents might pressure owners into reducing their price to encourage a quick sale, or they originally over-value your home to get your business. Ensure you get a few valuations to make sure your house price is right.

Now you have a list of reasons why you want to move, interview new estate agents and see who can provide the best service at the best price. Questions like “Why do you think my property hasn’t sold?” and “What would you do differently?” will help you find a replacement.

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How to change estate agents

Sometimes, switching agents is inevitable — and taking a logical approach can make changing from one agency to another easier. Here’s how to change estate agents, broken down step by step:

  1. Review your tie-in period: Check your contract for a tie-in period. Tie-in periods generally range between one and three months. Some agreements don’t include tie-in periods.
  2. Give your estate agent notice: Many contracts stipulate a minimum notice period — two weeks, a month, or two months, for example. Give your agent notice before leaving to ensure you don’t breach the terms of your contract.
  3. Create an estate agent shortlist: Review some of the most highly rated estate areas in your area, comparing and contrasting terms, conditions and perks. Write your top five contenders on a list.
  4. Interview estate agents: Interview potential new estate agents to see which one provides the best service for the best price. Ask questions like ‘Why do you think my property hasn’t sold?’ and ‘What would you do differently?’
  5. Choose a new estate agent and establish terms: Select your favourite estate agent and discuss terms — tie-in period, amount of commission, notice period and perks.
  6. Sign your new contract: When you’re happy with the terms and conditions of your agreement, sign on the dotted line and set sail.
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Important things to do when changing estate agents

Read your contract

Once you have decided to switch and you’re ready to instruct a new agent, you should read your contract and understand the next steps. Most agents have a minimum tie-in period, so check these dates and understand the potential withdrawal fee if you choose to leave early. It’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of paying an exit fee or holding out for a buyer with your current agent; if you must go, then give your notice period and instruct a new agent.

Give the right notice period

Most estate agents require a notice period of around two weeks, which gives them a chance to have one last push and help you to find a buyer. Others may go in the opposite direction and remove your property from sale and cancel any upcoming viewings and appointments.

It’s important to note that if you are in a sole agency contract, you must not allow another agent to start selling or marketing your property until your old agent stops working under your notice period. Get ready to launch beforehand, but be patient, and make sure your new agent is aware of the circumstances so that you and they do not breach existing contracts.

Get the old agent to pass on details

The good news is that all estate agents field queries, so if someone contacts your old agent about your home, they should pass their details on to you. We recommend requesting details of names of previous viewers, and then your new estate agent can chase these and ensure you don’t miss out on a sale or offer. Again, read into the terms of your agreement and have a plan in place with your old agent; if they behave unprofessionally after you leave them, consider making a complaint both to the estate agency and to The Property Ombudsman.

Switching estate agents doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated: it’s just about knowing your rights under your agreement and choosing a replacement that fulfils your needs and helps you to sell your home fast. At GetAgent, we help you see which agents will do the best job of selling your home, based on past performance. Click here to get started - it’s FREE.

Will switching estate agents cost me more money?

Many people worry about paying double commission when they switch estate agents. If you previously signed a fixed-price sole selling rights agreement, you may still need to pay your old agent after you move to a new agent. If you went with a fixed-price sole agency agreement, however, you can move to a new agent after your tie-in period ends.

Contracts vary from agency to agency, so make sure you examine your agreement carefully before switching.

FAQs

Can you get out of an estate agent contract?

Yes you can get out of an estate agent contract within the cool off period or in breach of contract. Is an estate agent contract legally binding? Absolutely. If your estate agent breaches the terms of their contract with you, however — if they fail to pass on an offer to you, for instance — you can ask that your contract be terminated.

If you’re faced with a really serious breach of contract, you can report the agent to The Property Ombudsman.

Can you have two estate agents?

Yes you can have two estate agents (or more) but it depends on your agreement and contract. Many estate agents include exclusivity agreements in their contracts. If your agent has an exclusivity agreement in place, you can’t list your property with another estate agent. If your estate agent doesn’t have an exclusivity agreement in place, and if the other agent you want to list your property with also doesn’t have an exclusivity clause, you can list your home with both agents at the same time.

All estate agents field queries. So, if a potential buyer asks an estate agent about a home not listed with them, they’ll pass the inquiry on to the listing agent.

How do I give notice to an estate agent?

To give notice to an estate agent just follow these steps:

  1. You’ll need to give your agent a certain amount of notice before switching to another agency.
  2. Check your contract for the notice period
  3. Give your agent notice in writing — so, via email or via letter — to ensure that it’s legally binding.
  4. Ask them to remove any listings and marketing

Can I cancel my estate agent contract within 14 days?

Many contracts in the U.K. include what’s called a ‘cooling off period’, which extends 14 days from the date the agreement is signed. This statutory right extends to agency agreements — so yes, you can cancel your estate agent contract within 14 days.

If I switch estate agents, will I have to pay commission to my old one?

You may have to pay commission to your old agent — even after switching — if you signed a sole selling rights agreement with them. Check the terms of your contract to ensure you don’t breach your agreement.

Can I sell my house privately after listing with an estate agent?

No you cannot sell your house privately after listing with an estate agent within your contract period. If you find a private buyer for your house, you’ll need to wait for your contract period to end before proceeding with a private sale. If you don’t wait, the terms of your contract may mean you’ll need to pay estate agent fees — even though you found the buyer by yourself.

When is an estate agent entitled to commission?

Estate agent fees, including commission fees, are usually due upon conclusion of the sale. In simple terms, that means you need to pay the estate agent on the day you finalise the sale of your house. In Scotland, solicitor fees may be due before conclusion of the missives.

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