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Estate Agent Fees
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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.
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.
If you’re looking to switch estate agents but you're using a fixed-fee service, bear in mind that you will have to pay the fee, whatever happens to your property.
Finally, check into the difference between a sole agency agreement (which means the agent will only get a fee if they introduce a buyer) and a sole selling rights agreement (meaning you will need to pay a fee whether they find the buyer, or not). If you’re in the former camp, consider speaking with other estate agents or marketing your property sale on your own to cut out the middle man.
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 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 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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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.
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.
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.
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