How to End Estate Agent Contracts

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Thank you note from a happy vendor

‘I want to sell my house online with you but…’

Here at Sellmyhome.co.uk we get on average three calls a day from vendors who are keen to sell their home online, but who are trapped in a contract with their local estate agent and don’t know how to get out of it so they can use an online estate agent instead.

There have been numerous stories in the press focusing on ‘estate agent disaster stories’ – some of them like these in The Guardian make amusing reading but are pretty shocking – even if your story isn’t as dramatic when it’s your home and your sale, it’s important to know what your position is as soon as possible.

Although each agent will have different terms we thought that it was worth outlining a few tips to give our vendors a good place to start.

  • It may have seemed like a good idea at the time to appoint your local high street estate agent, but you may feel more comfortable taking things into your own hands:
    • Go back to your original contract and read each clause in detail.
    • It’s likely that you’ll be tied in for a number of weeks usually six to eight.
    • If a buyer is found in that time you’ll have to pay the agreed commission.
    • The shocking fact is that even if you personally find a buyer, say your next door neighbour is keen to buy your home, you’ll still have to pay the agent commission – they might even make you pay up until 6 months after the agreed end of contract date.
    • You should also note that if the agent finds a buyer and they don’t put in an offer until after your relationship has ended you will usually still be liable to pay your fees.
    • If your new agent finds a purchaser and the old one is still demanding fees – this letter template is a good one to ensure you make your position clear.
  • Check what you own when the agreement comes to an end:
    • If you were made to pay an upfront fee for your professional photos, floorplan and EPC the likelihood is that legally they are yours. This means you can pass them on to your new agent whether it be a high street or online estate agent, which should save on set up costs.
    • Think carefully though about whether you want a fresh set of photos to present your home in a more favourable light.
  • Understand the Law:
    • If you feel that your agent is unfairly asking you to pay their commission, the ‘Unfair in Consumer Contracts’ Regulation guidelines are a good place to start to gauge where you stand.

We believe that there is no reason why vendors who are in the final weeks of their high street agent contracts can’t at least ask the ‘joint marketing’ question (contract dependent) – you can ‘challenge’ your agent and say that you’ll be marketing via the online route too. If they’re able to find a buyer then you can legitimately pay the commission but if you personally find a buyer through the portals or through your own contacts then you take the glory and pay no commission.

This is the conundrum – if an agent is finding their buyers through the property portals (an absolute fact!), with your Sell My Home account and the marketing of your property on the exact same portals, you will have access to the exact same buyers. Many buyers actually prefer dealing with the vendors directly and cutting out the middle man estate agent. This is one of the many advantages of online estate agents.

We thought it was worth sharing a note from recent vendors Gordon and Sue – music to our ears!

Looking to rent your home instead? Try RentMyHome.co.uk