Selling a house is rarely an easy ride and having an estate agent who does not seem to be doing their job just makes things harder. It can even reach the point where you want to just find someone else to do the work instead. Fortunately, it is often possible to change your estate agent, the details of how to do so will just depend on if you owe them any money and what the details of your contract are.
What to look for
Almost all estate agents will have some sort of exclusivity agreement. Essentially, that means that you have to stay with that estate agent for a minimum time period. More often than not, this period will range from between 4 to 16 weeks. Also, some agents will let you leave the contract if given enough notice. The key is to look through the contract for exit clauses and examine what they say carefully.
Some estate agents, especially online agents such as Yopa and Purplebricks, operate under a fixed fee service. If this is the case, then you may have to pay this fee even if the property fails to sell. However, there are some estate agents out there who operate under a fixed fee but who will also offer a no sale no fee service which is always worth looking out for.
A key difference that is worth bearing in mind is the one between a sole selling rights agreement and a sole agency agreement. The former is an agreement where after a buyer is found, the agency will get a fee if they are still within the contracted period. This happens even if the agency did not help find the buyer in any way. The sole agency agreement is one where the agency is only owed a fee if they were the one who introduced the person who becomes the buyer.
These are the kinds of details that need to be examined closely if you are interested in changing an estate agent. They can make all the difference in how much hassle you are going to go through when the time comes.
Talk before you do anything else
First of all, if your house is not selling then you need to speak to your estate agent. Try and find out why things are not going so well and what problems they are having. A lot of the time, the agent may have valued the house a little too high which can put off potential buyers. Estate agents want to offer the highest valuation of a house possible because you are more likely to use their services if you think they will be able to sell it for more. There may be other problems too. For example, the agent may not have done enough marketing, or they might be targeting the wrong people. Sometimes, the property just does not quite fit in with the rest of the area which can put people off buying.
If the fault lies with the agent and you want to complain, then the first step is always to go through the estate agent’s complaints procedure. In the event that the agency fails to resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner, you can always escalate it on to the Property Ombudsman.
A major problem that can occur is if the agent has failed to fulfil the terms as outlined in the contract. You need to talk to them immediately if this happens. Some examples include:
- Not informing you of all offers.
- Missing deadlines.
- Failure to advertised in promised locations.
- Failure to conduct viewings.
As before, the key details lie in the contract. If the agent breaches the contract then you will be free to leave with no repercussions. This does not happen very often and if it does then you probably need a solicitor as they will be able to confirm whether or not a breach of contract has definitely taken place.
What to do next?
Once you have given notice your estate agent, our advice is to take your home off the market for a few weeks. Once you have instructed a new estate agent, your revised listing will enjoy somewhat of a honeymoon period, with increased visibility on the property portals and a creating the sense of enthusiasm that comes with putting a new home on the market.