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  Property sales, Estate Agents Contracts and your rights 


Estate agent contracts and getting out of a contractHSC Property is not an Estate Agent and we can  advertise your property privately on your behalf.  We can help you sell your property and save the fees of the Estate Agent, especially if your contract with the Agent is a  'sole agency'  contract as detailed below.   The information detailed below is an article written by the Government's office of Fair Trading and is provided for your information if you already have or are considering taking up the services of an Estate Agent alongside a private property advert. 

The contract

When you use an estate agent to help you sell a property, you have to sign a legally binding Estate Agents contract.  Each of these will vary and have different terms to get out of the contract and different lengths of termination before you can leave the contract and sign up with another Estate Agent, often 2- 4 weeks.

Before signing, read the contract carefully and make sure you understand it. Find out whether you have the right to cancel the contract. Check how long it will run. It should allow a reasonable length of time to market your property and find potential buyers. Beware of contracts that tie you to an estate agent for a very long time. 

If you are unsure, get advice from a solicitor or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. 

You may come across some unfamiliar terms in a contract. Make sure you understand what you are agreeing to. The terms 'sole agency', 'sole selling rights' and 'ready, willing and able purchaser' must be explained in writing if they are used in a contract.

Sole agency

The estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your property. If you find a buyer yourself, you don't usually have to pay the estate agent's commission although you may still have to pay for advertising or a 'For Sale' board.  Check for clauses which say you have to pay the full commission even if you find your own buyer. Avoid these Agents - you will find a sole agent contract which does not limit your ability to sell privately.

If you change from one agent to another, there may be a period when both agents' commissions are due if your property is sold.

Sole selling rights

The estate agent is the only person with the right to sell your property. It is different from sole agency: if you find a buyer yourself, you still have to pay the estate agent.

Ready, willing and able purchaser

You have to pay if the estate agent finds a buyer who is prepared and able to buy your property and exchange unconditional contracts. You still have to pay even if you withdraw from the sale and unconditional contracts are not exchanged.

Multiple agency

You can ask several estate agents to act for you on a multiple-agency basis. Only the estate agent who sells the property will be entitled to a commission. The rate of commission is likely to be higher than for a sole agency or sole selling rights contract.

A few estate agents offer a 'joint sole agency' contract where two agents agree to share one commission, although the total fee may be higher. 

If you appoint more than one estate agent to sell your property under a sole agency or a sole selling rights contract, each agent has the right to claim their fee when the property is sold.


Before you sign a contract, the estate agent must give you written details of how much you will be charged and when payments will be due.

The agent must state the exact amount you will be charged or, if this is not possible, the way the cost will be worked out and an estimate of the final amount.

You pay a percentage of the selling price of your property as a commission.

Some estate agents charge a low percentage plus an additional charge for advertising and 'For Sale' boards. In that case, the estate agent should tell you exactly how much the additional charge will be. If this isn't possible, you should be given an estimate of the charge and a breakdown of how it will be worked out.

Other agents charge a higher percentage of the selling price but this includes all costs.

Occasionally, an estate agent may charge a fixed fee rather than a percentage.

It should be clear from the estate agent's terms and conditions when you will have to pay. Fees are usually due when contracts are exchanged, but you don't pay until the sale is completed.

Under a ready, willing and able purchaser contract, you have to pay as soon as a buyer who is prepared and able to exchange unconditional contracts is found. This applies even if you withdraw your property before the sale is completed. The estate agent may also charge you for 'For Sale' boards and advertising.

Further Information from The Office of Fair Trading   :

Further details on Estate Agent Contracts from the Office of Fair Trading: 

Further information - Free 'Buying and Selling property' Guide 

Some links will open in a new window

Please note: this information is provided in good faith and with detail of the articles origin.  The reader should check any contract carefully and that information has not changed since the posting of this information.  Please contact us for any further advice or with relevant feedback.



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