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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Using an estate agent - selling a property

If you are selling a property and want to use an estate agent, you will usually sign a contract and have to pay a fee. Find out about finding an estate agent and signing the contract.

Finding an estate agent

If you choose to use an estate agent to help you sell your property, make sure you shop around and find the right company for you. Ask family and friends for recommendations.

Trade organisations for Estate Agents

Choosing an estate agent that is registered with a trade organisation will give you an indication of the standards they will follow in their work. Trade organisations set a standard of professional behaviour, which its members have to follow.

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Guild of Professional Estate Agents are trade organisations that Estate Agents can belong to. Find out about the rules of conduct for members of these organisations by using the links below.

All estate agents are bound by the Estate Agents Act, whether or not they are registered with a trade organisation.

The contract and fees

When you use an estate agent to help you sell a property, you have to sign a legally binding contract. Once signed, you have to stick to the terms of the contract or you could face being taken to court.

Before you sign the contract

Before signing, read the contract carefully and make sure you understand it. Find out whether you have the right to cancel the contract and 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.

Check the meaning of unfamiliar terms

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. Make sure that you understand how much you will have to pay, when and under what circumstances.

Complaints about Estate Agents

All estate agents must belong to an approved redress scheme to deal with complaints. Redress schemes will help you if you have a complaint about an estate agent. To find out more about redress schemes, read ‘Estate agents – making a complaint’.

Providing an Energy Performance Certificate

If you are selling your home, you will need to provide buyers with an Energy Performance Certificate. To find out what you need to do to get one, see 'Getting an Energy Performance Certificate'.

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