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Can I bypass my estate agent and sell privately?

Let’s say your property is on the market with an estate agent, but you’ve found a buyer yourself. Since you’ve done the hard work of finding a buyer, why should you pay the agent? Do you have to pay their fee or can you bypass the estate agents and sell your home yourself?

Agreement Types

It all depends on the type of agreement you have with your estate agent. Here are the different types of contract and how they might affect you:

Sole selling rights agreement – The estate agent in the contract is the only one allowed to sell your home during the period stipulated on the agreement. So you will have to pay the estate agent, even if you find your own buyer. So if you found a buyer yourself, you’d have to wait for the contract period to end.

Ready, willing and able purchaser agreement – Do not accept this type of contract! If you have, let’s hope they don’t find a buyer. These contracts require you to pay the estate agent for finding a buyer, even if you decide not to sell… so it makes no difference if you’ve found a buyer yourself.

Multi agency agreement – You can use as many agents as you like and possibly sell the property yourself. You only pay commission to the estate agent that sell your property.

Sole agency agreement – This is the same as a sole selling agreement, but you don’t have to pay any fees if you find your own buyer. This agreement just means that you can’t use another estate agent.

Most estate agency agreements are ‘sole agency AND sole selling rights’ agreements. So you can’t use another agency and your agency will still have the right to their fee if you find a buyer.

How to avoid agent fees

If you have a ‘sole agency and sole selling rights’ agreement but you’ve found a buyer yourself, it would be illegal to sell to that buyer during the contract period.

You’ll have to:

  1. Terminate your agreement and wait out their termination/cancellation period (normally 16 weeks).
  2. Don’t do anything with the sale until this time has elapsed.
  3. Find a new buyer. If they find out that your buyer was found during the period that they had sole selling rights, they’ll have the right to make you pay their fees.

Now… The Estate Agent would have to PROVE you found the buyer when they had sole selling rights… but I would never advise anyone to do anything illegal.

This is just some basic advice, each contract is different; we advise that you read your contract carefully before doing anything. Even if you’ve followed these steps, you might find yourself paying the agents fees. Estate agents are crafty, if they can suck some money out of you, they will.

Selling Privately and Listing Online

Buying and Selling property isn’t rocket science and there are load of property valuation tools available to help you get the right price. The estate agent only acts as a middleman. You could save a lot of money by listing your property online yourself and doing all the negotiation privately. There are many property listing websites like Gumtree and TheHouseShop that don’t charge a single penny to advertise your property. But these websites don’t have the exposure you’ll get with online estate agents.

Use an online Estate Agent

If you haven’t signed a contract with any Estate Agents yet, we recommend you use a cheap online agent. The UK housing market is solid and properties sell themselves. You don’t need a traditional Estate Agent to “negotiate”, all you need is a good Property Lawyer or Conveyancer. Good luck and make sure you check out our top 10 list of the best online estate agents.

4 Responses

  1. Lynn Stevens says:

    What if the buyer approached me & I did not list at all but was in forclosure. I accepted buyers offer prior to a sherriff sale , no agent involved. Buyer had his own agent for paperwork only & agent stated he was receiving no compensation for sale , “was doing out of kindness of his own heart”. However I found out that agent was not available for closing & someone else would take care of paperwork.At the time of closing , on closing papers , I (seller ) was being charged fees & commission! To late to back out of sale as closing was conveniently rescheduled to just 30 mins prior to sherriff sale!!!

  2. junedelamare says:

    my agent agreement is Sole Agency so from reading above if I find a buyer I dont have to pay them, is this correct – I found these new buyers word of mouth and not through any agent – I have been waiting 10 weeks for my present buyers mortgage to be approved, agents dont keep me updated or return calls, all very frustrating. Offers were accepted on 24th Nov but they didnt advise buyer to put his solicitors in funds for searches until 30 december

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