Estate agents act for the seller, who pays the agent according to the terms of the contract between them. Questions such as fees, written contract, and sole or multiple agencies are all dealt. Generally, the seller pays the agent only after he or she introduces someone who completes the purchase of the property. Estate agents also advise the seller on the likely price which he or she can expect on the sale of their house. If you want a valuation from a surveyor, that would have to be separately arranged. Once you instruct an agent to act for you, you become responsible for supplying the estate agent with accurate information about your property. Estate agents rely on this information which the seller provides to them for making up their particulars of sale. They are not expected to establish the accuracy of the information which they receive from the seller, unless there is something which would put the agents on the alert and raise a query in their minds. Estate agents also usually print a disclaimer on the property’s particulars which they distribute. The disclaimer could absolve the agent for misrepresentation but would not protect a seller who provided misleading information in the first instance.
Your instructions will differ only in certain regards depending on whether you buy or sell. (Quite often, of course, people conclude both deals simultaneously by selling their own house and buying another.)
(1) You must ensure that all the persons with an interest in the property are parties to a contract of sale, and inform your conveyancer of any such interest.
(2) You will have to instruct your conveyancer whether you intend to pay the estate agent’s commission from the sale proceeds or in some other way.
(3) You must instruct your conveyancer to prepare a draft contract of sale once you have accepted an offer.
(4) Your conveyancer will receive the 10 per cent deposit for you after exchange of contracts.
(5) In general a seller is entitled to the deposit if a buyer fails to complete after contracts have been exchanged. There are also other legal remedies available to compensate for failure to complete in certain instances.
(6) In all cases, do try to establish, in advance, the costs involved in the conveyancing. These are generally slightly lower for selling a house than the fees involved in a house purchase.
(7) You will have to make all proper arrangements in advance to pay off your existing mortgage on the property, if any. Your conveyancer will have to obtain the title deeds from the lender in order to have them re-registered in the name of the purchaser.
(8) Although the buyer becomes liable for insuring the property once contracts have been exchanged, you are not advised to cancel your existing policy until completion has actually taken place. You should, however, inform your insurers of the current position. The Association of British Insurers issues helpful leaflets on all aspects of house insurance.
Surfing the Web
A growing number of sellers are deciding to cut out the middleman and sell their property on the Internet. There are many and varied sites, from which you can sell, buy or rent your home, including, for example, www.upmystreet.com; www.easier.co.uk; and many more. Trying to sell without using an estate agent can be full of pitfalls. As in any other area, the D1Y approach will involve extra work and possibly a degree of risk. Prospective buyers will not have been vetted by an estate agent before you see them so be sure to take a telephone number and call them to confirm appointments.
• when you arrange a viewing make sure there is someone else in the house with you
• ask whether the buyer is in a chain or has sold his/her property
• do not exaggerate or mislead when describing the property
• be realistic about the price you want
• retain a good solicitor.