Sellers must beware of estate agency fees

Paperwork should be carefully examined to avoid paying double fees and legal costs if a 'Sole Agency' has been granted.

Following a Court of Appeal decision yesterday (Nicholas Prestige Homes v Sally Neal) an agent who proved themselves to have a "Sole Agency" at the time the homeowner sold her property through another firm, successfully obtained their fee by 'damages' by proving that they 'would have earned a fee if they had sold the property' even though they did not actually make the sale.

Trevor Kent a former president of The National Association of Estate Agents and property commentator said " Sole Agency means just what it says - a firm so instructed is due their fee even if another firm sells and claims a fee. Sellers should be very careful to consider the terms of the contract with their existing agent when contemplating 'widening the field' to bring other firms on board."

He continued that "By all means use more than one agent to market a home - a greater selection of buyers and an element of inter-agent competition can often speed a sale and sometimes even increase the sale price, but make sure that no agent believes they are the 'sole agent' when others are offering the home too. The phrase to look out for is 'Multiple Agent' to avoid falling into the double fee trap".

Nicholas Prestige Homes successfully sued Sally Neal for breach of contract of their sole agency agreement and the three appeal judges awarded the agents £10,883 despite Sally Neal having already paid the other agents a similar amount for the sale.