Avoiding Agency commissions? Don’t believe the adverts!
Posted by markharrison on December 14, 2007
I had a flyer through my door this morning, low-quality and poorly produced, and using such choice quotes as
- SAVE £1,000’s ON ESTATE AGENTS FEES
OK, I can’t bring myself to type the rest of this in the CAPITALS that it used, nor am I willing to abuse the innocent apostrophe in the way it did, so I’ll stop complaining about the poor production, and look at what it says.
Basically, the flyer was advertising a website – they would put an “extensive” description of your property on their website, including up to 12 photos, for £99.
All well and good, but they then go on to talk about the Office of Fair Trading, and make the point that you can supposedly avoid paying an estate agency fee if you introduce a buyer directly, even if you have a contract with an estate agency.
I am not a lawyer, but something felt odd about this claim, so I took the advice of some local estate agents on their understanding.
The view they had (and of course, they are estate agents, not lawyers either) was that the OFT guidelines applied to “genuine personal contact sales” only, and did NOT apply if a house was actively marketed through another agency (even a £99 fixed-price one.)
In essence, then:
- If you have signed an agency contract, and then sell the house to your mate at work who you mentioned it to over lunch, this should be fine, and no commission would be payable.
- If you have signed an ageny contract, and then pay to advertise the house directly, you may well find that this does NOT count as a personal introduction, and you are held liable (not just be the agency, but by the courts) for any fees you had agreed to pay them.
The other point I ought to make though, is that Home Information Packs apply to any marketing of property, even an A4 leaflet in your own window – if you are using one of these sites, you MUST get a HIP. The flyer certainly didn’t mention that.Now, I’m not saying that Estate Agents are, in all cases the best way to sell a house (and certainly not always the best way to buy), nor am I saying that the UK Estate Agency business isn’t going to get further shaken up over the next few years as companies like Tesco move into this fixed-price-house-for-sale-adverts space.
However, I am absolutely clear that you should never take legal guidance from a sales leaflet… nor for that matter, should you take it from me 🙂
I’m not a lawyer . I would strongly caution that you take direct legal advice specific to your situation.