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Which Agent? Agency Terms

Before inviting agents to value, search the internet for companies who are already dealing with property similar to your own. Judge them according to which give you the greatest  confidence in their professionalism and market knowledge, not according to which say the highest price.
 
Ask about the following
As with other things in your life, you get what you pay for. Budget agents charge a very low commission, but are unlikely to spend much on marketing your home. In fact, in common with dearer agents, they still have fixed overheads (staff/premises etc) so the only thing they can cut back on to enable them to charge less, is advertising and marketing. Given that this is a major function of estate agency, there would appear to be little point in using a budget agent unless you are happy to sell for less than your optimum price. If you want the best price for your home, then it is necessary to ensure that it is presented to the widest possible market. A good agent will earn for you the difference in the fee, plus a great deal more. In other words, you could save a half percent on an agent’s fee but lose thousands through poor marketing!

Where do they advertise?
Do they use the Internet? The Internet is becoming increasingly important to the successful marketing of property. Choosing an agent who uses this medium will enable you to reach a wider market and in turn this will increase your chances of success.
Newspapers, Magazines, do they advertise in colour, or black & white? If your home has a fantastic interior, will they use that in their advertisement? Remember that strategic marketing is likely to attract the attention of the person who will pay the highest price. Strategic Marketing could hugely influence the final price that you achieve for your home!

Agency Terms
"Ready, willing and able" means that if an agent finds a buyer who is ready, willing and able to buy, then if you later withdraw for any reason you may be liable to pay the agent commission regardless of the fact that the sale never completed.
 
Minimum term
If instructing sole agents – look for the minimum term. Many vendors sign up for several months, promising not to instruct an alternative agent within the specified time. If your sole agent fails to perform, you are unable to ask another estate agent to market your property until the agreement expires. Watch out for a clause saying that only by serving a two-week notice AFTER the minimum term has expired may an agreement be terminated.

Sole Selling Rights
By awarding an agent Sole Selling Rights you are saying that even if you end up selling the property to a member of your family, the agent will still handle the sale and will be awarded commission. Generally speaking this arrangement should not be considered.
 
Sole Agency
Sole Agency means that you appoint only one agent to market your property. This should give the agent confidence to spend more on advertising and promoting your home. However, check how the agent will go about marketing. Keep the term of the sole agency short – no more than 8 weeks – so that you can terminate the contract if they fail to perform. Commission rates are usually lower for Sole Agency than for the other agency types.
 
Joint-Sole Agency
You appoint two agents who co-operate with one another. Both agents share commission, usually with the lion’s share going to the agent that actually sells the property. Commission rates are usually a little higher for Joint Sole Agency than they are for Sole Agency.

Multiple Agency
You appoint any number of agents who act for you on a “winner-takes-all” basis. Commission Rates are usually the highest that might be charged.

Limited Multiple Agency
You appoint just two agents who act for you on a “winner-takes-all” basis. Not to be confused with a Joint Sole Agency, although many agents themselves do not understand the distinction!  Commission rates are usually higher than for Joint Sole Agency, but lower than for Multiple Agency.