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Changing Estate Agents

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If your house isn’t selling or you feel you’re not getting a good service from your agent and you’ve exhausted any potential of getting things back on track, you might be considering changing estate agents.

But how easy is changing estate agents really? And is it something you should do? Here, we look at what’s involved when you do decide to change from one estate agent to another during the sale process.

Why might I want to change estate agents?

The most cited is poor communication. It’s genuinely frustrating not knowing certain details about your sale. Unsurprisingly poor communication can even lead to a property sale falling through. In today’s world, many find poor communication unacceptable.

Other reasons might be limited property viewings, marketing efforts centred on portals alone, or slow negotiations that delay accepting an offer. A failure to achieve promised sales prices. Or even drum up any interest is a classic case of overpromising and underdelivering.

With negative feelings and rising stress levels around major financial transactions, some sellers decide the time is right to explore alternative options.

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Can I change my estate agent?

If you’re really unhappy with the service of your agent, there’s good news. Changing estate agents is possible, but there are some factors you’ll need to consider. Before choosing to take your business elsewhere.

Review the fine print of the agreement you signed with the original estate agent to clarify important details like minimum tie-in periods. Some estate agents also request exclusivity as sole agents. This can last for a specific period, usually 4 to 12 weeks. If you terminate your estate agent contract before this time frame, there may be no charge with some agents – but not all.

Other agents’ agreements contain strict fixed terms and charge high estate agent fees should you wish to exit the agreement early. This is why it’s important to check the terms and conditions before you choose an estate agent to sell your home.

What to consider before changing estate agents

Your first instinct may be to sever ties immediately. But before abandoning ship, take note of a few important aspects that can help you make the switch with minimal fuss.

Understanding the estate agent contract

Start by checking if you’ve signed a fixed-fee agent contract. Again, exiting your agreement early could trigger exit fees, so understand the implications before taking action.

Note, that if you signed a sole agency agreement, you are bound to this agent for a set period. Breaching this by changing estate agent could mean owing a commission regardless of who finds the buyer!

Most agents also have exclusivity agreements, requiring sellers to remain for 1 to 3 months. Check your notice periods, as this could still allow you to switch agents without waiting out the entire period.

Review all the contract fine print

Take time to thoroughly read through the entire estate agent agreement. Look for:

  • Termination policies
  • Notice periods
  • Fee clauses
  • Any areas dictating your rights and responsibilities around exiting the contract.

Confusing contract jargon is commonplace. So, consider having a professional to review it to make sure you fully grasp your position before attempting to switch agents.

Navigating transactions usually involves complicated contracts. If there’s any confusion around your obligations or abilities to change agents, speak to a legal professional who can provide guidance.

Same buyer via two agents

If a buyer was originally introduced by your first estate agent but makes an offer via your new agent, then you could be in a position where both estate agents could claim the fee (check your contract).

While avoidable in most cases, paying double commission is a potential risk when changing your estate agents. Agents can split commissions if this is the case but there’s no guarantee.

Industry precedent has shown to side against automatically granting commission to whoever held the listing first. If they did not directly influence the sale. There was a case in 2008 between Foxtons and Hamptons where it was decided that estate agents need to show they put in significant effort and were the main reason for a property’s sale to be entitled to claim a fee.

In most cases, changing agents happens without major commission complications if handled carefully.

Choosing a new estate agent

Choosing an estate agent is a hugely important decision when selling your home. But sifting through local options to spot strong candidates can be time-consuming. Especially if you’ve done it once and it didn’t work out.

Some handy tips include:

  • Focusing on reputation through estate agent reviews and local recommendations.
  • Analysing portfolios and marketing strategies for evidence of prompt sales at strong prices compared to local averages.
  • Being aware of rogue estate agents who use pushy sales tactics to get you to sign contracts quickly. Rather than taking time to assess whether they are the right fit to meet your needs.
  • Look for a regulated and qualified estate agent – a Propertymark member agent is a signifier of quality. Propertymark agents undergo continual training on best practices. They also sit exams to demonstrate up-to-date expertise and pledge to follow a comprehensive Code of Practice above what the current law demands.

The Propertymark code binds member agents to prioritise consumer interests, including offering client money protection insurance.

Choosing such a thoroughly vetted property professional means you’re more likely to receive skilled marketing, accurate property valuations, strong negotiators, and legally compliant transparent service.

It signifies credibility and commitment to smooth transactions plus compensation options – giving invaluable peace of mind.

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Last Updated: January 26th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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