Managing Director of Kay & Co, central London estate agency
Q. I have signed an eight week sole agency but have had a big falling out with my agent to the point that I do not want them even coming to my house. Is there any way I can get out of this?
A. The answer to this really depends on what your agreement says. The purpose of a sole agency is to prohibit any agent, other than the appointed one, to sell the property without the liability on the seller to pay two fees. You can certainly ask your agent if you can break it early but given they have probably invested money in photographs, floor plans and advertising it is quite likely they will say no.
If things have broken down irrevocably then all you can do is withdraw the property from the market until the date at which their sole agency would have ended and then relist with another agent. You will have to read the contract carefully so you are mindful of any early termination charges and be aware that if a buyer introduced by the first agent goes on to buy the property, you will be liable for two fees. It is probably worth getting a list of names of all the people who have viewed your property from the first agent so you are clear when and if they may be due a fee. I would then ask for your second agent or agents to give you names in advance so you can cross-reference them.
Q. My tenant wants to buy my rental flat, how do I find out if they are offering me the right amount of money?
A. In my experience tenants will almost always end up offering less than what the property they are living in is worth. I would suggest that you take a morning or afternoon out and ask for three good local agents to come round and value your property and to give you their “realistic” opinion as to what you are likely to “achieve”. Doubtless the tenant will have carried out a similar exercise so don’t be surprised if one or more of the agent have already seen the property. All you then need to do is to calculate whether you are likely to be better off putting the property on the market with an agent to sell or sell it to your tenant. In my experience the chances are that the agent will more than make up the fee you will save by selling your flat privately, and in this market the only way to know that you are definitely getting the best possible price is to put the property on the open market to ensure it gets as much exposure as possible.