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Is it time to serve notice on your estate agent?

As we start to come out of lockdown, is it time to serve notice on your estate agent?

Changing your mind about how to sell your house or flat is something that can happen, for example if you decide to switch from working with an estate agent to selling your house to a home buying specialist. There’s nothing that binds you to having to stay with an estate agent even after listing your home with them, but there are some important steps you will have to take.

The most crucial thing you’ll have to do is to serve notice on your estate agent – this is a formal description for telling them you no longer want them to list and market your property. This is because your alternative choice for selling will likely want to be exclusive. For example, an auctioneer will not want to list your house and seek bids on it if there’s the chance that the listing might still sell via an estate agent, because it’s a waste of time and resources for them.

Similarly, if you decide to take the route that many homeowners have of working directly with a reputable property buying company like LDN Properties, they’re going to want to know the sale can proceed without any risk of the home still being sold by an estate agent during your negotiations.

What is notice for my estate agent and how is it served?

When you first contact an estate to list your house on the property market you are giving them what’s known as an instruction to sell. When you serve notice, you’re de-instructing them because you no longer want to use their services to sell your home.

You might face some push-back from your estate agent because they obviously want to find a buyer and make commission from selling your house. Some estate agents might even try to convince you that they’ve found a buyer for your property. But as with all estate agent deals, there’s no certainty of sale until the formal exchange of contracts between the buyer and seller.

Review the contract that you signed with your estate agent when instructing them to know whether you’ll have to pay any fees, or if there’s a minimum notice period that you must follow. Some estate agent contracts will require that you give a few weeks’ notice before they will end the instruction to sell, so be aware of any such restrictions before you serve them.

You don’t have to tell your estate agent why you are serving notice, just tell them that you want them to remove all listings of your property and that you don’t want to use them anymore. It’s important to get confirmation either by email or writing that they have agreed to end the agreement for them to sell, because this gives you legal certainty of that fact.

Once I’ve served notice to my estate agent, how can I sell my home?

There are a few alternatives to selling your home after you’ve served notice to your estate agent, with different benefits depending on your individual circumstances.

One choice is to proceed with an auction, which can be an attractive option if you need certainty on the date that your house will sell. Once the auctioneer schedules the auction date, that’s when you know it will get a buyer (if indeed your reserve price is set at a suitable level). Working with an auctioneer also means they will take care of all the hard work of listing the property and generating interest in it.

Auctioneers will typically convince homeowners to set a minimum reserve bid at a lower price than they’re truly comfortable with as a final sale price, and they do this with the hope that the low price will generate a lot of interest. If it does, this can be a good financial outcome because competitive bidding will drive the final sale price up. However, there’s always the chance that you only get a bid for the reserve price and have to settle for selling at a potential loss. Plus, you’ll have to pay the auctioneer fees for handling the entire process. For these reasons, selling at auction isn’t the best choice if financial certainty is most important for you.

Another option is to work with a property buying company. An example of this type of business is LDN Properties, which has bought houses and flats across London for more than 20 years. They work directly with homeowners providing quick and competitive offers to buy without any fees. Not only does this guarantee you a speedy sale, but financially it can also be the best choice because you get to keep all the proceeds of sale.

Everyone has different needs when selling their house or flat, so take time to consider which option will work best for you after you decide to serve notice on your estate agent.

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