Of the 30,000 properties listed for sale in the UK each week, the vast majority will be on a sole agency basis.

This means that you elect to use just one agent to the exclusion of all others.

Property firms love this tie in. Because it means that you can’t go anywhere else if (when?) that particular agent turns out to be useless/too expensive/incompetent/irritating.

In general you will sign an agreement for 12 weeks. Maybe longer. And the big corporate firms like Countrywide Assured PLC, owners of Bairstow Eves, Abbotts, John D Wood, Mann & Co etc, will try to get away with as many as 16. These contracts are pretty watertight. They dictate that no other agent is permitted to introduce a purchaser during the sole agency period or, indeed, for the 14 days thereafter that they will often incorporate within the terms as an exit period. It sort of adds insult to injury.

In return for signing four months of your life away to someone full of promises that you have only met once, will be a ‘discounted’ selling fee. In the old days, estate agency fees were about 3% of sale price. But as the property market has grown, prices risen and High Street squeezed full of property shops, fees have come down a bit in reality, thanks to that ‘sole agency discount’. In other words you pay an average of £4000.00 for the agent to take a few photos, as opposed to £8000.00 but on the basis that the £4000 ‘reduction’ is in exchange for you putting up with potential inaction and crass annoyance for the next one third of a year. If you defy them by instructing another agent too though, they will penalise you by levying a DOUBLE fee, enforceable in court.

If we’re not making sole agency sound attractive, it’s because it’s not. It is restrictive and anti-competitive and allows estate agents to treat you however the hell they like without fear of losing your business.

Can you imagine a restaurant ignoring you when you try to order, eventually serving awful food and refusing to apologise but making you contractually obligated to stay put ensuring that you were not allowed to go to an alternative place to eat for several days. And then producing a bill which, despite a ‘gesture’ offered, still makes you wince?

That, my friends, is sole agency.

Sole agency is heavily stacked in the estate agent’s favour. It’s surprising that the Office of Fair Trading haven’t investigated the practice and banned it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t refuse to go along with it.

eMoov do not operate any sole agency contracts, or tie ins. And whereas High Street agency agreements will fine you £thousands for using an additional or alternative agent at the same time as them, we rather welcome the competition. Survival of the fittest you see.

So, instruct eMoov.co.uk to sell your home AND a conventional estate agent as well (just tell them you won’t sign a prohibitive sole agency agreement). With the coverage that we provide you are far more likely to sell via eMoov than a High Street firm that is closed half the time and that advertises sparsely on a website here and there.

And you’ll save a packet. No catch.

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