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Legal Matters - Apr/May 2022

Selling immovable property through estate agents

Selling immovable property through estate agents

Estate agents are given a mandate to sell when they are asked by a seller to sell a particular property and they accept the instruction. In law a mandate need not be in writing but can be given orally.

A seller is never forced to give an estate agent a sole mandate. The decision whether to give a sole or open mandate to an agent is important as it can affect the way the property is marketed. Both sole and open mandates have advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully explained by the estate agent. They believe that a sole mandate will deliver a more dedicated marketing service in terms of time, money and effort spent in promoting a sale.

Giving a mandate to more than one agent

Unless sellers have given an estate agency a written sole mandate to sell their property, they may ask many agents to market the property. Sellers should inform every agent appointed by them that they have also asked other agents to sell the property.

Sellers who ask more than one agency to sell their property risk a claim for payment of more than one commission. This may happen when the seller sells the property through one of the appointed agents to a purchaser previously introduced to the property by another agent also appointed by the seller.

Important matters to discuss with your estate agent

  • The selling price and deposit required: An agent can provide valuable help in setting a realistic, market-related selling price of the property.
  • Agent’s commission: The amount of the commission and when it will become payable, must be agreed on. Agents base their commission on a set percentage of the selling price of the property. No commission tariff is prescribed for estate agents, therefore sellers and agents negotiate the commission.
  • Defects: Defects in the property must be disclosed to the agent to avoid later disputes.
  • Movable items to be included as part of the property: This could be built-in wall units, TV aerials, swimming pool equipment.
  • Occupation: The date on which the purchaser may move into the property must be agreed on.
  • When the property may be viewed: Agree on the times when the agent may bring possible buyers to view the property and whether appointments should be made.
  • Length of mandate: When, if at all, the mandate may be cancelled.
  • Necessary consents: For example, consent of husband/wife may have to be obtained before property can be sold.
  • Suspensive conditions: In most cases, a sale can only proceed once the purchasers obtain a bank loan to secure the purchase price, or the purchasers must sell their own property first.
  • Conveyancer: The name of the conveyancer/attorney to attend to the transfer must be stated in the sale agreement. Sellers have the right to appoint the conveyancer of their choice.

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