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Things to look for in the Estate Agent’s Contract – don’t get caught out.

Any contract can seem complex and lengthy; most people (believe it or not!) do not fully understand what they are signing up to.

Below are the main points to watch out for when signing up with an estate agent.

1.The Cost

Does your agent charge VAT? Be mindful if there is just a percentage or fixed fee mentioned. Ask the agent if they are VAT registered. If they are you, will be looking to add 20% to whatever price has been quoted.

Work out the total cost in advance. As a seller, the last think you want is a shock of a bill once you are preparing to complete!.

2.Tie-in periods

All agents will have a contract length, regardless as to whether they are traditional high street or corporate. However, should your chosen agent not be performing as well as you would like, and you wish to change, you will be bound by length of time you initially signed up to.

Most agency agreements last between 8 – 12 weeks, however we have come across some as long as 20! It does beg the question if the agent thinks they need 20 weeks to sell your property, why? and are they the right one for you?

Along with the length of the agreement, be careful of the notice period should you wish to dis-instruct them or instruct another agent to work alongside your current agent. In our experience this is normally 14 days written notice, however we have seen some notice periods of 4 weeks!

Make sure your contract gives you the flexibility to terminate without incurring a penalty, and go elsewhere if you’re unhappy with your agent with reasonable notice.

3. Hidden or additional fees

Check the contract for extra fees, such as additional marketing costs or penalties for ending the contract early. Any good agent will be flexible with their terms and you are within your rights for these to be removed if you don’t like them.

Make sure you are clear of any additional costs. How much is professional photography? Does my property require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

4. Type of contract

There are different types of contracts and each has its pros and cons, make sure you know what they are, and choose carefully:

Sole agency – If the contract gives the agent “sole selling rights” then think carefully before signing. The estate agent in the contract is the only one allowed to sell your home during the length of the contract. You will still have to serve them the agreed notice period should you wish to instruct another agent.

Multi agency – You can use as many agents as you like and only pay commission to the one who sells your property. Agents will argue that the more agents your property is with the higher your chances of securing a buyer, that’s a whole other conversation! but you will normally pay higher fees to sign multi agency. Using this approach depends on what type of property you have, and the state of the market and your situation.


  • Make sure you review any estate agents contract carefully before signing, be mindful of the following:
  • Review all commission rates
  • Be sure it is clear whether or not VAT is included in the fee
  • Review the type of contract
  • Ensure there are no additional charges
  • Review the length of the tie-in period and the written notice period

Dack Residential Sales are transparent with our costs and Terms of Business. We have had too many clients come to us from other agents who have had unfavourable terms imposed on them. We focus on being clear with you from the very beginning and have a strong emphasis on long term customer relationships. Should you wish to arrange a valuation for your property, please get in contact.

Even if you are with another estate agent and would like a second opinion on your current contract, pop into the office for a confidential chat.

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