>If I switch agents do I have to pay two fees?

Ask The Experts

Q.         If I switch agents, can the first one still claim a fee if my home is sold by the new agent to a buyer he originally introduced?

A.         A very interesting question! In fact, this whole issue is a bit of a grey area.

Until a few years ago, most agents included a ‘ready, willing and able’ clause in their contracts, which basically stated that they were entitled to their fee, even if the actual sale of a home was handled by another agent, if the buyer was originally introduced to the property by them. Naturally though, the new agent would also expect a fee.

Then, in 2008 in a landmark case, the Appeal Court found against a well-known London estate agency, which had tried to sue a seller for its commission on the grounds that it had originally introduced their buyer. The judgement however said that it was no longer enough to purely introduce a buyer to a property. The buyer had to be ‘introduced to the sale’.

However, many agents still claim the right to go after their fee on the strength of having originally introduced the buyer. And in certain circumstances, it is perfectly understandable – for instance, in the case of buyers and sellers, once introduced to each other, trying to do private deals without involving the agent.

Normally, of course, an agent’s approach to this whole issue should be clearly set out in the sales agreement that vendors are required to sign. Some, for example, state that a fee will be payable if a property is sold to a buyer they originally introduced, within a given time of that contract expiring.

Some, often the independent agencies, will have existing relationships with others in their area so if such a situation should arise, there will be a general agreement in place, for example, to split the fee 50:50, and will they sort it out between themselves.

Ultimately, the most important things for sellers is to ensure that they choose an agent they can trust - and make sure they read any contract carefully before signing!  Many of our clients have taken advantage of our FREE simply switch service and part of this is to examine any existing contract to help protect you against any potential problems, so far ther have been none, so this should help you feel confident about switching to Orchards Estates.