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Vendor pulling out of sale - estate agent wants full fee

27 replies

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 11:24

I was selling my house. We accepted an offer at the beginning of September, 10k under asking price, on condition that the sale went through quickly....Some weeks later the buyer is haggling on the price (on basis of minor repairs needed) and as time has gone on we've decided that we don't won't to sell because our planned relocation isn't working out. Our agent is now invoking a clause in the contract which says they get their fee if they find a purchaser who is "ready, willing and able" to buy at a price agreed by us. Anyone have similar experience?

OP posts:
RustyBear · 15/11/2007 11:29

I would have thought that if they won't agree to your price they are neither 'ready' nor 'willing' to buy at a price agreed by you.

chopchopbusybusy · 15/11/2007 11:29

I don't have a similar experience, but are they really ready, willing and able to move if they are haggling over a price reduction at this stage?

Bundle · 15/11/2007 11:31

if they're haggling they're certainly not willing

RubySlippers · 15/11/2007 11:34

if you have knocked £10k off the asking price already and they are quibbling they aren't ready, willing and able though are they

Blu · 15/11/2007 11:38

If the buyers now stop haggling and agree to pay the offer price you will probably be on a sticky wicket, though.

Obviously play down the fact that you are e-considering. Have the EAs picked this up?

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 12:03

I have told the estate agents that the delay and the quibbling over the price has given us time to reconsider and we now wish to stay for personal reasons.
I have trawled the web and it seems that the contract may be unenforceable because they haven't defined "ready, willing and able" and used a particular form of words that occur in a statute that covers this.
Anyone selling should check their contracts and make sure this clause isn't there. "Which" and the Consumers Association, and the Office of Fair Trading are trying to get it outlawed. We obviously picked a rogue agent (local and small - this clause doesn't appear in the draft contract I have from another agent).
H xx

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Blu · 15/11/2007 12:18

Well, local and small wouldn't ncessarily mean dodgy, and having been at the mercy of sales pitches and selling thorugh some of the big chains, I would find them muich more shark-like and dishonourable, tbh. And far more likely to be able to writie off the effect of marketing someone's house - with cost of publicity, showing people round etc - and then to make nothing from it.

Look at it from thier pov...can you play down the 'personal reasons' stuff? How serious is the haggling, how much to they want to reduce by? Say it's because the price they now want to pay makes it impossible for you to proceed, whatever your personal re-considerations.

How much is the commission?

lalalonglegs · 15/11/2007 12:25

The "ready, willing, able" clause is very dodgy but I know of one large estate agency that did have it enforced but that was when the sellers simply changed their mind. I would place the blame firmly on your (non) buyers - that the haggling means that they are not rwa and take the house off the market with this estate agency immediately. TBH, even if you have to give them two months' notice or whatever, you're unlikely to find new buyers before Xmas anyway so not much lost.

Most estate agencies only expect commission on exchange of contracts and, for other people considering selling, it's worth looking for when choosing an agent.

Freckle · 15/11/2007 12:28

Well, the personal reasons could be that you can't now afford what you wanted to buy because the purchasers have reduced their offer.

littleboo · 15/11/2007 12:35

I hate estate agents - last year we had a buyer for our house, went on and on , dropped the price by 2000, ( having already lowered price with agent, then after her survey came back just before xmas came back and said she wanted another 10,000 off!!!!! we said no ( we'd held on 7 months for this woman) then we put it back on market after xmas, finally traded it in for a new build ( but a long story - estate agent demanded fees from both sales even though first one had fallen through. Finally came to a compromise as couldn't stand the idea of going to court.... now in new house, but do not ever want to do that again.
think most estate agents are unscrupulous!

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 12:59

The personal reasons are why we've taken it off the market but the buyer didn't comply with our initial response to their offer (to pay £165,000 and to complete within 6-8 weeks). We've been asked to drop the price by £500 and to pay for a service to the boiler and an access indemnity policy (£50 and £200 respectively. Last week they asked for an inspection of the electrics too (with no doubt more price reductions in mind). We'd already accepted our lowest price. And been put under pressure by the agent to do so. I have felt like the agent has been working for them. She has not followed our wishes for a quick sale nor has she made them stick to £165k When we started to protest (about the latest request for an electrics inspection) they dug their heels in and said we were being unreasonable and we wouldn't dare pull out at this late stage....

Also, I think the issue is, as I've said before, whether they can make the contract stick because they didn't use the right legal words....

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newgirl · 15/11/2007 13:06

What does your solicitor say?

I think that 750 off 165K is a very small amount of money so i can see that the agent would be annoyed. I would have thought up to 5K off that price would be reasonable really. It all depends on whether you really want to move or not - why not accept things and now take your time looking for somewhere?

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 13:18

The solicitor says I am entitled to change my mind, whatever the reason, and not be charged. She hasn't heard of anyone being charged in our situation.

And I don't want to move!!! I want to return to the city, and to that house, to minimise the disruption on my kids who have just spent a term at a new school. I want us to go home!

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Dixichik · 15/11/2007 13:27

I would very politely tell the estate agent to shove their fees up their backside and tell them to take you to courtif they want the money. It sounds like the contract won't stick because of the wording and they will likely just drop it.

SweetSnowflake · 15/11/2007 13:32

state agents can ONLY cahrge IF theys ell your house.
The buyer isnt really a buyer, they are chopping and changing, the agent HASNT done thier job by doing what you askedhow long have you had house for sale now?, is it out of the initial mandatory term with agent? as they wouldnt have a leg to stand on!)

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 13:37

Dixichik - thankyou. That was the plan! (And a solicitor's letter to boot)
And SweetSnowflake - the house has been for sale since mid May. Their offer came in (about a month after they looked at the house) at the beginning of September. Our contract was for 16 weeks.
I take the point of an earlier poster about what it's cost them BUT you win some you lose some - some sales go through vvquick after no time on the market, don't they.

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lalalonglegs · 15/11/2007 13:45

Honeymum, I write about property and if the estate agents chase you for commission, get in touch with me, I'm sure I could drum up some bad publicity against them for you if you fancy it.

SweetSnowflake · 15/11/2007 13:45

AFAIK, they can only charge ONCE they have sold the house..if the buyer is arsing about then they DONT sell the house, you have reduced already on the price the AGENT told you so sell for, no way can theye xpect you to pay..spek to your conveancy solicitor if you can!

SweetSnowflake · 15/11/2007 13:46

oh and its out of their agreed contract, write and give them notice, you no longer think theya re working in YOUR best interests and are not carrying out their promised job!..Arseholes, hate estate agents, lived in 6(bought) hosues now!, beleive me their all TW*TS!

noonar · 15/11/2007 14:06

ok, its harsh to charge you for the full fee. but could you maybe offer to pay towards the cost of marketing your property?

i agree that most EAs are w*nkers, but it seems a bit harsh that this local firm has gone to expense/ trouble on your behalf, and now have no prospect now of earning any fees.

DaphneHarvey · 15/11/2007 14:24

I work as an Estate Agent and I've never heard of an agent charging commission on a property they haven't sold. That's a really unusual clause in their contract.

I'd take Lalalonglegs up on her offer if your solicitor can't come up with a better suggestion.

If you've changed your mind, you've changed your mind. It doesn't really sound like its the price issue bothering you now anyway.

Most agents have to cover the costs of running an office, paying their staff and marketing the property even when people simply change their minds. It happens surprisingly often.

Good luck!


chopchopbusybusy · 15/11/2007 14:30

I have no sympathy with the estate agent at all. Estate agents are fully aware that they will sell some properties with zero effort and others they won't sell for various reasons.

Dixichick gave good advice. Let them pursue you for the money if they want - they'll probably drop it. Are they members of the Estate Agents Ombudsmen service? If they are and they pursue you for the commission then contact them. I don't think they'll help you (been down that road) but it'll drag it out for months if not years and the estate agent will know this and give up early.

RubyRioja · 15/11/2007 14:31

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Honeymum · 15/11/2007 14:33

Loving Mumsnet!
Thank you Lalalonglegs - I may take you up on that! And thank's Daphne - it's reassuring to know that this is an unusual case. Will keep you all posted on what happens next....

PS Noonar - I take your point but as Daphne says this happens all the time

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DaphneHarvey · 15/11/2007 14:54

Luckily not treated like a traffic warden! Largely because I'm an honourable and decent, smiley, friendly, hard-working middle aged woman! Never had a sleepless night over some underhand practice at any agency I've worked in.

Most of the time I enjoy my job. Lots of highs and lows. No two days the same. I understand the reputation of the business but am secure in my own and integrity and capabilities.

Re. the acting for the buyer thing - its tricky. Of course the agent is acting for the vendor, but sometimes he will have to negotiate on the buyers' behalf ... otherwise the sale will fall through. Which, presumably, is not what the vendor wants.

Its not like buying a loaf of bread. If it was so easy to do, everyone would be selling their houses privately. The internet and other facilities for private sellers have been with us for years now. So I can only conclue that most sellers use an agent because they don't want to do the legwork.

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