Serving Notice to Your Estate Agent

If you decide to sell your property at auction, the auction company will usually require exclusivity (sole agency). So if your property is listed with an estate agent you will need to de-instruct them. This can be easier said than done!

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Serving notice to your estate agent – a guide for property owners.  Making the decision to sell your property at auction requires a firm commitment; on auction day your property will be legally sold, there’s no backing out for the buyer nor the seller. This is your chance to sell, and you can only sell once, so it’s important to follow the auctioneers instructions to be sure of achieving the best result.

To make the auction marketing as effective as possible the auctioneer will require exclusivity to sell your property, so at some stage (usually before signing the auctioneers terms of business) you will need to serve notice to your estate agent and ask them to remove any listings from portals e.g. Rightmove and Zoopla. Otherwise there can be a conflict in the marketing; prospective buyers might contact the estate agent instead of the auction company. To achieve the best result all enquiries should be directed to the auction company.

Serving notice to your estate agent can be easier said than done. Most estate agents put up a very strong resistance; promising to find you a cash buyer within a week, asking you to give them one last chance, or telling you there has been a flurry of interest in your property. They are usually very convincing, but best taken with a pinch of salt!

And even if the estate agent has found a buyer, the sale can still fall through at any time, wasting more time and running the risk of you missing the auction deadline.

When the time comes to serve notice to your estate agent we always recommend checking the contract you signed with them to see if there is a notice period or cancellation fees. When you’re ready to serve notice, in most cases it can be a good idea to do so without giving a particular reason. Otherwise you run the risk of being presented with false information from your estate agent as they attempt to retain their instruction e.g. “we have a cash buyer ready to exchange next week.”

TIP: A straightforward way to service notice to your estate agent is to thank them for their efforts, confirming you no longer wish to use their services and ask them to remove any marketing listings from their website, Rightmove and Zoopla etc. Also ask them to confirm (in writing / by email) safe receipt of your instruction to terminate the agreement.

Notice period and marketing overlap

Some estate agency agreements include a notice period. The notice period might be in addition to the fixed term. For example you might have signed up to a 12 week term and even if those 12 weeks have now been completed there might be a 3 week notice period. If you’ve planned ahead you might have served notice to your estate agent on the day you instructed them, so you don’t have to see out the 3 week notice period. But if you need to serve notice and wait for the 3 week notice period to expire, make sure your estate agent doesn’t reduce the asking price for your property.

Some estate agents will try reducing asking prices in a last ditch effort to generate interest in your property. Whilst that can be effective, if you have made the decision to sell at auction it’s important to keep the estate agents asking price high, so if there is any overlap in the marketing prospective auction buyers will see the higher value, rather than a lower value.

On that that note – the auction guide price will be set low to generate the maximum level of interest in the property. More interest will result in more bidders on auction day, driving the price upwards through competitive bidding. The direction of negotiation with an estate agency sale is almost always downwards, but the direction of negotiation with an auction sale is only ever upwards.

Looking to sell your house or flat? Request a free auction sale estimate and or call our team on 0800 862 0206 to talk about the best options for you. 

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“One real advantage of selling at auction is the competitive effect of having multiple bidders fighting it out for your property, bidding up the price within the space of a few minutes.“
Property Ombudsman Member