Property withdrawals are something most estate agents will come across in their career with sellers deciding that they want to change agents or withdraw their property from the market. When this happens, what should the agent do to protect themselves from a compliance point of view?
According to Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, the first point to check would be the agency agreement to make sure that the notice being given is in accordance with what is stated in the terms of business. “Ideally, the agent should receive the notice to withdraw the property in writing or by email so that there is a documented date that the notice was received. From the date that the notice is received, there would normally be a notice period, whether that is 14 days or whatever the agreed upon number of days would be. Unless otherwise instructed, during the notice period the agent should continue to market the property in accordance with what has been set out in the agreement,” advises Offley.
He notes that when the agent reaches the actual date of withdraw, it is important that the agent confirms the withdrawal in writing or by email to seller, stating that they will no longer be acting on behalf of the seller from that particular date.
“A key element that should be included in the confirmation to the seller is a list of all interested parties that the agent has introduced and therefore would be liable to claim a fee if they go on to purchase the property. This is crucial because if the seller decides to go back onto the market with another agent, and one of those interested parties ends up buying the property, the list will strengthen the original agent’s case for claiming their fee. If the original agent can demonstrate that at the time of withdrawal, they provided a clear indication of the buyers they introduced, this would help them to claim their fee. This also helps prevent the seller from facing a dual fee position,” Offley comments.
He adds that with data protection laws and the disclosure of personal information, the list must not contain the potential buyer’s contact details, but simply their name and the date that they viewed the property, as this should provide sufficient evidence.
“Another thing I would recommend that agents include in the letter to their sellers, is a note advising them that they should provide the list of potential buyers to any other estate agent they instruct in the future. Again, this will help the agent to strengthen their case for claiming their fee, should one of those buyers purchase the home,” says Offley.
This is all about transparency and ensuring the seller is fully aware of what they agreed to when they signed the contract, as well as any financial consequences of withdrawing the property. Helping provide this clarity contributes towards raising standards in our profession,” Offley concludes.