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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 4312
Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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My mother is trying to sell the family home mas she is

Customer Question

Hi, my mother is trying to sell the family home mas she is desperate need of money and needs to retire (she's 67) as she is very tired. My father dies many years ago and she is on her own in this large property looking after my brother as his carer. The property has been put on the market for £875,000.
An Estate agent called Mayhews has get her to sign a contract on 8/6/15 which states that they are acting as a "Sole Agency" with an Initial period of 18 weeks from the date of the agreement which we feel is too long as they are not sending any prospective buyers round. I have only just found out that she signed the agreement. In the T&Cs it states that she now cannot get out of the agreement without paying their commission. What can she do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
If your mother was not aware that she was entering into a sole agency agreement, she may seek to set aside the contract on the ground of mistake.
If she was aware, she may challenge them about the fact that no potential buyers have come round to view the property and that she will seek to terminate their contract on grounds of breach of contract by them not supplying the service contracted for.
Furthermore, there is nothing stopping you marketing the property on your mother's behalf as sole agency does not mean exclusive.
The other option is to speak to the agency about the concerns and the need for selling the property urgently, they may understand and allow your mother to appoint other agents.
Do you have further questions?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello, thank you for your speedy response. I will be paying for your advice...I just need to ask a few more questions if you don't mind.

After discussing the matter further with my mother she has stated that:

1) They did not tell her anything about it being a sole agency agreement nor that the initial term would be as long as 18 weeks (other agents have since said that this is a very long time and that 6 weeks would have been more regular). However, she did see this on the 1 page contract without really understanding what this meant.

2) there have actually been 3 viewings in total. However, one of these made an offer of £815,000 which the agent chose not to inform her about as "they thought she would not accept it as it was too low". I believe this may be breach of contract?

3) The T&Cs on the back of the 1 page contract seems to imply that sole agency means exclusive.

They state the following:

"Sole Agency

You will be liable to pay commission to Us in addition to any other costs or charges agreed, if at any time unconditional contracts for the sale of The Property are exchanged:-

- with a purchaser introduced by Us during the period of our Sole Agency or with whom Mayhew Estates has negotiations about the property during that period and/or;

- with a purchaser introduced by another agent or by a developer or property website/portal other than Mayhew Estates own during that period. In the event of the property being sold privately during the sole agency period the vendor hereby agrees to pay Mayhew their fees. You hereby confirm that you are not advertising the property privately and that no one is currently interested in your property or in negotiations to buy the property privately.

Where a Sole Agency is agreed it shall last for the initial period stated on the agreement overleaf. The period commences from the date of signing this agreement, is suspended as soon as solicitors are instructed on a sale and restarts in the event of the sale collapsing.

The sole agency will continue after this period unless terminated by either party giving not less than 21 days written notice.

At the expiry of the initial period Mayhew Estates will continue to act on a Sole Agency basis until you give us written notice converting this agreement to a Multiple Agency or the agreement is terminated by You giving 21 days written notice.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,
I would respond as follows:
1) they should have pointed out to your mother that it was an exclusive agency agreement for 18 weeks, this is a fundamental condition of the agreement; your mother may argue now that she is not bound by the contract as she had no intention of entering into an exclusive agreement with them and even that for such a long duration. She should say it is unreasonable and therefore not binding on her.
2) yes, they should have informed her about the offer and let your mother make her mind up whether to accept or decline the offer. It may be a breach of their duty under the contract.
3) Yes, it appears to be an exclusive agreement.
If the agency refuses to co operate or let your mother out of the contract, she may go ahead and appoint another agent and take the risk of Mayhew taking her to court and proving that their contract is indeed binding on your mother.
In my opinion, unlikely that a court will hold her to the contract if she had no intention of being tied up with them for so long?
Good luck. Please take a second to leave feedback