What is the Sole Agency Period?

Two people signing a contract at a table

Unless you are a lawyer (that likes their job), most people don’t like to read through contracts – Pretty much anything else you can think of is a far better use of time.

However, considering how important an event selling your home is, understanding exactly what is included in your estate agent’s terms and conditions is vital to ensure that you don’t get any (potentially expensive) surprises down the line!

What is a sole agency period?

The sole agency period, also known as a tie in period, contractually obliges you to continue using an estate agent, even if you are dissatisfied with their service and are looking to change.

Most estate agents will include a sole agency period in their contract, this is often for 8-16 weeks, with some agents trying to tie you down for even longer. This sole agency period is normally fairly justified, as it protects the initial investment put in by the agents marketing your property – photography, listings, brochures, guided viewings, etc. and good agents will be able to get your property sold within that sole agency period.

The sole agency period trap

I mentioned that some agents try to tie you down for even longer than 16 weeks. This is where it is important to consider everything the agent’s say, would you trust an agent that requires 20-24 weeks to sell your property, when everyone else says they can do it in 16?

Let’s take a look at a potential scenario, Mr and Mrs Smith are looking to sell, they get a few agents around to value their property and get a variety of opinions (a great idea). But after mentioning this to agent A, the temptation for them is to offer an inflated valuation in order to secure the contract – knowing they will be protected by the longer tie in period. Agent A may even say they have buyers waiting for a house like this, and that it will sell as soon as the sign goes up.

Fast forward 14 weeks and after no viewings and little interest, Mr and Mrs Smith are unable to change agents due to the long tie period (and potential withdrawal fees) – their only option is to lower their asking price to what the other agents initially suggested.

Like with most things in life, if things look a bit too good to be true…

Let’s just say there is probably reason estate agents never score too highly in the trust rankings.

How to avoid the sole agency 'tie in trap’

There are a few ways to avoid being caught in a long tie in period with an agent you don’t like.

  • Ask the estate agent to justify their valuation, every agent worth their salt should be able to provide data on comparable properties in the area achieving similar prices.
  • Make sure you are using an agent you can trust, ask them about their process, who your point of contact will be throughout the sales process, check their reviews online.
  • Check the contract closely, is the sole agency period industry standard? Are there any withdrawal fees? Depending on the estate agent, you may be able to negotiate these terms – at the end of the day, we all want your business!

If you are looking for an honest estate agent that is truly accountable to you, then look no further than The Agent. We have no notice period, no withdrawal fees, no long tie ins, and no inflated valuations – we don’t concentrate on getting your business, we focus on getting you moved! If you don’t believe me, just check out our reviews.

If you are looking to sell, or just want to discuss your property in Spalding, contact me today.

Bernard Snowden
Bernard Snowden

Bernard Snowden is The Agent for Spalding and South Holland. He believes in honesty and accountability in estate agency and with 25 years' experience, he will be on hand to support you from start to finish.

2022 British Property Awards Gold Winner for Lincoln, Banner
2023 British Property Awards Gold Winner for Lincoln, Banner