Sole agency agreements a two-way street

Sole agency agreements sometimes cause confusion among sellers about the requirements of the salesperson.

This confusion often leads to a question being asked about how a seller can get out of a sole agency agreement.

All real estate agents must act in the best interests of their sellers, so the question ideally should never have to be asked.

Owners often feel cornered when an agent “ties” a seller up in a sole agency agreement and then does not perform to expectations.

Sometimes such dissatisfaction is due to the combination of unrealistic expectations and a downturn in the marketplace. The problem is certainly less evident in a buoyant market.

However there are many instances where the complaint is valid. No communication, no feedback, poor handling of the marketing or simply no contact or enthusiasm from the lister.

Service is defined as the act of serving, helping or assisting. Many people forget the true benefits of good service. So where does that leave the sole agency agreement?

The REIQ for instance believes that the sole or exclusive agency (of which auction is one) is best for the seller for several reasons and therefore sees this style of listing as essential to good agency practice. There are obvious benefits to the owner.

One owner, one key, one person to handle marketing and any subsequent contract negotiations. There is an undoubted two-way commitment under such agreements.

What is good for the seller is, without question, good for the agency. The great sellers, the true professionals, already know this to be true.

If a salesperson over services the seller, everything else will happen. The seller’s confidence will be gained, which is absolutely critical at the time of contract negotiation; the listing will probably be held beyond the original agreement period; the property will probably be sold; and further flow-on business will doubtless result.

If an agency principal or their representative at any time considers they are not servicing an owner then it is time to evaluate the situation.

Many agencies have as a policy that they will not release a seller from a sole agency agreement under any circumstances.

Releasing a seller from a sole agency agreement is not always an open and shut case. However there appears to be no sound reason why clinging to a listing out of frustration could be beneficial.

A sole agency contract is still a legally binding contractual agreement and it is therefore in your own interests as a seller to make sure you know your rights and fully understand the terms of a contract.

Prepared in conjunction with the Real Estate Institute of Queensland.