ASK THE AGENT

A. When you decide to instruct an estate agent to sell your home, you are normally presented with a choice between sole and multiple agency agreements.

The popular argument in favour of the latter is that with several agents working on your behalf, rather than just one, your home enjoys correspondingly wider exposure to a greater number of potential buyers. That’s why many people opt to go down the multi route, even though agents generally offer a significant discount on their fees for sole agency.

All of which is rather ironic, when you thing about it, because the only real difference with a multi agreement is that your property keeps cropping up all over the place with different agents. And – human nature being what it is - people may start to wonder if there’s something wrong with it…

However, the real problem with multiple agency is its winner-takes-all ethos. Yes, you as an agent might succeed in securing the sale and earning the commission. But then again, you might equally well wind up with nothing at all to show for your efforts. As a result, there’s not much incentive to invest the necessary time and effort.

The truth of the matter is that sole agency is almost always the best bet. Much better to have one, highly motivated agent on your case than half a dozen who are just going through the motions. And it’s cheaper too!

Particularly appropriate in more rural areas, meanwhile, joint agency agreements are a kind of halfway house between sole and multi, whereby you instruct two or perhaps three agents in different towns. Unlike multiple agency agreements, however, joint agents split the commission between them.

Finally, I can’t resist a quick plug for something called “multi-listing.” Common in places like the USA, the only genuine multi-listing system in the UK is operated by Team – a network of some 300 independent high street agents, all linked by some extremely sophisticated technology which enables them to share all their properties. Team members basically work together on behalf of their clients, with commissions split between the agent who wins the instruction and the agent who secures the sale.

Or, to put it another way, it’s a genuine multiple agency service – for a sole agency fee!