Main image upload

October 2015

Question

My house has been on the market since April. At the start there were quite a few viewings but that has slowed to a trickle. On the advice of the agent (they were very persistent about this) we dropped the price by 5 per cent last month – we are reluctant to drop it any further.

We did all the right things when we chose this agent: interviewed three and went with the one that offered the best service. Now, though, we think we should change agent as we are not convinced they are doing much for us.

How do we go about this? What fees are we liable for? Do we have to pay them before we change or can it wait until the house is actually sold (we are low on cash)? I get the impression even in Dublin that all the agents know each other, so would we be viewed badly by a new agent? 

Answer

A number of answers to your questions will be contained within the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) letter of engagement that both you and your agent signed when you instructed them to sell your property in April. Under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, all agents are required to issue a letter of engagement in the form specified by the PSRA. The agreement between you and your agent will include:

1. The duration of the agency

2. The procedure for termination of the agency

3. The agreed marketing costs

4. The complaints procedure in the event of a dispute.

If your existing agent has incurred costs on your behalf such as newspaper advertisements, web listings, etc, it would be standard procedure that you will have to reimburse them for such costs. This will be covered in the PSRA agreement.

While many agents do know each other I would suggest that as it is a very competitive industry, you will not be viewed badly by another agent; they will happily take on your business and will have little or no sympathy for your existing agent.

Before you do this, I would suggest you ask to meet with your existing agent. Tell them you are unhappy with progress, that you have reduced the original asking price by 5 per cent but that this has yielded very little.

I would also suggest that your agent needs to set out clearly the justification for the original asking price together with the basis for the current price. The property price register will outline the sales in your area since your property went on the market, so prior to the meeting with the existing agent you should ask them to brief you on sales that have taken place locally and the impact they have on your property.

You should also ask for detailed and honest feedback on the reaction of those who have viewed your property. You noted that there were quite a few viewings at the beginning of the marketing campaign, but what has happened to these potential purchasers? Have they purchased and if so, what and for what price?

Many agents have experienced a changed market in the first few months of this year in comparison with the last few months of 2014.

The new lending rules together with the expiry of the capital gains tax incentive to purchase on December 31st has had a dampening effect on the market, and it may well be that your previous and current asking price are out of line with the current market.

The property market is still very buoyant but it is important you quote the right price in order to bring about a successful sale.

John O’Sullivan is a Chartered Residential Surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.