By Mark Loveday
A The circumstances in which an estate agent is paid commission will vary according to the precise terms in the agreement. As every estate agent uses slightly different wording, it is sometimes quite hard to say whether commission is payable or not.
The basic rule is that commission is paid only where there is a completed sale of the property, not where the agent merely introduces a potential buyer. However, estate agents often try to say in their terms and conditions that they will be paid if there is a buyer “ready willing and able” to exchange contracts at a certain price. If there is such a term, you may have to pay commission if you unilaterally decide to back out after a buyer makes a firm and unqualified offer.
An agent therefore generally will not be able to claim commission if you find a buyer privately or someone comes back long after the agreement is over and makes a successful offer for the property.
The writer is a barrister at Tanfield Chambers. E-mail your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org