My estate agent is claiming full commission for an aborted sale. How I can dispute this?

Q: I found someone to buy my house but I was experiencing difficulties with the house I wanted buy. In the end I decided to stay put in my home. Once I made this decision, my estate agent wrote to me claiming full commission for the aborted sale because the contract provided commission was payable once the purchaser was "ready willing and able" to exchange contracts. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can dispute this? Can I say that the implications of the clause were not fully explained to me (as is the case)?


This member of the HomeOwners Alliance is victim of a disgusting estate agency contract clause.

The industry like to say that their fee structure is ‘fair’ because it is a results oriented approach whereby you ‘only pay if you sell’. Well, here we can see that a greedy agent will take every opportunity to cash in, even if their client has not actually completed their sale.

There may be a way out of these archaic shackles though.

The agent will have to prove that the buyer was 1. Ready, 2. Willing and 3. Able.

So, is there irrefutable evidence that the buyer either had no related chain downwards or had no difficulties or delays with their own sale? If not, it would be hard to prove that they were ready.

Was the buyer willing? This is difficult to prove either way except by way of testimony that they ‘were proceeding’.

But able… That may be the crux here.

Did the buyer have a written mortgage offer that was unconditional? Did they produce proof of any cash funds? Were they actually at a stage in the legal process that they could exchange contracts immediately? This could be very doubtful.

So, I would put the agent to proof and ask for all of this evidence.

If it goes to court they would have to disclose it anyway. So, even though the clause is in the contract, in reality your member may find that the agent cannot prove that the buyer was indeed ready, willing AND able.


Answered by Russell Quirk, eMoov


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