Dangers of dealing with 'double agents' when selling your property

I switched to a new estate agent but have now had an offer for my property from the original agent. Will I have to pay double commission?
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Question: I put my house on the market in the early spring but was very disappointed with the estate agent's efforts so switched to a new one in the summer who advised me to trim the asking price. 

This did the trick and I have had several offers since. However, the highest has come from a couple who first viewed the house when it was on with my original agent. If I accept their offer, the original agent wants full commission and so does the new agent. Is this right? 

Answer: It could be. It depends on the terms of the contracts you have with both agents. If you had a contract which gave the first agent "sole selling rights" then they may be entitled to the commission due under the terms of that contract, irrespective of who buys the house and who introduces the buyer, even after you have terminated the contract. The contract may have had a warning about the possibility of double commission. 

Consider how the word " introduces" is defined in the contract and if the couple now offering fall into that category.

Alternatively the contract may have provided for a continuing liability period after its termination, for six to 12 months, for example.

With regard to your current agent, again it depends on the terms of your contract. In some instances the outgoing agent will give the new agent a list of prospective buyers who they themselves introduced to the property, and if any of those people ultimately acquire it then the commission will be due to the first agent and not to the second.

Look carefully at the contracts you have with both agents and if you cannot interpret them seek legal advice, as I expect the commission which you may have to pay is a not-insignificant amount.

What's your problem?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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