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eMoov lodges CMA complaint about sole agency agreements

Online estate agency eMoov has lodged a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority over high street agents’ implementation of sole agency agreements. 

eMoov says this type of agreement “penalises sellers and creates a void between the customer needs and the agent’s service.”

The complaint has been lodged by Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of eMoov, on the advice of a legal counsel which states that “these lengthy periods of exclusivity are likely to breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trade Regulations 2008 (CPUTR) and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulation 1999 (UTCCR)” amongst others.


Quirk says sole agency agreements lock consumers in to a period of exclusivity, usually extending to as long as 20 weeks, then often continue indefinitely until written notice to cancel is provided by the seller. 

“Throughout this time, they are contractually prevented from instructing another agent to list their property regardless of the agent’s performance. If they do breach the often very tough contract terms, consumers are then liable for penalty fees which can be up to three per cent of the eventual sale price” says eMoov.

The complaint lodged with the CMA is specifically aimed at what Quirk calls “the widespread and unfair use of excessive sole agency and selling right agreements, deployed by agents predominantly in the high street sector.” 

The CMA has told Estate Agent Today that it has not yet had an opportunity to assess the eMoov complaint.

  • Trevor Mealham

    So long as agents provide services that they contractually agreed to do then a contract length be it 10-12-20 weeks is fine. If agents breach their offering Im sure Trading Standards would uphold the clients wishes to break the contract.

    Bigger worry would be contracts worded 'sole selling rights' rather than 'sole agency'

    Most mobile phone contracts now run 12-18-24 months, so agents contracts are short in comparison.

  • icon

    Actually with all the information available on the internet, that we as agents freely give out, sole selling rights is the way forward and not a worry. The only worry is that agents are too scared to promote it but without it all our businesses are under threat!

  • Richard Copus

    Sole selling rights or sole agency agreements give the estate agent the exclusivity required to fully market a client's property within a given period of time. With the cost of hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds spent to give a house the attention it needs to find the best buyer at full market value, and most of this being spent within the first few months of marketing, this finite period of exclusivity encourages the agent to pull all the stops out and benefits the client rather than prejudices him/her. Multi agency has been proved over the years to be the most inefficient form of marketing. Agency periods of over four months are unconscionable and if trading standards and the Ombudsman started treating these as unfair contract terms, then most of the criticism of sole agreements would fizzle out.

  • Rob  Davies

    Russell, where have you been? Still trying to take on the whole industry, I see.

  • Rookie Landlord

    Quirk is the property mouthpiece no-one asked for. He's never bloomin' out of the news!

    Fair play, he's a brilliant self-publicist, but it does sometimes seem like he's waging a one-man war against anyone in the property industry who doesn't agree with him. Plus, he sometimes seems to complain just for the sake of complaining - to provoke a reaction like an internet troll.

  • Karl Knipe

    @Richard Copus - well said!

  • Robert Ulph

    I think this is an issue in todays market as an Estate Agent you would think I would be against not having Sole Agencies but some Agents use it as a marketing tool as if they get Vendors signed up to 20 weeks they can over value the property by 20% and be aware that this doesn't matter because when no one views they can within the S/A reduce the price in stages to get it down to what it is actually worth. Everyone wants as much as they can get for their property so this usually locks all other agents out as the Vendors think its under valued. We only have a 2 weeks rolling contract and value correctly so if every agent was the same. It would be a lot fairer playing field and I think this is what we all now need in the market.

  • Daniel Roder

    Quirk doesn't like the limelight much, does he? I mean, we need to hear more from him - his expert opinions on everything to with property are much-needed in this world of misinformation and hype.

  • Kelly Evans

    Spot on, Robert Ulph. Can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Russell Quirk, but on this topic I think he has a point.

    Now to go wash my mouth out with soap!

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    • R M
    • 21 May 2015 16:21 PM

    Get the price right and get it sold!
    If a competitor locally wins instuctions through consitent overpricing, track the percentage and on very valuation thereafter predict what the comp will say and detail how the property will likely sit there unsold.

    Word soon spreads round the town!

  • Emma  Mitchell

    Russell certainly knows how to rub people up the wrong way. I think people need to take everything he says with a pinch of salt!

  • Glenn Ackroyd

    Totally agree with Quirk on this and echo the sentiments of Kelly Evans and Robert Ulph - long tie ins are the poor agents get out for overvaluing and allowing pressure to mount on the vendor to reduce the price. Long term tie ins work against the vendor and agents giving realistic market valuations. Why a tie in anyway? Vendors are not going to maliciously up sticks and go through the pain of moving agents without just cause. You should never force a pressed man. It's time for the industry to move with the times.

  • icon

    More sour grapes from Russell. He is always trying to adjust the playing field to his advantage. If sole agency was banned he would just target every property for sale take their money and put them on his database and hope they sell. This is not estate agency it is just a rip off to make money for Russell.


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