Sole mandates explained

Goslett explains that a mandate is an instruction or authority from a seller to an estate agent to provide the services involved in selling a specific property. It’s a contract between the seller and an estate agent where the agent undertakes to market the seller’s home and procure a willing and able purchaser. In addition to this, the seller is also relying on the agent to handle all of the legalities surrounding the property transaction.

While a seller can opt for an open mandate, which means that any estate agency may procure a buyer for the property and does not restrict the seller to one specific agency, Goslett warns sellers against this as it leaves the seller vulnerable to a double commission claim.  As an open mandate need not be reduced to writing, there may be some aspects to the agreement that are vague and questions will be raised as to which agency was in fact the effective cause of the sale. It is advisable to always have a clear, written contract in place in order to protect all the parties concerned.

A sole mandate must be reduced to writing as it is a legally binding document. A sole mandate gives an agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified period of time, which means that the homeowner may not appoint another estate agent to sell the property during the effective period of the sole mandate.  The only other person that is entitled to sell the property is the owner themselves, provided that this has been confirmed in writing with the agency. Sellers should note that in this case, if they sell the property themselves, there will still be a fee payable to the agent.   

A marketing plan must be provided by the agent to the seller. If the agent does not follow the marketing plan, the seller has the right to cancel the mandate. The agent must work in the seller’s best interest at all times, be able to give sound advice and assist in the closing of the offer, especially when multiple offers have been presented.

There is an option for sellers to give the agent an exclusive sole mandate, which is essentially the same as a sole mandate but is slightly more restrictive in that only the estate agent can market and sell the property.  The seller can authorise the agent to accept or reject the offer on their behalf.

So why do agencies and many financial institutions recommend a sole mandate to sellers; what are the benefits it offers to sellers?  Aside from the security aspect that only one agent will have access to the property, Goslett explains that there are number of benefits created through a sole mandate which will ensure more effective marketing of the property and an orderly conclusion of the sale. “Although sellers may feel that they are restricting the exposure of their home to a limited number of potential buyers by signing a sole mandate, an open mandate restricts the amount of time and money an estate agent can spend on marketing the property.”

A sole mandate streamlines and simplifies the sales process for the seller as dealing with a single agent makes the marketing strategy of the property more manageable,. “Dealing with a number of estate agents with open mandates can become a logistical challenge,” says Goslett. “The seller must keep lists of contact details and contact several people every time there is a change or a development. The seller also ends up coordinating showing times between numerous agents to ensure appointments do not clash. There is also the double commission risk due to sellers going to more than one agent to find a property and agents claiming that they initially introduced the buyer to the seller. The risk of such a scenario is eliminated with a sole mandate.”

On the other side of the coin, Goslett says that if the property is advertised for sale at a fair market value, buyers will be interested in the property regardless of how many agents have mandates on it.

Goslett says that the concept of a sole mandate is based on creating efficiencies and maximising the benefits for all the parties involved in the transaction. “Far removed from ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’, giving a reputable and experienced estate agent a sole mandate is the best way to streamline the selling process and to ensure an entire team of professional estate agents are cooperating to sell your property quickly and at the best possible price. However, each sale is surrounded by its own unique set of circumstances and sellers have different requirements. Be this as it may, there should be a mandate option that best meets their specific criteria,” he concludes.

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