If you want your home to sell as quickly as possible, award a sole mandate to an experienced agent and stick to it.
That's the advice of Martin Schultheiss, CEO of the Homenet estate agency group, who says homeowners anxious to get their properties sold are often tempted to switch from a sole mandate, with one agent handling the marketing, to an open mandate with several agents theoretically working on the property.
"But our experience shows that such a switch is actually likely to lengthen the listing time of a property rather than shorten it. For one thing, much of the marketing done by the original sole agent will go to waste as the newcomers each institute their own plans to build up interest in the property.
"And secondly, agents are quite naturally less inclined to work on an open mandate than a sole mandate, so the property may actually get less attention than if there were one agent involved.
"Such delays will of course mean an increase in the seller's holding costs, as well as a real risk of the property becoming overexposed."
In addition, he says, a cluster of different for-sale boards on a property creates a bad impression and may well encourage prospective buyers to "shop around" among the various agents involved until they find the one that agrees to present the lowest offer.
"The seller might refuse this but if several buyers use the same tactic, he will increasingly come to believe that these low offers are the best he's going to get - and end up settling for a much lower price than if he'd stuck to one agent."
To make matters worse, notes Schultheiss, the seller who skips from a sole mandate to an open mandate also substantially increases the risk of a claim for "double commission" that could badly dent the profitability of his sale.
Such claims can easily arise when the eventual buyer of a property views it with one agent but concludes the purchase through another.