Q. I have been marketing my property for sales with a local agent and very happy with their service, in fact I have had a very good offer that I am considering. However, a friend of mine visited me over the weekend and expressed some interest and has now made a full asking price offer, which I am inclined to accept as I would prefer the house to go to someone I know rather than a complete stranger given the history I have here.  I now feel in a very awkward situation with my agent especially as they have been so professional and efficient, and am confused from a legal standpoint. As this offer has not come through the agent do I still need to pay them a fee, having not sold before I am also wondering if I can actually proceed with my friends offer without the help of an estate agent?

A. Wow, well firstly congratulations on having two good offers on the table, an enviable situation for any seller to find themselves in. You will need to have a look at the Terms of Business you have signed with your agent to establish your position. If the agreement is a sole agency agreement then you should be fine as the agent can only expect a fee for the introduction of a buyer to the property. If you have an offer from a party not introduced by your agent this is considered a ‘private sale’ and therefore the agent will be due no fee. If however you have signed a ‘sole selling rights agreement’ then I am afraid your agent will still be expecting a fee. Sole selling rights agreements are rarely used these days and I believe that agents that use them should be avoided. It is perfectly possible to progress a private sale without the help of an estate agent as long as you manage to secure a very good efficient lawyer. Of course having an agent does make things easier as they are in a position to be able to liaise with the seller and the buyer as well as their respective lawyers and of course this can be very valuable when obstacles need to be tackled. You may find it will perhaps take a little longer without the agent being involved as the agents job is to push the sale through and in some cases hold it all together when things get complex, however with a great lawyer on both sides and everyone on the same page I’m sure you will be absolutely fine and your sale will exchange and complete without too much drama and of course with an extra 2% of the purchase price in the bank that would have gone on agents fees I’m sure you may treat yourself to a bottle of champagne to celebrate on completion!