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Sole selling rights and house sold by executor of estate

My husband,s family inherited their mother's property recently (solicitor was executor), my brother-in-law put the property for sale and signed a sole selling rights agreement. After 9 months, we contacted the agent to inform them to remove the house from the market and we sold the property privately to my niece and husband. Estate agent is now pursuing us for fees of sale. My brother-in-law signed the contract that he was the owner of the property (which is wasn't as it was with the executor and he never got ownership) my question is: is there a legal way out of the contract?

Asked on Feb 20 2017, Selling in Leeds | Report content

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  • 1, what was the sole selling right period? 2, what was the notice period? 3, when did exchange take place? 4, did the buyers have any contact or viewing via the agent?

    Answered on Feb 21 2017, Report content
  • Hello - as far as I can see, you are not liable as the agent did not source the buyers but you should probably get the contract looked over by a solicitor to confirm.

    Web reference:

    Answered on Feb 22 2017, Report content
  • First off - I'm not a lawyer! However, I'm confident in saying that the answer (as usual in law...) is that it depends. The fact that the person who signed the agency agreement didn't own the property might mean there's no valid contract; however, a contract might be implied from your family's behaviour towards the agents, and the executor's behaviour towards them. For example, if the executor provided a key to the agent to facilitate viewings there will probably be an implied contract for the agent to be paid for selling the property (though the terms would be unclear). More importantly, unless the contract specifically provides otherwise the agent will only be entitled to comission if they were the effective cause of the sale. There's recent case law on this and it tends to work in favour of sellers, NOT agents. In "Great Estates Group Ltd v Digby" [2011], the Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether an agent who had been marketing a house on a sole agency contract was entitled to comission when it was sold through another agent. Long story short - they weren't! However, had their contract defined "sole agency" rather than just mentioning it, and had it provided for damages in the event of a sale through a third party, the outcome might have been different. See the link to Norton Rose below for more detail. In general though, the agent is unlikely to be able to get paid unless they introduced the buyer. From the Norton Rose article, "Even if the contract between the parties does not require the agent to be the effective cause, such a requirement is likely to be implied unless there are clear provisions excluding it". So you have a pretty good shout at resisting this claim for payment!

    Web reference:

    Answered on Feb 22 2017, Report content

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