Sale and Purchase of Property
(Real Estate)
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II. The estate agents' services (with an overview of the sale and purchase procedures)

Although the vendor (seller) and the purchaser can directly deal with each other, they usually have to go through the following steps with the assistance of estate agents:

An overview of the procedures for sale and purchase of property

i) A vendor finds an estate agent(s) to sell the property, and/or a purchaser finds an estate agent(s) to search for appropriate properties to buy;

ii) The purchaser inspects the property and negotiates the price with the agent or the vendor;

iii) Vendor and purchaser sign a provisional (or preliminary) agreement for sale and purchase of the selected property (the provisional agreement is usually provided by the estate agent). The purchaser then pays the initial deposit;

iv) Vendor and purchaser each appoint their own solicitors to negotiate and sign a formal agreement for sale and purchase (the formal agreement is provided by the vendor's solicitor and is checked by the purchaser's solicitor). The purchaser then pays the further deposit;

v) Vendor hands over the property to the purchaser. Purchaser pays the balance of purchase price. Both parties sign an assignment which is provided by the purchaser's solicitor and is checked by the vendor's solicitor.

No matter whether you are a vendor or a purchaser, the first party that you have to deal with is normally the estate agent. Therefore, it is worth knowing more about the services provided by estate agents.

  1. I want to sell my flat. What services can I expect from an estate agent?
  2. As a vendor, must I sign an estate agency agreement when I ask an agent to help me sell my flat?
  3. Can the same agent serve both the vendor and the purchaser?
  4. Do I pay less commission if the same agent serves both the purchaser and me (the vendor)?
  5. I want to buy a flat. What services can I expect and what information can I obtain from the agent who shows me a flat?
  6. As a purchaser, must I sign an estate agency agreement when I ask an agent to show me a flat?
  7. Do I pay less commission if the same agent serves both the vendor and me (the purchaser)?
  8. What if I sign a 'Form 4' with an agent who shows me a flat, and later, I buy the flat through another agent or directly from the vendor?
  9. What if I sign a 'Form 4' with an agent who shows me a flat, and later, someone related to me (e.g. my spouse) buys the flat through another agent or directly from the vendor?
  10. Where can I go to make a complaint if I am not satisfied with my agent?
  11. Before I buy the flat, I find out that my agent gave me false information or he forgot to tell me some important information about the flat. Can I terminate the provisional agreement and sue my agent (and his employer) for compensation?
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