Estate agent charges for home they didn’t sell, five years after originally listing it


In 2011, Paul Telford listed his property for sale with a local agent. Following a period of no interest from buyers and a lack of pro-active effort from the agent in question, Paul withdrew his property from the market. Five years later, Paul successfully sold the land himself but to his surprise, received a letter out of the blue requesting payment from the agent he had instructed initially.


Having not paid the £500 cancellation fee due to the lack of service when originally selling his house, the agent had kept Paul on their books and despite having no hand in the successful sale years down the line, decided to charge Paul due to the sole agency agreement restrictions in the original contract.


This archaic and backhanded tactic led Paul to start OkayLah, a free to list, For Sale by Owner platform that not only offers UK home sellers an alternative way to sell their property but provides a knowledge base to help empower them through each stage of their sale.


Founder and CEO of OkayLah, Paul Telford, commented:


“We fully appreciate that there are plenty of great estate agents out there, but unfortunately, there are also those that continue to give the industry a bad name and more often than not this means the consumers experience of selling a property is a negative one – as was the case for myself.


The way we buy and sell property has changed drastically over the last decade and whether you buy into the sustainability of the online and hybrid model or not, one thing it does demonstrate is that there is an appetite amongst the consumer to sell their home at a far lower cost, with varying degrees of involvement from their side. OkayLah takes this to the next level offering sellers the foundations to sell their property themselves, but with the additional option of professional help as and when they need it.”


OkayLah’s no fee package includes unlimited listings to the site, 24/7 customer support and live email messaging that connects sellers within eight seconds (with directly) to interested buyers, cutting out the back and fourth of the estate agent middle man that is often restricted to office hours.


For a small additional fee of £35, sellers can benefit from SMS messaging as well as email, additional images on their property listing and social media support.


The £65 package comes with the addition of a For Sale board – no contracts, time restrictions, monthly fees or small print clauses. But OkayLah also provides comprehensive guides and info at every step of the sale, with the added option of professional help as and when it’s needed.


“While I started OkayLah to provide an additional method of selling, it has evolved into a platform that empowers sellers throughout their journey and arms them with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure their sale is progressing as it should. It’s been two years in the making, but we are now at a point where we’ve perfected the platform and are ready to start helping UK home sellers with their sale.


Rather than charge for an overall service, we understand that many sellers prefer a customisable approach and while some are more than happy to take their own photos, create their advert and converse with buyers, we offer additional add-ons such as professional photographs, EPCs, conveyancing and more so our sellers can pick and choose what they want to do themselves, and what they would like some help with.”


And as for sole agency agreements?


OkayLah doesn’t tie in sellers with any small print clauses and actually encourages sellers to sign up while selling with another agent.


“As we’re a For Sale by Owner platform we don’t fall under the same restrictions as another agent, so sellers are able to list on our platform as well as with their local or online agent.


We actually encourage them to do so as we can then provide them with the information to fact check their own agent, and make sure they are doing what they should, when they should. There is still no professional barrier to entry when becoming an estate agent and we want to make sure that the consumer is getting the service they may eventually have to pay for while at the same time building their own knowledge and confidence during the sale process.


If eventually, their agent isn’t pulling its weight, this could be the point a seller decides to give it a go themselves with the upshot of a considerable cost saving.”


Top tips when selling your home yourself


1.      Create a clear schedule of steps that need to be followed and completed during the sale.

2.      Assign a time frame to each of these based on research and industry averages, not unrealistic personal requirements.

3.      Make sure your house is ready to sell (complete small DIY jobs, get an EPC if needed, tidy ready for your photographs and so on).

4.      Create a great property advert. Make sure your pictures look good, your description is thorough, and you sell any USPs your house might have. It’s also important to ensure spelling and grammar is up to scratch to project a professional first impression.

5.      List on a For Sale by Owner platform like OkayLah and consider a local newspaper advert, leaflets and social media to help boost advertising. The majority of people move within a 9-mile radius so while the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla will give you UK wide exposure, you often only need the local presence that comes with these efforts. The For Sale Board, in particular, is vital when building local exposure and is the most cost-effective, tried and tested marketing method available when selling your house. Couple this with the instant communication channels that social media and sites like OkayLah provide and you have all the tools you need to sell your home yourself.

6.      Commit to the process. While the financial savings on offer are considerable when selling your house yourself, be prepared to do the work. Make yourself available on the phone, email or via messenger at a time to suit buyer enquiries and respond promptly. Do your best to facilitate viewings at a time to suit potential buyers and prepare to spend a good proportion of your week or free time on discussing and negotiating with interested parties.

7.      Stick to your guns but listen to the market. A buyer will always try and strike a deal and it’s important to stick to your guns where price is concerned. However, make sure the price you set is realistic and reflects current market trends, don’t allow your emotions to miss out on a buyer with an unrealistic asking price. If multiple buyers are offering a lower price, listen to the market re-consider your asking price.

8.      Request proof of funds. Just like the normal selling process, it’s a good idea to request proof of funds so that you know the person you are dealing with is legitimate. OkayLah’s customer empowerment platform provides a factsheet covering everything you need to think about when considering an offer. This includes a list of questions to ask to better understand a buyer’s situation and a simple form which you can send directly via the message board to qualify their financial position.

9.      Don’t be afraid to chase. There are certain aspects, particularly legal ones like conveyancing, that will require third-party involvement. Don’t be afraid to chase these third parties in order to stick to your initial home selling schedule. Conveyancers can be notoriously slow so staying on their radar can help speed up your sale. If you find yourself in a chain, don’t be afraid to chase estate agents representing other parties, again, they can often be the bottleneck in the chain.

10.  Don’t drop the ball. It’s easy to put your feet up once you’ve accepted an offer or you have an offer nearing completion. Don’t relax until you complete, a sale can always fall through at the last minute so be sure to keep in the loop with all aspects of your sale and keep pushing for that completion date.