Selling my property: How Long will I be tied into contract with my estate agent?

Young couple looking over paperwork and contract

One of the most commonly asked questions vendors ask when choosing which agent to use is ‘How long will I be tied in with you?’.

There’s a particular thrill in the air when you’re in the process of selling your property. It’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and a tinge of nervousness. After all, it’s a major life decision that involves a substantial amount of money. But there’s no reason to let it get overwhelming! One of the most important allies in this process is your estate agent, someone who can guide you through the labyrinth of the property world and its processes. But how long do you need to stick with this trusty ally?

Well, the simple answer is anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months dependent on which agent you choose to use. This time is referred to as the ‘minimum contract period’ or the ‘sole selling rights period’, and it’s something a good estate agent should be totally transparent about.

So, what is this minimum contract period?

The minimum contract period is the initial duration that you’re obliged to stick with your chosen estate agent. It is a period during which you cannot switch agents, even if you are unsatisfied with their services or if you find another agent offering you a better deal. This term is usually outlined in the agreement you sign when hiring the estate agent.

At Arden, we do not believe in tying you into a long-term contract like everyone else. We prefer that our customers feel in control. With this in mind, if you choose Arden, your contract will work on a month to month rolling basis with just 28 days’ notice required if you wish to leave. Although once you’ve worked with us, we’re certain you won’t want to go anywhere else!

Can I negotiate this timeframe?

It depends on the agent. If you feel the timeframe presented by the estate agent is too long, do not hesitate to discuss and possibly reduce it. We think an initial 4-6 week contract is pretty fair. This gives your agent enough time to prove their worth, while keeping your options open after the first month or so.

Understanding the types of contracts

There are primarily three types of estate agent contracts: sole agency, joint sole agency and multiple agency. Understanding which type you’re signing up for can help determine how long you’ll be tied in and how much commission you pay. In a nutshell, sole agency means you’re exclusive with one agency, they have the exclusive rights to sell your property and you will owe them a commission for the sale of your property. Joint gives you the option to appoint two agents who split the commission. And multiple agency allows you to appoint several agents, but only the one who sells the property gets the commission.

Cooling Off Periods

Check whether your agent allows a cooling off period. This is an entitlement to cancel your contract usually within 14 days of signing. At Arden Estates, our customers are entitled to a 14-day cooling off period.

Always read the fine print

While the initial contract period is essential, it’s equally important to understand the notice period. This is the amount of time you must give your agent notice before ending the contract once the minimum period is over. Usually it’s around 28 days, but it can be longer. At Arden, we work on a rolling month to month contract. So, your contract with us can be cancelled at any time by giving just 28 days’ written notice. If we have failed to sell your property during your contracted period, we will not charge you a withdrawal fee. This is part of our sale guarantee.

Fees and Commission

It’s essential to note the percentage of the sale price or fixed fee that the estate agent will earn. This varies widely across different estate agents, but is typically between 1-3%. It’s critical to understand this to avoid any unexpected surprises. Most agents will be open to talk about fees with you.

Our general pricing strategy is that we charge 1% plus VAT of the sale price, payable only on successful completion. If you have any questions about costs or fee, please do call us, we are always open to talk and are flexible. We are fair and want you to feel comfortable with things.

If you change your mind and choose not to sell after the initial marketing has been completed, then although we will not charge you our sales fee, we do charge a nominal £250 plus VAT to cover our photography and admin costs. Even this however is refundable should you come back to us in the future! We save all of the work done and reactivate your property at a later date with a click of a button.

For other costs involved in selling your property click here.


So, how long will you be tied into a contract with your estate agent? Typically, between 4-12 weeks. But remember, every case is unique and various factors come into play.

What’s crucial is to keep a positive and proactive attitude during the negotiation process. Understand your contract thoroughly and have clarity about what you are signing up for.

Ultimately, your relationship with your estate agent should be a partnership based on trust, transparency, and a mutual understanding that you both want the best outcome – a successful and seamless sale of your property!


We pride ourselves on being honest with our customers and we hope our transparency within this article shows that to you. So, if you’re looking to sell your property, we’d love to help, just contact your local Arden Estates branch for a free valuation!