Major agent stays silent as alleged six-month sole agency tie-ins come under fire

A thread on social media has drawn attention to what are claimed to be Connells’ 26-week sole agency tie-ins.

Mike Cole, managing director of Imagine Property Group with branches in Watford, Bushey and Hemel Hempstead, began the discussion on LinkedIn saying: “We’ve come across a couple with Connells Watford recently where they had tied the client in for an outrageous 26 weeks. At least I think it’s outrageous.”

He concluded: “26 weeks is taking advantage of a vulnerable or naïve client though, and that’s unsavoury and does our industry a disservice. Stop it Connells!”

The post drew a number of responses, with one agent saying: “It’s scandalous practice.”

Another said: “26 weeks is crazy!” and another said: “This is no different to starting a new job and asking your employer to guarantee you your job for 26 weeks, regardless of whether you just turned up whenever you wanted.”

A former Connells employee, Gary Young, also took part in the conversation.

He said: “I used to work for Connells for many years until a couple of months ago. Is it the longest sole agency in the industry? Quite possibly.”

However, he emphasised that he always pointed out the terms of the contract very clearly, reiterating that it was six months: “If clients wanted to shorten it, I happily did so . . . My view is that as long as you don’t hide it and make it crystal clear to the consumer prior to signing, then it really is down to the consumer to make an informed decision.”

Young ended: “However, no longer part of the company, I concur that it’s too long a tie-in. 8-12 weeks in my opinion is fair and the industry average.”

EYE approached Connells for comment, asking whether the tie-in is 26 weeks.

A spokesperson told us: “We won’t be commenting on something that could be commercially sensitive.”


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  1. AgencyInsider

    They have had these excessively long tie-ins for ages. A disgrace.

    1. NewsBoy

      Hearts always used go for 20 weeks plus 4 weeks notice but only when they can get away with it with the “right” client. It would be most unfair for anyone to say that the right client in someone who is quite naive.

  2. smile please

    26 weeks is excessive. But I believe agents need a longer time in than previous markets.

    So many agents now try and steal instructions off other agents it’s getting out of hand.

    Also costs have gone up, pro photography, virtual tours, bespoke sales details, enhanced advertising on social media all comes at an upfront costs agents need to cover.

    Sellers cant have it both ways, all the extras for free should allow agents a greater sole agency period. Otherwise they can have a standard 8 week contract with none of the extras or pay £300 upfront.

    1. htsnom79

      So many agents now try and steal instructions off other agents it’s getting out of hand.

      You been doing this job long smile?

      1. smile please

        Do you not think it has got worse the last couple of years? 

        1. Countrybumpkin

          Yes it has become more prevelent probably due to technical data solutions! It’s quite right to offer a contract in line with intended efforts. If however an agent does not honour their offerings and I imagine Connells do little more than list on portals, then maybe 26 weeks is excessive but not in all cases. Flip this on its head – their competitors are missing a trick at point of market valuation if they are not pointing out these commercially sensitive issues !!!!!

        2. htsnom79

          Truthfully? Not really, twas ever thus.
          I take the view that if a vendor wants to leave the relationship has gone anyway, poils my biss when they go on at the money we’ve suggested which led to the breakdown in the first place, but over a 12 month it evens out or we win generally.

  3. TwitterSalisPropNews

    Connells do what? But they are a high street brand name – they would not do this would they?  That needs an inquiry if true.

    As a conveyance we hear so many horror stories about estate agents, BUT they are not all the same. Working with as many as we do, I would warn family and friends let alone the public:

    NEVER agree to employ an estate agent for a contract period of longer than 4 weeks, where you cannot simply give 2 weeks notice to end the contract – NEVER 

    Vast numbers of estate agents have a brief contract – which is great, and forces them to ‘perform’ rather than just offer an overly high valuation to fool you into using them.

    In fact, just ask your favourite conveyancer which estate agent they would recommend – as they will work with the best.  


    1. Ouch18

      Laughable!! It’s you lot that are more of a disgrace than some agents!! Four weeks??!! Clueless!!! 8-12 weeks is absolutely what we require to enable us to carry out a full professional job for a client. Stick to trying to improve on the conveyancing standards instead of involving yourself and we may be able to start completing transactions faster !!

      1. Countrybumpkin

        Dear conveyancer. You like many others clearly have little understanding of the business. In fact if conveyances were only paid on performance that would make for an interesting and helpful industry change! Oh and before you say it, we work for our clients too.

        1. s71

          Good point.

          Just wanted to say that we get paid on Completion while the learned conveyance will not look at a file without any money upfront ans still get paid if the sale fall apart!!!!


          TwitterSalisProNews: if you have the time to write this then it clearly shows that you are unemployed or do not have that many conveyancing job!!!!!

    2. ARC

      just ask your favourite conveyancer” = by this you mean “ask the conveyancer that was least incompetent and at least had the decency to attempt to communicate with key stakeholders in the chain.”



    3. Ostrich17

      just ask your favourite conveyancer”


      How many members of the public have a favourite conveyancer?

    4. NewsBoy

      Absolutely right. We do 7 days and are proud of it.

    5. Andtheyareoff

      Four weeks??? I nearly spat my coffee out, do you have any idea what the timescale is for a buyer to be found in a good area?? where I work its 7-8 weeks on average and our agency team is one of the Market leaders. I would argue that with that length of contract the agent would probably not take the client seriously. I wouldn’t have done so.

      Unlike your business we don’t get paid until we complete, and cant charge per letter or phone call. The upfront costs are higher etc etc

      Perhaps we could suggest that Conveyancers get paid less as the time to exchange increases? say 4 weeks to exchange you get 100% of your fee and that reduces 10% per week thereafter, that proposition is almost as stupid as you advising clients that a four week contract is best!


  4. EAMD172

    Any sole agency period is wrong if there is no written guarantee of what service you will receive in return. They should be banned unless agents put in writing what they are going to do, such as number of adverts, follow up calls, return calls, retake photos seasonally if appropriate, retake photos if requested, etc.

    1. ARC

      Are you a housing policy adviser to the Government as that is the sort of hilarious thing they would suggest?

      1. EAMD172

        No. I’m an estate agent that has a service charter for our clients. Simple really. And no sole agency contract, just two weeks notice.

  5. Countrybumpkin

    Anyone read the recent TPO rulings by any chance. Fast track to the agency agreement part.

  6. LB1966

    This contract has been used by Connells for many years….It’s a pre-printed form, so the Seller has to strike out 26 weeks and replace it with a shorter period, that’s assuming it’s brought to their attention.

    1. NewsBoy

      Oh come on please. Brought to their attention? Are you having laugh? It is probably never, ever seen.

  7. AssumedIdentity

    I`ve been working for my current agency for 14 years, and we have never had a minimum term, just a two week notice period.

    It has never hindered us marketing a property, and makes us give the correct advice from the start (Rather than a price we will never achieve in order to get the instruction……and gradually working the price down over time), it also keeps us motivated to continue giving regular feedback and advice, and working in the clients best interest to get the property sold.

    In all the years I`ve worked here, we have not once had a vendor serve us notice earlier that a couple of months into our marketing. And they appreciate the refreshing transparency of our contract. In fact, it often helps me win instructions.

    Too many lazy agents out there relying on restrictive contracts. Try keeping your clients by giving the best possible service you can…..

    1. TwitterSalisPropNews

      AssumedIdentity – agree 100% No minimum term, well said. You rely on your quality service to retain your client.
      Others should step aside.
      (Be great to work together)

  8. Leicestercitystar

    After working at Connells for 8 years and having to leave before I thought they would be on watchdog for what we were told to do, I’m not surprised. Overvalue the houses and then once tied in it give plenty of time to reduce the house back down to the valuations the vendors had previously but with our 1.75% fee. 

  9. padymagic

    OK I’m gonna chip in my two pence worth, the length of contract should reflect the agents locality. For example in London I would expect a 28 day contract +/- .

    In a rural village or town I would expect much longer contract as there are less buyers in the immediate vicinity.

    20 weeks isn’t such a long time where I work but when I worked the London markets even 20 days was considered pretty long!



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