Skip Navigation Links

Work for Estate Agents

The lawyers and other professional members of The International Law Partnership Ltd. undertake a considerable amount of work for estate agents.

Their needs are varied and our services are designed to cater to their specific requirements but the following are examples of the sort of work that we carry out on their behalf.

Introductions to developers and agents

Because of our contacts in the area we have been asked to act as a 'guide' to estate agents thinking of selling property in another country for the first time. We have also been asked to introduce agents working in the area to additional developers, projects or master agents.

Due dilligence on potential partners

Where an estate agent is thinking of doing business with a particular developer or master agent in another country our lawyer members in the area can carry out certain checks and make certain enquiries about the people and companies in question. The nature and extent of these checks will usually depend upon the amount of business that you are contemplating. If you are likely to be selling hundreds of properties for these people and, therefore, to be exposed to the tune of 10's or 100's of thousands of pounds/euros/dollars by way of unpaid commission you may want us to carry out quite extensive enquiries. If your ambitions are more modest a quick conversation with our local colleague to confirm that the developer or agent is known to him and that he knows of no reason why you should not do business with them might be all that you require.

Due dilligence on the properties you are being asked to sell

In many countries - perhaps most - you simply cannot rely upon the fact that a property offered for sale will be safe to buy.

Even in the case of new developments you may find that the seller does not have good legal title to the land or that the developer has started work without the benefit of a building licence. In some cases it is highly unlikely that they will ever be able to obtain such a licence. These developments often run into trouble. The houses may never be delivered and your buyers will suffer, at best, stress and inconvenience and, at worst, substantial financial loss.

They will not be happy with you and they will ask why you did not make sure that the houses were safe to buy before you offered them for sale.

Depending upon your business model you may even find that you owe these buyers a 'duty of care' and that they may have a legal claim against you for compensation.

Even if they don't have such a claim, your reputation - in the case of many estate agents built up over 200 years or more - can be severly damaged.

For all of these reasons we are often asked to carry out some 'due dilligence' enquiries into developments that agents are thinking of offering to the public. The nature and scope of those enquiries will depend upon the number of properties that you think you are going to be selling and upon whether you can persuade the developer to pay for the report. This is increasingly common. At the very lowest level we may simply check documentation supplied to us by the developer and produce a report for you. This may cost just a few hundred pounds. At a much higher level you might want a full report, reporting back on the whole development and any financial projections being used to persuade people to buy into it. This will cost a great deal more money. We will tailor our service to your requirements.

Drafting contracts

If you intend to work with a developer or a master estate agent in another country you should insist on a proper written contract setting out your respective rights and obligations.

It is staggering how many people do business internationally without such contracts and how, when things go wrong, they cannot understand that the absence of a contract makes taking any effective action somewhere between difficult and impossible.

It may be that the people you wish to do business with already have their own standard contracts and that we simply need to check them and make sure that they cover all of the relevant points. On many occasions, however, we find that we have to draft the contracts from scratch.

The contents of these contracts for use internationally, in our view, need to be different from the contents of a contract which the developer might use with a local estate agent. The business relationship is more complicated in that buyers will be coming from a long distance away and the contract needs to be clear about who is responsible for doing and paying for what. The developer and the estate agent will come from different backgrounds and have different expectations about what is 'normal' in such a contract. If the contract is to be subject to local law the overseas estate agent will have little understanding of some of the basic principles that underpin that law. As a result, these will often need to be set out in the contract as will the remedies available in the event that anything goes wrong.

Of course, we must not forget that the main purpose of having a contract is to STOP things going wrong. Most business relationships go wrong not because of badness but because of poor communication, poor memory about what was agreed and consequent loss of confidence. A good contract reduces or eliminates these problems.

Dealing with disputes

From time to time differences of opinion may well arise between you and the developer or master agent with whom you are dealing. By getting involved in these problems at an early stage and explaining clearly your options and the costs in terms of time and money involved we may be able to prevent these disputes spiraling out of control.

If a dispute does reach the stage where it needs formal resolution we maybe able to assist with mediation, arbitration or any court case that is necessary. See our guides to Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Cases for more information on these subjects.

Representing buyers

Most of the professional bodies representing estate agents require their members to advise by us to take independent legal advice before agreeing to the purchase of a property overseas. It is often also a good idea for them to take good tax advice as this can save them a great deal of money. The lawyers, acountants and others who are the members of The International Law Partnership Ltd. will be happy to provide that advice. See our guide to buying a property for some idea as to the scope of the work involved.

Our members provide totally independent and specialist advice at very reasonable cost.

Next steps

Please look at the Legal Guides, videos, MP3 seminars and other materials set out to the right of this page.

If you would like us to help you, please complete our Client Pack and send it back to us. We will contact you to clarify your requirements and then introduce you to the person most appropriate to deal with your case.

If you do not find the information that you need, please send us an email explaining your problem and we will contact you.

© The International Law Partnership Ltd. Page last revised 8th February 2010.

P  Please think of the environment. Do you need to print this page?