Who is the client?

Well, I’m selling so I must be the client. That is the obvious response but there is a whole new approach appearing in the property market, turning this concept on its head.
The proposition is: the agent visits you and suggests you pay a minimal or no fee to them when they sell your property but...when potential buyers want to make an offer to buy it, the agent charges them a fee.
So, how will this work? The Property Ombudsman’ office and the National Association of Estate Agents are trying to get their heads around this conundrum at this moment.
The issue is: who is the agent working for? If for you, the seller, surely you are the client and pay a fee. On the other hand, if the agent is charging the buyer, perhaps the agent is acting for them. So, who looks after your interests?
Most worryingly, we have heard that potential buyers are being stopped from viewing a property unless they agree to pay the fee or, if they want to make an offer, are being obliged to agree to pay a fee if they end up buying the property. Can this be in the sellers’ best interests? We can imagine the vast majority of buyers asking why they should pay when it is the seller that the agent should be charging as that is who they should be acting for. If they say they won’t pay, is the seller getting all the offers they could?
Has this happened to you? Are you selling and paying nothing? Are you buying and being charged a fee by the agent? In whose interest is the agent acting? Let’s see if this really is an issue in Brighton and Hove.

Please respond to paulbonett@bonetts.co.uk with a copy to the local estate agents’ association: secretary@bheaa.co.uk

PS  The pic is to represent the unclear situation this creates.  A sea fret on Kemp Town seafront