II. The estate agents' services (with an overview of the sale and purchase procedures)
Although the vendor (seller) and the purchaser can directly deal with each other, they usually have to go through the following steps with the assistance of estate agents:
An overview of the procedures for sale and purchase of property
(i) A vendor finds an estate agent(s) to sell the property, and/or a purchaser finds an estate agent(s) to search for appropriate properties to buy;
(ii) The purchaser inspects the property and negotiates the price with the agent or the vendor;
(iii) Vendor and purchaser sign a provisional (or preliminary) agreement for sale and purchase of the selected property (the provisional agreement is usually provided by the estate agent). The purchaser then pays the initial deposit;
(iv) Vendor and purchaser each appoint their own solicitors to negotiate and sign a formal agreement for sale and purchase (the formal agreement is provided by the vendor's solicitor and is checked by the purchaser's solicitor). The purchaser then pays the further deposit;
(v) Vendor hands over the property to the purchaser. Purchaser pays the balance of purchase price. Both parties sign an assignment which is provided by the purchaser's solicitor and is checked by the vendor's solicitor.
No matter whether you are a vendor or a purchaser, the first party that you have to deal with is normally the estate agent. Therefore, it is worth knowing more about the services provided by estate agents.