The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has released what it calls “a word of advice” on the ins and outs of real estate agent agreements.

The ministry says agents will ask would-be vendors to sign a written agreement.

“Make sure that they give you a copy of the Residential Property Agency Agreements Guide to read and digest before you sign.”

The agreements guide is produced by the Real Estate Agents Authority and there is an authorised online version.

The ministry says the agency agreement is a legally binding contract.

“Breaching it, even if you didn’t realise, can be a very expensive mistake. So getting legal advice is also a good idea.”

The ministry suggests that particular attention is paid to the agent’s commission, additional expenses (such as advertising), ensuring details that are listed about the property are factual and accurate, and the type of agreement (whether a sole agency or exclusive agreement or a general agency agreement).