Is there any additional fee for the real estate agent (above the commission fee), if eventually the apartment is sold by the consumer? Can a consumer file a complaint if the information given prior signing the contract is totally different from the actual content of the contract? Consumers have asked these questions several times during the Arbitration Board of Budapest’s procedure which indicates that they are not fully aware of what they can or cannot do when a problem arises. In one case, for example, a consumer entered into an assignment with a real estate agency to promote the sale of his property. According to the contract they signed, the agent did not take responsibility for selling the apartment, and he did not undertake any responsibility for taking part in the selling of it (except giving marketing services). The company’s representative had personally visited the consumer and informed him verbally that his only payment obligation is the 65. 000 HUF agency fee. The company only provides marketing services, which means they advertise the property on the Internet and other surfaces. It has never been said that if the property is sold, the company still gets a share (0,5% + VAT commission) even if it is not the result of their contribution. According to the consumer’s claim, the verbal information provided by the representative of the company was misleading and differed from the content of the contract. As the consumer wrote, there was no opportunity to review all the six pages of the contract before signing. According to the consumer’s statement and the conditions of the contract concluded between the parties, the company contracted for the purpose to provide marketing service, but did not promise any involvement in the selling of the property. The company has fixed the essential terms of the contract. Based on the fine print, the agent gets a 0,5 % commission if the advertised property is sold. That is why the company demanded this commission from the consumer after the sale though he did not cooperate in the sales procedure. The consumer asked the company to cancel this additional charge, and the Arbitration Board of Budapest approved of the request. It is good to know that this and other, so-called „service providing contracts” are concluded with consumers in general in order to mediate and to promote the sales of the property. What does the law say in these cases? According to Act V. of 2013 of the Civil Code, Contracts are concluded upon the mutual and communicated expression of the parties' intents. It is fundamental to the validity of a contract that an agreement is reached by the parties concerning all essential issues as well as those deemed essential by either of the parties. In this case, the amount of the commission fee is not clear from the contract, which is considered an essential issue. The company asked commission for a service behind which there was not any actual activity. According to Act V. of 2013 on the Civil Code, general terms and conditions constitute the terms and conditions, which are set out by its user primarily and unilaterally, without the other party’s involvement, for the purpose of concluding a number of contracts and it has not been negotiated individually by the parties. It is the applying party’s duty to prove that a contract term has been individually negotiated by the parties. It will become part of the contract if its applier makes it possible for the other party to be aware of its content before signing the contract and if it is accepted by this other party. Therefore the condition which entitles monetary claims in addition to the fee for the main obligation only become a part of the contract if the consumer specifically accepted it after being given extra information about it. What should consumers be aware of?
- In order to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future, try to get all the information about the essential content of the contract and about the general terms and conditions prior to the conclusion of the agency contract!
- If you do not understand the content of the contract, ask questions and ask the other party to write down the given verbal information in the contract!
- If it is possible, do not conclude the agency contract alone, because in case of a later dispute, the content of the verbal information can be proved by a witness which could become important evidence.