Buying agent

prime-movers-plaque-henry-pryorI am a buying agent. I look for homes (and other assets) and seek to acquire them on behalf of my clients. As far as the law is concerned, I am an estate agent – I just happen to act for buyers, not sellers and I buy properties between £500,000 and £50m. Some clients just want help looking for a new home, some want help to evaluate a property and to negotiate the best deal. Spending a six figure sum is something most people do on average every seven years. I bid on a house most weeks, buy one once a month and this year hope to buy close to £100m worth of property.

After 34 years in the business I have bought and sold close to 1000 properties.

According to Rightmove.co.uk sellers typically accepted around 5% (£11,000) less than their final asking price. Zoopla says that it’s just 3.86% and figures published by Hometrack suggest that a average buyer pays 97% of the asking price. Over the past decade, on average my clients paid £143,000 (11%) less!

25% of £1m+ homes sold in London in the first half of 2017 were sold ‘off-market’ & up to 40% of the homes I buy aren’t advertised on the internet or in an estate agents window.

Financial Times – June 16 2017

I charge a retainer of £2,400 including VAT and then EITHER;- 25% of any saving achieved from the asking price OR 3% (2.5% plus VAT) of the purchase price OR a fixed up front fee of £12,000 again including VAT. (see ‘fees‘)

Of course many people start off asking too much for their home and a third of sellers currently on the market have reduced their guide price at least once according to the website Zoopla.co.uk. Be it a £4.4m house in Notting Hill (bought for a client in August 2016 for £3.85m) or a £2.25m home outside Newbury (bought just after the ‘Brexit’ referendum for 10% less) my clients like to pay as little as possible. As sellers wake up to the impact of Google ‘indexing’ their property for ever more and more deals are being done ‘off-market’.

I am not the only buying agent and it’s more important that you have the right advisor than that it’s me. For a brief period of time your buying agent will have a detailed and personal knowledge of your affairs so you must trust them and have confidence in what they are doing and they in you. I’m confident that I am at least as good as most firms but I am not naive enough to think that I can be everyones cup of tea. My aim is that you have the right advisor for you even if that means you are represented by someone else. These are some of the best that I recommend you consider.

A buying agent can;-

  • Source off-market properties – those available but not advertised on websites or in agents windows.
  • Advise on areas, compare and contrast different places.
  • Research a street, village or town looking at crime, natural threats such as flooding and over-flights by planes.
  • Assess relative value.
  • Will research the motivations of the sellers and look for pressure points like death, debt or divorce.
  • Comment on yield and the potential for capital growth.
  • Negotiate with the seller and their agent. (Not all selling agents are slippery but some certainly are!).
  • Introduce the best mortgage brokers, accountants and wealth managers along with advisors, tradesmen & lawyers.
  • Liaise with solicitors, valuers, surveyors, architects, builders and contractors.
  • Help help to make your next move the smoothest and painless experience possible.
You describe the dream, I'll find the home.

You describe the dream, I’ll find the home.

I look for properties in London and in the country. I review those that we find, provide objective advice on each and discretion for people who would rather not have their private business paraded in public. Estate agents are not brokers trying to mediate between two parties – the selling agent wants to sell for the highest price and the buying agent in turn is there to do the best deal for the buyer.

Sometimes the best advice is 'not' to buy something

Although I don’t get paid for saying it sometimes the best advice is ‘not’ to buy something..

If you’re unsure if you need the help of a buying agent then play this quick game courtesy of Zoopla. If you get over 75% then you probably don’t need me! Remember that there’s more to buying your next home that getting the right price. You need to find it first, check it and make sure you actually get it. Not that easy in this market.

Buying agents are still estate agents in the eyes of the law and as such each must sign up to a redress scheme. Confusingly there are now three but this is the one (along with it’s own ‘Buying Agency Code’ that I helped draft) that I have signed up to.

Almost as important to your success in moving will be a good lawyer and perhaps a competent mortgage broker. It is a team effort and I am very happy to recommend individuals who can help you & make it happen.

Financial Times – 23rd March 2018

Finally, I deal with a lot of selling agents, the vast majority of whom are a joy to work with, many are friends and some I have dealt with more than once over the years and been happy to recommend to clients. In the course of one particularly tricky search my client eventually purchased a property having viewed close to one hundred others and agreed to buy two – most before I got involved! The agent selling the property they eventually bought wrote a lovely email part of which I think may be worth repeating for anyone unsure about the merits of retaining a buying agent;

“Whilst it would be impossible to state categorically that it was decisive I think that it is very unlikely that we would have been able to recommend accepting the XXXX’s bid had it not been for your calm and professional intervention on their behalf. You clearly understood them and what they wanted, you were able to provide confidence that they were prepared and that they understood what was required.”

“As you know, our own client was extremely anxious at the time and it would be fair to say that the negotiations were extremely fraught. It would also be fair to say that this was not all the fault of Mr & Mrs XXXX but you helped to ensure that despite having viewed over 35 properties through various Knight Frank offices, and having agreed to buy another property through one of our other offices (from which they subsequently withdrew) your involvement ensured that their bid for XYZ was ultimately successful.”

15 responses to “Buying agent”

  1. Jonathan Fox says:

    Henry has just helped us with an 8 month journey from North London to Godalming in Surrey. Its easy to be sceptical but his dispassionate advice, insight and stewardship have been invaluable to us during this process.

    We have been very pleased with his services – an end to end approach with an ‘always on call’ mentality (within reason). He helped us with everything from honing in on potential areas outside the M25 through to managing estate agents and closing the deal.

    Would recommend without hesitation – many thanks Henry.

  2. Mark says:

    Henry was recommended to me and I recently used his Bespoke service to purchase investment property. As a novice in the property business, I did not want to dive in without doing my research. Henry was extremely patient with me and over a few months, spent hours on the phone sharing his knowledge and expertise, whilst providing guidance and relevant information which enabled me to proceed, without pushing any specific agenda on me. Henry assisted me every step of the way. He identified interesting properties to view, arranged a viewing schedule for me and then helped to negotiate and then close the deal as well as chasing up solicitor’s right up until completion.

  3. heidi lewis says:

    We would have been completely lost without Henry’s advice. He gently but quickly dispelled our myths about the London market. Thank goodness we listened to him. Not only did he find the right flat for us ,he smoothed the way on so many fronts. His introductions to lawyers, surveyors and mortgage brokers made life easier. They have all proved to be reliable and helpful. He got a price we would have shied away from. And very importantly he made the whole process such fun. We have recommended him to a number of our friends and contacts.

  4. George says:

    Henry really does all the things he lists with bullet points above, and I can’t imagine there are many buyers who wouldn’t benefit from at least a few of them. But he can also provide enthusiasm when you can’t supply much of your own; I needed that at the beginning, when my only requirement was to be in London, and didn’t know how to narrow my focus without missing things that would suit me. And he never complained about regular changes to requirements and budget, or gave the sense that he thought I’d taken enough of his time. I think you’d be nuts not to use a buying agent – at the very least, it cuts the risk of serious error – and Henry is both very good at his job, and a pleasure to have on/at your side.

  5. Guy and Louisa says:

    We had been looking for a property for a while and being mostly based oversees it was proving a challenge. Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to be introduced to Henry and engaged him almost immediately and what a fantastic experience and happy to say a successful result. Henry’s deep knowledge of the London property market was invaluable as we explored various locations. His straight talking and great humour made what had been an exhausting experience (pre-Henry) into a great experience. Henry handled everything from finding suitable properties, talking to agents, recommending great solicitors, surveyors, builders and more. Henry seem to have the answer to pretty much everything that occurred in the process from start to finish, which made our lives and the experience so much easier and quicker.
    We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Henry to anyone considering a property purchase and indeed would strongly advise it – he is worth every pound of his fee!

  6. Louisa says:

    Henry has been incredibly helpful as I’ve floundered about trying to buy and sell in a tricky market. He is extremely communicative, generous with his time and advice and has been a sage and steady point of reference. Not only is his knowledge and experience of property second to none, but his ability to play the role of Property Agony Uncle at the end of the phone when things have seemed bleak has been extremely reassuring.

  7. Sam says:

    I engaged with Henry on social media following his post about “accidental landlords” in Feb 2018. Henry and I spoke following that and his sound advice and guidance gave us the confidence to market our property and successfully sell in less than a month. Very knowledgeable (as you would expect) but also engaging. I would thoroughly recommend Henry’s services.

  8. Erik says:

    Exhausting, exasperating and grueling, that is the feeling of trying to purchase a house in London today; the shady real estate agents and the spoiled sellers. Add a mix dirty money, enormous hikes in stamp duty taxes, and, during recent years, a macro environment with Brexit on the horizon.

    You will need Henry to avoid complete and utter insanity that is all I can say. With his help we found the most amazing house of our dreams although in the end however, we did not complete the purchase.

    Henry got us a great mortgage broker and and we got a mortgage offer that I did not even think was possible. He also negotiated the deal and set us up with a great straight-shooting solicitor.

    However, during the searches, issue upon issue was discovered with the house. The seller’s un-helpfulness eventually make us quit the process, even though Henry went to great length to sort them all out. Lesson for the seller: it takes two to tango.

    Currently we have no energy left and still no house. We will put a break on our search and reach out to Henry when we have gotten our strength back. If Henry would not have been acting on our behalf during the process it would have been a complete ride of pure insanity.

    Now, we will just sit tight for a year or so, in a rental, to recover, and when we have the energy back, hopefully we can deal with a seller that actually wants our business.

  9. Chitra & Rahul says:

    We came to Henry to help us buy a family home and navigate the waters of UK housing market. He was very patient and helped us through the entire process of selecting an area, identifying the right house and negotiating the best price. He is worth his weight in gold and more than made up for his fees.

    The market was especially choppy and he helped us steal a great deal due to his patience, perseverance and insights into the UK housing market.

    Highly recommended you can’t go wrong in choosing Henry. We would miss his sense of humour.

  10. Mrs JR says:

    Within a short number of months after first meeting Henry, I was able to secure a fantastic country home that met or exceeded all my requirements and expectations. As time poor as I am, and with my main home remote from the area in which I was interested, without Henry’s involvement, this process could have taken years or, indeed, may never have happened. I was acutely aware of my lack of knowledge of the country property market in my target area and might not have had the confidence to pull the trigger on a purchase without Henry to provide advice and perspective on the market. Once the desired property was identified, Henry handled the negotiation process extremely well.

    In my case, Henry was also able to offer local knowledge and contacts to help me get the property up and running after purchase. This “after-care” was an unexpected bonus that has proved at least as valuable as his buying agent services.

    The decision to work with Henry was definitely the right one and I enthusiastically recommend him.

  11. Akshay and Pallavi says:

    Henry not only helps you find the house that you are looking for, but also helps you zero in on the area that you should be looking at. He helped us a lot with understanding different areas, builds, and what makes a property or area more desirable than the other. Once we had the house decided, he helped us negotiate a great deal, all the while explaining his process. He was there to make sure things were in order and moving at a good pace once the offer was accepted. He was always available on call or email, and would get back promptly on any queries or questions we had. We never felt the stress of buying a house, and it actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable process.

    We would recommend him in a heart beat.

  12. Jayne & Dom says:

    Henry came highly recommended and as we dipped our toe into the terrifying world of moving out of London and juggling buy-to-lets we gave him a call. Always calm, he led us by the hand through this minefield. His advice was brilliant, and whilst not always what we wanted to hear allowed us to assess the situation with our eyes wide open. We used him again to help us negotiate a deal on the house of our dreams and despite the vendor having other offers he helped us buy it at below asking price and within a matter of days. He speaks fluent ‘estate agent’ and took a huge amount of stress off our shoulders. Would highly recommend!

  13. Martin & Elizabeth says:

    It is very clear to us that without your help we should not have achieved our objective, since the property we purchased was not on the market and we had no access to it. On the way, you have also relieved us of a great deal of anxiety by your constantly optimistic approach during a process which has been in some ways unnecessarily protracted.

    Once we had contacted you, it rapidly became clear that you were able to facilitate the process immeasurably.

    With our thanks and best wishes.

  14. Belkis says:

    What I like about Henry is his depth of knowledge and his realistic approach. He listens with a very open mind and then gives his professional opinion. We had outgrown our large Victorian house and were very confused as what our next step should be. I work in a very busy environment and therefore it was really important to me that I had someone who I could trust and who was on my side. He understood both the business of selling and buying and gave me unbiased advice on agents, their fees, solicitors – all of which was truly useful.
    His knowledge of the housing market is second to none.

  15. Alastair says:

    I’ve worked with Henry on a number of different projects in the real estate arena. He has a fantastic depth of expertise within property and is well connected and talks in a no nonsense way. And it was refreshing to deal with someone who had no conflict of interest.

    I’d thoroughly recommend him for any advice on property especially regarding residential purchase, searches or investments – and to cap it all, he also has a sense of humour

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