I 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. 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 33 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 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.
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 (if only to see how much hair I have compared to most of the gentlemen in the business!).
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.
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.
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.
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.”