I am a buying agent. I look for homes (and other assets) and seek to acquire them on behalf of my clients. Up to 40% of the homes I buy aren’t advertised on the internet or in an estate agents window. 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 expect to buy close to £100m worth of property.
After 32 years in the business I have bought and sold close to 1000 properties.
According to Rightmove.co.uk sellers typically accepted around 5-7% less than their final asking price. Figures published by Hometrack suggest that a typical buyer pays 97% of the asking price. In 2014 my clients on average paid 14% less and in 2013 the gap was even bigger! Last year the gap between the average asking price and the average purchase price was 27%!
I charge a retainer of £2,000 plus VAT and then EITHER 25% of any saving achieved from the asking price OR 3% (2.5% plus VAT) of the purchase price. If neither of these seems fair and you would prefer to pay a fixed fee up front then I charge £12,000 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’.
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 the Telegraph. 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.