In our guest blog, Jo Eccles, director of Sourcing Property, gives an insight into the London property market and explains why a buyer may need the help of a property search company
The London property market has seen a significant drop in the number of homes for sale and with continuing strong demand from buyers, competition for the best properties has become fierce. This is where a good buying agent steps in.
Buying agents are employed by clients for a multitude of reasons ranging from a lack of time or local knowledge, to the desire to avoid dealing with estate agents. In the current climate, however, while many clients may still fall into one of these categories, they are primarily engaging our services to give them a significant competitive edge against other buyers.
A good buying agent should give you a competitive edge in two ways. Firstly, getting you access to properties before others. For example, at the end of last year, all of our clients viewed the upcoming January properties before Christmas; they had already seen every property due to come on in January and had taken their pick of the best. A lot of buyers searching on their own rely heavily on the Internet to keep them informed about new properties coming onto the market, but what they don’t see is that a good buying agent is one large step ahead. Approximately 80 per cent of the properties we show our clients don’t have any floor plans or photographs as none have been produced yet.
We have just completed on a property in Fulham for a client where we were the only people to ever view and we agreed a price the same day. The flat never came onto the market – had it done so, it’s likely it would have sold for more than the price we paid due to pent-up demand. The seller, however, needed a reliable buyer, and because we had bought through the selling agent many times for other clients, they recommended that the seller went with us. That’s the second advantage of using a good buying agent: we’re here to get your offer accepted, sometimes without you needing to pay as much as the competition.
So how do we know what you should be paying? London property is priced almost entirely on a price per square foot basis. Unless you know the price per square foot range you should be paying for each property, you’re bidding blind. I recently gave a talk and asked the audience what price per square foot they paid for their property, if they owned one. Only one of nearly 20 people knew, and even then he didn’t know whether it was in line with the market. He therefore had no idea whether he had overpaid or not; he thought that negotiating an amount off the asking price meant it was good value. This is not the case and a good buying agent will know the exact range you should be paying and handle negotiations for you.
Another way we add value is by holding the purchase together. The cost of a purchase falling through can be expensive as you lose all of the fees you’ve spent up to that point, not to mention the heartache and disappointment. A lot of purchases fall through due to poor communication between buyer and estate agent, or in some cases, solicitors. We have acted on countless occasions to hold client purchases together which would have otherwise fallen through had we not been involved.
So, before you think that using a buying agent is just for the rich or time poor, think again, in the current market we’re used by the smart buyers too.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Anderson Harris