Prime London Property – The Secret Way In
According to Simon Barnes property consultant at H. Barnes & Co in Mayfair.
Buying top end property in London is far from straightforward. Not only is the market currently suffering from low levels of supply, meaning competition for the best properties is incredibly tough, but much of the stock available to buy never reaches the open market. This, in turn, makes it increasingly difficult for both domestic and overseas buyers to find either the right domestic or investment property. Nevertheless, London remains one of the safest and most desirable places to invest in property, but how do you access the market if so much of it functions under the radar? This is where buying agents come in.
The job of the buying agent has never been more necessary at the prime level of the market. Their ability to offer impartial advice, to cut through mixed messages relayed by the media, their expert negotiation skills and perhaps most importantly, their ability to access properties that are marketed privately, makes their services indispensable. Time poor, cash rich individuals are not in a position to build the relationships necessary with estate agents, to ensure first access to properties hitting the market, or crucially to be made aware of those that don’t ever get there.
In such a competitive market, strong relationships with estate agents are essential. Estate agents know us and know that we represent clients who are committed to buying and can move quickly, therefore we are often the first to hear about properties before they come onto the open market. Agents register hundreds of buyers every week, how can they know which are the serious ones and how can they keep in regular touch with all of them? Instructing a buying agent to advise you shows a serious, considered commitment to buying a property, which gives strength and credibility to any offer put on the table. If an agent can sell a house by making one call, he often won’t bother making two. A diligent buying agent will be a lifelong estate agent stalker! They will have worked hard over years to guarantee that they are always number one on the estate agent’s call list, receiving the first call as soon as that agent has seen a new instruction.
For international investors with no knowledge of the local market, the appeal goes even further, as a good buying agent will have extensive local knowledge essential for a home search – from good schools to transport links, to nearby development plans and intricate price variations that can vary from one side of the street to another. Increasingly buying agents are being asked to handle much more than the search and acquisition process, but are relied upon to recommend legal professionals, and even design experts.
Finding the property is only part of the job, the work doesn’t stop there….
The job of a buying agent, especially when you are a small outfit, is a 24/7 job and you are always on call, often acting as a confidante in more than just the property search. We help with sourcing finance, a good solicitor or tax adviser, and are able to provide our clients with introductions to the best architects, interior designers, landscape design gardeners and even professionals in sourcing antiques and artwork.
Once the perfect property is found, this is when the work really begins, and where the good buying agent really adds value to the deal…
Negotiating the deal is another essential string to the buying agent’s bow. Buying agents can negotiate aggressively for investor clients, potentially saving a healthy percentage off property asking prices. However, whilst getting a good price might be important for many, the saving is not always the most important thing but securing the best deal is, especially if the buyer is searching for the perfect lifetime home. The successful structuring and presentation of the offer put forward to the seller, is as important a part of the negotiation process as securing the best price. Savings are not the main thing for many of our clients. We are employed to identify what the client is looking for, find it and once having found it, making sure that we secure it. Sometimes price is immaterial.
The buying agent’s ability to understand cultural differences, respect and preserve client confidentiality entirely and offer expert advice and knowledge, are key to acquiring the right property. Experts have for a long time been automatically employed when it comes to almost every other investment decision – be it art or the stock market. Today, for those investing in bricks and mortar, the instruction of a good buying agent has become an equally essential requirement.
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