Thousands of people move home every year, what’s the deal with these buying agents who claim to save money, time and stress?
I should start by saying I’m a ‘Buying Agent’, a London based property consultant helping people move. When asked what I do it normally always results in the same questions – who pays? why do they pay? how does it work?
The idea of a buying agent is commonplace in countries like Australia and parts of America but London seems to have it’s fair share of them too, hundreds in fact! Perhaps a consequence of London’s burgeoning financial status over the last few decades mixed with wealthy international buyers looking for security and a safe haven..
But a few minutes into any conversation about what I do and I’m being asked for my business card. Not because I’ve made a brilliant case for employing my services, but because I think it makes sense.
Let me explain.
Buying a property starts with a wide-eyed earnestness, a self belief and confidence in knowing what you want and your ability to negotiate. But this is far from the reality of it.
Sourcing: For a start it takes time to search (there’s lots of trawling, registering, enquiring, leaving voicemails, replying to agents messages, sifting through things you never asked for, taking time off work, disappointment over the ones that got away, redefining the search, understanding compromises, organizing viewings). Leasehold, freehold, mixed use buildings, service charges, managing agents, informal tenders, sealed bids, open houses, POA, ‘offers in excess of’, ‘guide price’ – lots to get your head around there too.
And unfortunately the whole time you are being judged by agents on how ‘hot’ a buyer you are.
Negotiation: Then there’s the negotiation. Do you have the information you need to make the right moves? How are you determining value? You think starting low might be a good idea, but then some other buyer you didn’t know about has already played a stronger card. The agent doesn’t make anything clear and then you get frustrated. Maybe the seller is dodgy? Maybe this just isn’t meant to be. You walk away or maybe it isn’t that bad, you’ve agreed a price and it’s in hand. But what about the terms – have you detailed conditions, timeframes, expectations etc?
Surveys: You need the right type of survey for the type of property and the right surveyor who knows what they’re doing. What about the important background checks? Surveys may bring things up, which need further investigating by other experts. You may also need to re-negotiate on certain things with the seller. But more importantly a sense of perspective and context is important – how bad is it and what does this mean?
The Legals: You think your solicitor has everything to hand, but how many transactions are they dealing with? Without nudging it can take up to 70% longer to get a deal done. And I mean nudging not pestering (solicitors tend to hate agents for the latter). But what about problem solving? Dealing with obstacles? They haven’t and won’t be seeing the property remember.
There are lots of things in each area, at each stage – potential issues/pitfalls I can count on both hands that I’ve missed out. But something that’s often underestimated is our own human propensity for being disruptive and self harming. We can be our worst enemy, buying a property gets emotional and the feelings of confusion, frustration and stress all surface. These along with stubbornness and misguided pride can creep up on you too.
So that’s where a good buying agent comes in – informing, guiding and providing the confidence to help you make smarter decisions. That’s not to say some of the above doesn’t happen – it does, but it’s about minimizing it and ensuring the best possible outcome is achieved. And that’s where experience makes the difference.
From sourcing properties that aren’t easily found to a smooth move in/handover of keys. A buying agent acts on your behalf and in your interest – a time, money and stress saving expert who helps you land on your feet. With such important transactions information is power and trust is priceless.
Although the number of Buying Agents continues to decline sharply due to a slow property market, the need for people to understand the tricky London market and find opportunities is more important than ever.
So that’s what I do.
If you want to find out more or enquire about how I can help you with your property moves then I would be delighted to hear from you! You can contact me directly or use the contact form.