“I don’t feature in the Rich List so why on earth would I use a Buying Agent?”
I’m not expecting to be helicoptered around to see glamorous £3million estates across the Home Counties, so what on earth is the point of considering a Buying Agent…..?
And anyway what is the need when I have the Internet and can see everything coming to the market myself…?
Perhaps it’s time we thought again. In this changing market, when buyers and vendors are at stalemate, can you ever buy your dream home without a drama? Is it possible that Buying Agents might actually hold the key?
If you come to this never having heard the term “Buying Agent”, a basic explanation is this; the Estate Agent acts for the person selling the house (the vendor), and the Buying Agent acts for the buyers.
We should all remember the Estate Agent’s job is to squeeze the purchaser as hard as they can on behalf of their client. The Buying Agent is doing just the same on the buyer’s behalf, trying to squeeze the vendor but in the opposite direction!
Gone are the days when buying agents are just for the time poor and super rich. With the market as it is now – with fewer properties coming to market and stalemate being reached between vendors and purchasers – the Buying Agents have a growing role.
So what is it they do….?
At a time when we can all trawl the Internet one might question the merit of their search ability, but they have very strong relationships with the Estate Agents and they often get the heads up that something is coming to the Market before it hits your inbox. Added to which they should have local knowledge and an ear to the ground, and so hear about things even before the Estate Agents. When you believe there is nothing on the market that suits you it may well be there are deals going on that never reach the open market. With the thousands of properties you can find on the Internet they can save you time by weeding out the properties that aren’t worth viewing, but also in reverse they can encourage you to look at something you may have dismissed out of hand, seeing the potential where you see only the negatives. At a time like now when there is limited supply and optimistic vendor pricing, having someone on the spot who hears about the good houses first can really make a difference to how long it takes you to find your dream home. Crucially, the Buying Agents need to be local and know the area in which you are looking, thereby preventing the expensive mistake of buying in the ‘wrong village’, or in the wrong part of town for your needs.
It’s really when it comes to negotiation that you can feel the immense benefit of a Buying Agent. We already know about vendors pricing positively and it can be hard to convince them to accept a lower offer when some houses are selling well with competition among the bidders. Having a Buying Agent act for you can add real weight to your offer. Not only are they generally respected by Estate Agents, your use of them places you in the category of a ‘serious’ purchaser. In addition, they also have access to comparables of which you may be unaware. It’s no use quoting out of date comparables or unsold properties in the belief this will help your cause. The research that Buying Agents do on your behalf ensures that you have a much greater chance of understanding the true commercial value of your potential property, which allows for a much greater level of confidence during the negotiation process.
Alongside these two key roles you’ll find a decent Buying Agent brings many other talents to the table. Hand-holding shouldn’t be discounted; having professionals look over a property and give you their views can be a real asset when you are looking at making an eye-watering investment in an unfamiliar area. Added to which their local knowledge should be second to none: ask them about schools, the best GP, where to get a decent massage. These are all questions they can answer (maybe not the one about the massage), once again making the transition to a new location that much easier.
So as I read this, I’m sold. Why wouldn’t I use a Buying Agent? Anyone who can ease the path and ensure we don’t get left high and dry on a gazumping frenzy is worth investigation in my book…but what’s the flip side?
There is always a BUT….
Essentially there are a couple of BUTs…the main one relating to cost. Whilst no longer just for the champagne swilling super rich, Buying Agents do come at a price, anything from 1% to a hefty 2.5% of the purchase price of the new property. So that means paying between £5,000 and £12,500 on a property worth £500,000, so it is a factor you cannot ignore. Buying Agents can certainly offer some reassurance that you’ll get most if not all of their fee back in the money saved by their skilful negotiation, but you’ve still got to approach this with eyes open. Some of them have a fee structure that involves a percentage of the saving off the asking price, but you need to be very clear at the outset that you fully understand what fees are payable when the time comes.
The second negative is trust – most certainly an issue that can be overcome, but one that should be given some consideration before you sign on the dotted line. Critical is the relationship between you and your Buying Agent. It’s no good if they don’t get what you want. You need to do some research; every agent has their area of expertise and finding one to suit your needs is vital. And then – trust them! You have to tell them the top figure you would pay, not a pretend figure that you keep changing. You need to trust them to negotiate on your behalf. If you end up not buying the house, you need to feel confident they gave it their best shot for you. You don’t want to regret it.
If it’s something you’re considering, talk to people, get their feedback. There are some brilliant Buying Agents out there, but you need to get referrals in much the same way you would when using any other professional. The really good Buying Agents understand they have to add value, or people just won’t bother using them. Their job is to work for you, and to work really really hard to research both before and after you find a house.
Personally, I’m sold – as long as the price is right.
With thanks to
James Greenwood at Stacks
Lisa Green at County Homesearch
Esmond Elliot at Knight Frank
Helen Turner at Helen Turner On The Move