What is a buying agent?
A buying agent can go by several names such as a ‘property finder’, ‘search agent’ or ‘property sourcer’. They represent the buyer to find suitable properties, negotiate an offer and help progress the sale.
Originally, buying agents were seen as a service only for the wealthy, dealing in ‘off-market’ sales away from the public eye. However, buying agents now cater for a range of budgets and can provide many benefits to a typical London home buyer.
How much does a buying agent cost?
The majority of buying agents work on a commission basis. They typically charge around 1.5% +VAT of the agreed sale price. This means on a £1m purchase, a buying agent may charge in the region of £18,000.
Some agents have a clause where their commission may be a higher % of the amount negotiated from the asking price if this is greater than the standard sale commission. Most agents also charge a small retainer fee at the beginning of the search.
Perrygate’s success fee is 1% inc VAT or a minimum fee of £6,000. Our pricing model enables us to help a wide range of clients from first-time home buyers to experienced investors. Read more about our fees here.
WHY USE A BUYING AGENT?
1. Save Money
A property finder’s goal is to secure a property matching their client’s criteria at the best possible price. They will work to identify properties where a significant amount may be negotiated off the asking price. Due diligence on the property, broader market conditions and the vendor’s position all inform an agent’s negotiating strategy. Buying agents often try to build up a shortlist of comparable properties matching their client’s search brief. This not only helps the client understand their own preferences but gives them more options and leverage in negotiations.
A property finder will not just try to save their client a significant amount of money from the asking price (often many times their fee), but will look to secure other favourable terms. For example, they may ask for a lease to be renewed before exchange of contracts or for the vendor to work towards a quick sale.
International buyers using a buying agent enjoy further benefits. By letting their property finder do the day-to-day groundwork, they avoid expensive last minute hotels and flights.
2. Save Time
Buying a property is a time consuming process. Researching properties, travelling to and reporting on viewings, negotiating and progressing the sale etc. takes considerable time. A property search can take more than 150 hours to complete. London property searches in particular involve a large amount of travelling to different areas. For instance, a property search within a twenty minute commute means a property finder will travel to a wide variety of neighbourhoods to give their client a full market overview. As London’s public transport continues to improve with projects like Crossrail, the number of commutable areas increases.
Buying agents offer in-depth knowledge of your search area, local market conditions as well as negotiating experience. This is especially important in a huge city like London where it can be difficult to get an overview of the hundreds of unique neighbourhoods. London’s property market is hyperlocal with significant price per sq ft changes from street to street. Good agents ensure the buyer isn’t overwhelmed and is presented with clear options to secure the right property at the right price.
In addition, a buying agent should have a strong eye for detail and will always be looking for issues which are not revealed by the marketing information. Such factors which affect the negotiating position include: ceiling heights, natural light, condition of communal areas, is the property North/South facing, internet speeds, local amenities or nearby developments – to name but a few!
Finally, all good buying agents take the time to build relationships with clients. It is important to go beyond a client’s basic criteria and gain a deeper understanding of what they are truly looking for in a home. Agents may challenge client assumptions about their dream property and ask them to consider other areas or types of property. For instance, a client may say they do not want an apartment in a building shared with other residents. However, they may be more than happy to purchase a maisonette in a terraced period property with a private entrance.
4. Less Stress
Buying a property can be one of life’s most stressful experiences. A buying agent will save their clients the stress of dealing with many of the challenges during a property search. These can range from dealing with misleading marketing (e.g. incorrect leasehold information), cancelled viewings, indecisive vendors – to name but a few!
Many agents also offer relocation packages to clients requiring extra support during their move to London. Perrygate’s London Relocation Services can include anything from school searches, setting-up utilities/council tax, airport pick-up, arranging furniture delivery etc.
5. Sales Progression
Once a property is taken off the market, a buying agent’s work doesn’t stop. The next goal is to conclude the sale in a timely manner so the client can start life in their new home. The conveyancing process in England often drags on if left in the hands of solicitors without a gentle push every few days to chase progress. It is a well known fact in property that the longer a sale takes, the greater the risk of it collapsing. Your buying agent will want all parties (solicitors, surveyors, agents) to progress the sale in a diligent but timely manner without unnecessary delay.
6. Professional Representation
Estate agents know property finders only represent serious clients who have a clear search brief and paid a retainer. This helps buyers gain quick access to the right properties and ensures they are taken seriously. This can be particularly important for international buyers who may otherwise struggle to get access to properties.
What’s The Right Buying Agent For Me?
If you think a property finder may help you buy a London property the next question is what agent to use. We’ll try to be impartial here! It is important you find a London property finder which is a good fit for you. Some agents specialise in off-market London property and frequently deal with purchases in the £10m+ range. Clients using such a service can expect a very high level of customer care with chauffeur driven tours of London etc. However the commission rates can often be in excess of £100,000 for properties in this price range.
Other agents cater for a broader range of home buyers and charge fees more affordable to the typical London buyer. At Perrygate we typically deal with purchases in London Transport Zones 1 -3 valued up to £6m and believe our pricing model delivers excellent value without compromising on service.
If you would like to discuss your London property search, contact us today for a no obligation quote and consultation.