So, what is a buying agent and what is it that they can actually do for you? Well in this article we’re going to share 10 top things that a London buying agent is going to do to make your life easier.
As a property agent I love working with buyers and sellers but particularly buyers to help them navigate the buying process here in the UK. For my international buyers, especially Americans, they’re often very surprised about how different buying in the UK property market is compared to, say, in America, and so for me it’s something I felt really passionate about being a buying agent and offering my services because typically the way the market here works is people don’t often work with buying agents. Having bought property in America and knowing the value of a good buying agent and the service that they bring I felt was really important to offer that for my clients in London, but many UK-based clients may not know what a buying agent actually is and can do for them.
10 things a good buying agent will do for you to make your life easier
Help you get prepared for property viewings
The first thing a good buying agent will do for you is help you get prepared, and that means working with you to make sure you’ve gotten a mortgage in principle, we’ve discussed your budget your financing options, whether you considered a mortgage advisor to work with, helping you identify a solicitor that you’re going to want to work with, and many more requirements you may not know about when buying a property.
The reason this is a really important part of the process is the better we can prepare you on the front end, then when we go to present you or present your offer it’s going to be that much stronger.
When you’re a first-time buyer in the UK market it is going to be very different than say the way you’ve transacted in other countries, so the first thing we want to do is make sure we’re preparing you as a buyer and that you’re in a position to buy at an appropriate budget or price point.
Property Market Knowledge & Dynamics
The second thing a good buying agent will do is provide you current and up-to-date market dynamics. The London property market is constantly changing especially in the current chapter we’re in right now, there’s so many articles you can read about it, but the reality is for your certain area the dynamics might be very different. I have a background as a real estate investment banker so I’m really passionate about making sure we use data when appropriate that helps give the framework of what we’re comparing to, for example if somebody’s comparing one part of town to another it helps to look at price per square foot, and give a sense of what that same budget might be able to buy you in a different part of town.
Help compile a detailed property brief
The third thing a good buying agent will do is get a detailed brief from you. That means when I’m working with buyers I spend a fair amount of time talking to them to not just understand the statistical criteria, like “three bedroom, two bath, square footage, garage, garden” those types of things, while they’re very important it’s also crucial to understand why you want those things, and what’s driving this purchase. The reason behind the importance of finding the why, is because if I can get a better sense of that and what that purchase might mean to you it’ll also help me inform the ways I can help, for example a couple years ago I was working with a gentleman who was looking for a pied a terre (a second home) in London but he lives in Oxford and so he was wanting a leafy neighborhood in a more mature area but he was considering the areas around Chiswick in West London, and as I got to ask him questions the reality was he was going to be commuting in on a regular basis from Oxford and that was going to bring him into Paddington and Marylebone stations and therefore I was able to offer him a different part of town which would also still give that leafy neighborhood feel that he was looking for but would be much more convenient logistically as he came into town and so we kind of focused our search on Maida Vale and we did end up buying him something there that I think he’s been very happy with. So it’s really important that we can spend time on that detailed brief, understanding your needs, and really making sure when we’re looking for properties we’re then matching them appropriately.
Knowledge of the local neighbourhoods
Number four on our list of what a good buying agent will do is to be able to offer you different areas to consider. So while you might have an idea of the areas you want to be in, we’ve got to always manage that based on your budget. Sometimes it might mean that as an agent we have to offer you different neighborhoods that might give you what you’re looking for but be more realistic to your budget, just like in the previous example, the neighborhood consideration could also be different based on logistically what you might need whether it’s commuting to school or work or the airport then the areas to consider are definitely going to be very important.
Identify properties for you
Number five on the list of what a good buying agent will do for you is to actually identify properties. We take a lot of the stress away from having to search multiple portals, registering with different agents, and being inundated with properties that don’t meet your criteria. We can be really focused and I’ve built up great relationships with a lot of agents in different parts of town so they know when I’m calling that I’m working with a serious buyer and often can see properties that might not even have hit the market yet or that might be available soon, so it’s really important that we can help you identify properties that truly match what you are looking for.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find properties on your own but we can find the right properties for you and also lay it out in a way that helps you compare in a more strategic and less overwhelming way. Again, with my analytical background, what I’m great at is presenting spreadsheets to help compare things in an easy to view system, such as price, location, distance to tube stations, price per square foot, does it have a garden, what floor is it on, and so on, so you can have that good sense of information to make the right decision and it really starts crystallizing which properties might be more suitable than others.
Preview the properties for you
After we’ve identified the properties then the sixth thing a good buying agent will do for you is actually to go preview the properties for you. Sometimes I preview properties with my clients, but sometimes they’re international and will go on their behalf. I’m currently working with a cypriot client who’s looking for a buy to let investment and I was out last week checking out properties on his behalf. When we preview properties for clients we send detailed videos, we can communicate how and when they want to such as creating a WhatsApp group so we can upload those the videos and spend time having a follow-up call, walking clients through some key features that we’ve seen. When the client is able to be in town, we can then be really efficient in organising viewings on their behalf, and fit in a good number of viewings in a very efficient time frame again taking away all the stress of working with agents trying to coordinate multiple viewings, and we can be there with them during the viewings to help them throughout the process.
I have found that when I can be with my clients and get their visceral on-site reactions, that really helps inform our search criteria going forward. A couple of years ago I was working with a mother and daughter who had all kinds of criteria – they had a dog, space where they could work from home, and many more requirements – but then as we went out and viewed a property it became really clear that the mother had a very sensitive nose and there was no way she was walking in or dealing with any properties that anyone had lived in, so we really needed a property that been refurbished or never lived in that was going to be suitable for them and that’s what we ended up finding them, but we didn’t really know that going into the process until we got her reaction time and time again when she could smell previous odors on the carpets and things like that. So it’s really important that when we preview a property we can get that real-time feedback as a buying agent.
I often get clients saying they don’t like a property but it’s really important if I can ask what about it don’t they like, that way we can get clear about what we need to avoid in the future.
Top tip – have your top three “must have” criteria before viewing properties.
Living in London, no matter what your budget, is going to mean trade-offs and concessions. It doesn’t mean you won’t be happy with what we end up with, but we need to be a realistic. We’re living in a capital city with high price per square foot and therefore it means certain things are going to have to trade off, so you need to consider what at your budget you are willing to give up – perhaps location to the tube station to get more space, if you want a ground floor property to get the garden it might mean you’re living in a ground floor flat where some people don’t like to live, so it’s really important that we can assess those trade-offs and concessions and have those conversations but get clear on three criteria that are most important.
Know the key features to consider when viewing properties
Number seven on our list is that as we preview these properties we can also, as an experienced agent, point out key features to consider and look out for like double glazed windows, whether the property is a freehold or a leasehold, garden issues, damp or subsidence issues, a new build versus an existing property, and we can point out those features and amenities that will hopefully frame whether this is the right property for you or to book in a second viewing.
Present your offer & negotiate on your behalf
Once we’ve identified the right property for you we then can present your offer and negotiate on your behalf because we understand the current market dynamics, and we’ll know if we can offer below asking price, or need to put in an offer quickly.
I’m working with a buyer right now and we’re looking in South East London and we’re finding that the homes are selling practically the same day with multiple offers so we definitely know that if we find the right property we won’t be probably in a position to negotiate very much but again my job is then to help her secure that home and make sure that when I deal with the agent I can present her as a really strong buyer who the seller is absolutely assured is going to actually exchange and complete on the home.
Number nine on our list, once we’ve secured the property, we can also connect you to the key other providers you’re going to need. Whether that’s surveyors, solicitors, moving companies, contractors if you’re going to consider doing some work, all of those third parties and we can connect you with them. I do a ton of networking so there’s usually somebody in the property sector or property related that we can certainly connect you with to make sure you’re getting great service providers.
Guide you through the conveyance process
Number 10 on our list is we can advise and guide you throughout the conveyance process and that while the solicitors are primarily the ones that are going to be doing all the legal associated with it, there might be things that come back or are raised during the conveyancing title process that we’re going to want to consider.
I recently represented an American couple buying in a new build and because it’s a taller building there were issues on the cladding that we had to decide on and so again it’s helpful to be that person that your buyers can trust and rely on to give you context as to what’s coming up, why that might or might not be an issue, and how we can address it over time or in those negotiations.
As a bonus tip, I think another great service that a buying agent should be able to do is really connect you with anyone you’re going to need after you’ve purchased the home whether that’s the utility providers, people to provide window treatments, moving or relocation companies, any of those services you’re going to need to settle into your home are all connections a good buying agent would have. I recently purchased for my American buyers a flat and we were offering as a buy to let and we’ve now secured the tenant for them who wants it furnished, so I’m able to offer, as an additional service, the ability to furnish that property as a buy to let investment to give the tenants what they’re looking for and definitely keep our landlord competitive in a challenging rental market.
So what did you think of the list of top 10 services that a good buying agent is able to provide? Do let me know if you’ve had experiences good or bad with buying agents I’d love to hear, also if you’re thinking about buying in the London property market and never worked with a buying agent and you want more details on how we work please do get in touch.