For many years I have specialised in buying property for my clients and in most cases my clients wouldn’t have found the property without my help. This is because they are normally private or ‘off-market’ properties where the property for sale hasn’t been advertised and so my contacts have been the key component. The reason I am able to find exceptional off-market properties for my clients is because I have spent years developing relationships and building my reputation with people in the property market.
In general, there are three ways I source off-market property investment and purchase opportunities:
By being given advanced notice
Where an owner might be waiting to put a house on the market in the spring or summer, often to show it in good weather conditions where the garden looks beautiful, one or two people may be chosen to view it before it officially goes on the market. This is often so the seller can test the waters and gauge interest before putting it up for sale whereupon a ‘clock’ begins ticking and the longer a property is on the market the less appealing it becomes. Who is chosen to view it depends on who the appointed estate agent knows and trusts which is why I value my connections so much. Having the right connections means I often get contacted and given advance notice before a coveted property is formally listed for sale with agents.
By approaching an owner directly
If I have seen or been made aware of a property that meets all of my client’s requirements, even if the current owner is not looking to sell, I often approach them to see if they would be amenable to selling if the right offer was made. You might be surprised to know that owners can often respond quite positively to such an approach.
By being introduced to private opportunities
It is not uncommon for an owner to appoint an estate agent to sell their property but they want to keep the sale private and confidential. This is often the case where the property being sold is particularly high value and the seller wants to stay out of the public eye. Understandably they don’t want the location and value to be subject to scrutiny or publically known. In these cases I will often be required to sign a confidentiality agreement stipulating that I will only show the property to selected clients of mine who themselves are often required to enter into confidentiality undertakings before details of the property or its owner are disclosed.
Buying off-market has several advantages. First, it is often the case that the really exceptional properties will never make it to market so having someone with the right contacts is essential if a buyer has any chance of seeing these. Off-market sales also remain the main way that most of the beautiful country houses are bought and sold as well as the best London town houses. Discretion is key to many such deals.
Buying off-market property also has the advantage of there being less competition meaning that as the buyer you are in a stronger position because you don’t have to worry as much about the seller receiving better offers. It is also normal for time to be less of a factor because the lack of other potential buyers means there is no rush to close the deal before someone else does. This also means that both parties are often far more relaxed and reasonable when negotiating. It also allows time for trust and tax planning that is often associated with such deals.
However the lack of time pressure can sometimes become a frustration for buyers who want to buy quickly. A seller could take several months to consider an offer and because there are no commitments with selling off-market there’s no incentive to speed up the process or even to sell. Sellers can withdraw the property at any time without having to worry about losing money through auctioning or advertising.
There are however situations where the need for a quick deal is a factor although this requires slighly more sophisticated buyers who are comfortable with such transactions. Risk factors need to be understood since this is where fraud and money laundering are often considerations.
In general though I think buying off-market is the best way to find exceptional properties without the pressure that can come with other ways of buying such as through estate agents or at auction. If you’re looking to buy a beautiful property but haven’t found the right one through conventional methods, please do get in contact with me and I will be delighted to assist you to find one.
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