How a property hunter can help you find the perfect home
In today’s diverse, international market there’s no excuse for a multi-million pound budget not to secure you your perfect home, one that delivers on every level. Wherever you’re shopping for a luxury residence, you shouldn’t need to compromise. Sounds easy enough, at least on paper.
But what if you have the money, but neither the time, contacts nor confidence? Cue property finders, specialists in high end real estate who work solely on behalf of buyers, typically in premium destinations around the world, such as prime central London (PCL), other major cities and exclusive tourist destinations, including ski resorts.
What does a property hunter do?
Professional property finders, also called buying agents, do the reverse of traditional estate agents. Their clients are individual buyers like you, who appoint them to find and help secure you a suitable property, paying them fees accordingly. This means that, unlike estate agents, they don’t promote or advertise lists of properties, they are never paid by vendors and rather than try and achieve the highest price for a purchase, they negotiate to get the best deal for you.
Besides their comprehensive finding service, most will also provide luxury rental search, tenancy management, vacancy management services and relocation services. Crucially, they will tailor their service to meet your individual needs. It might be that you have a particular property in your sights and wish to use them purely to negotiate a price, or you might require them only for an introduction to a vendor – whatever your specific needs, they should accommodate them.
The key benefits
It is normal to pay for professional guidance when investing in other assets, so why not property? Reassurance and service are key motivators for using a reputable property finder. Many of you won’t have the necessary contacts or on-the-ground experience to secure the best properties. In fact, a large number of you won’t have the time or desire to start searching and then negotiating by yourself – you’d prefer to be guided by an expert who is familiar with the market.
By networking and exploiting their personal contacts in the marketplace, your property finder will present you with a list of carefully selected properties to consider. These could include exclusive deals or homes that were not advertised on the open market. If one ticks all the boxes, they will then negotiate for you and be there on hand until a successful completion. Their service should also include connecting you with other recommended professionals you might potentially require during a property transaction, including a lawyer, mortgage provider or currency transfer specialist.
Having the expertise of a property finder behind you is especially valuable if you are purchasing in a foreign country, where the property laws, negotiating culture and conveyancing process are different.
“Buying abroad can be challenging and very time consuming, with the distant process, different regulations and limited market expertise,” highlighted Sebastian Nicolleau, MD of international buying agency Galleon. “The mission of a buying agent is to eliminate these challenges and pitfalls from day one. They represent your interests as a buyer, advise you, source the best properties available that match your criteria, negotiate the deal and manage the conveyancing process through to completion.”
A transparent fee structure
For their finding service, most property finders stick to a standard model for fees, although their rates will vary slightly. The main fee to you will be their success fee, due on completion of any property that they find for you. This will be a percentage of the final purchase price. In addition, some firms may also ask for a percentage of any saving that they secure against the original asking price. In cases when they have negotiated especially hard, this discount could be substantial and more than cover all of their fees.
In addition, when you first appoint your property finder they will likely ask for a retainer fee. This is to cover the time and expenses they spend on your search and it will usually be deductible from their success fee. Fees for introduction to a property or negotiation only will be negotiated on an individual basis.
Get ahead with a property finder
Unsurprisingly, using a property finder in London is commonplace and right now demand for their services is as strong has ever. One example is Hannah Aykroyd of Aykroyd & Co, who is currently helping a client with at £2.5 million budget find a two/three bedroom flat in Maida Vale, Westminster.
“As per our normal process, we spent about a week picking up the phone to our contacts, getting a full picture of what is both on and off the market that meets her brief,” explained Ms Aykroyd. “While we weren’t physically able to view any properties on her behalf due to the current [Coronavirus] crisis, we were able to draw on our knowledge of the area, buildings and price per sq ft, as well as further research. This allowed us to whittle down the list of options, as we scratched off flats that were north-facing, others that were too far from a tube station, still others that were on a noisy, busy road.”
After sending the client a carefully edited list of over a dozen on- and off-market properties for her consideration, Ms Aykroyd scheduled a call for further detailed discussion. “Importantly, we managed to narrow the shortlist to five properties,” she added. “In her case, none of the flats she was interested in are available for online viewing. We will of course continue to closely track the market to dig out any other opportunities, but at least we now have a shortlist that we can view immediately once the government advises that it is safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, the client has been able to retain a property lawyer from Ms Aykroyd’s list of recommended professionals, and to start the mortgage process with a mortgage broker. “I would estimate she’s about 3-4 weeks ahead of other buyers and we will be able to pounce on her property of choice when restrictions lift.”