To quote someone I worked with previously ‘what we do as (selling) agents is not rocket science’, and he was absolutely right. As an Estate agent your priority is to service the client and get them a fantastic price and get the property sold. Quick turnover is also good news, for obvious reasons. Once a buyer has an offer accepted, the pressure is on, and if you do not deliver in a timely fashion it can become extremely stressful for everyone. There aren’t enough hours in the day to chase solicitors, surveyors, estate agents and to negotiate on all the fixtures and fittings you and the agent forgot to discuss when you agreed the sale! No, not rocket science for the agent, but a lot to deal with for the buyer, especially if you haven’t done it before. The estate agent certainly doesn’t have the time, or patience, to hold your hand through the entire process.
Experienced buyers sometimes refer to their search in the property market as ‘playing the game’, a rather expensive one, but they are right nevertheless. I recall a buyer that worked for an investment firm. He had been looking in Chelsea and Kensington and was very quick to point out that he had viewed substantially more expensive properties than those my agency had listed (perhaps up to £3m at the time). The young negotiator dealing with him was very quick to report this, in his enthusiasm, to the vendor. When the businessman came to making an offer, after attempting to research local prices, he was unwilling to pay the asking price of £3m, but was happy to settle lower than this at £2.85m. The vendor of said property was furious and insulted, stating that if the buyer could afford a £10m house in Chelsea, he could certainly pay the asking price in Fulham. Needless to say the sale never happened, regardless of what the price could have/should have been or whether the buyer may have increased his offer. This is an example of the unexpected pitfalls associated with buying on your own, and whilst I’m not for a second trying to paint a bleak picture of the buying process, I do think that there are benefits to be had from using someone with considerable experience in the London property Market to represent you.
Whenever I registered a new applicant (buyer) who was looking in the area for a new home, I was very quick to try and find out exactly how far down the line they had got with financing, instructing solicitors, surveyors and all the other admin associated with purchasing. More times than I care to mention, there was upset and frustration at how they kept ‘missing out’ and it usually took a number of weeks before they were properly prepared to start the legal process. The buyers I took seriously as a selling agent were the people (usually housewives) that were able to drop everything and roar around to see my newest instruction that may or may not have ticked the right boxes. If we were lucky the husband would view the property on the same evening. Its quite obvious that not everyone can drop everything they are doing every time an Estate agent calls and tells them they have an ‘amazing’ property, ‘you must see it’! But with shortage of stock and more buyers than homes at the moment you will unfortunately miss opportunities that will arise, unless someone can see it for you in the middle of the working day. If, as an individual, you have viewed 15 properties before settling on one you like, its likely that a search agent will have viewed 50 and will shortlist 3 in a third of the time it has taken you to offer on one. He will also tell you if it is expensive, or good value, based on the the stock he has seen in the local area as well as negotiate for the property on your behalf.
An average property search can take an individual buyer (in the present market) anything from 3-6 months to find what they want. If you wish to save the time, money, stress and uncertainty I would always suggest using a property search agent. If a Vendor is represented, why shouldn’t you be?