First, can you explain what a buying agent is?
“A buying agent searches for properties, gives advice and manages the negotiation process, all the way through to a successful purchase. They represent and advise the purchaser only, so while the vendor has the estate agent trying to get the best possible price for them, we have the buyer’s interests at heart. One of the main challenges for buyers is getting ahead of other purchasers and finding properties before they do. This is where a buying agent comes into their own. Another of our tasks is to significantly reduce the number of homes the buyer has to view, as well as ensuring you pay the right price.” – Emma Seaton, buying director at Prime Purchase
“Finding the right property takes an enormous amount of time, especially when you are based abroad or unfamiliar with an area of London. Even with all the time in the world, a buyer without professional representation will struggle to be confident they have bought the right property and not missed out on another, better opportunity. The property market, especially in London, is unsettled by economic uncertainty and pandemic anxieties right now, causing pricing to be confusing and volatile. A buying agent can access relative value, providing relevant comparables. It is essential to have access to this due diligence when buying a property. They will use this information in their negotiations with the selling agent, understanding motivations and finding solutions. A buyer represented by a reputable buying agent will be taken much more seriously than anyone without one.” – Lucie Hirst, co-founder of Colombo Hirst
And how does that differ to a normal estate agent?
“Quite simply, a buying agent will represent only the buyer’s interests – not the sellers. Conversely, estate agents represent the seller not the buyer. It is essential to have your own professional representation – a buying agent – ahead of what may be one of the largest financial transactions of your life. In addition to a buying agent, you will need a number of professionals to be involved in your search – a solicitor, mortgage broker, tax adviser and surveyor, to name a few. A buying agent will introduce you to and coordinate all of these specialists and ensure you are looked after by a network of individually selected trusted advisors.” – Lucie
“Unlike estate agents, we will also point out any negatives when it comes to a property and the surrounding area and make sure you only buy the ‘best in class’. If a property is not suitable, we will say so.” – Emma
Are they usually independent or do they work for larger property groups?
“Buying agents range from one-man or one-woman bands working for themselves to large organisations owned by well-known estate agencies, but operating completely independently. Some buying agents work as property brokers, both buying and selling property. At Prime Purchase, we only buy property for clients, ensuring the lines are not blurred. We may be owned by Savills, one of the world’s best-known real estate brands, but we are totally independent and have no vested interest in selling properties.” – Emma
“Many of the smaller agencies both buy and sell properties for their clients. They will be getting a fee from both sides. There is a huge advantage in using a buying agent that only buys properties, such as ours. A buying agent needs to have excellent relationships with the selling agents to make sure they are the first to hear about any new properties. Removing the competition aspect that is inevitable when you also sell properties helps to foster these relationships.” – Lucie
So, who should consider using a buying agent?
“Anyone who is serious about buying or renting a property and wanting to avoid potentially expensive mistakes should consider using a buying agent. Given the current climate, it is more important than ever to invest in a buying agent. Typically, an agent will preview anything from 20 to 60 properties before showing any of them to clients. That way, they’re only shown the very best. Without a buying agent, a buyer can easily waste time. Our job is to filter out any properties which aren’t worth it. Since the start of the pandemic, we have bought several properties for different clients and all through virtual viewings. The clients didn’t physically see the properties and trusted us to do our diligence. We inspected the properties and this, combined with live walk throughs on FaceTime, were sufficient. An estate agent wouldn’t necessarily do this and even if they offered to, it is not in their best interest to point out the negatives to you. We spend as much time talking clients out of buying a property as we do highlighting the positives.” – Lucie
“Whether you are looking to move within London, out of London or to England from abroad, a buying agent can make life much easier for you. People often mistakenly think that buying agents are only for the top end of the market but that is really not the case. Covid has made the buying process trickier in terms of getting access to properties and indeed finding them in the first place, as many are not put up ‘for sale’ on the open market. A buying agent will do many of the initial viewings of a property before the buyer, cutting down the number of properties you need to traipse round by eliminating any unsuitable ones. Estate agents keep us in the loop – we are told of properties coming up for sale which might suit our buyers.” – Emma