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Would you spend £5m without professional advice? The case for buying agents

Would you spend £5m on wine without a professional advisor? If the answer is “yes” then congratulations, not only do you have a monumental social life but you clearly know your Latour from your Lafite. Most of us would outsource such an extreme splurge to a trusty wine merchant with several hundred years of good reputation.

So, if we accept the need for professional help when buying fermented grape juice, why do so many of us buy houses without expert advice?! In fact, it’s worse than that. When we buy property we rely on estate agents appointed by the sellers. They may be very friendly, but they’re certainly not impartial. It’s time we talked about using a buying agent on your next property purchase.

My job is to advise buyers as if they were my friend

Nathalie Hirst, Buying Agent

What’s that? “Don’t be so hasty!” You say. You know homes, you live in one for goodness sake, you can certainly find another one. Well, that’s how you feel now, let’s revisit your decision when you’re neck deep in paperwork and wrangling over the asking price. 

Buying agents are here to manage that process for you. Nathalie Hirst (a buying agent in prime central London for over 25 years) will filter out the painful details: “I’m involved at every step of the transaction, firstly I pick lawyers and surveyors who are proactive, who find solutions, I’m on the phone to them three to four times a day.”

That process management doesn’t just help you, it’s about the vendors too. According to buying agent Francesca Brignone “when there are two or more offers on a property, the agent will take the one followed by a buying agent as they know it will be a quick and smooth transaction!”

Still not convinced? Think Rightmove can do the job for you? Photographs make everything look perfect, whereas Nathalie Hirst spends most days delivering bad news: “My job is to advise buyers as if they were my friend, it can be an emotional process so I’m there to be unemotional, to tell them the down sides of a property.”  

Buying agents search the market with their memories

Farnaz Fazaipour of Palace Gate

Photographs also won’t tell you which side of the street is above a tube line, or which side of the garden square is more valuable than the other. Local knowledge is king. Particularly for buyers from overseas. As Farnaz Fazaipour (who’s been buying houses for clients since 2006) says: “Buying agents search the market with their memories.”

If it’s all sounding a bit serious then you’ve missed the point. A buying agent will take the pain out of the process for you. Absorbing the stress, research, and time involved in house  hunting. You won’t suffer from ‘viewing fatigue’ because you’ll only see the properties which are serious contenders. Some buying agents will even help you move in!

So how does one appoint a buying agent?” Good question. Because this is the tricky part. There are hundreds of people out there who call themselves buying agents. Only a handful are excellent at what they do.

The key is to start with people you know and trust. Traditionally an estate agent would be a family member of the estate owner, let’s say a friendly cousin. The arrangement meant that the agent understood all aspects of the client’s property ownership as part of their family life and shared the same goals. You may not have an estate, or even a friendly cousin, but you’ll benefit from recreating a similar arrangement.

Start by speaking to your friends, your lawyer, and your banker. When you find a potential agent, you should double check their credentials by asking for a reference from a previous client. Of course, another option is to contact us at London Property or flick through our directory. Our network is built on trust and deep-rooted relationships and we’d be happy to recommend a buying agent who we trust, we might even know someone who can help you spend your money on wine!

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