Matthew Allen is a Partner and qualified rural surveyor with over 15 years of professional experience, and was recently named a Top Recommended Country Agent in the annual Spears 500 Magazine listing. Here he discusses the importance of off market sales, hot buyers and the stronger emergence of buying agents in the country property market.
There are often a number of reasons why sellers may look to sell a property privately without the publicity and scrutiny of going to the open market.
For a start, selling a property - and particularly one that may have been owned or retained within the family for a long time - is often a very emotional and difficult decision. Some people simply don’t want the fact they are selling to be widely known and would prefer to avoid the invasiveness of having pictures of their home and interiors available for the world to see online.
Equally, some people are simply looking to ‘test the market’ to see if a buyer can be found at the desired price. This can be an excellent test before committing to the open market, as once your property is listed via an online property portal, it creates a permanent history that may be a hindrance in future, particularly if the sale does not go as smoothly as hoped.
With the strength of private sales, especially during times when the market is very positive, it is more important than ever that motivated buyers who are in strong proceedable positions register with all of the relevant selling agents who deal with the sort of properties you are looking. To give you that added edge, particularly in the upper end of the market, you might also think of employing a buying agent.
Since the pandemic there has been a spike in demand for rural properties as commuters look for open space with home offices and an easy commute to the office. With this has come a significant increase in the number of people using buying agents, particularly in the most popular buying areas of the country. A buying agent is someone who you retain to act on your behalf and normally pay them an upfront search fee and then if you are successful in a purchase, then a percentage of the final purchase price.
Their fees can be a significant additional cost to consider but they have the time to be fully proactive on your behalf and speak to all of the selling agents to seek out what properties might be available before they go to open market. Once sourced, they will provide comprehensive advice on the pros and cons of the property and should have good knowledge of the local area to make sure you don’t buy somewhere in a lesser location. They should be able to give you the best advice and hopefully negotiate the strongest deal and see it through to completion.
If a buyer is represented by an agent, this also gives added credibility so will often be well-received by the sellers and their agents. Like appointing a selling agent, it is important to do your homework on the buying agent - having a personal recommendation is always useful and getting a good feeling that you can work with them is key. Ask them about some of the recent properties they have sold, how often they plan to communicate with you and what their fees are, so you know what to expect in advance.
Finding the right type of agent for the home you are looking for is essential and will give you a better chance of getting an early tip off about the availability of properties that meet your search criteria. In a number of cases properties are sold without seeing the light of the online portal so it is important not to miss out!
It’s worth noting that not all agents – whether you are buying or selling - are the same. Some specialise in higher value properties, countryside or city homes, while others are experts in selling large estates with multiple dwellings and can advise both buyers and sellers on the best use of space and assets. These agents are more likely to deal with quality sales rather than quantity, so you might not see as many of their signs out in your local area as some of the more popular high-street brands.
The market is clearly uncertain in the coming months but whatever happens and whether you are buying or selling it is important to be well informed and have the right advice to make the best decisions possible