It’s a fair question isn’t it? If someone wants to sell their home, why would they not advertise it as aggressively as possible and try to achieve the best possible price? What advantage could be gained by not opening up your doors to the world and attempting to attract the best offer for your home or investment?
That’s the theory anyway……
The market for ‘off market’ property is indeed a strange phenomenon, particularly in Kensington and Chelsea. If your search for a new home or investment consists of registering with the well known property search engines and waiting for them to alert you to new and potentially suitable properties, then you will of course have access to the market…. The same property and ‘market’ that everyone else with the similar search criteria has access to….and there’s the problem.
With up to 25 buyers chasing certain properties in Kensington and Chelsea (list of most desirable types to follow) the competition and momentum is making the heady days of 2004-7 look quite sane. Buyers looking for an edge would be well advised to have their own representation ( me :)) as vendors are already well served by the 300 estate agents acting in their interests in London.
A good search agent will know all the agents and all their stock. That’s the easy bit. The edge is knowing what is coming onto the market, the position of the seller, the price that comparable properties attained, whether the planning office will allow that new roof terrace, how loud is the tube at that end of the street? You get the idea.
Landlords in Kensington and Chelsea are a property search agents friend. Those that own multiple properties, (be they in Knightsbridge, Holland Park, Notting Hill or Bayswater) and wish to dispose of portfolios (or part of) quickly and with the minimum of fuss will often call a search agent rather than an estate agent these days. London is home to many professional landlords, and they know that the client of a property search firm will be committed and serious about acquiring (hopefully their) property. The fact they can avoid paying estate agents fees is a welcome bonus.
There are many super helpful and efficient estate agents (list to follow…one day) out there who work hard for their clients and fight (sometimes against us) to get every deal done at the best price. As with everything in life, you should judge based on your own experience and trust the judgement of those you like and trust.
Back to ‘off market property’…..the reasons for not shouting about your impending sale are varied – some may not like their neighbours and friends knowing how much their house is worth, sometimes a ‘FOR SALE’ board (frowned upon in Kensington and Chelsea) can give off an unwelcome air of desperation, and some would rather not have the general public traipsing through their most valuable asset all day. For that reason, the discreet marketing of houses and flats in Kensington and Chelsea is on the rise, it may sound counter productive but it’s often about narrowing down the pool of potential buyers for a property and contacting them directly and inviting them to view. If you can create some ‘competitive tension’, then so be it.
The period between getting your home valued and the beautifully shot (hopefully) brochure arriving for your consideration often lasts around a week to 10 days. This time is crucial for us and it’s often the time that we earn our (reasonable) fees – the agents we deal with know that our clients are ready to buy and serious about securing property. For many vendors, the first offer they receive is often the best offer. Once we have successfully negotiated the price, we always then move to negotiate an exclusivity period for our clients to conclude their purchase and hopefully avoid getting involved in a bidding war which only normally has one victor….the vendor.
If nothing else, when you call or email about a perfect looking property only to be told ‘it’s under offer’ or ‘ I think that one’s gone already’…..you’ll know why.
Advice is free, so feel free to get in touch.
Miranda Ludlam – The property finder for Kensington and Chelsea