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Should I Use a Buying Agent?

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A buying agent can be a valuable ally when you’re looking to buy a home. They specialise in finding properties that meet your needs, help with your search, and guide you through the negotiation process.

If you’re considering engaging a buying agent, then understanding what they do and how they work is important. We’ll look at the pros and cons of using a buying agent. Let’s take a look!

What is a buying agent?

A property buying agent, also known as a property finder, is the opposite of an estate agent. Unlike estate agents who represent homeowners when selling a property, a buying agent represents people buying property.

Buying agents oversee the entire process of purchasing a home – from searching, previewing, and shortlisting properties for their clients through to negotiating the purchase price and overseeing conveyancing and completion of contracts.

What does a buying agent do?

Buying agents offer a complete end-to-end service covering every step of the process. They start by understanding your wants and needs, budget and finances, and preferences. From this they tailor their search effectively, often working from a finalised ‘property search brief’ they agree with you, their client.

Due to their local networks and contacts buying agents can often access off-market properties that are not available through typical channels, which provides their clients with unique purchasing opportunities.

When pre-viewing properties on your behalf a buying agent will assess a property’s condition, asking price, and potential issues. To see if it meets your requirements before suggesting you view the property yourself. This can save buyers significant time and money.

Once you’ve then identified a suitable property, they will negotiate on your behalf to secure the best possible terms and price, leveraging their market expertise and negotiation skills. They also coordinate with other professionals such as solicitors, surveyors, and financial advisers to ensure that all aspects of the purchase process are handled efficiently.

Their involvement doesn’t necessarily end with the purchase. Many buying agents will assist with any onward design and build tasks such as renovations, interior design, and property management. This makes buying agents particularly valuable for busy individuals, overseas buyers, or those unfamiliar with the local market.

What won’t a buying agent do?

It’s also important to be aware of what a buying agent won’t do when considering if this is the right option for you.

Find you a mortgage

They’re not there to help you make decisions about what mortgage you can afford or your budget.

It’s your responsibility to ensure you get your finances in order and you have a mortgage agreed in principle or proof of funds. A buying agent will need proof that you are in a position to proceed before they will start working for you.

Promise you a bargain

Buying agents are there to help you buy a property and secure a fair price on the most agreeable deal. They can’t promise a discount or bargain.

Pros of using a buyer’s agent

Let’s take a look at the advantages of using a buying agent:

Represents your interest

A buying agent represents the interests of the buyer and therefore will provide you with insights and information, based on your property requirements and the location in which you’re buying.

Could save you money

Buying agents will have finely tuned negotiation skills and can therefore be a great ally when it comes to negotiating the property purchase. How and on what they negotiate will depend on the local market conditions at the time.

Save you time

Engaging a buying agent can save you a heap of time, providing you stay on course and your circumstances don’t change.

They essentially do all the leg work for you. From a signed off working search brief they will research the market to find properties deemed suitable for you. These are pre-viewed by your buying agent on your behalf, and they then make a short list of suitable properties for you to go and view – accompanied by them. This process continues until you identify a property you want to offer on.

This process alone helps you avoid wasting time looking at properties that are not suitable for you.

Once a property has been agreed upon, your buying agent then keeps all plates spinning throughout the conveyancing process being your point of contact, and liaising with solicitors, agents, and brokers.

Providing a rounded view

When viewing a property for the first time, it’s easy to get swayed by certain details or become convinced you’ve found ‘the one’. A buying agent will take a rational approach, and they might be noticing things you otherwise would miss. They’ll know what to look for and are experts at spotting key details. Making you aware of everything you need to know before agreeing on an offer.

One of the essential parts of this is providing insights into the area a property is in. They have their ear to the ground and can provide local knowledge you may otherwise not know.

The area will play a pivotal role in how much you enjoy living somewhere. A Move iQ property report can pull everything you need to know about a property in one place. Including crime rates and sale prices for similar properties. These are all things that a buying agent will take into consideration when evaluating a property on your behalf.

Get a Property Report

Help overcome hurdles

Particularly if you’re in a property chain, the process of buying a property can be challenging. 

From the initial viewings to the property survey to negotiations, there’s a lot that needs to happen. And a lot of chances for things to go awry.

Unfortunately, one-third of property sales never reach completion. So it can help to have someone on your side, to ensure you’re in the best position possible. 

Priority access

Given that buying agents are active in the local housing market daily they are very well connected with local estate agents.

This means that sales agents will make a local buying agent aware of a property that is soon to come to market or is being discreetly marketed off-market at the express wish of the homeowner.

Access to specific properties

If it’s a unique property or a property on a specific street you’re looking for a buying agent can help you seek it out. This will mean reaching out to their local contacts or approaching local homeowners directly to see if they might be interested in selling.

This approach can take more time, but it means they can keep the research and outreach going until such time a property has been found for you.

Ensure you are prepared

Most buying agents will not take formal instructions from a buyer unless they are proceedable. The basics of this is that:

  1. You have your finances in place and have proof of funds.
  2. If you have a property you need to sell – that you are under offer.
  3. You have a solicitor appointed (they can often help with this).
Find a Solicitor

No one likes a timewaster, least of all sellers. Estate agents know that buying agents will only work with proceedable buyers so when they are out researching the market they are taken seriously.

A buying agent demonstrates that you’re prepared, committed to the sale and organised. So, if a seller has lots of interest in their property, this could give you a buying advantage.

Negotiation on purchase price

House negotiations can be difficult especially if you’ve ‘fallen in love’ with a property that isn’t stacking up on the number side of things. It can be very easy to let your heart rule your head. Which is where a buying agent can really help you weigh things up.

They look beyond asking prices. Delving into how much a property is worth, the circumstances of the seller and location research. They do thorough due diligence on the property and make recommendations on how to approach negotiations representing you through the onward process.

Cons of using a buying agent

Of course, there are some inevitable disadvantages of using a buying agent too. Some things to watch out for include:

Additional fee

A buyer’s agent will charge an additional cost at a time when you’re already paying out a significant amount of money. There’s nothing to guarantee that the money you could potentially save on a property will outweigh these costs.

While fees vary buying agents typically charge an upfront deposit which in some cases is deductible from their final success fee. Success fees are either a percentage of the final purchase price agreed or a percentage of the saving whichever is the greater.

Most buying agents have a minimum fee.

Some buying agents also charge a flat fee for a specific service.

Pull out fees

If you decide after instructing a buying agent that you want to dis-instruct them then they will usually charge for their time. This will mean you are liable for a fee for a service you have decided not to receive.

What if I find a house without my agent?

This will likely depend on what kind of agreement you have in place with them. Ensure you understand your agreement and how your agent works before going forward.

If you instruct a buying agent, it is not advisable for you to also be in the market searching. It can create a conflict of interest and prevent the agent from doing the job they’re being paid to do.

Should I instruct a buying agent?

The answer to this depends entirely on your circumstances. Consider your time, and the location. Is it new to you or are you looking for something specific? The local housing market is competitive or slow with not much for sale; can you afford the fee? 

What to look for in a house-buying agent

Your adviser should be someone who has:

  1. Professional memberships and industry accreditations – i.e. Property Ombudsman, Propertymark.
  2. Local area knowledge and demonstratable insight and advice.
  3. An excellent local property network.
  4. Good research skills.
  5. Personable – do you like them; can you work with them?
  6. Finely tuned negotiation skills.
  7. Excellent communication skills – they will be representing you in the market, do they impress you?
  8. Insight on the potential for a property.
  9. Experience and is someone you feel you can trust.

Before Location, Location, Location Move iQ founder Phil Spencer founded one of the first buying agents in the UK, still operating today.

If you’re looking for a UK buying agent, we can help with that.

Find Your Agent

Tips when using a buying agent

Think this is the right option for you? Here’s some advice:

  • ‘Shop around’ for agents to have a chat on the phone and if they offer an initial no-obligation meeting, invite them around and discuss their service, experience, terms of service and fee structure.
  • Ensure now is the right time to move for you.
    • Can you afford it?
    • If you have a property to sell you should be under an offer.
    • Are you organised with all of your ducks in a row?
  • Are you clear on what you want from your move?
  • Get a good understanding of your mortgage options and what you’re committing to.
  • Ensure you trust and have confidence in your agent.
  • Don’t rely on the agent alone, ensure you fully understand the process and what needs to happen and when.
  • Choose a solicitor

How to find a buying agent

If you’re looking to engage a buying agent and want a recommendation, please fill in the form below. A member of the team will get in touch with recommended local search agents.

Find Your Agent

Last Updated: April 24th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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