How to succeed as a buyer in fierce PCL

October 2021 : CityAM

Prime Central London property has been the best performing asset class in the world over the past three decades. It has proven time and again that it can weather most national and international storms and whilst Covid and Brexit have affected market trends in the last few years, the drive to live in one of the best cities in the world still remains exceptionally high. Thanks to a lack of supply (which may never be satiated) coupled with foreign travel restrictions lifting, it has never been more important to set yourself apart as a buyer in this ultra-competitive market. Here are just a few of the strategies we recommend if you want to win as a buyer.

FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL

As clichéd as it sounds, the old adage above has never been more apt. Before you even begin your search, make sure you are ready to transact. This market is fast paced and unforgiving, so if you have already instructed a mortgage broker or bank (and have an agreement in principle), not to mention a surveyor and lawyer who are known in London’s property circles, then you have a much better chance of an offer being accepted.

In the last couple of years regulations have tightened surrounding anti-money laundering, which
means there’s more paperwork to complete. You will be required to provide original documents or certified copies to your lawyer, lender and agent to satisfy these checks. For those buyers who are time restricted, this can cause significant delays which has an impact on starting the purchase on a positive note and may even result in losing the property.

THE SEARCH

Stock levels are extremely low, especially for best-in-class and well priced properties in desirable areas.
We are currently seeing a strong pull towards well configured family houses with good gardens in Notting Hill and Holland Park, but the options online are limited. These houses will most likely sell off-market, which means if you aren’t represented by a buying agent then you won’t always be aware of everything suitable. Over 50 per cent of the properties we acquire for our clients are done under the radar, helping them avoid protracted searches, which is key when many of them are time-poor.

THE OFFER

Once you have found your preferred property, the key is to move forward quickly, not just to pre-empt other interested parties and offers but to show the vendor that you are fully committed. The ‘spirit’ of the deal at the beginning is incredibly important as it can safeguard the legal process to some extent. Vendors and estate agents don’t always focus on the number. Reliability, timing and personal profile can help reassure the owner that you are the right choice even if your offer isn’t the highest. Clearly, having representation in these situations gives the vendor an extra layer of confidence in your commitment to the purchase.

COMMUNICATE

Once an offer has been accepted, a buyer needs to show strong commitment throughout the process to ensure the vendor remains settled and engaged and a key part of this is excellent communication, even if it’s only to report nothing that day. The buying process is intense and often involves high emotions, so positioning yourself as a credible buyer is critical and creating trust and a bond where possible with the vendor is helpful.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Another demonstration of commitment is to start spending. Buyers need to book in the survey quickly, engage the bank so they send out their valuer and put their solicitor in funds to enable them to pay for the searches and any other associated costs. As obvious as it sounds, it you aren’t parting with your money at the beginning, it is often a red flag to an agent and the owner. This is why many agents and vendors like dealing with search agents because the buyer has already demonstrated financial maturity to a purchase. Ultimately, vendors want to sell their homes easily and with minimal stress. The power of simple values like manners, a smile and not layering any offer with demanding and complicated conditions will set you apart from others and hopefully get you one step closer to holding
the keys in your hand.