Home Buying Agents: FAQs

Buying a new home or investment property cannot only be very time-consuming, but also very stressful. That is why home buying agents exist – to save you time, effort and money in finding the ideal property and making an informed purchase.

Below are some responses to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the subject of our role as home buying agents.

How do home buying agents differ from an estate agent?

The difference between a home buying agent and an estate agent is profound and something that might prove to be very important to a buyer.

Home buying agents act exclusively on the behalf of their clients. Here, a client means someone who has commissioned the agent to find a property on their behalf for residential, letting or investment purposes.  That typically involves providing the agent with some indication of the type of property required, where it should be and, within what price range. The house buying agent will then take over and do virtually everything else.

In all their work on the buyer’s behalf, the agent is motivated exclusively by the client’s best interest. The agent has no incentive to try and persuade their client to purchase a given property, and they do not represent any vendor’s interests.

That is substantially different to an estate agent who is, quite correctly, typically acting on behalf of the vendors.

What are the advantages of using the services of a home buying agent?

There are several benefits of using home buying agentst:

  • their services typically save a buyer considerable time and effort in searching for suitable properties. The client doesn’t even need to be in the country while the property finding work is underway;
  • buyers can remain anonymous to vendors and estate agents if they wish during the viewing process;
  • the agent looks at properties critically through the potential purchaser’s eyes and on their behalf. They do not act from the viewpoint of thinking which house the buyer can be persuaded to buy. In other words, unlike an estate agent, they are totally objective;
  • an experienced home buying agent’s market expertise means they should be well positioned to provide their client with offer price advice as well as negotiate with the vendors’ acting agent to drive a better deal;
  • the home buying agent may know of properties about to come on to the market long before they are officially listed.  That’s important because many of the most desirable residences, in fact, simply never make it onto estate agents’ sites or into property ads.

Can my property buying agent undertake negotiations on my behalf?

Typically, yes. 

They will be perfectly happy to act as intermediaries commissioned to achieve the best possible purchase price on a property which their client has decided meets their requirements.

It’s worth keeping in mind that an experienced property finder’s knowledge of the marketplace in different parts of the UK may be critically important.  If a buyer is not familiar with the area they are buying into, the property finder’s access to local expertise may enable far more effective price negotiations on the client’s behalf than might be the case otherwise.

Do note though that the English/Welsh and Scottish legal systems are all different. 

In England, negotiation can be concluded in principle based upon a verbal offer to the buyer, which is then subject to subsequent legal confirmation by the two solicitors acting for the parties. In Scotland, typically a legal offer is submitted by the potential purchaser’s solicitor in a bidding process which, if successful, will be followed up by various legal investigations and discussions known as “the missives”. Garrington Property Finders operate in Scotland as buying agents and further information can be found here about buying a property in Scotland.

Is it possible for home buying agents to act for someone speaking only limited English?

Typically, this should not be a problem. 

A larger house buying agent firm should be very familiar with purchasers from non-English speaking countries and offer translation services if required.

Will the property buying agent undertake property inspections or is that the buyer’s responsibility?

That is entirely at the client’s discretion.

Under normal circumstances, the agent will review and inspect a property before asking their client to invest their time in going to see it.  However, that can be varied if a potential purchaser wishes to be included in the initial inspection process.

Can buying agents find “project properties” in need of major refurbishment?

Yes – assuming such properties are on or coming to the market.

Once a property has been provisionally identified, the property finder can also arrange initial expert surveys, including full structural reviews and consideration of local planning permission issues (if there are any).

If a price is agreed with the vendor on a client’s behalf, does that mean the sale is guaranteed?

No.

Until legal matters have been fully concluded between the buyer and seller, it is typically possible for either to withdraw from the deal.

Once the contracts have been exchanged (England) it is a legal commitment. This process is roughly analogous to the Scottish “conclusion of missives”.

However, until completion it is still possible for either party to withdraw. In such cases though, there may be financial penalties involved for the party withdrawing – unless there are legally acceptable reasons for doing so.

Typically, once contracts have been exchanged, problems are very unusual.

At Garrington, part of our role as home buying agents is to work with our client and the vendor’s agent to ensure due diligence has been carried out before any formal offers are made – this makes it less likely for the sale to fall through.

How quickly does a buyer need to act once a suitable property has been found?

At the time an initial shortlist (or an individual property) is submitted to a client for consideration, the agent typically will highlight if there are any very pressing requirements to move rapidly.

Right across the United Kingdom, prestige properties in desirable locations tend to sell quickly.  This means that in many instances, it is advisable for a purchaser to state their interest and start negotiations as soon as is realistically possible.

Can an agent complete the legalities associated with purchasing on a client’s behalf?

They can certainly provide support to ensure that their client’s involvement is reduced to an absolute minimum.  However, agents are not usually solicitors. Some though may have close associations with expert providers of such services in both England/Wales and Scotland.

The law will normally require the buyer to sign the final contracts – unless they had given someone “Power of Attorney” to sign on their behalf.

Do home buying agents review properties the buyer has identified?

Yes, certainly.

They will fully review the property and its asking price, in line with their knowledge of the marketplace. The agent should also offer on-site inspections, so any obvious problems or considerations can be highlighted before the buyer themselves visits the property.

How do agents hear that a property is coming on to the marketplace?

The more experienced agents will have an extensive knowledge of the property market in the UK.  That typically involves maintaining excellent networking relationships with multiple industry associations and legal bodies.

Through those channels, the agent will sometimes hear that a property will be coming to market even before it has necessarily been passed on to a nominated estate agent to try and sell.  In such cases, they will approach the vendors’ agent on behalf of a client directly.

This market intelligence is particularly important where properties in the most desirable locations are concerned, e.g. in beautiful coastal locations.

Do agents also find investment properties?

Yes, though inevitably they will look at such properties differently to a situation where they were looking primarily for residential purposes.

They should, for example, pay extensive consideration to things such as yield over time.

Much of their activity will depend upon what sort of investment property the client is considering.

Next steps

Garrington Property Finders are one of the longest established house buying agents in the UK, with over two decades’ experience in all of these areas. Contact us now to discover how we may be able to assist you in finding and securing the property you require. 

Home Buying Agents: The Benefits

Read More

Purchasing a holiday home

Read More

Home Buying Agents: FAQs

Read More