Properties which are being sold in a private and discreet way are commonly known as off market properties.
For any buyer looking to acquire the best property, learning more about this type of sales transaction can be very useful. It usually helps widen purchasing options and allows property purchasers to hear about opportunities that many other buyers may simply not be aware of.
Despite this being a more hidden element of the UK property market, very significant numbers of the more desirable and prestigious properties are in fact sold off-market each year.
Such properties are typically handled by estate agents on behalf of their clients, with the instruction that buyers are to be located through private networking rather than through mass advertising.
This means that most property being sold this way never reaches the general public domain. They might never have been advertised in local estate agents, property websites, classified advertisements or anywhere else.
Off market properties for sale
There are many reasons why certain sellers might choose to list off market properties for sale through this low key method of sale, which might include:
- they have a high-profile public persona and do not wish their sale to become visible in the UK media or elsewhere;
- the sale is being driven by the failure of a personal relationship which, at the time, the owners wish to keep strictly private;
- they may have particularly selective requirements relating to potential buyers, including only welcoming applications from people who are able to move relatively quickly towards financial completion;
- they might have specific personal or property security considerations, which mean they would not welcome widespread public interest in the property with its associated viewing requests.
There will be other reasons, in addition to those above, why some of the most appealing properties around remain largely invisible in terms of the conventional sources of property advertisements.
How do I find off market properties?
The off-market property transaction environment is essentially a largely invisible subset of the main property marketplace.
Unlike property for sale which is openly for sale for anyone to see, there is no central directory of listings and information regarding such sales is normally kept very private.
The implications of that are clear. Unless you know how to access the off-market property domain, you may simply never see the properties that might be an ideal fit against your requirements.
It is therefore in the interest of all discerning buyers to take whatever steps are necessary to engage with this method of property selling.
Due to the fact it is a highly specialised area which often operates largely on the basis of property professionals and their relationship networks, that can be difficult to achieve unless you have someone acting on your behalf.
Off market investment properties
In addition to the prime residential market, a number of transactions take place each year relating to UK off market investment properties.
In this sector of the market, this method of sale tends to work well for buyers and sellers alike.
Sellers will typically be receiving an income from an investment property and by selling a property openly on the market, they either have to serve notice on a tenant and obtain vacant possession prior to a sale, or run the risk of loosing their tenant anyway once they become aware that a sale may be about to take place. In either scenario, the seller risks loosing their income.
The same is true in reverse for an investment buyer. They are typically buying for a financial return and want to achieve this as quickly as possible after taking ownership.
Buying off market investment properties with a tenant in situ allows an investor to earn income immediately and removes the need to find a tenant.
Off market property agents
Most traditional estate agents rely heavily on selling property publicly and the associated marketing creates brand awareness for their business. As such, very firms are strictly off market property agents.
By contrast, home buying agents and specialist property finders are the typical access point for a wide range of off-market properties.
It’s difficult to describe the exact methodologies and process flows that operate here because they are largely a product of market intelligence and close business relationships – and how successful property finders are at exploiting those things.
Experienced property finders or buying agents will know how to tap into this market and bring appropriate qualifying properties to your attention. To function effectively in this capacity, they will need to:
- build and maintain excellent relationships with numerous estate agents who are known to operate off-market sales;
- work with their potential buying client in order to be perfectly clear as to their exact position vis-à-vis both their property requirements and their financial position, as defined by their ability to move forward quickly with the purchase once a suitable property has been identified;
As you might expect, not all property finders are necessarily equally well positioned to function successfully in that capacity.
Those that have, for whatever reason, been unable to build and maintain their relationship networks with estate agents known to operate in the off-market domain, may find themselves inevitably in the dark when it comes to this type of opportunity.
Selecting the best buying agent
It is a fact of business life that there isn’t any obvious way of assessing the ability of property buying agents or property finders to operate in this marketplace.
What you can do is to consider the commercial history of your property finder and their success over time in locating and securing the most prestigious properties. If they have a track record in doing so, then that is a very powerful indicator that they understand how to exploit the opportunities in the off-market arena.
It is also worth asking them to explain just how engaged they are in the off-market communication network and to provide examples of their past successes.
Many of those past transactions will be highly confidential and you should not expect full details to be provided, however, it should still be possible for you to get a powerful indication as to their potential for finding off-market properties.
Other points to consider
There are potentially numerous advantages to buying a property this way, but there are also some points to keep in mind:
- prestige properties advertised on the open market tend to come with a package of easily understandable information, perhaps including plans, extensive photographs and full brochures. That is typically less commonplace with off-market properties for reasons of privacy and need-to-know;
- additionally, by definition, off-market sales tend to move very quickly. Sellers naturally understand that buyers may wish to make several visits, including an initial one that is likely to be simply collecting surface impressions relating to suitability etc. However, if they are selecting this sales method in order to move quickly, then they may be unlikely to accept delays in things such as viewings should the potential buyer be occupied or out of the country.
Both of these potential issues can be offset if you have experienced property finders who are able to move immediately on things such as initial viewings and clarifying aspects of the property’s specification or basis of sale.
In fact, that may be essential in situations where there is high demand for the property concerned – something that is relatively commonplace where off-market sales are involved.
Is buying like this a good idea?
There are many benefits to buying property off market in a discreet way. Before committing to a property purchase, most rational buyers want peace of mind that they are buying the very best property available, at the best possible price.
By not exploring the off market sector, runs the potential risk of missing a better purchasing option.
As a potential off-market purchaser, your options to access such properties yourself directly may be limited. It is therefore sensible to consider appointing experienced property finders to both access this marketplace and to protect your interests within it.
We at Garrington have many years’ experience of operating successfully with off-market purchases on behalf of our clients. We invite you to contact us with details of your requirements to see how we can help you take this forward with potential off-market opportunities.