Off-market properties

Published Oct 16, 2019 – 4 mins read

One of the most valuable services good property finders can offer to buyers is that associated with identifying and accessing off-market properties.

What does off-market mean?

Surprisingly to some, very significant numbers of the more desirable and prestigious properties are sold off-market.

What that basically means is that the off-market properties concerned never reach what might be termed the general public domain.  They might never have been advertised in local estate agents, property websites, classified advertisements or anywhere else.

Such properties typically are passed over by the vendor into the care of an estate agent, with the strict instruction that buyers are to be located through private networking rather than mass advertising.

Why vendors request this status

There are many reasons why someone selling their house might choose to operate on an off-market basis.  Just a sample of such reasons might include:

  • they have a high-profile public persona and do not wish their sale to become visible in the media or elsewhere;
  • 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.

The implications for buyers

The off-market property transaction environment is essentially a largely invisible subset of the main property marketplace.

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.

Specialist property finders

For most buyers, home buying agents and specialist property finders are the typical access point for 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 your property finders

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.

Consequences to consider when buying off-market property

There are potentially numerous advantages to buying off-market but there are also some issues 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.


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.