1 August 2008, Square Mile
By Bernadette Costello
ON THE CANNY WAY TO FIND PROPERTIES BEFORE THEY EVEN GO ON SALE
With property prices in London softening, City high net worths are using specialist search agents to find bargain properties – before they hit the market.
And estate agents, in their turn, are using them to find buyers.
Search agents, who charge £2,000-£3,000 as an initial fee, plus 1-2.5% of the property’s value on finding it, now have more power to negotiate harder as more vendors look to avoid High Street agent fees.
Camilla Dell, founder of Black Brick, says: “Many people are starting to view the London property market as an opportunity, and search agents know where there is value to be found, what properties have sold for and therefore what a ‘deal’ is.”
London-based search agent Simon Barnes adds: “Estate agents will often approach us with new instructions, or work of a property off-the-market, knowing that we can save them time finding a buyer.”
Rebecca Brown, founder of overseas search agency Bjous and the former head of Chesterton International, says high-end lifestyle buyers looking in areas such as the Cote-d’Azur, Mallorca, Sardinia and Tuscia in Italy, need a little more help.
“We meet at their home or office, travel with them and translate, and then we find them lawyers, mortgage specialists and designers,” she adds.