What is a buying agent? A day on the road with The Buying Solution

Posted 19 June 2015 by Stephen Maunder

In a competitive market, the popularity of buying agents is on the rise. Stephen Maunder spends a day with The Buying Solution in the Cotswolds to find out why.

It’s a busy time to be a buying agent, as Claire Owen quickly informs me as she bounds into The Buying Solution’s Kingham office. Claire is the senior buying consultant for TBS in the Cotswolds area, and she’s prepared an itinerary of local properties for us to take a look at.

Buying agents have to keep their ears firmly pressed to the ground to avoid missing out, but TBS are confident that they can outstrip their competitors. “There are other companies that provide similar services” she tells me, “but they lack some of the precise local knowledge that we demonstrate, and of course the vast range of estate agency contacts we have”.

The backing of Knight Frank is, of course, crucial, but it’s the local knowledge that is of the greatest interest. Consultants for TBS live in the areas they cover, meaning they are able to tell you everything from the issues with the one-way system on a Saturday afternoon to which pub serves the best range of ales. In a world of online shopping for houses, is local knowledge really so crucial?

“It’s extremely important to our clients”, Claire says. “We see buyers coming from London, perhaps looking for a place in the country or a weekend retreat, and they want to feel assured that they are buying a home in the right place and that there will be no nasty surprises when they move in”. 

Newtown Farm

Our first port of call is Newtown Farm*, in the picturesque village of Guiting Power. The farm is an intriguing proposition, and comes with a hefty guide price of £5.65m. The plot here stretches to an intimidating 347 acres, and it is only on a jeep ride around the sprawling land that one can really appreciate the challenge that this mixed-use property entails. Detail is everything, as Claire scribbles away at the plans, taking note of how fields could be partitioned and what effect the bridle path might have on a sale.

Such versatile land brings a range of opportunities. Interested buyers have already been circling, and propositions range from selling the farmhouse and its immediate surrounds separately from the main plot, to knocking the farmhouse down and building a new property, or simply purchasing the whole plot.

Once the notes have been taken, a gentle drive to Evenlode follows to visit The Stables, a delightful secluded property with exceptional outdoor space, on the market with a guide price of £1.45m. The property has an immediate appeal that suggests it won’t be hanging around for too long. The most notable moment of our tour comes as we wait for the hourly train to pass along a track in the middle-distance. “It’s not too loud” Claire says, carefully examining for any noise pollution, “but I might need to come back at a different time of day to assess it properly”.

The Stables

After visiting The Stables, we retire to a local pub, where Claire goes through an example of the comprehensive homebuyer report that TBS provides to all buyers upon agreeing to make an offer for a property. All of the usual elements one would expect from a survey are here, but it’s the fine details that tip the balance. A special section is dedicated to local shops, for those times when a buyer might need to find the nearest dry cleaner or butcher. This personal service continues after completion – with a full property inspection taking place and a completion management specialist enlisted to deal with the transfer of utilities.

The ribbons and bows of the service are certainly attractive, but again, the most important aspect of the service comes from the grapevine. As we drive into a relatively innocuous cul-de-sac, Claire slows down and points to a property. “We’ve heard one of these houses might come on to the market in the next year or so” she says coyly. Is demand really so high that agents need to be that far ahead of the game? “Yes” she responds, “you might find a buyer who wants a property in a specific village or even on a specific road. Some will be prepared to pay above market value to secure a home that might not yet be on the market, while others will sit tight and wait for the opportunity to knock.” The impression is that once the opportunity does knock, TBS will be first in line.

*In the time that has passed since visiting the property, Newtown Farm has been sold and is no longer on the market. 

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An Introduction to The Buying Solution

The Buying Solution is the independent buying consultancy of Knight Frank, one of the world’s most well-known property agents. TBS finds and secures residential properties around the UK for its retained clients. Local specialists meet with clients and discuss their exact requirements, before using their extensive local knowledge and contacts to locate and secure the best properties.

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Profile: Claire Owen

Claire Owen

Claire is the senior buying consultant for the Cotswolds area, covering the South Cotswolds, Cheltenham, Bath and Worcestershire. From an estate agency background in both residential sales and as a negotiator for Knight Frank’s country department, she now works closely with Jonathan Bramwell from the TBS office in Kingham.

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The Process

  • Search and shortlisting

Each search begins with an initial consultation with the client, where a bespoke plan of action is drawn up so that the consultant can target specific areas and property types. The consultant visits and assesses properties and creates a shortlist before recommending personal accompanied viewings of those that meet all requirements.

  • Negotiation

The consultant is both tactical and creative when negotiating on the client’s behalf and aims to secure ‘preferred buyer’ status on a property.

  • Due diligence and acquisition

Working with lawyers, surveyors, architects, planning advisors and financers, the consultant undertakes comprehensive due diligence to ensure the quality of the property. This process can cover everything from price analysis to planning issues, rental yields and noise blight investigation.

  • Purchase

Once the purchase is agreed, the consultant works closely with the client’s solicitor to assist with any other issues that might affect the purchase.

  • Post Completion Management

TBS provides a bespoke service to cover the client’s needs. This continues beyond the exchange of contracts, starting with a Post Completion Management service, which helps clients settle in to their new property.

Find out more at www.thebuyingsolution.co.uk ; 01608 690780

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