One-on-one interview: Matt Turner, Astute Property Search

Posted 6 July 2017 by Keith Osborne

This week's exclusive looks at using expert help to find the perfect home and speaks to one such expert, Matt Turner...

Purchasing and selling a home are among life’s more stressful experiences, but this week we speak exclusively to property buyer Matt Turner, who works for his clients to take away some of that stress and find the home of their dreams.

Hi Matt, can you tell us a little about yourself and Astute.

I established Astute Property Search in 2011 with a focus on delivering a bespoke, personal service to private clients who are looking to buy a home in London.  Estate agents work for the seller, yet so many buyers forget this and enter negotiations having already placed their cards on the table.  I wanted to re-address the balance and provide my client, the buyer, with a stinger hand.

I have worked in the property industry for 17 years so I have utilised my skills and years of experience to save my clients thousands of pounds, stress and time by offering a buying agency service which is individually tailored to their needs, whether they are seeking a dream home or investment.

Do more people seek out the expertise of a property buyer than, say, five years ago? 

It is certainly becoming more popular to use a buying agency. Traditionally, international investors have been the main audience for a buying service, however it is becoming more popular with UK based buyers who want to ensure they are making the right investment.  

We all played Monopoly as children and people generally feel “I can go and find a property to buy”.   However,  I would say that once buyers have made that first purchase and realise how stressful and complicated a purchase can be, they will be more inclined to seek out the services of a property buyer. 

The uncertainty in the market has been a catalyst for those who want to ensure that the property they invest in is the right choice and best price. We can source properties which are ‘off market’ or not available via a traditional estate agent, enabling our clients access to properties they would previously have not been aware of.

Is there a typical property type you're looking for, and what's kind of portfolio do you deal with?

Our service is individually tailored to our client’s requirements, so each one is different from the last. When I am instructed on a property search, I completely immerse myself in the task at hand, undertaking detailed research, property tours and meetings to ensure that I will find the property which ticks all the boxes. Sometimes I can view 30 properties, reducing it to around five, before I take my clients on a viewing.

What are the current hotspots for holiday homes, pieds-à-terre, family main homes etc?

Despite the market uncertainty, London remains a global hub and destination for people from around the world. We get regular requests for pieds-à-terre in central London. Many Middle Eastern clients judge a location by how far Harrods is by taxi.  

The outer boroughs are popular for buyers starting families and looking for more space for their money than central London. I completed such a search in West Norwood SE27 in March. 

Does new build feature, and if so, how is negotiating for one of those different from a re-sale property?

Yes, absolutely. New build properties are popular with a younger audience and investors who want a property which doesn’t require any refurbishment. To get the best deal, normally it is best to be the first or last buyer from a developer. Currently however, developers will negotiate due to excess stock.  I am not intimidated by the big name developers and in current market conditions would push for significant discounts, stamp duty assistance and furniture packages to name a few.  

Do you have any recent favourite purchases?

I do have a penchant for old period British architecture, so I was delighted when a recent client from Seattle agreed to go for a beautiful raised ground floor period apartment in Belsize Park. It had an abundance of period features, high ceilings, fire places, cornicing etc.

Are there some key dos and don'ts for those negotiating for their own home?

People know that it is “the most expensive purchase of their lives” yet they let emotion get involved. This hinders the negotiations and I would say the majority of buyers not using a buying agency end up paying too much. I view buying property as a business decision and help keep my clients feet on the ground when that ‘dream property’ comes along. The worst thing for a buyer to do is tell an estate agent that they have “fallen in love” with a property. That just says asking price or over asking price to the agent! 

With so few homes on the market, how do buyers strengthen their own position?

There may be limited stock on the market, yet I would say that there are also few actual transactions occurring at present.  It still is a buyer's market. 

It may sound obvious but buyers need to be organised and ready to press the button once they have identified their purchase. Have a mortgage agreed in principle and have a solicitor organised before commencing registering with agents. I always mention this to agents on day one, so they know my client is serious. If you need to sell your home before buying, do this before looking for your next home. Estate agents want buyers and not chains!

What does the current political position in the UK hold for its property market?

With a hung parliament, we are now likely to see more instability in the market and economy. The British pound will weaken, providing international purchasers with the further opportunity to purchase with a favourable exchange rate. However, uncertainty will cause some prospective buyers to stay out of the market, leading to fewer transactions going forward. People requiring more space may choose to do renovations rather than moving though in reality, if a buyer is also selling at the same time, market conditions shouldn't be a factor.


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