Buying agencies good value

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2007, 12:00am


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Buying a home in Britain when you are thousands of kilometres away in Hong Kong can be a daunting task.

To cater for the growing number of overseas buyers looking for homes in Britain, a plethora of buying agencies, also known as homesearch companies, have appeared. Some are big and have been in the business for decades.

After 24 years, upmarket buying agency, Property Vision, has built up a staff of 50.

By following a brief from the client, these agents compile a shortlist of properties for viewing, and, provided one of these catches the buyer's eye, will negotiate a price on their behalf.

Many buying agents are former estate agents. The well connected among them hear about the best properties available before they come on the market. Many agencies are one-stop shops for buyers who are relocating or investing in Britain. Brahm Estates and Quintessentially Estates help clients with moving in, even with organising a house-warming party, and provide interior design services.

Buying agency registration fees range from GBP500 (HK$7,890) to GBP2,500, and they charge commission on the purchase price which ranges from 1.5 per cent to 2.75 per cent. Some firms, like Quintessentially, deduct the registration fee from their commission.

Hong Kong-based house hunters are a small, but increasingly important market for Britain's buying agents. At upmarket buying agency, Property Vision, 5 per cent of clients come from the SAR.

'We get a few buyers from Hong Kong', said Will Harries, partner at buying agency, The Buying Solution. 'Generally, they are expats working on a contract coming back to Britain, who had sold out when they left and are now buying back in again.'

Harries considers buying agencies good value, because they save the client time and money.

'We can help them to avoid paying 30 per cent more than they need to,' he said. 'For example, we warn them away from a GBP5million manor house if there is a GBP4million manor house on the market which is just as good.'

Hong Kong purchasers will need to fly to Britain if they want to avoid buying blind. 'Once we have found a suitable property, or created a short-list, we advise them to fly to London as soon as possible to see the properties for themselves,' said Deon Steyn, head of search and acquisitions at Brahm. 'In this current highly competitive property market it is essential that we reassure the vendor that our client is a serious purchaser and travelling from the Far East especially to view their property.'