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To join the queue of buyers who rely on websites and fight over inferior properties?

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April 12, 2022
Jeremy McGivern
Posted in: How do I find the best properties?

Finding off-market properties – Have you used this tactic?

There are two really important and simple ways to source off-market properties.

The one I will focus on today is sending letters to the owners of properties that match your criteria. There are ways to improve the response, so here are some tips on how to do this:

  1. If you don’t have a large database of properties that have sold then you probably won’t know exactly which properties will match but you can walk the streets you like to give yourself a better idea and make a note of the addresses
  2. We haven’t noticed any discernible difference between hand delivering and posting letters, so save yourself time by posting them. However, always use a stamp rather than having the letter franked.
  3. Make the proposal in the letter attractive. You are not going to negotiate in the letter, but you do need to incentivise the owner to make contact
  4. Give multiple ways for them to respond to you. Some people prefer landlines to mobiles and while others prefer email and vice versa.

Between a quarter and a third of the properties we acquire are off-market, so we have experimented with this a lot over the years, so you may be asking what is the typical response that you get from this approach.

And I’m afraid there is no typical response rate. As an example, we recently sent out 24 letters for a client with very specific requirements and received two replies which are both promising. The week before we sent out 237 letters for another client and received just one response.

Frankly, we seemed to have been a touch lucky in the first case while there is one simple thing we will do to boost the response to the second mailing, which we will also do for the first even though it is statistically unlikely to bear much fruit, but still should be done.

However, I’m not going to give away all our secrets. But if you want to find and acquire the best property your money can buy, you need to give yourself total market coverage (or as close to it as possible) by sourcing off-market properties.

And what I am about to say will probably bore you senseless as it is a point that I have made hundreds of times but has to be repeated because it is so important: If you are acquiring a property over £1m and you are relying solely on the websites, then you are massively handicapping yourself.

You often hear buyers lament the fact that they feel they are missing out on the best properties or are being pressured in negotiations because they know dozens of other buyers have also seen the same property on the websites.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t use the sites. Of course, you should. But you just need to be aware that you are really just joining a queue of buyers, so what advantage does that give you?

Would it be a bad idea to adopt a different strategy so that you can have first refusal on the best homes and investment opportunities?

If you are open to discovering more about off-market properties, simply email me at jeremy@mercuryhomesearch.com or call 02034578855 (+442034578855 from outside the UK).

About the author, Jeremy McGivern

My name is Jeremy McGivern. I am the founder of Mercury Homesearch, the internationally renowned property search consultancy, and author of The Insider’s Guide To Acquiring Luxury Property in Prime Central London. I have been acquiring property in prime central London for clients for over 13 years.

Having physically viewed over 22,000 properties in prime central London, studied the details of over 153,400 apartments, houses and investment opportunities and spoken to 232+ estate agents every week for over a decade.

My advice is in high demand and has featured everywhere from Bloomberg Television, The Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph to Forbes India and Bahrain Confidential.

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