How to Have First Refusal on the Finest Homes

Estate agents in the UK have a very poor reputation.They frequently feature in the top ten most unpopular professions. Whilst some estate agents undoubtedly deserve this reputation, many are unfairly tarnished because their role is misunderstood.

What people tend to forget is that the estate agent represents the seller.They are paid by the seller and they are legally obliged to achieve the best terms possible for their client.They only have a thin legal duty to buyers, so as a buyer you’re not their focus of attention.Their focus is to sell their client’s property on the best terms possible to the highest bidder.It’s not to find you your ideal home, and this is one of the reasons why people get so frustrated. They can’t understand why they’re being shown inadequate properties, and properties that aren’t even close to the search criteria they’ve given the agents. They’re aware that the agents don’t seem to necessarily to be trying to get them the best priced property – the best price being the most value from the buyer’s perspective.

But it’s imperative that you remember the relationship you have with the agent. The agents in Prime Central London are extremely good at achieving premium prices for their clients. You’re not their priority. You are not even a client. In estate agent parlance you’re known as an applicant – you have merely applied to see the properties they have available. So however nice, friendly, and helpful the agent may seem to you, and you may get a very good agent who listens to what you want and only shows you properties that are within your criteria, he or she will still be focused on getting the highest price possible for their client, the seller.

This does not mean that you have to keep them at arm’s length, and it’s actually very important you build a good relationship with the agents.The reason for this is that they will probably be the main source of properties for you, so you’ll be one of their buyers within a certain price range.They will have numerous other people looking for a similar property to you, so how do you ensure that you’re the person they speak to first?Quite simply you need to become their preferred buyer, so they need to like you and believe that you’re a serious buyer.

How do you do this? Firstly, let them know that you’re prepared. If you have listened to the previous CDs I’ve sent to you, you’ll be in a position to move quickly. Let the agent know that you’re serious and organised and that you’re acting professionally. Ultimately the agent will want to earn his or her commission and they’ll know they’ve got a better chance of doing that with someone like you, who is prepared, can move swiftly, and is treating the process of acquiring a home professionally.

Secondly, you’ll be able to give them a fairly clear list of criteria of the type of property you wish to acquire.Now, the good agents will stick to this fairly closely; however, they will occasionally send you properties that do not seem like obvious fits. Whatever you do, don’t phone up and say “Why have you sent me this?” The agents do it because an awful lot of buyers buy properties that don’t seem to appear to fit their original criteria because people haven’t thought through properly what they want, so if the property is completely unsuitable just respond saying, “Thank you very much for sending these details but it really isn’t right – we’re very much focussing on these particular criteria which are x, y & z.” You do not want to destroy the good rapport you have built by reacting angrily even though it can be extremely annoying if every agent is sending you irrelevant properties. It’s a simple fact of life that people prefer to deal with people they like. Therefore you need to build on this relationship to become the first person that they call so you can get first refusal on the best properties. If you do not you’ll soon suffer the frustration of discovering that you’re missing out on the best opportunities and most exclusive homes because the agent has decided that his time and efforts will be more rewarded elsewhere.

I should note that if the agent keeps sending you completely inappropriate properties despite your clear instructions, it may be worth seeing if you can speak to another estate agent (or sales negotiator as they are often named). As in any business you find the good, the average and the wholly incompetent. If it’s the latter then you need to find someone who is more organised and effective in sending you the right properties. The ideal situation is to find an agent who is efficient and organised but not very bright as this will work in your favour when it’s time to negotiate.

So how do you build this relationship? I’m not suggesting you have to take them out for drinks, but you need to speak to them at least once a week.Don’t rely on email.Email is faceless and there’s no personality, and quite often the agent is inundated with these emails and they’ll just get deleted or forgotten.

If the agent is sending you properties that fit your criteria you have to make time to go and look at them.If the agent is spending lots of their time sending you properties that you’re not coming out to view they will assume that you’re not serious and they’ll start speaking to other people.It’s worth viewing just to improve your relationship with the agent and also so they can put a face to your name. It will also help you get a better picture of what you want and whether what you want to buy is possible within your budget.Then, when possible, always give feedback on a property so that the agent can get a better idea of what it is that you want.

Of course, if you’re based overseas you may not be able to come over and look at every property, but it’s still important that you stay in touch with the agents, and if you know you’re not going to be in country for two months then let them send stuff through to you and then two or three weeks before you’re coming over then then start calling them once or twice a week to get the information you need.

Now, again, this advice may seem simple, but too many buyers don’t carry out these basic steps to ensure that they are seeing the best properties first.

Understandably a lot of people turn to the Internet because they think that they can source all the available properties from lots of different agents in one place.As you may be aware there are an awful lot of estate agents in Prime Central London.We speak to over 230 a week and that’s in just Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Chelsea, and Belgravia. It doesn’t include St John’s Wood or areas that are slightly less central.There are a huge number of agents and there isn’t a multiple listing system as there is in America, for example.

The agents tend to keep the best properties to themselves.They do share them out to other agents but only if they’re properties that they can’t sell because they are blighted in some way –e.g., affected by the tube – or if they’re massively overpriced and they can’t sell them; but ultimately you need to speak to an incredibly wide number of agents to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

The problem with the Internet is that it seems like a clever short cut but it isn’t. The Sunday Times reports that over 75% of buyers start their search on the Internet but then points out that the best properties that come to the market sell almost before going online, and a lot of the agents themselves admit that a lot of their best properties are never put on the websites. So, for example, Savils reported that 46% of properties on its books for over £2million were only available privately. Knight Frank, another well-known international agent, reportedmore than 30% of sales of £2million-plus homes and 52% of the £5million-plus homes are off-market properties.Now those are two big international agents.As another example, Wetheralls, who are a small independent agency in Mayfair, openly admit that 31% of the properties they sell never reach the open market.So, again, this is why you need to be a preferred buyer,because when the agents get these properties they market them quietly and certainly do not place them on the Internet. Therefore you want to be the person they call first so that you can have first refusal.

The great news is that at least 75% of buyers are unaware of this fact or are not acting upon it, so you’re already at a major advantage.

So, simple lessons:There are an awful lot of agents out there and they are working for the seller.Unfortunately it’s an incredibly fragmented market.As I say, in a very small area of not even eight square miles you have over 232 estate agents who don’t share their properties, not the good ones anyway, and they don’t put the choice properties on the Internet, so you must stay in constant contact with the agents and ensure that your relationship is strong so you’re the first person they come to when the ideal property becomes available.What you’ve got to remember is that you just want to buy your ideal home.You only have to find that one property that works, so it’s a question of leaving no stone un-turned and then being in a position to move swiftly when that property becomes available.

I hope you found this useful. I know, and I’ve said it before, that whilst it sounds incredibly simple, many people don’t carry out these simple steps because they seem too obvious. But if you don’t you’re likely to fail.

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Here is just some of what the book includes:

  • The crucial thing you need to get right about your finances, and why having the funds to purchase the property is not always enough to close the deal
  • How to avoid a simple mistake that could see you offering more money than another buyer — and still not have your bid accepted
  • A little-known strategy that uses an estate agent’s sales targets to acquire your ideal home
  • Why buying a property with a short lease can actually be an astute investment, but only when you understand the real meaning of buying leasehold property
  • The 13-point checklist that quickly puts you in a powerful negotiating position by extracting crucial information from the most reticent of estate agents
  • How to use other agents to find the true value of any property you are interested in. This strategy is never even considered by most buyers, but it puts you at a distinct advantage and can save you hundreds of thousands (or millions) of pounds on the purchase price
  • The nine fundamental questions you must ask the seller to give you a sound basis for negotiation, and discover how likely it is the transaction will be completed successfully
  • The secret to achieving flexibility on price without getting into arguments with the seller or the estate agent, or trying to “bully” anyone. (This tip alone can be worth hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of pounds to you)
  • How to motivate a seller to choose you as the preferred buyer by understanding price is often not the most important factor in a property transaction
  • The right way to increase the amount you are willing to pay when the seller rejects your offer. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, and the one you choose will have a huge effect on the final outcome of the negotiations

And many more strategies you can put to use to gain a tremendous advantage when it comes to acquiring your central London home.

Of course, such an in-depth guide to acquiring a central London property is not for everyone. These strategies are applicable only for those dedicated to acquiring the most prestigious homes on excellent terms.

However, if you are absolutely serious about acquiring your central London home on the best terms possible, you can reserve a copy of my book simply by entering your details in the box below. Please note, this is a physical book which I will send to you in the post, so please supply the best address to receive the package.

Yours for a successful home acquisition,


Jeremy McGivern
Mercury Homesearch

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