Planning an off-market home purchase or sale?

Castlegate House next to Castle Bowling Green, Lewes in Sussex
Castlegate House in Lewes, Sussex is an 18th century Grade II listed property with kerb appeal

Have you ever spotted a house that offers everything you have always desired in a home? It could be in a perfect location or have a spectacular facade – or any number of other personal or business reasons – but despite years of patience, the property frustratingly never seems to come onto the market. Maybe it’s time to consider an off-market home purchase.

A lack of availability often leads to ‘off-market’ deals in the commercial property market, but one estate agent estimates that as many as 25% of the country homes on its books are also being sold ‘off-market’. These are homes being sold by owners who are prepared to wait for the right price and sometimes even for the right buyer. It is estimated that properties listed on Zoopla or Rightmove could represent only around half of homes actually on the market.

Putting your home on the market with most agents will leave an internet trail of photos of your house interior available for years to come. You may not be rich and famous, but you may still want to sell in a less intrusive manner. So if you’re a bit modest or would prefer some privacy, selling ‘off-market’ through an agent who will directly introduce your property to suitable buyers can avoid this public scrutiny. And if you are rich and famous, you will probably be aware that some agents can ensure that your high end property won’t be viewed without the signing of a non-disclosure agreement.

While off-market homes are often marketed by the more expensive estate agents, one new agent is saving prospective buyers of off-market homes huge sums of money. For a fee to buyers of £5 per property, Knock for Sale will contact the owners of homes that prospective buyers are interested in buying. Contact will be by card to the address or by email if the seller is registered with the site. If the owner is interested in selling they can choose to respond.  This is a site for people who have an ideal property in mind but aren’t necessarily prepared to wait for it to become available.

In a survey of home owners, Knock for Sale found that three times more homes could potentially be for sale than the number of properties listed as available online. It also found that over half of home owners would consider selling, even if they hadn’t previously considered it. Homes sold privately do not require an EPC, so make sure you get a Chartered Surveyor to carry out a building survey before you go ahead with a purchase.

Given the potential loss of revenue to estate agents, the body is understandably sceptical about this approach. If you have the funds and aren’t keen on the direct approach, you could always appoint a property buying agent to negotiate for you.

If you’re a home owner who would like to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity to sell, but are put off by the prospect of suddenly being turned out of your home because of a rash decision to take the money – remember that it is possible to agree a long-term completion date if both parties are keen to continue. Before agreeing to any property sale, make sure you ask a Chartered Surveyor to carry out a valuation of your home to ensure you achieve at least the market value. 

If you’re thinking of buying a property ‘off-market’, make sure you don’t let your dream home turn into a home nightmare by asking a Chartered Surveyor to provide you with a building survey before you agree the price. 

Back to May 2019 Newsletter