Buying prime or super prime property is an interesting topic as it requires a high degree of due diligence in the search process and forensic investigation. Here, Jerome Lartaud (pictured), director and co-founder of independent buying agency, Domus Holmes Property Finder, considers some of the main reasons why.
Most prime and super prime properties are off-market
The search process can be very complex and lengthy, as many prime properties are not on the open market but discreetly listed (off-market) and private listings. Instead of being advertised in estate agents’ windows or via online property portals, off-market properties — and their price tags — are being revealed discreetly behind closed doors, to only a handful of property professionals and the closest contacts of the owners. In fact, selling a home away from the glare of property portals has been on the rise. People want discretion and do not always want friends and neighbours knowing they are planning a move.
The main areas our services cover include, Bristol, Bath & the South West of England (Somerset, the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire).
As just one area example of off-market buying, in the last 3 years in the Cotswolds: 30% of home purchases between £1.5million and £2million were off market. This increases to 60% for purchases between £3 million and £5million and 80% above £5million.
Buying Super Prime Property means buying the most exclusive and luxurious properties, often located in the most desirable areas. They come with a range of high-end features and amenities, such as private gardens, swimming pools, cinema rooms, and extensive security measures. Many feature the finest materials and finishes. Naturally, their exclusivity means they are in limited supply. That is why people purchasing at the top end of the market often engage the services of a buying agent – to unlock those hidden properties.
Buying off-market properties can be complex
There are potentially numerous advantages to buying off-market, such as reduced competition and greater privacy, but there are also some issues to keep in mind:
Prime properties advertised on the open market tend to come with a package of information readily available to any buyer (i.e. floor plans, extensive photographic shots of all rooms, brochures, video tours/drone footage…). This is typically less common for off-market properties for reasons of discretion or privacy.
In addition, off-market properties, by their nature, tend to move quickly from a transactional point of view – in many respects, an advantage. However, once an offer has been accepted by the seller – it is not uncommon to see a whole property transaction taking place and reaching completion in a matter of weeks as opposed to months (4.5 months being the average length of conveyancing for a residential property purchase in the UK). So, buyers must have their finances ready to make such a transaction possible.
Due Diligence on Asking Price
It is very easy for buyers to fall into the trap of believing the asking price set by the estate agent. This is particularly prevalent within the prime and super prime property markets.
To gauge if the guide price is in-line with the local property market, buyers can use available tools such as estimates on websites such as Zoopla and Land Registry data on other recent sales in the same street/area.
A good tip for buyers of prime properties wanting to gauge if the current guide price is realistic (as opposed to being ambitious) is to ask for the opinion of other local estate agents operating in the same market segment. Discrepancies in valuations and price estimations can be immense and should send alarm bells to potential buyers, like in a recent instance of a super prime off-market property that was commanding an asking price of £3M more than what other local agents estimated.
This is another reason why people transacting such high value properties instruct expert help. Imagine if you were the person that had purchased this property for £3M more than what it is really worth, how would you feel?