the ‘confidential’ property market

It might astound many house-hunters to discover that fully one third of the homes available to buy today never appear on the internet!

The reason for this can only be understood by stepping through the looking-glass and imagining yourself in an estate agent’s shoes. Back in ‘the good old days’ before overbearing regulation your local estate agent would agree to sell your property, build a brochure, put it on their books and call any known buyers to arrange for them to view your home, but since 1988 agents have been forced to ask you HOW you want your property marketed, and this has resulted in a bizarre situation, with many vendors choosing ‘not’ to use web portals or advertising and in some cases refusing to sign a contract with their chosen agent.

So how on earth are you supposed to find them? Well I’m afraid that you’re just going to have to speak with the agent, deliberately! . . . and while they probably won’t actually bite you I would still advise extreme caution when the agent pulls your dream home out of the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet, because even though they’re very keen for you to view and you’re bound to fall head over heels in love with it, the seller of this house hasn’t really, truly, honestly, completely committed to sell yet! and the fact that you’ve made an offer on their house even though they were difficult with the agent often results in the most jaw-dropping responses: “Thank you for your asking price offer but I’ve decided to stay put unless I get another £15,000” or “I accept your offer but you’ll have to wait until next year because the cat just had babies”.

My advice is to be aware of this anomaly but treat it with caution. You may well find the home of your dreams in this way, but you should expect choppy negotiations and flaky behavior from a seller who hasn’t agreed to sell.

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