What is a Search and Buying Advisor?
Search and Buying Advisors are possibly the newest of all the home buying and selling professions. The idea began in the early 1990’s, as a reaction to the high prices of U.K. properties created by the home market bubble. Their main function is providing the buyer with more advantages than what is usually offered by traditional Estate Agents (see below).
What does a Search and Buying Advisor do?
A Search and Buying Advisor specialises in providing a homefinding service for people wishing to find a property. Among other services, they research local market conditions and do the legwork for you, which include travelling to viewings that may turn out to be disappointing, thus saving you time and money.
Difference between a Search and Buying Advisor and an Estate Agent
- A Search and Buying Advisor works on behalf of the buyer, and is contractually bound to provide the best deal possible for its clients. In contrast, a traditional Estate Agent legally works for the seller, in the form of commissions. The agent is interested in achieving the highest possible selling price, because more you pay for the property the more commission the Estate Agent receives. This is not in your best interest!
Advantages of using a Search and Buying Advisor
They can also save you money with the special services they provide beyond those of the traditional Estate Agent:
- Negotiating: A Search and Buying Advisor would negotiate with the seller in your favour, and could lower the initial asking price by a considerable amount.
- Access to resources: Search and Buying Advisors can have access to sources usually not accessible to private buyers, such as contacts with developers and private sellers. This allows S&BA’s to find properties before the come onto the open market, to the buyer’s advantage.
- Relocation: Some S&BA’s can provide relocation services to corporate clients needing to move staff nationally or overseas. Some of these services include homefinding as detailed above, as well as other Destination Services like country profiling, commuting distances, school search and assistance with international banking. Relocation is a growing business and more details are available in the Relocation Services page on FUBRA (link).
Why would you need a Search and Buying Advisor?
The main reason to use a Search and Buying Advisor is because they will save you time and, more often than not, money. Another important incentive to use an S&BA is the fact that many companies will offer a complete ‘start-to-finish’ programme, from initial viewing to the final legal paperwork, easing much of the stress involved in buying a property.
Moreover, S&BA’s can be especially useful if you are moving to a new city: Since they know the local market so well, they can advise you on the best areas to look.
In any case, it is important that you know your needs, financial and otherwise, before contacting an S&BA. This will also save you time!
Locating a Search and Buying Advisor
Most Search and Buying Advisors have a web page as well as offices. A browse through several web pages will help you decide which company is best for you, according to your budget, their advertised services and your needs. A S&BA should be your right-hand person at a time when you are making a very important financial decision.
So, as with all estate professionals, research your choices and listen to recommendations, but in the end choose a Search and buying Advisor you feel you can trust.
Per service, flat fee or percentage of home value?
Search and Buying Advisors sometimes offer flat fees to corporate clients. For most of us, there are a few more steps to it:
Most Search and Buying Advisors require an initial registration or retaining fee, which may be more or less according to the value of the property you’d like to buy. This registration fee may be refundable, and it is important to ask if it will be deducted from the final fee.
After you agree to buy the home, expect to pay a service fee. This fee is usually a percentage of the purchase price or of the saving, whichever is more. This saving is usually defined as the difference between the asking price and the eventual purchase price, which of course should be lower due to the advisor’s negotiating skills.
Services like previews and tours around the prospective area should be included in the final service fee, although some companies will charge separately for these. Luckily, you’ll find that some companies advertise initial consultations and area prospects as free services on their webpage.
Ask about any further obligations and, if there are none, feel free to use these services to your advantage. This will also help you to get to know the company better, and decide if you feel comfortable with them.
Remember, as the field of Search and Buying Advisors is still relatively new, there is strong competition amongst service providers, and you should feel your time and business are being highly valued.
Important questions to ask your Search and Buying Advisor?
You should feel free to ask your S&BA any and all questions you can think of. Here’s a few that may be useful:Are you an independent Search and Buying Advisor, or are you associated with an Estate Agent?
This is an important question, as its answer may reflect how effective they would be in negotiating the lowest price possible for you.How much will I pay for each your services?
Be sure you get a thorough breakdown of fees for each particular service, and that there are no ‘surprises’.Will I have to pay a registration or retaining fee?
If so, will this fee be refundable?Does the contract specify that you will produce the lowest price possible?
Many S&B A’s claim their services usually pay for themselves with the money you saved.Do you have contacts with related professionals, such as solicitors and financial advisors?
Also a time-saver, as most Search and Buying Advisors work closely with other branches of the property professions. In fact, some S&BA’s can even recommend a good interior decorator, should you need one!