Guide to off-market selling

In some property transactions, the best publicity for clients can be no publicity as Stuart Harris, head of residential sales at the Cambridge office of national property consultancy Carter Jonas explains…

Stuart Harris of Carter Jonas

While the majority of residential properties for sale are advertised and promoted widely by estate agents through a myriad of marketing channels, there is an alternative for those who prefer to keep themselves and their homes out of the spotlight – it’s called ‘off-market selling’.

Many agents, particularly those who specialise in properties at the premium end of the market, can carry out this service successfully to both vendors and buyers alike.

It is generally taken up by people for whom the circumstances around buying or selling are more sensitive than the majority of us in the mainstream property market. 

The best agents operate the service for clients in much the same way as a dating agency – bringing together purchasers and vendors with very specific property requirements and with a similar degree of privacy and discretion.

For instance, business people involved in planned takeovers or acquisitions which mean they need to buy or sell property in a location but, for commercial reasons, are not wishing to publicise a move to or from a location.

More obvious clients who want this off-market selling approach are high-profile executives or media celebrities who, for security reasons, do not wish to publicise the sale or purchase of a property.

Off-market selling can only really be successful if, in addition to expert knowledge of the property market, the agent knows the needs of the vendor or purchaser in-depth. It’s not just a question taking a set of particulars and waiting for the right property or right buyer to come along.

From the time the agent meets the client and takes a detailed brief, the successful agent will be pro-active in the relationship and in the market on behalf of the client, tapping in to the agency’s chain of offices, if it has one, and network of professional contacts in the pursuit of the right match.

The best in this field will know of their client’s plans months ahead. They give strategic advice to clients about the best time to sell or when is the optimum time to look to move, ensuring they get the right property. It’s all about having and using market intelligence in the right way for the client.

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