Off-market properties, also known as “pocket listings” or “hidden properties, ” are homes or properties for sale but not listed publicly on property portals or other estate websites. This means that they are not actively advertised to the general public, making them a more exclusive option for those looking to buy or invest in property in the UK.
In the UK, the majority of property transactions occur through estate agents. These agents act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers, and many have access to off-market properties. This is because the owners of these properties often choose not to list them publicly to keep their sales discreet and avoid attracting unwanted attention. After all, they prefer a private sale, or because, should their property not sell, it doesn’t leave a ‘digital footprint’ affecting the marketing of their house later in the year when they do go public.
It is difficult to determine the exact proportion of off-market house sales in the UK, as these sales are private and are not tracked by any centralised database. However, industry experts estimate that off-market house sales can account for anywhere from 5-20% of all property transactions in the UK. The exact percentage may vary depending on the location and market conditions in London and the southeast.
A recent report by Bloomberg (27/1/23) suggested, “A record share of Londoners are shunning property portals and opting to sell their homes on their own terms — which are increasingly negotiated over WhatsApp.”
“Almost a quarter of London homes were sold off-market in the final three months of last year, according to broker Hamptons International. That’s more than double compared to the same period of 2019 — the final quarter before the pandemic — when under-the-table sales claimed 11% of the total market share. It is also the highest quarterly figure since Hamptons began recording data in 2007.”
“The trend is particularly pronounced among Londoners with more expensive offerings. “Tougher conditions have increased the number of £1 million-plus ($1.2 million) homes being marketed quietly,”
So, what are the benefits of off-market house sales in the UK? One of the most significant advantages is less competition, as these properties are not widely known. This means you have a better chance of securing the property at a lower price and with fewer bidding wars. Additionally, off-market house sales are often conducted by owners who have contacted buying agents directly, looking for a quick and discreet sale so that the negotiation process can be smoother and faster.
Another advantage of off-market house sales is that they provide greater flexibility and buyer opportunities. For example, the owner of an off-market property may be willing to accept a lower offer or may be open to creative financing arrangements, such as rent-to-own or owner financing, that are not typically available with publicly listed properties.
So, where do you find off-market house sales in the UK? Here are a few places to start your search:
Networking: Reach out to your network of friends, family, colleagues, and other contacts to see if they know of any off-market properties. You can also join local property investment groups and attend networking events to meet estate agents and other investors who may have access to off-market properties.
Direct Mail: Send letters or postcards to homeowners in areas you’re interested in, introducing yourself as a prospective buyer and asking if they are considering selling their home. This can be an effective way to reach out to owners of off-market properties, as they may not be actively advertising their sales.
Social Media: Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and now Whatsapp to connect with estate agents and homeowners in your desired area.
Online Property Platforms: Online property platforms, such as Zoopla and Rightmove, still need to, as yet, have options for searching for off-market properties. While these platforms may not have a list of off-market house sales, they can be valuable for understanding the local market and identifying potential properties to pursue.
Buying Agents: Hire a buying agent, such as Rowallan Exclusive Property Buying Agents, who has connections in the area and can help you find off-market properties. These agents have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the local property market. In addition, they can use their connections and resources to help you find properties that are not publicly listed.
When searching for off-market house sales in the UK, it’s essential to be prepared to act quickly and decisively. Off-market properties can be snapped up quickly by other buyers, so it’s necessary to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, a solid pre-approval for a mortgage, and a clear understanding of the buying process.
Also, working with a buying agent experienced in off-market house sales is essential. This person can provide valuable advice, guidance, and support, from searching for properties to negotiating with sellers and closing the deal.
When negotiating with the seller of an off-market property, it’s important to remember that the terms of the sale will be more flexible than those of a publicly listed property. Be open to creative solutions, such as rent-to-own arrangements, owner financing, or a more extended completion period. Be prepared to compromise on price or other terms to secure the property.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the purchase of an off-market house sale will likely require more due diligence and research on your part. You’ll need to thoroughly research the property and its location, including factors such as the local market, planning regulations, and the property’s condition. You may also need to hire a professional inspector or surveyor to assess the property and provide a detailed report.
In conclusion, buying via an off-market house sale in the UK can be an excellent opportunity for those looking to invest in property or find a new home. With less competition and greater flexibility, off-market properties can offer a more private and discreet way to buy or sell properties. By using a combination of networking, online platforms, and buying estate agents, you can find the perfect off-market property to suit your needs and investment goals.