Country houses for sale

How to win in the property market: Tips from some of Britain’s best buying agents

Whether looking for the perfect family home or negotiating on price, buying agents do the heavy lifting–and are well used to analysing the market. Carla Passino gets advice from a few of the best.

What will happen to the property market in the rest of 2022?

‘Currently, demand is very strong. The increase in the cost of living, together with interest-rate rises, will encourage downsizers to sell, so supply will increase.’
— Ben Horne, Middleton Advisors

‘Homeowners are already discussing [sale] plans. And quite a few have asked me if I can introduce them to cash buyers prepared to purchase off market.’
— Jennie Hancock, Property Acquisitions

‘The tipping point will be when houses eventually start coming on and not all of them sell immediately, as only the best in class achieve off-market premium money.’
— Richard Winter, Richard Winter Surrey Property Search

‘Domestic demand will drop back. In the wake of higher interest rates, coupled with a post-Covid “back to normal”, the focus will be on shorter commutes rather than re-creating The Good Life.’
— Jess Simpson, Jess Simpson Property Search

‘This year will bring a refocus on London and a slight calming of the market frenzy. Prime country houses will see price rises of 5%–10%; prime central London a more modest 3%–5%.’
— James Macleod, JM Chase Property Search & Acquisition

‘Last year, [the London market] was fuelled by domestic, needs-based buyers. Now, we’re seeing more discretionary buyers, international investors and migration back to the city, looking for large gardens, beautiful architecture and a village-like setting, so areas such as Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Notting Hill should be popular. Those who continue to straddle London and the countryside want to be close to restaurants and members’ clubs, which puts Marylebone, Mayfair and Chelsea in demand.’
— Jo Eccles, Eccord

‘Charming market towns are going to see a resurgence. Café culture, flexible working spaces, art galleries and pedestrianised town centres should replace derelict branches of Woolworths and BHS.’
— Philip Harvey, Property Vision

‘Incredible pool complexes with slides from bedrooms and retracting roofs are definitely back on the agenda. Lockdown spurred a renewed popularity in games rooms, cinema rooms and teenage dens kitted out with all the bells and whistles. I have also noticed a growing trend for small vineyards.’
— Ed Heaton, Heaton & Partners

The sale of magnificent West Hanney House in Oxfordshire, marketed by Savills last year for £4.5 million, was brokered by Jess Simpson

Buying agents tips for getting ahead in a competitive property market

‘Secure an excellent lawyer, have your financing in place and, once you’ve identified your preferred property, be proactive and assertive.’
— Hannah Aykroyd, Aykroyd & Co

‘Seconds count in this business. View properties at the earliest opportunity—there will be some desperate buyer out there who will move heaven and earth to be the first. Knowledge is power, so tap into every resource you have.’
— Ed Heaton, Heaton & Partners

‘Buyers should inspect as many properties as they can, ready to pounce when the right one becomes available.’
— Ross Ward, Pereds

‘Find out why a vendor is selling. This is essential when determining the offer you should make. [Also], have a good look at Land Registry information, because there’s a lot of detail that’s not on the agent’s specification.’
— Jennie Hancock, Property Acquisitions

‘The terms of your offer are as important as the figure you are offering.’
— James Macleod, JM Chase Property Search & Acquisition

‘Only start looking when you have your finances in order. If you have to sell first, consider a delayed completion. Try to ensure the land around the house (and visible from it) is, as far as is practical, within your ownership.’
— Francis Long, Hanslips

‘Have sympathy for estate agents. Don’t give them a hard time—or you’ll be at the bottom of the list for the next house. Be in regular contact and pop into the office—you’ll be easier to remember.’
— Jess Simpson, Jess Simpson Property Search

‘To give the selling agent confidence in you as a buyer, have a letter drawn up by your accountant confirming proof of funds. Also demonstrate that you’re able to decipher what’s important in a survey.’
— Alex Woodleigh-Smith, AWS Prime Property

Property pitfalls: What not to do if you’re buying or selling a house

‘The inevitable pitfalls for buyers in a sellers’ market are rushing to purchase the wrong place or over-extending.’
— Ross Ward, Pereds

‘Don’t feel pressured to make an offer. It’s so important to know if it’s the right house to pay a premium for. If it isn’t, you could overspend and regret it.’
— Richard Winter, Richard Winter Surrey Property Search

‘Avoid aggressive tactics. We acted for a client who—against our advice—made an offer on a house in Kensington that was far too low; it didn’t go down well. In situations such as that, you are immediately on the back foot trying to win back goodwill.’
— Jo Eccles, Eccord

‘Remember the vendor is likely to be emotionally invested in the house. Don’t treat it like a clinical transaction; instead, present yourself as an empathetic buyer.’
— Hannah Aykroyd, Aykroyd & Co

‘If you need to sell before you buy, be sensible with your pricing to avoid making a loss.’
— Philip Harvey, Property Vision

‘Pay good money for good advice (buying agent, lawyers, surveyors); it will save you money and time.’
— Ben Horne, Middleton Advisors

‘Avoid confusing negatives that can be put right with those that can’t. Pylons are an issue—the avocado bathroom suite is not.’
— Francis Long, Hanslips

‘Never compromise on natural light—it’s one of the only things you can’t change. A dark, gloomy house with lack of natural light is always a hard “no” from us.’
— Alex Woodleigh-Smith, AWS Prime Property


Best country houses for sale this week

Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.