Finding a home for Ben the builder

Ben and Bridget

I met Ben Byrne in November at BNI Southbank Waterloo, a lunchtime networking event held in London. We got talking about each others’ businesses (he owns the building firm  and it transpired that he was looking to purchase a family home for his partner and newborn.

The Brief

With all searches that I undertake, the initial consultation is an important part of the process.  Here I listen to the clients requirements and aspirations of their next home. At some point in a transaction, you may need to compromise on one element, be it size or price but it is good to write it all down so that you can aim to achieve as many wishes as possible.

After sitting down with Ben and Bridget, I summarised their requirements in “The Property Brief” which is usually page 5 of my contract (inside information!). Due to Ben’s expertise, a property which offered some scope for development would be favoured.

I now had something to aim for! So I went out to the market area.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, it is not unusual to have estate agents tell me that what I am looking for will not be possible within the budget. I am sure this could dissuade the average property buyer but to me, this just tells me that that certain agent is either over valuing or just doesn’t have enough instructions on his books.

So if/when this happens, I keep going and move on to the next agent.

I registered and had discussions with around 25 agents in Streatham, Norbury, Gypsy Hill and West Norwood to get a feel for the market. It was December and with Christmas fast approaching, it is rare for new properties to come to the market. This was an important time of the search for me however,  if I could get underneath the market and befriend a few agents, I could get my client’s brief at the top of the pile when that new instruction arrived.

During this time we viewed a few houses.  We also revisited an apartment that Ben and Bridget had previously seen and tempted by. I was a little wearer and stressed to them to hold out for a house as I believed it was achievable.

A house, which is normally has a freehold tenure offers better investment opportunity and is more flexible in terms of development than a leasehold apartment.

It was in January that I got wind of a property which was back on the market after a failed transaction. On paper it looked perfect so we dropped everything, viewed immediately and subsequently made an offer.

This was a little gem and obviously there was another interested party. In these situations it is important not to get carried away and offer too much. So we sat down and agreed a plan of action.    We agreed on a figure and submitted our bid. Behind the scenes I spoke with Ben’s mortgage broker and solicitor to prime them for a call from the estate agent, no doubt the agent would call to seek verification that we had a mortgage in principle and that Ben was a genuine buyer.

We got the good news that evening that our offered had been accepted but I knew there was still a long way to go. The legal process and mortgage application process can through up obstacles that we may need to overcome though perhaps that story is for another blog post.

After two months of a challenging process, we got there and I really have to thank Richard of for processing the mortgage and Yasmin of who were both brilliant in helping keep the chain together.

And by the way, this three bedroom house was way under the £600K that I was told was an insufficient budget for this type of house. What do I know!

A testimonial from Ben

My Partner Bridget and I used Matthew to find our new home and although at first we thought he would be useful in terms of finding us properties to look at and eventually chose to buy, he did so much more than that.

He met with us frequently to go to property viewings together and gave advice on everything from putting in offers to how to bargain with the seller.

He liaised with my accountants and our mortgage brokers as I own and run my own business that had just under 3 years trading history which made getting the mortgage a little tougher.

Towards the end of the journey when we put in and had our offer accepted, he communicated daily with us, the estate agents and our solicitors, making sure that we were clear about what we needed to do to keep everything on track and keeping up gentle pressure on our solicitors to stick to the deadline and calming the estate agents who were being pressured by the sellers to pressure us.

As my partner was on maternity leave looking after our baby and I was running my business, we found Matthew invaluable in assisting us find and secure our wonderful new home with the minimum of stress.

I can thoroughly recommend Matthew of Astute Property Search to anyone who wants to find their dream home but is too busy to carry out the search alone and who wants to mitigate the dangers by using an expert who can guide you through the pitfalls.

Thank you Matthew, we love our new home and seeing our baby boy playing in his own garden for the first time in large part thanks to you is priceless.

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