Last year, the owner of a five-bedroom house on the exclusive St George’s Hill estate in Surrey came to estate agent Nathaniel Bracegirdle with a proposition.
He was considering downsizing but he didn’t want his family home plastered all over the property websites Zoopla and Rightmove, a horde of strangers traipsing around, or neighbours gossiping.
The solution was to put the house up for sale – but very, very discreetly.
“The vendor said to me: ‘I want you to use your judgement and only speak to people if they are financially qualified, and particularly want my style of property on St George’s Hill’,” said Mr Bracegirdle, who works at Knight Frank. “He didn’t want his family disturbed unnecessarily, and he didn’t want people knowing his business.”
This approach to selling is known as “off-market”, done through word of mouth and buying agents. With safety concerns over Covid-19 and a pandemic-related run on the country’s most expensive rural homes, it is becoming more common. Mr Bracegirdle said that last year around 40pc of his sales were off-market……
Other times, the reasons for an off-market sale are more prosaic. Carol Peett, of West Wales Property Finders, a buying agent, said some vendors were too elderly and frail to cope with multiple viewings. Others might want to keep a divorce quiet.
Still more weren’t actually planning to sell their houses at all but were approached by Ms Peett, acting for clients who coveted the property even though it wasn’t for sale. “It is surprising how many properties we obtain that way,” she said.
For buyers, gaining access to this secretive grey market, littered with non-disclosure agreements and well-known names, is simple. But you usually need a third party, such as a buying agent, who can scout the off-market sales that are beyond the sight of regular home hunters online…..
The Daily Telegraph – Saturday, 9th January 2021 – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/buy/inside-hidden-world-property-sold-off-market-selling-counter/
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