Join us this week as we talk to buying agent Karim Bazzi about what buying agents do and why there seem to be so many buying agents in Prime Central London.
We discuss the impact of the internet and how it compares to using a buying agent, what clients think buying agents do vs what they really contribute to the relationship and the three main markets that are best suited for buying agents.
We chat about off-market or pre-market properties and the advantages of working with a buying agent in comparison to managing the process yourself and Karim shares his top tips on what to look out for when choosing a buying agent.
As always we love to hear from you. Send us your thoughts and comments at email@example.com or connect with us on social media.
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Unknown Speaker 0:00
London Property - home of super prime, where you can find informative educational and entertaining content, covering all aspects of property.
Farnaz Fazaipour 0:11
Hello, and welcome to London Property - home of super prime. I'm your host Farnaz Fazaipour. And today we're in conversation with Karim Bazzi, who is an experienced buying agent in prime central London. And you're going to talk to us today, Karim about how come we have so many buying agents when all the information is available there on the internet?
Karim Bazzi 0:32
Thanks Farnaz! I've been listening to your shows, which I think are excellent. So I'm really happy you've invited me. And the it's a good question. Because obviously there are a lot more buying agents and actually independent selling agents as well. And the whole market feels like it's fragmenting in that way to the to the broker model where the person is as important as whether you buy or sell. So it's actually become more about the trust you built up with your clients being carried forward into into your property transactions.
Farnaz Fazaipour 1:07
So what why do you think with with so much information now readily available, that you and I have noticed over the past 1015 years, that the number of actual buying agents representing buyers has exploded?
Karim Bazzi 1:21
I think more and more people want their properties off market. I think that's one of the reasons. It's, it's become such a big financial decision that you don't really want to go in unaided and unrepresented, especially at the higher levels. But even I'm noticing more and more off market properties at the lower levels, it's becoming more attractive. And people don't have the expertise, the contacts or the time to find these properties. So I think off market is a really big part of it. I think that's one of the big parts of why people have been represented to it's become so so much part of your net worth your property purchase that you wouldn't do anything else at this level without being represented. So I think more and more people are seeing the value of it.
Farnaz Fazaipour 2:07
Yeah, that's interesting. So the property is going off market, because once you put them on the internet, then you've got this digital history that you can't get rid of. So that's a really good point, there's no sort of, let's try and see, it's written in stone once it's actually gone out there. Okay, and what would you say is the role of the buying agent.
Karim Bazzi 2:27
So I always tell my clients, because a lot of them come to me and say, I just want you to find me off market properties. And the finding part is what the clients think you're doing, but actually, what you're doing is maybe threefold. So you've got the finding part, you've got the negotiating part for the price. And then you've got carrying the deal through to exchange and completion, which is quite cumbersome, and has a lot of hurdles that you have to get through. So I see it as third, the third really that a third of my value is finding the property, a third of my value is negotiating the right price. And then the other third is just getting the team of experts. So I also set up a team for my clients, I set up the lawyer, the architect, the interior designer, especially if they're not based in the UK, they don't know anyone, really. So it's setting up the the financing, that how it's going to look the furnishing, so they can just count on me as their man in London, you know, so this very, very useful for foreign buyers.
Farnaz Fazaipour 3:32
So the benefits actually isn't isn't just as you say, it's not even just in the third, a third, a third, but the benefits are also in all those relationships that you've built up over the years that can actually help get the deal across because something like what 30% of deals actually fall through from when an offer is accepted until you reach exchange. So it's, it's quite a serious matter.
Karim Bazzi 3:54
Yeah, very, very, and it the relationships I've built up with agents as well over the years help my clients. So another role of the buying agent really is to present a client's offer the best possible way. So if there's a best bid situation, I've often won best bid situations because the agents know who I am. And they trust that my clients will perform. So even if someone's paying a little bit more unrepresented, they might lose the property of their dreams. The other thing is that, you know, I save more than my fee most of the time. So I think I will add pure financial value by making sure that I negotiate hard when some of my clients will just get so eager to buy something, they'll just pay whatever, I will calm them down and take a more cautious approach to the purchase. So my clients have used me for maybe almost 20 years and they come back so they always come back to me so clearly something is it's money well spent. Even though it's extra money, it's Money well spent.
Farnaz Fazaipour 5:02
And, you know, agents naturally are friendly people and positive people. And I think that for buyers, a lot of the times they think, Well, I'm dealing with the selling agent directly, why do I need you? And you know, they've been super helpful. But technically, they're actually being paid to represent the best interests of the seller. Yes, yes, I understand they've got a duty of care to the buyer. But what are the benefits of not going direct to a selling agent? Would you say?
Karim Bazzi 5:29
Well, one is that you cover the whole market with one point of contact, so you're not having to deal with 10 people giving you different opinions. Clearly, they have a duty of care to the buyer, but their main duty of care and their fees have been paid by the seller. So they're always going to have much more loyalty to the seller and the buyer. The best properties also won't be sharing fees, the agents won't share fees on the best properties. So some people say, well just pay me, you know, I'll search for you. But you don't need to pay me fee, I'll just take a fee off the selling the other selling agent, that doesn't really work. Because the best properties won't offer any fees out. So if you come to a buying agent, you know that your interests are aligned with your client, as opposed to the selling agent, which is always working for the seller. I think that's the main reason you go direct to a buying agent, one point of contact, and interests aligned, and trusted advice.
Farnaz Fazaipour 6:30
And also selling agents, I think that, you know, when they open a property to the market, they do go to buying agents first.
Karim Bazzi 6:37
Which is how we get pre market properties. So off market is quite a broad term. And a lot of off market just means pre market. But that can be so important in a hot market, to just get in the door first. Decide whether you want to you basically have first choice using you get an advantage over the people who are just using the internet.
Farnaz Fazaipour 6:57
And I also think that selling agents quite like to know that a buyer has actually taken representation, which means that they're really committed and decided to do this. So they seem to be a bit more committed maybe than the other people that they might have interest in the property, which also helps. And so you know, you've given us the reasons why you've succeeded and why people come back to you, but how would you choose a buying agent? And what questions should somebody ask?
Karim Bazzi 7:30
Well, you're going to spend a lot of time with the with the agent, you use it, I can work with people for three years, two years before we find the perfect property on and off, of course, because they're often travelling, but you've got to have a report. So I think a report is important with the person, I think it's really important you try and work with the director of the company. So the advantage of using someone like me or other people who are in smaller firms, is you'll always work with me, you know, or in the past my other director, but a lot of the a lot of the larger firms, you'll be you'll be sort of sold to by the director, and then you'll be passed on to someone who potentially haven't met or a slightly less experienced. So I think, you know, there are advantages in using bigger firms. But there are also advantages in using smaller firms, because you'll work with someone with a lot of experience. I think, also try and figure out what other deals the buying agent has has done. So if you want a house in Hampstead, and you look at the website, and you see that it's Kensington, Chelsea Notting Hill, you'll you'll maybe think this, this is not your niche market, because I think all buying agents do have a niche market. And I think it's important to find out what that is, you know, my niche market would be really the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. And between, say, two to 15 million, that's kind of my niche, there are people who specialise in much bigger property. I have done bigger searches. And there are people who are specialised in North London, East London, but I think it's important to find out what what what is the niche that you're you're buying, because that's where his contacts will be. And that's what you're part of what you're paying for is the contacts and the knowledge, a big part of it, because that's the third third, that's the finding. And that's the negotiation. That's a big part of it is to be in line in tune with with the area and the niche. And fees. I mean, that makes a big difference. I think buying agents can charge anywhere from between 1% to 2.5. So there's quite a big range, and that makes a big difference. Be careful of the 1% it's probably too low for someone with huge amounts of experience. But also do you have to pay 2.75 2.5 Maybe not that so. All clients care about value Do you know? And actually, when I did do some research on what matters most of the clients? It was, how much money? Have you saved me? Actually, surprisingly, that was a big part of what they cared about not did I find them off market property? Or, you know, did I make them? Save a lot of time? Actually, how much can you save me for being a keen negotiator, an expert in your area is really important.
Farnaz Fazaipour 10:25
Very true. And also, we touched on some of the things that are changing in the industry. But, you know, yes, there is more individuals in the in the marketplace moving towards the brokerage model. But what else do you think is changing in the industry?
Karim Bazzi 10:42
Compliance has become a much bigger field, we all need to have compliance in place, which slows the yields down, but also protects everyone from dirty money, let's say so. So that is a big change. I think over the last 10 years, it's the whole process of doing doing a transaction has become cumbersome and slower, but probably for the best in the long term.
Farnaz Fazaipour 11:13
Well, yes, for the best for the few who are doing that, but actually quite nightmare for the people who are not. And I think, you know, there is there is an element of too much caution that can can touch on offending some people sometimes, but that's a whole degree. That's a whole other conversation. And what kind of clients do you think take on buying agents?
Karim Bazzi 11:36
Sure, that's an interesting question. I've thought about this in the past. And basically, I have people who don't live here, clear need someone trusted on the ground. And that usually comes through personal referral, most of my business comes from personal referral. So that's a really important segment is people from abroad, either returning expats, or new to town who wants a holiday home or a second home, you've then got first time buyers, which is usually at the lower end of my searches, people buying for children or first time buyers who've never bought before. Often, they'll come to me have a discussion guide and look on their own, and then just get completely kind of in disarray about how difficult it is, and they'll come back. So I think a first time buyer really benefits from using a buying agent, because there are so many pitfalls. And it's much more complicated than it seems. The third type is is people who work very, very long hours. So people who work from seven to seven, they're not gonna be able to get to the opportunities, they need someone to go and video the property, give them a call, get them out, make sure viewing as possible. So those are the three types. First time buyers, foreign buyers, and very, very busy people, I think those are the main main three.
Farnaz Fazaipour 12:56
Those are the main three. And actually, my favourite actually is property professionals. I think property professionals are the ones who are the least resistant to retaining an agent, because they understand the value. They know that if you bring them something that needs refurbishment, before you take them to the next guy has value. So I find that actually property professionals I've got a property perfect and I've actually had for for a long time. And he's actually not in residential, and he's not based in the UK. But I bought him something. And when he sold it to his cousin, and made lots of money, he paid me a fee. He said if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have made all that money. So in my world, you know, he's the first person I want to go to when I've got a really, really good deal because he understands it, and he appreciated it. So I think property professionals actually have a really, really good example to learn from because they're the ones who are making their money from real estate. So if they say, retain an agent, they know what they're talking about.
Karim Bazzi 14:00
They always seem to have to return because the best deals are usually come that way. The only thing with them is that they don't exclusively return, which is the way I like to work. Obviously, it can't always work like that. But I agree that they're always around and happy to pay if you're always happy to pay a fee.
Farnaz Fazaipour 14:17
And what do you think are the challenges on the subject of probably fees and convincing people? But what are the challenges of being a buying agent, do you think?
Karim Bazzi 14:25
When people go from a big company to to working on their own, it gets quite lonely, I think and I think at the beginning, it's quite fun being your own boss. But then when you get into the nuts and bolts of having to do everything for yourself. I think that's quite challenging for some people. I am seeing some people go back to the corporate world. So I think one thing is, is is just the multitasking and having to do everything for yourself when you've been used to having other people do it for you. I learned very early because I wasn't in the corporate world for more than a year. I did a year and then I went on my own I'd learned everything early on. But that can be quite a challenge for people and the loneliness, the multitasking, getting people to commit to being exclusive when they don't know you is very difficult. It's a real challenge. And it's something that I've had to sort of, you know, work working in different ways with different clients over the past. But more and more I work exclusively with clients, because that's the only way I can give them a proper service. So, you know, once in a while, I'll have to do a multi instruction. And that's becoming slightly more common, where people are using two or three buying agents, which kind of goes against the purpose of it, but occasionally I've done that in the past, but more and more, it's an on an exclusive basis. And the challenge is getting that is getting the fees. I feel like I charge a fair fee, I don't charge the top fee or the bottom. So I don't have as much of a struggle with getting fees agreed. It's more about getting exclusivity. That's quite difficult. Yeah.
Farnaz Fazaipour 16:07
It's quite, Am I wrong in saying that it's quite a UK thing buying it just didn't really exist in other markets, because in America, they've got 6% fees. They don't even need to think about buying or selling or anything. They just think about getting rich. But what are they anywhere else that they use?
Karim Bazzi 16:25
Not that I know of? The more I find out about foreign markets, the more it seems the buying and selling agent just split fees. They are all getting 5%. This is but you do think, who's being represented by whom I actually think the British system is quite good, because you're paying less fees. But you're you've got someone who's representing you. So you're gonna get better advice? I think so I actually like the system here. And I think using blowing agents is growing. Yes. No doubt. I don't have the facts and figures on that. Maybe you do. But I do. I do think that it's more above 5 million and 10 million and 20 million. It's it's a big proportion of deals now.
Farnaz Fazaipour 17:06
Yeah. I mean, I remember when when I first started, you know, it was kind of unheard of. And then with the birth of the Internet, there was something like 250 Buying agents in just the Royal Borough of Kensington, Chelsea. So, you know, in my mind, I'm thinking, why if everything is out there, but, you know, it is the biggest commitment people make financially and it's actually crazy not to be represented by someone. But that's, that's all changing of, obviously. Well, thank you so much for talking to us. It's been fascinating to listen to your insights. And I'm sure that we've given some good tips to our listeners, and hopefully given them some comfort in knowing that representation is actually really important.
Karim Bazzi 17:48
You know, I think it's it's a sort of misunderstood field. So I think the questions were spot on, and you've you know, I think it's really important for the public to understand what we do, and that we are a really good, we're money well spent, as I said in the interview, and it's great that you're exposing this kind of thing for the market. And I think what you're doing is great, and I'm really happy to be a part of it.
Farnaz Fazaipour 18:10
Thank you. Thank you, Karim. And to find experts for anything to do with your transactions, managing property ownership or living in your super prime home, please head over to our experts directory, and we look forward to being of assistance.
Unknown Speaker 18:24
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