Off-market properties demystified

Q: What does it mean when a property is off market? Is it a good way to purchase property?

A: Lots of people talk about the perceived holy grail that is ‘off market properties’. Whilst it is a great dinner party story to tell everyone that you bought your property off market, it’s not always as good as it sounds.

I define off market properties as those which don’t appear anywhere on the internet. This means that as a buyer, you’re aware of and viewing the freshest and latest (and sometimes most discreet) properties ahead of other buyers.

If you know exactly which buildings or particular properties you want to buy, you can canvass the owner. Some buyers put a note through the door – I’ve seen hand written notes from children if the buyer thinks it will tug at heart strings. In reality, this route means you are approaching perfectly happy owners who probably aren’t remotely thinking of selling, therefore, the only way you would uproot them is to pay a significant enough premium to make it worth their while. If you desperately want a particular property, and you’re willing to pay a big uplift for the honour, this route is worth exploring.

If value for money is a concern however I recommend going down the other form of ‘off market’. This is where you contact local estate agents to see if they know of any suitable properties which aren’t on the open market. Between the estate agents in each area, they will have sold every property and know each owner. For a well-known buying agent they will usually pick up the phone to owners and enquire whether they would think of selling and we have bought many properties for clients this way over the years; either where a property is being discreetly marketed offline or where we called every agent in the area and asked if they could find us a particular property type. The great thing about this form of off market property is that because an estate agent is involved in some form, the seller usually has an understanding of what their property is realistically worth and they are more open to genuine offers.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.