Whether you are looking to purchase a home or a property as an investment, you are looking to get the best price possible. While the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla are the most common platforms for searching for properties on the market, they aren’t necessarily the best places to find the best deals.
Off-market properties however have far less competition, which allows more room for price negotiations – often directly with the property owner. In this article, we’ll discover how you can find off-market properties in the UK.
What is an off-market property?
As the name hints, the off-market property is a property that isn’t officially on the market. Therefore, it’s not listed on property portals (e.g. Zoopla or Rightmove) or advertised by high-street agents. It also wouldn’t be listed on auction platforms.
According to estate agent Hamptons, 10% of properties in the UK are actually sold off-market. In London, the number is more than double with 23% of sold properties never being publicly advertised.
How to find off-market properties in the UK?
Because off-market properties are not listed on any mainstream platforms, finding them can sometimes take a little more time than with on-market properties. However, this also means that far fewer people are aware of them. You can therefore avoid having to bid against other potential buyers and even get a deal below the market value. Now let’s discuss different ways you can find off-market properties in the UK.
1. Find properties on land registry
Be it for your own home or an investment, buying a rundown property can be a great way to bag a good property deal. Properties like this will require work that will then increase the property value. But where and how can you find a rundown house to purchase off-market?
Firstly, keep your eyes peeled for abandoned properties. If you are driving around the neighbourhood or just going for a walk, pay attention to the houses around you. Look for signs of abandonment, such as an overgrown garden or boarded-up/broken windows.
Then, do some detective work to identify the owner. This will often start with the Land Registry. You can use their website to see who the current owner is and what they paid for it. You can then contact the owner directly about the property.
2. Find off-market deals through estate agents
You might think that all properties that estate agents have are advertised publicly. However, this isn’t always the case! Building relationships with local agents can therefore be very valuable when looking for off-market properties.
Using an agent to find off-market listings can be difficult at first. Make sure you show them your proof of funds for credibility, e.g. bank balance or a decision in principle (DIP). But once you’re able to establish yourself as a serious buyer or investor, agents will take you more seriously and want to bring you deals because they know you can close.
Related: How to afford a bigger mortgage
3. Networking with property specialist
Your network is your net worth. This saying is specifically true when it comes to property as the best deals are typically found off-market.
Firstly, you might have friends or family that might have a property that they want to sell privately. This way the seller can not only avoid estate fees but also find a reliable buyer who is less likely to pull out from the sale.
In addition to your already existing network, networking with other property experts is key – especially if you want to buy as an investment. There are several property events and online communities where you can network with other investors, developers and so on. These events often allow attendants do an “elevator pitch” where you can introduce yourself and tell you are looking for off-market deals. Remember, it’s not only what you know but who you know.
4. Online platforms for direct sellers
It’s not strictly off-market but there is a rise in sellers advertising their house sale on alternative platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. These are typically motivated sellers who are trying to sell their property without an agent.
So, rather than going via an agent, you can directly contact the seller about their property. This allows you to avoid a middleman and negotiate the price directly with a seller.
Furthermore, the selling price is not always the only deciding factor for a house seller. Some sellers also want to make sure they are selling their home to someone who will take good care of it, be good to the neighbours etc. When dealing with the seller directly, you get an opportunity to show your personality and plans for the house better than you would through an agent.
5. Advertise to potential sellers
The fifth way to find off-market properties in the UK is to advertise directly to sellers. What this means is to try and get your message, your brand/company and your ability to buy off-market properties in front of sellers before they’ve even thought about selling. This strategy naturally requires some time, effort and initial investment.
You can advertise your business and what you are looking to buy on websites, social media or local newspapers or even shop windows/information boards.
If you have a particular street or neighbourhood in mind, you can drop leaflets through letterboxes asking if anyone would be interested in selling. To spark potential sellers’ interest, you can offer a free house valuation, for example. You don’t necessarily need to be a property expert to do this as there are various resources online to help with a valuation and due diligence. With this being said, it’s still useful to understand how you could add value to the property.
Buying a property off-market can be a savvy way to find your perfect property without getting into a bidding war with other buyers. We have now learned a few different ways to find off-market properties in the UK.
Whether you found your off-market deal through your network, an estate agent or the seller directly, do your research before making the right offer.
Great read! Thank you for sharing.