He’s been named ‘the BBC’s favourite property expert’ and you’ll often find him retweeting our house price information. A great advocate of our services and data, we’ve asked Henry to share some insight into the man behind the title and how he interacts with us on a regular basis.
I am an estate agent (there, I feel better already!) but I’m not the usual estate agent. I buy houses for people rather than selling them. I look for suitable homes for people, often not listed on websites or in estate agents’ windows. I evaluate them looking for the reasons people are selling and then use this information to negotiate the best deal – not for the seller but for my client, the buyer. I act for private clients who recognise that whatever their skills, going to look for and then bidding on what for most is their single biggest purchase may be something that they need help with.
Most people look for a home, fall in love with it and then think that they are the best person to buy what for many is their biggest single purchase. On average buyers pay 4% less than the asking price. My average is 14% below! I look across the country for homes from £1m to £50m. Oh, and when I’m not buying houses I pop up on telly explaining what’s really going on behind the agents’ hype!
Land Registry may sound like a strange accomplice but as someone who buys homes for a living let me tell you, I never leave home without them! When a client calls me, I pop the Land Registry website into my favourites and head off to look for their next home.
This boring-sounding bunch of super heroes can make the difference between buying with confidence and a nail-biting, water-boarding experience at the hands of the estate agents from hell!
I bid on a house a week and buy one once a month. This year I hope to buy £100m worth of property but I can only do this with the help of Land Registry and their data. I use their services to check:
- what I am being offered
- who owns it
- what they paid for it
- who the neighbours are
- boundary information
- charges and other interests secured against titles
Much of my use of Land Registry data is accessed through clever third parties who take Land Registry’s dataset of properties sold since 1995 and overlay other data such as crime statistics or flood threat. When coupled with environmental data I get to see why values are different from area to area and when something stands out as being too expensive or, more helpfully, unusually cheap. Being able to back up my negotiations with a selling agent with comparable deals often takes the more ineffectual agents by surprise.
It’s also helpful when a mortgage valuation doesn’t come in where it needs to. When I first started in estate agency this data was collated by individual valuers and consumers and other professionals danced to their tune. Today deals are more honest, open and transparent for buyers and sellers and both can feel more secure in the knowledge that their business is securely and accurately recorded.
Once they have bought a property I urge my clients to sign up to the Land Registry’s free Property Alert service. They send you an email when there’s certain activity on your title, allowing you to judge whether it’s suspicious. This helps to protect your property against fraud and ensures the registered title is accurate and ready the next time that you need to rely on it.
I couldn’t function without the help of an army of people I frequently fail to thank or to acknowledge. At the start of another busy year in property I take great pride in reminding everyone what a fantastic and vital job they do and to say “thanks”!