Egos and exclusive addresses –all in a days work for high end buyers agents

Australia’s millionaires club is rapidly expanding as the rich continue to get richer and more “ordinary folk” climb their way to the top of the wealth pyramid.

A recent report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini reveals that the number of millionaires across the globe increased by 8.3 per cent in 2010 to number 10.9 million, with the total wealth of this fortunate group rising from $40,700 billion in 2007 to $42,700 billion – just some small change.

And how do the rich like to spend their money? Well one way is by investing in high end, luxury real estate located in prime areas – the kind that command six or seven figure prices.

However wealthy people also tend to be highly protective of their privacy, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see an open for inspection sign gracing the front gates of a Toorak mansion. Rather, the listing for exclusive real estate will more often than not be “silent”, with only high-end professionals privy to the fact that such property is on the market.

So how do you join the ranks of property’s elite, up-scale home owners if you happen to be raking in a cool million dollars plus?

According to a report from the Financial Times, purchasing high end property is nigh on impossible without engaging the services of a high end buyer’s agent.

UK based consultant Jeremy Davidson, who specialises in properties that fetch £10m plus in London’s most exclusive postcodes says, “I often say a good alternative career for what we do would be a diplomat. We have to massage egos left, right and centre.”

He says that transactions at this end of the property market can easily go awry if jealousies get in the way and tension over who boasts the most wealth out of the seller and prospective buyer sullies the sale before it is finalized.

“It wouldn’t happen if they were selling their business but, because it’s their home, people often lose their sense of rationale,” says Davidson.

He explains that this is where the well honed negotiation skills of a buyer’s agent comes into play, to ensure the sale goes as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, with the increasing popularity of silent listings in upper echelon property markets, it’s often only the best buyer’s agents who have the insider knowledge on whose looking to move their luxury abode.

This is particularly true of high end housing in Australia, which is almost always transacted privately through buyer’s agents as the owners want to maintain their privacy.

More often than not, the buyer’s agent will also have to reassure the selling agent that their client has sufficient funds to warrant an inspection of the property, with common requirements including a net asset value statement from the prospective purchaser. This is to avoid people coming through the home for a sticky nose because of who the owner is.

These types of secretive deals are gaining popularity in London, as well-known millionaires attempt to avoid the spotlight of an open market transaction. One of the UK’s largest buying agencies, The Buying Solution, reveals it has purchased around £150m worth of property through private sale since the start of the year – representing almost half of the firm’s purchases to date for 2011.

In some cases, owners will go to extreme lengths to protect their privacy, restricting the marketing of their property to overseas buyers only.

Given the current downturn in high end property and subsequent fall in values, some millionaire vendors are opting for private listings so prospective buyers won’t know how long the property has been on the market for and in turn, seek to remove that aspect when it comes to negotiating a deal.

My thoughts:

With the recent downturn in our local property markets there is no doubt that more high end properties are being quietly marketed – just testing the waters.

I know that, at times, up to 50% of the properties we buy for clients of Metropole are silent sales – properties that the average investor or home owner would never see. In the past, in our booming markets, these are the type of properties that were more likely to go to auction, but today vendors are not keen to expose themselves to the risk of having their properties passed in.

This means there are some good buying opportunities out there for homebuyers and investors looking to take advantage of our buyers market.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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