The buyer’s detective
Posted on Mar 18 2011 by Barbara in General

I think one of the most useful parts of buying agent’s service is not wasting our client’s time, even more so when the property is in one country and the buyer in another. I’m currently working for clients from Cape Town who want a place in the countryside not too far from the coast and since February I’ve been making regular trips into the Andalucían interior between Casares at one end of the search area and Alhaurín el Grande at the other.

Every client has a list of requirements that makes each search unique and in this case I know only a small number of properties for sale in this area will have the right mix of style, accommodation, location and price to get it short listed for viewing. But I did think I had found it – to quote the selling agent: ‘This is in our opinion the perfect Country House!’ I saw internal images and indeed it looked wonderful, renovated to a very high standard by an architect for his own use so I couldn’t wait to see it. Then I looked at the map and asked the selling agent how far the house was from the local matadero, which is Spanish for slaughterhouse! But he didn’t know what I was talking about which I put down to the fact that his office wasn’t based in the nearby town but down on the coast but even so, he would have driven past this hideous building on the way to the house! How could he not know but he was so adamant there was no matadero close by that, although I know this area very well, I started to doubt myself so I went to see it anyway.

And there it was, no more than 500 metres away, visible from the first floor and when the wind blows from that direction it is possible to hear the animals being unloaded. So there you have it, a wonderful house in a disastrous position and it will only sell at such a knock down price that someone will give it a go OR if the eventual buyer doesn’t find out until it is too late, highly likely if the selling agent doesn’t even know it is there! I wonder if the current owners bought in ignorance and that could be the case because if they were sold it by a local agent there is a road from the centre of town with a turning to the house before you see the matadero and that’s the route they would have taken. That’s what selling agents do. In fact, it’s what they have to do, to have any chance of selling a problem property, i.e. do whatever it takes to disguise the problem and hope the buyer doesn’t find out.

I can easily imagine a scenario in which, on the strength of brilliant images and recommendation from the selling agent, a prospective buyer flies out just to view this property, loves it, agrees a price but then finds about the slaughterhouse so he doesn’t go ahead. In all probability had he known about the slaughterhouse in advance he wouldn’t have taken the trip so all he has done is waste time and money. So by using a buying agent who unearths all the bad stuff in advance the buyer avoids pointless and time consuming viewing trips. As we were driving away from this property the sales person who had accompanied me and who didn’t really understood the role of a buying agent finally got it. She decided I wasn’t really an agent at all but a detective finding out useful things for the buyer so they don’t make mistakes! My clients have seen all the fab photos but with the additional information about the location they decided that living within sight and earshot of a slaughterhouse is just not for them so they won’t waste time by viewing it.

I think I may have given this particular selling agent a bit of a dilemma. I know he had shown the property prior to my visit but what will he do now he also knows about the matadero? Disclose or keep quiet?

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