Network Insight: Buying Agent, Kareem

Kareem, 26, is a member of James & James - the property search network. He is leading buying agent operating in Central London and the Home Counties. He has previously lived in the Dubai, U.A.E and is fluent in Arabic.

Why did you become a buying agent?

Having worked in the property industry over the years I witnessed first hand the imbalance of representation with property sales. Too often I saw buyers of homes paying more than they should because they had little or no experience in the London property market. Furthermore, they often would rely upon the counsel of estate agents whose incentive is to get the buyers to part with as much money as possible! I saw an opportunity to balance the scales so with my business partner, Gary, we set up an independent buying agency/advisory service serving solely the interest of our clients as buyers, we source their ideal property whilst they are safe in the knowledge that they are paying the most competitive rate for their purchase, on their terms.

Best deal you completed...

After conducting an unsuccessful search independently for six months a lady approached us to help find her a three-bedroom property in Belsize Park. Her requirements were very precise and we had only three roads that the client was open to. With such a stringent outline we still sourced a suitable property within four weeks, it was an off-market apartment that met all her criteria, she fell in love with it instantly and wanted to proceed. However, she was reliant on most of the funds coming forward from a sale of an investment property she had in Marylebone. As luck would have it, the agreed sale of her property fell through due to a break in the chain at the same time we found her the Belsize Park property, putting her chance of securing the property in jeopardy. The exclusivity agreement our client had with her Marylebone estate agent had expired so she disinstructed them and asked us to manage the sale to expedite matters. The client was keen not to lose the Belsize Park property and began to consider various financing options including bridging loans, which we strongly advised against so instead we decided to speak to vendors and arrange an agreement. We spoke directly with the owner of the Belsize Park property and following some shrewd negotiations agreed a sale £50,000 below their asking price however the client would have to put down a £10,000 non-refundable deposit with the understanding that contracts would be exchanged on the sale of the property within twelve weeks. If this were not to happen the vendor would be entitled to retain the deposit and go on to the open market to seek an alternative buyer. Within six days we found a cash buyer for the client’s Marylebone property at the asking price and completed on the sale four weeks later. Three weeks after that we had exchanged contracts on the Belsize Park property. The client was overjoyed to have the service completed seamlessly with her ideal home at the end of it.

What makes a great buying agent?

Knowledge of the market is key. With London in particular being strong and multi-faceted one must continuously be well informed to advise clients accordingly. This counsel must also extend to being frank and honest. Many clients do not know or have been given inaccurate insights on precisely what they may expect for their budget, so to give candid accounts of what is achievable maintains integrity and efficiency.

Commitment to all aspects of the role plays an integral part, commonly when searching, in particular for an off-market offering norms tend to be less solid so this could mean taking a call or producing documents in the middle of the night in order to secure a property. Upholding this level of commitment throughout the relationship with the client is essential to being a good buying agent, arguably most of all during the legal proceedings when challenges may arise. We oversee this entire process and with the benefit of experience overcome any obstacles presented. A deal is not done until it is done.

What do you love about your job?

There are two things, having been born and raised in London I grew up with an admiration for the capital’s architecture and culture, which is embodied in most of the properties I get to see, yet the charm of not knowing what lies behind each front door never eases.

Secondly, the role means I get to meet a variety of people from the UK and internationally, the range of cultures is very enlightening. However, the commonality with all clients is that buying a property is such a milestone in one’s life and to have a positive part in the process and witnessing an individual’s jubilation at the end is the most rewarding part of this job.

Where would you invest £1m?

With £1m I would divide three ways and start by investing £400,000 in a two bedroom flat in Elephant & Castle which traditionally is not an attractive place, however the local council are spending £1.5bn regenerating 55 acres of within the area. The location is also very close to The City and West End so is set to be a genuine hotspot in the years to come.

With the introduction of Crossrail in 2018 the locations along its route, many under-developed, have already witnessed significant investment. I would invest £400,000 in a two bedroom flat in West Ealing, an area that has also reputedly not been very glamorous but has improved lately. When Crossrail comes into operation the direct journey time from here to Bond Street will be just 13 minutes! This will have a positive impact on property prices and the rental market, in particular from professionals needing access into Central London.

With the final £200,000 I would purchase an entry-level one bedroom flat in Homerton, also an area that is benefiting from investment and a spillover effect from the highly sought after Hackney. This would immediately produce an attractive rental yield and surely appreciate in value over the coming years.

My latest acquisition…

A Chinese client approached us seeking a one-bedroom apartment in Marylebone for his daughter as she arrives to London in September to start her undergraduate course at UCL. The budget was set at £650,000 and the requirements were mainly having a separate kitchen and being above ground level. We sourced a large property on Gloucester Place moments from Baker Street station and a short walk away from the university campus. We managed to save the client £30,000 off the asking price and he is now considering new build options in Battersea.

Kareem would be pleased to discuss and provide complimentary professional advice for your property search. To arrange a no obligation meeting with Kareem please contact the James & James team on +44 (0)20 8720 6909.