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Our Property Finding Service

Increasing numbers of people buying overseas property - and some buying property in their own country - are using the services of a property finder.

In many cases, this will result in them paying less money for a better property than would be the case if they used a more conventional route to property purchase, such as, buying via an estate agent or from a developer.

What is a property finding service?

A property finding service is a service where you discuss your requirements with a person experienced in dealing with the sale and purchase of real estate in the area in question and that person then searches the market to find property to meet your specification. The service will usually also include advice about which places or types of property might best suit your individual requirements, whether those requirements are dictated by investment, by your wish for a holiday home or your need for somewhere to live.

How is using a property finding service different from using an estate agent?

This varies a little from country to country because the role of the estate agent varies from country to country but, in general, the differences are:

Access to all property on sale

Most estate agents in most countries only have access to the properties that they have been asked to sell or, possibly, which some of their close business connections have been asked to sell. This means that to see all of the properties available via all of the estate agents in the area you will need to make contact with many different agents - in some cases hundreds. This comes as a particular suprise to our American clients who are used to their excellent MLS (Multiple Listing Service) where any subscriber realtor has access to any property within the system.

Even in the case of an MLS, however, there will be other sources of property that the agent will not usually be able to access. For example, many properties are sold directly by their owner. In some countries properties are also sold by notaries, especially if they are dealing with the estate of somebody who has died. In many countries real estate is also sold by way of auctions or other mechanisms arranged by the local courts.

A property finder will be able to access all of these sources.

Working for you

A property finder is chosen by you, employed by you and paid by you. They are looking after your interests and your interest alone.

The position of the estate agent or realtor is more complicated. In many countries they are employed by and legally responsible to the person selling the property. They are there to make a sale, not to advise the buyer. In some countries the law imposes upon them a duty to act fairly in their dealings with the buyer but still leaves their primary responsiblity as being a responsibility to the seller.

In other countries the agent may have a legal duty to you even though he or she is being paid by way of a commission from the sale of the property in question. Many, many agents are responsible professionals who are able to put to one side their personal self interest (maximising their commission by selling you the property that will make them the most money) and willing to do their best for the potential buyer but the essential tension between their wish to look after the buyer and their need to make a living is always there in the background.

Paid for by you

Property finders usually operate on the basis of charging you a percentage of the value of the property that you buy. This will, typically, be 3% but it can vary from country to country, place to place and finder to finder.

In some cases, you may buy a property in respect of which the property finder will be entitled to receive some commission from the person selling the property. In these cases your bill should be reduced by the amount of that commission. If the amount of the commission received is more than the amount that they would otherwise have charged you, you may even find that they will send you a cheque for the difference.

Saving you money

Despite the fact that you will probably end up paying a fee to the property finder using this service can end up saving you money.

How can this happen?

  • The property finder will usually be a local person. They will, therefore, often be able to negotiate a locals' price rather than a foreigners price.
  • The property finder will usually know the market very well indeed and will be able to advise you whether the price being asked is excessive.
  • The property finder may well be able to suggest to you options cheaper than those you were originally thinking about.

How do I find a property finder?

In some parts of the world property finders have operated for many years and they can be quite easy to find. These are, typically, places where property is in short supply and sells quickly (such as Paris) or in places where there is no infrastructure of estate agents/realtors.

In other parts of the world there are few, if any, property finders.

The lawyers and other members of The International Law Partnership Ltd will be able to tell you whether there are any property finders in the area of interest to you and, perhaps, recommend one who have given good service to their clients in the past.

Next steps

Please look at the Legal Guides, videos, MP3 seminars and other materials set out to the right of this page.

If you would like us to help you, please complete our Client Pack and send it back to us. We will contact you to clarify your requirements and then introduce you to the person most appropriate to deal with your case.

If you do not find the information that you need, please send us an email explaining your problem and we will contact you.

© The International Law Partnership Ltd. Page last revised 5 Feb 2010

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