How to buy a property before anyone else sees it


Insider property tips: Q and A with Simon Cohen

When you’re selling your home, you have a real estate agent to support and advise you through the process. But who takes care of your best interests as a buyer?

If you’re frustrated by missing out on the perfect property (again), or if you just can't find what you’re looking for, it might be worth chatting with a buyer’s agent. We asked Simon Cohen, co-founder of Cohen Handler, for some of his expert tips on finding and securing your next home – in many cases, before it even goes to market.

Q. Why do people typically come to you for help with buying a property?

A. Usually, people contact us because they've been looking for a property for nine to twelve months and haven’t been able to find what they need. We also get buyers from overseas and investors who may not be so familiar with the local area.

They want to make sure they get the best possible price for the property, and we can help them save a lot of time and money. But we can also give them access to properties that aren’t even on the market, that they would never find online. And we’ll make sure the property is a good decision for their specific requirements – there’s a lot of due diligence behind the scenes, and that gives them more confidence about their decision.

Q. What’s your top tip for a homebuyer searching in the current market?

A. Build a strong relationship with as many agents as you can in the local area, because you need access to more properties than what is being advertised online.

Once a property goes to market you’ll have so much more competition – so it’s a great advantage to get in beforehand. We very rarely buy for our clients at auction.

Q. Why would a seller be willing to sell pre-market given the current conditions?

A. It depends on the property and their reasons for selling. Sometimes people need a quick settlement because they have bought elsewhere. They may be moving overseas or going through a divorce. Alternatively, it may be in order to save on the marketing costs, or the time and energy it takes to prepare their home for all those weekend inspections.

Q. How can first homebuyers be in the best position to buy in the current market?

A. It’s definitely still possible for first homebuyers to get into the property market – and we do buy on their behalf too. It’s all about creating those relationships, and making sure you’re in a position to move quickly. You need to get the deal done, don’t wait for someone else to outbid you.

Q. What is the most important thing for investors to consider?

A. Do your due diligence on the area. The market may go up and down, but if you choose an area where infrastructure is being built, you’ll be better positioned for capital growth.

Q. What’s your auction bidding secret?

A. Stay calm, sit back and watch the competition. Why push the price up by bidding too soon? You want to be confident you’re paying the right price for the right place.

Q. What’s your top negotiating tip?

A. Everything is up for negotiation in a competitive market. If you have a good relationship with the agent, find the owner’s reason for selling and work out how you can match that with your terms. You just have to ask the question: what will convince this person to sell their property prior to auction?

Cohen Handler is one of Australia’s largest buyer’s agencies, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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