Colin Mackenzie Property Search - House Searching Since 1998
Tel: +44 (0)1435 866988 Email us your brief

“We are all so delighted to be here…. Thank you so much for your help and persistence on our behalf – you kept us hopeful and positive – and I am sure we would have lost the property at the end without your experience and tact.”

Mrs & Mrs AJ, West Sussex

Your Questions

I already have a good rapport with all the agents – why should I pay you to find a property when I could easily do it myself?

We are frequently approached by buyers who have been looking for months and simply can’t find what they are looking for. In the days before computers, a selling agent would probably concentrate on a ‘hot box’ of no more than 50 to 100 applicants – now, with buyers increasingly focussing their search through internet property portals, agents have a data base of buyers which can run to the thousands.

  • We know the key people in the selling agencies personally – and regularly brief them as to what we are looking for. Visiting them in their offices tends to be far more productive than simply telephoning or emailing them.
  • For every property openly marketed by an agent, they have probably appraised over fifty – and therefore know of two or three that could be ‘approached’ off market.
  • One of the main reasons sellers hold back from openly marketing their property is fear that they will sell before finding the ‘right’ house to buy. We are frequently contacted by agents whose clients have identified a suitable property to buy, but need to sell quickly in order to cement their purchase (i.e. haven’t time to take photographs and prepare their property for conventional marketing)
  • Agents are reassured when a buyer has instructed a search agent – as they know they mean business

I would like to instruct you, but continue to look for myself – is that a problem?

No – as we are confident that we will be ‘first with the news’! Obviously, we would want to make clear to agents who our clients are (to avoid them concluding that they had two purchasers, not one!).

There are always a few properties that are kept ‘under wraps’ for a marketing launch – but even they are often released to search agents a few days before open marketing begins.

In common with all the main search agencies, our contract is ‘exclusive’ (in other words, entitling us to our commission no matter who sources the property) but it would be highly unusual if it wasn’t through us – and we wouldn’t dream of charging a full fee if our client sourced a property which we could not have found (although such personal circumstances usually mean that our clients prefer us to act in negotiations).

Is being independent important?

We think so. We act entirely for you and our primary focus is to acquire the property you want. . Our competition – many of whom are the ‘buying arm’ of established national estate agencies – can sometimes find themselves straddling both sides of the fence – we believe that buying and selling within the same organisation can cause blurred vision!

Over the years, we have established a track record for absolute discretion; selling agencies and our contacts know that we will respect confidential information.

What happens if you have another client looking for the same kind of property as ourselves?

We take great care to steer clear of any likelihood of a ‘conflict of interest’ by avoiding taking instructions from two clients with a similar brief. Indeed, over the fifteen years we have been acting, such an event has never happened. In theory, as there might always be some overlap between clients’ requirements, it is not impossible that this could arise – in which event, having brought the property to both their attention, we would declare our conflict to both parties and recommend another agent to help whichever client had instructed us later than the other (we would waive our fee in the event that their purchase was successful).

My husband and I aren’t exactly agreed as to what we are looking for – is this a problem?

Not at all – we focus as much on what our clients don’t want, as on what they do (for example, in fixing the boundary of their search area, or on factors such as an aversion to busy roads or low beams). We try to advise our clients as soon as a potentially suitable property comes up, preview it for them (with additional photographs, etc), before exploring whether they both feel it is worth viewing for themselves.

We live abroad – does this put us at a disadvantage?

Recommending that a client makes a journey of possibly thousands of miles, to view a property, does concentrate the mind – so we try to ensure that they know as much as possible about its attractions (and pitfalls) before they decide to fly. We have been known to video apparently suitable houses, so that they gain an impression of how the house ‘flows’.

We are quite happy to collect clients from Gatwick or Heathrow – indeed, we have handled day-trip viewings from the other side of the world.

We have identified the right property, but would want to make changes – how can we establish whether this will be allowed?

As planning consent can take three or four months to obtain, few vendors will wait for our clients to obtain absolute assurance on extensions or alterations. That said, Permitted Development Rights allow extensions that do not require planning permission, in certain circumstances – and we know a wide range of professionals – architects, planning consultants, etc. – who are likely to give them an opinion or undertake the right enquiries with the local Planning Department.

The right professionals can frequently give an opinion as to the likely outcome of a Listed Building application (normally an area so subjective it is difficult to anticipate an answer).

How do we know what the right price should be?

The old adage: ‘A house is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it!’ remains as true now as it did a century ago – and as buying a house is always a tussle between heart and head, there is no ‘right’ answer.

What we can do is provide you with research to help point you in the right direction:

  • Access to Land Registry data showing values achieved for comparable properties
  • Our own database of over 14,000 properties, which we have assembled over the last fifteen years. It is probably no surprise that many properties on our data base have been sold more than once over this time.
  • An assessment of any further expenditure likely to be highlighted in a survey
  • We talk to agents – most houses have been appraised by more than just the selling agent

When you have identified a house that we want to buy, how do you help us in negotiating a purchase?

We watch the market continuously – we know how long a property might have been for sale and what price adjustments might have been made over that period. As well as advising on the right approach to value, we assess the history of the marketing of the property, the vendors’ motivation to sell and the approach being adopted by the selling agent.

We agree with our clients what they intend to be included within their offer – whether fixtures and fittings (such as carpets, curtains, light fittings etc.), or in building in an option to purchase additional land, etc. We try to think beyond the frame.

In communicating with owners through their agents we always build their confidence by underlining our clients’ ability to proceed and by emphasising that they have factored into their offer the further costs likely to be highlighted in a survey.




Our reputation is our best advertisement...

“We are all so delighted to be here…. Thank you so much for your help and persistence on our behalf – you kept us hopeful and positive – and I am sure we would have lost the property at the end without your experience and tact.”

Mrs & Mrs AJ, West Sussex