Help! Having recently retired, my wife and I are thinking of moving to a completely different part of the country, but we don't have access to the Internet for our house-hunting.
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A. If you have a particular location in mind, there are a number of independent estate agency networks that can help. Called referral networks, these all basically function in the same way: you register with your nearest participating agent, and your contact details and property requirements are then passed through the system to the agent nearest your chosen location.
Note that I specifically said “independent” estate agents. By that, I basically mean those traditional, locally-based high street firms that aren’t part of a big national chain. The reason why referral networks actually work is that the two agents involved – the one who refers you, and the one you buy through – share the sales commission between them. The big national chains don’t have those kind of arrangements, which means that your local branch has no real incentive to help because they won’t earn anything from doing so.
Another alternative is to commission one of the new breed of “home finder” firms to do the legwork on your behalf – for a fee, of course.
But what if you are interested in moving to a different part of the country, but without any particular location in mind? With such a wide remit, home finder firms would either turn the commission down altogether, or understandably want to charge you the earth for searching such a large area. For the same reason, conventional referral networks might also struggle, since this would necessarily involve referring your details to perhaps dozens of different agents in different towns.
This is where a concept called “multi-listing” really comes into its own. Multi-listing agents basically share all their properties. Common in places like the USA, the only genuine multi-listing system in the UK is operated by Team – a network of over 300 independent high street agents, linked by some highly sophisticated technology. This gives Team agents the unique ability to provide you – at the touch of a button - with full details of literally hundreds of properties, practically anywhere in the country.
Unless you want to spend perhaps weeks on the road, this is almost certainly your best bet!