Discussing transparency and upfront relationships with Amanda Staton
"There are quite a few [challenges]. I think a lot of competition where purchasers who are putting in unrealistic prices just to win it."
The TrustedLand team took time out to chat to Amanda Staton, co-founder of Havant based Statoncoe Ltd, to understand her views on the current land buying process and market.
What would you say are the main barriers to sourcing viable property deals?
There are quite a few. I think a lot of competition where purchasers who are putting in unrealistic prices just to win it. Then they do a lot more due diligence on it and realize they can’t do it. So then it might come back on the market and by then you might have moved on.
There is also unrealistic pricing expectations from vendors as well. For example, I was looking at a property in Camberley, and the vendor wanted £1.6million. Even the agent said if you can make it work at £1.1 million let me know and I can’t even make it work at £1.1million.
From my perspective, it’s becoming more and more challenging in that they want all the proof of funds, cash in the bank right upfront or pre-agreed lines of credit and to do that for every bid you put it is nearly impossible.
I can see this from both sides. From the vendor’s perspective, he doesn’t want to be messed around, so I totally get that. But if you are a small developer such as myself, it is really difficult to do that for every single bid that you put in. We put in about 2-3 bids in a month.
Most challenging property or land buying experience?
It was buying HMOs in Liverpool. Took a long time going around to all the different solicitors. Just the conveyancing process is quite painful.
Generally, I have not had challenging experiences because of a willing seller.
How can estate agents add value?
Needs to be more transparent. For example, you always think there is stuff going on in the background. You think another person is waiting in the wings ready to pounce. A classic example: we are looking at a property. It went under offer with an agent because we have been outbid, so we are waiting in the wings in case it falls through. So the agent says carry on so that you are proceedable. There is not enough transparency. The agent is the facilitator to bring it all to the table. Applies to everybody.
Number of deals per month
3-4 reviewed a month. Ten a day can come through our doors, but most don't work. We would purchase zero at the moment.
What can be done to improve the process?
I would like to have the table discussion upfront with the agent and solicitors and the vendor and the purchaser. We can all sit there for an hour, ‘bash it all out’; these are my issues going forward. I would like to exchange then and complete then, and these are the reasons why.
So everybody knows right at the beginning exactly where they stand and there is no toing and froing and solicitors sending emails and letters, and five days later the email comes back so it’s all there and if it takes nine months because that is what the vendor and purchaser want then great. It is choice rather than very poor communication going back and forth the whole time. This happens with the offer quite often.
It’s all about relationships. I may want to complete in 6 months, but the vendor may not want to, so we need to find middle ground.