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Industry Interview: Jonathan Rolande

Today we interview Jonathan Rolande, industry expert in the professional property buyer sector.

For those that are unsure, what defines a ‘professional property buyer’?

Lots of people buy properties full time but a professional property buyer does so within a proper framework and abides by a Code of Practice – that’s one of the things that sets us apart from a standard buyer.

What else is different then?

Firms like mine have everything in place to purchase property very, very quickly. From memo to completion we count the time in days, not weeks or months.

How is that possible?

Well, we have a really strong team that includes valuers, surveyors and conveyancers and all are well versed in how we work. We dance to the seller’s tune – if they need to sell in days, we do everything possible to facilitate that.

And why might someone need to sell so quickly? Are the bailiffs knocking at the door?

Almost never! Around 10% of property we buy is being sold to pay off debts. Most people come to us with a chain break to repair, an unwanted probate property or simply because they want to get on with their lives – perhaps moving abroad or relocating for work. As well as speed – perhaps more than speed – people want certainty of sale and that’s something the current property market really doesn’t offer.

What type of property do you buy and how much do you pay?

At the moment we only buy in England and Wales and generally up to a maximum of about £400,000. We pay all of the seller’s costs and will pay up to around 85% of market value. That sounds quite a bit but once you factor in costs, time and mortgage and running payments saved it looks more appealing.

And what kind of demand is there for the service?

It won’t suit everyone, that’s for sure but we handle tens of thousands of enquiries a year – there’s a lot of seller frustration with the standard way of doing things and many just get fed up with no-show viewings, fall throughs and uncertainty.

And what can a seller do if they are considering selling to you?

I’d say the first thing is to look at other options. Switch your estate agent, consider auction or even renting the home out. Back in 2013 I helped to form The National Association of Property Buyers (The NAPB) – sellers can find government advice there about all of the various routes to sale. If they don’t suit, sellers can get in touch by phone or email and after a short Q and A, will have a cash offer within a few hours. There is no obligation until exchange of contracts.

And would you have any advice to anyone thinking of joining the sector?

That’s a tough one! I guess as a former estate agent, I like this way of working, I used to get very disappointed when buyers just changed their mind and sellers were left high and dry. A lot of my job back then was reporting bad news which wasn’t great. But it is a very competitive area too which means costs for adverts are very high and the reputation of the sector is still tarnished by the unethical behaviour of so-called buyers back in the early 2010’s. That’s the reason I helped set up The NAPB and work to Property Ombudsman rules. Other than that, it is a great feeling to hear sellers say “we wish we’d known about you sooner” when they complete so quickly. I never get tired of hearing that!

Jonathan Rolande is a professional property buyer and director at House Buy Fast as well as an industry spokesperson and founder of The NAPB.