Unique Living
December 5th, 2018 | by Serge Cowan

Why I Decided to Champion the Buyer of International Property

There’s an obvious issue with traditional estate agency – it favours the seller, not the buyer. Unique Living challenge this common practice, focusing on getting the homebuyer a great property at a reasonable price. Here’s more information.

The property market is skewed in favour of the seller, both at home and abroad. Estate agents are mandated by sellers, so it’s their job to encourage buyers to pay as much as possible. This means that people often end up paying more than they should, especially in markets that do not have a land registry like the UK.

I go about things in an entirely different way. But first, let’s examine the traditional model of selling a property – and why it’s failing the buyer.

What’s the Problem?

Estate agents across the world work on commission. That means they’re personally motivated to sell the property for a premium price. The result? Buyers often experience the following issues:

Enduring the spiel

We’re all familiar with sales patter. It’s designed to encourage you to buy and to rush into a decision without thinking it through. Classic examples include: ‘I’ve got five other people interested in this property’, or ‘someone else has put in an offer’. Most of the time, it’s simply not true.

Lack of transparency

The traditional estate agent wants to sell the property ASAP. So, they’ll often go to great lengths to conceal problems from you. The surveys will reveal many of the issues later on, but by then, you’ll already be committed and far more likely to continue with the purchase. In countries like France, agents encourage signature of the preliminary contract, Comprimis de Vente, prior to conducting a survey, and some agents will tell you that a survey is not the done thing in France. In this situation, protecting your purchase can be tricky.

A pushy process

No-one likes the hard sell. In the past, I’ve heard of companies who have literally flown buyers out to view properties, then frog-marched them to the nearest bank to secure the deposit. Hasty, pressurised sales don’t often end well. Luckily the market has improved in recent years and many of these charlatans are no longer in business, but the scars are still there to be seen.

Unique Living’s Approach

We act as a mediator between the seller and buyer – with equal attention and respect paid to both. Of course, the seller wants to get a good price for their property and we appreciate that. But we also recognise that the buyer badly needs someone ‘on their team’ who will help them to find the right luxury villa (one that suits their lifestyle) and who will lead them through the buying process with transparency and honesty.

Why the Change?

Ultimately, we’re interested in developing long-term relationships with our clients. Seven years after buying (when you might be ready to sell your luxury villa) we want you to get in touch again, because you trust us to do the job properly. We’ve found that adopting a client-centred approach not only results in great relationships, but also increased referrals. People appreciate how we operate, recommend us to their friends, and as a result, a lot of our clients hear about us via word-of-mouth.

Customer service can make or break a company, which is something we’re acutely aware of. It’s our aim to make sure that both our sellers and buyers are happy.


If you’ve purchased a property abroad in the past, how did you find it? We’d love to hear more about your experiences.

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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