Monthly Sydney Property Insights

A buyer’s agent confirms Sydney’s secret real estate listings are real.

Any selling agent and most mainstream media will suggest that the recent real estate boom across Sydney is due to the short supply of property listings.

Yet on a weekly basis, buyer’s agents are purchasing off market properties for clients.

In fact, credible buyer’s agents are not just presenting one property, per week, per client. Good ones are presenting a shortlist of five -10 Sydney properties for clients to choose from. For residential or commercial real estate such a shortlist should comprise between 90-100% of unlisted property.

This is clear evidence that Sydney’s property supply is robust, but much of the available real estate is simply off market and unlisted. It’s not a new trend. Buyer’s agents have been purchasing property off market for years.

Generally, 75% of a competent buyer’s agent activity involves off market negotiations.

Also readWhat service does a buyer’s agent offer? Here’s what to expect before you pay a Retainer fee

It raises many questions:

  • What impact do off market transactions have on the sale price?
  • Can you rely on “listed” real estate to assess the market anymore?
  • What advantages are there for vendors and buyers to trade off market?
  • Most important – How do you FIND property off market?

We can answer some of these queries.

Firstly, here are six examples that confirm much of Sydney’s real estate is off market.

Examples are from Curtis Associates who are property advisors and exclusive buyer’s agents.

  1. Five off market properties from a shortlist of six properties were presented to the client. In March 2021, the client chose 502/21 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay, which sold for $1.05m. Within 28 days of this property being presented to the client, it was negotiated and purchased off market.
  2. 12 off market properties from a shortlist of 12 were presented to the clients who chose a unit in The Ivy Surry Hills, which they bought for $2.7m in March 2021.
  3. Seven off market properties from a shortlist of eight. A home in Queenscliff was chosen and purchased for $4.3m in March 2021.
  4. Four off market commercial properties were shortlisted. The client had exclusive access for several months and chose 226 Condamine Street,Manly Vale which it bought for $6m in February 2021.
  5. Four off market commercial properties, from a shortlist of five properties were presented to the client. Strata suites 705 & 1010/155 King St, Sydney in the now Hermes Building opposite the MLC Centre were chosen, negotiated and purchased for $4.17m in November 2020.
  6. Five off market properties, from a shortlist of six properties. The clients chose a view rich waterfront reserve home in Port Hacking which they bought for $2.15m in March 2021.

Although high quality commercial and residential property is always difficult to find, off market property is available in Sydney on a weekly basis. With softening micro markets now appearing everywhere, a trend has started that will be boosted after 30 June 2021 when the RBA’s  Term Funding Facility ends and property market interest rates rise.

So, how is this happening? How do you find unlisted real estate?

Your best point of access is a reputable and experienced buyer’s agent. The process should be comprehensive, transparent and should put you, the buyer in the driver’s seat. Most important, the buyer’s agent’s network of contacts and reliable relationships leads to exclusive opportunities.

Here’s what buyers can expect from such a buyer’s agent.

Taking a comprehensive brief. An extensive and clear brief will detail a client’s needs, wants, likes and dislikes. It’s a critical first step and ensures the search is personalised with the smallest details being addressed. It’s an invaluable process for clients to work through as well. As that client, you can articulate your thoughts without any conflict or confusion about alternatives.

Impartial and professional advice from the buyer’s agent with your interests rather than that agent’s turnover being paramount  to ensure dreams are reconciled to bank balances. Buying success should never be the result of overpaying. Honest information on feasibility, property market patterns, different suburbs and insights into recent sales will be shared with the client, with the main motivation being to keep the client well informed and act in that client’s best interests. You should never feel like your buyers’ agent is pressuring you to buy or is selling you a property.

Being fully informed and advised allows buyers to set clear expectations for themselves. One Curtis Associates client says, When the buyer’s agent you’re about to retain tells you not to buy, you know that: 1 – you need to listen, and 2 – this is a buyer’s agent you can trust.”

It’s the long-standing network of contacts that’s critical to finding the unlisted property for you. A buyer’s agent will carefully articulate a client’s requirements to their database and contacts network which should include not just selling agents but also private owners, developers, past clients and others generated by ‘outside the square’ thinking. Good buyer’s agents will persistently communicate with this network. They are devoted to their client’s criteria and will sift through the options, relentlessly spreading the word. Such communication is essential. It may prompt owners who were never even considering selling to sell, knowing their property fits the brief. It may prompt new conversations between a selling agent and an unsigned vendor. The way a buyer’s agent communicates can effectively induce new opportunities. With the clear brief in focus, the buyer’s agent can quickly create a shortlist from this network.

Clients can tap into the reputation of a buyer’s agent to find property off market. A healthy trust between a buyer’s agent and a selling agent should be something developed over many interactions and years. Such buyer’s agents have proven they do not waste time on real estate that does not align to a client’s brief. They should also arrive for private inspections on time, treat the selling agent with respect, be treated with respect and should be exclusive in the true sense of the word without the fact or appearance of being conflicted by other related businesses such as property management. They should certainly not be offering a percentage of their fee to a selling agent. Not only is such a practice unethical, it is illegal and will likely result in selling agents black listing such buyers’ agents and their clients.

The chosen buyer’s agent should present clients to sellers who are committed to purchase for realistic market value, fully informed and ready with finance. The transaction is smooth and swift. For many selling agents and vendor clients, these buyers are ideal. And the buyer’s agent becomes a dependable source of income for selling agents.  The reputation of the buyer’s agent creates absolute trust amongst all parties. Exclusive access can be negotiated as a result of this dynamic relationship, creating invaluable consideration time for buyers without distraction.

Once a client reviews the shortlist, penetrating due diligence should follow. It’s not just a building inspection report accompanied by a computer generated ‘current market appraisal’. The research should include a detailed analysis of past comparable sales, information about risks and opportunities in the area, regulatory constraints, infrastructure, local environmental and social issues that may impact the buyer and property now or later and whether or not the property is pandemic proof. Neighbours and others should be interviewed face to face for the buyer client.

This transparency gives you as the client complete control over the process and the confidence that any property off market is priced correctly. Of course, the buyer’s agent will negotiate the sale for you as well.

Is there also an advantage for vendors to sell off market?


The process of selling property off market reduces the worry factor and pressure for the vendor as well.

While physical inspections of commercial and residential properties were all but forbidden at the height of COVID-19 in 2020, it proved to be beneficial for vendors to sell off market and triggered a significant shift in how commercial and residential property was being sold in Sydney.

Off market sales have been a feature of the Sydney property market for years. There have been many reasons for this including a preference for discretion, vendors having bought elsewhere before selling, relationship breakdown, financial stress or vendors just knowing the price they want.

After all, no matter how attractive a property, the buying contest usually only comes down to one or two parties, so why bother with the phoney buyers?

True it is that vendors can profit from buyers losing their heads at auction but auctions typically account for less than 25% of all property transactions with the vast majority being by negotiation.

As long as you’ve got time to wait for the right price, selling off market can be stress free. The transaction of property off market presents advantages for vendors and buyers alike.

The Sydney property market is healthy.

Off market property is available, despite the low number of listings reported. And there are plenty of advantages to transact property off market for vendors and property buyers alike.

For in-depth property buying advice and analysis from a team that doesn’t sell property – get in touch. We’ll send you the Curtis Associates newsletter, complimentary.



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