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What Is An Independent Property Finder?

Property Finder 1

What Is An Independent Property Finder?

Many individuals haven’t heard of an individual property finder, but I work with one on a regular basis. Domus Holmes Property Finder is an independent Bristol-based property and buying agency providing a comprehensive property search and acquisition service to private clients looking to buy a home or purchase an investment property (residential or commercial) in Bristol, Bath and the South-West of England: Somerset, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset. 

The company was established in 2015 by Claire Russell-Lartaud, a property lawyer with over 17 years professional and personal experience in both the London and Sydney property markets, and Jerome Lartaud, a seasoned property investor and developer with over 20 years’ experience investing in and renovating properties in France and the UK. 

I caught up with Jerome, to ask him a couple of questions and find out more about what a property finder is… 

Can you describe your typical client and the types of properties you specialise in purchasing? 

“Our clients vary quite a bit in terms of profile/demographics and budget, and consequently in terms of their property search requirements. In fact, no two clients are the same as we work with first-time buyers, down-sizers, up-sizers, tree-changers, experienced investors as well as HNW, UHNW individuals, private funds and family offices. 

So are the type of properties we search and acquire for them: it is a very extensive mix, embracing everything from period townhouses, modern apartment blocks, exquisite town residences to prime country houses, equestrian properties, prime rural estates and commercial farmland,” says Jerome.  

What sets your approach to property buying apart from others in the industry?

One of our USP’s is the fact that one of the Directors, Claire, is also a property solicitor which means that our clients benefit from an extra pair of legal eyes at a very early stage of the search process. This enables us to quickly identify any potential issues linked to properties we identify, and anticipate possible legal complications and implications as part of the conveyancing process. 

In addition, we have learned to listen to what our clients really want. When we started, we used to provide pages of lengthy assessment reports on each property we viewed on behalf clients and quickly realised most clients preferred a phone conversation about it all and a shorten bullet points report and opinion. 

Finally, our clients tell us they value how we can be emotionally detached when negotiating their purchase. After all, it is all too easy to fall in love with a property and pay too much. Our clients consequently use us to bring a research-based view about what a property is worth. 

How do you assist clients in identifying and evaluating potential properties?

Before kicking-off actively any search, we take time to understand our clients, who they are, what they are looking for but also their lifestyle considerations: we get to know what is important to them when searching for their dream home, and equally understand the individuality of their property search to provide them with the bespoke service tailored to their specific and individual needs. 

Over 40% of the properties we view and introduce to our clients are off-market or discrete listings. This is one of the main advantages of using a buying agent like us as we make sure we have fully exhausted both the on and off market options before our clients make any purchase decision. 

Once we have shortlisted the best properties available, we carry out some thorough due diligence and forensic investigation, such as reviewing title documents, with the view to provide a detailed assessment of each property. 

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What services do you offer beyond property identification and negotiation?

Our role as buying agents does not stop once we have an offer accepted and terms agreed with the estate agent and their selling clients. In fact, far from it as we manage the legal process throughout to ensure the purchase holds together from sourcing to handling over the keys. 

As part of our service, we will also introduce our clients to all the necessary relevant third-party professionals such as surveyors, valuers, mortgage and insurance brokers, architects just to name a few. This is very important to assemble the right team of professionals for a successful outcome.

We also offer all our clients the benefit of our comprehensive experience and little black book of contacts in all areas post-purchase: after completion on their property acquisition, services may include working with architects, planning consultants and surveyors, or builders and interior designers.

How do you ensure transparency and communication throughout the buying process?

Communication and transparency are essential parts of the buying process, as buyers rely on our professional expertise to make informed decisions. That is why as part of our service we are in regular conversations with all our clients, providing them with weekly updates on progress made to their respective searches. 

We make ourselves “almost” available 24-7 for our clients; this often implies having conversations with them during evenings or weekends and we have experience dealing with international clients so we are not strangers to dealing with various time zones as well. 

We also only take on a certain number of clients at any one time, and for transparency reasons we do not take on two clients with similar brief and requirements (location, budget and type of properties) as this would create an evident conflict of interest. 

Can you share a recent success story that highlights the value of your services?

Below are some recent client testimonials from Elisabeth & Pamela, 2 US nationals and best friends who bought together a pied-a-terre apartment in the sought-area of Clifton in Bristol:

You cannot do any better than to have Jerome as your property finding agent. Residing in the US, I had little knowledge of the UK home buying process. We lucked out in finding Jerome! He is personable and excels at what he does. Prior to our coming to Bristol, he listened carefully to what we were looking for and gave us advice. Then, upon arrival, we saw multiple properties that he had set up viewings for ahead of time. He was candid about the suitability of the properties and shared with us his extensive knowledge about the Bristol market. Even after our offer was accepted, he continued to help us address any issues, reach out to the listing agent when necessary and put us in contact with other professionals we would need, such as property managers, accountants, etc. And he was always prompt in getting back to us, no matter what our questions were. Jerome was invaluable to us throughout this process, and I recommend him wholeheartedly!

“Jerome was fantastic. Not only did he line up an amazing number of showings of properties that really suited us in a very compressed time window, he also was a great negotiator on the price. He also helped us with research, referrals, questions about everything from inspections to insurance to property management to contractors. He went to see our property during the buying process and sent videos to reassure us that nothing had gone wrong after the previous residents moved out. He even picked up our keys for us after completion and took meter readings! An absolute gem.”

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Why do you work with surveyors such as me and what are the benefits? 

As buying agents we work very closely with third party professionals like Steve and throughout the entire process as it is essential to have the right team of professionals for a successful outcome. 

We systematically recommend our clients to retain the services of a building surveyor once their offer has been accepted; in fact, all our offers submitted are subject to surveys and contracts. 

One thing worth remembering when buying a property in the UK: Caveat Emptor. This means the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made. This particularly applies in the UK when buying a property.  Even though the seller is required to answer all of our enquiries and complete all of the forms as fully and truthfully as possible, the Seller is under no obligation at all to provide you with details (or warranties) about the state or condition of the property or any of its fixtures/fittings. 

A compelling reason as to why using a surveyor like Steve is crucial!

I hope you enjoyed reading this interesting information that Jerome shared with us today and if you are interested in finding out more about the service he offers, please visit the Domus Holmes website

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