Article written by  Jo Eccles, Founder and Managing Director of leading property search and management firm, SP Property Group, for Beacon Gainer private wealth advisory services group.

Buying ‘off market’ is often considered the holy grail of buying a property in London – and sometimes it can be – but there are lots of routes which should be all investigated when purchasing a property in London.

Internet searching is the obvious first choice as it is so accessible and a route for any buyer to explore. However online property listings can be misleading and buyers can wrongly rule out really good options, or miss them if they’re listed above budget but could be successfully negotiated down. So often we have clients rule out properties we have shortlisted for them, based on their interpretation of the brochure – only for us to overrule them, insist that they view with us and they then love and buy it.

The rental market is another route which can provide some fantastic properties. The current climate has seen many would-be-sellers turn to the rental market, preferring to rent out their home for the short to medium term, rather than sell in a softer market. These ‘accidental landlords’ would prefer to be selling though, so as standard when representing buying clients, we also always search the rental market as we have acquired some superb properties this way. You do need to be able to navigate the letting agents to do this successfully, but it can be a very fruitful route if you are able to.

In addition, we gain our clients access to the ‘off market’ layer of properties – in fact nearly 35% of the properties we buy for our clients are off market, meaning they won’t appear anywhere online.

At any time there is always a layer of off market properties, but in uncertain times that layer of off market property is even larger. It is often filled with superb properties whose owners are genuine sellers, but are holding their property back until the market is more buoyant for fear of risking their property getting stale on the open market. These sellers will transact for a fair price, but individual buyers simply won’t know about or gain access to them as they don’t have the necessary relationships with estate agents, developers and private sellers to do so.

This is where established relationships are so key and why more and more buyers are turning to experienced buying agents to get them ahead of the market. Buying a property to ensure it is genuinely a financial and emotional success requires a huge amount of market knowledge, expertise and longstanding relationships. Whilst you can navigate the market yourself, enlisting expert representation to ensure that you have chosen your property from the very best and secured it for the best possible price is an increasingly common route for savvy buyers to take. And they are getting ahead of the market as a result.