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Whether it’s your next home or an investment, buying a property is one of the largest and most important purchases you will ever make.
It’s paramount then that it is a sensible, smart and well-researched purchase.
This is where a buyer’s agent can help to ensure you make the best decision by bringing their expertise and levelling the playing field.
What is a buyer’s agent?
Buyer’s agents are licensed property professionals, just like selling agents.
But, unlike a selling agent who is driven to get the best possible result for the seller, buyer’s agents represent investors, home buyers and developers when they are purchasing their properties.
This means a buyer’s agent works exclusively for the buyer, whereas the selling agent works for and is obliged to get the best deal for the seller.
Why should I use a buyer’s agent?
A buyer’s agent will save you time, money and stress by helping you to find the best property for you at the best price and under the best terms.
Here’s a list of what a good buyer’s agent can do for you:
- Research, negotiate and acquire property on your behalf
- Research and assess the real market value of properties to help you make the best-informed buying decision
- Save your time, money and stress by sourcing the most suitable properties in a timely manner. This includes sourcing investment properties in the right location using knowledge of what areas and properties will outperform market averages.
- Ensure you don’t pay too much in the auction or negotiation process
- Help investors build their property portfolio fast and safely
- Acting in a confidential manner and in the buyer’s best interest at all times.
How to choose the best buyer’s agent
Buyer’s agents are relatively easy to come across, but finding a good one is the tricky part.
Warning: Not all buyer’s agents are the same and choosing the wrong one could cost you a fortune.
So how do you choose the best one?
Research, research, research and then ask the right questions in order to sort an A-grade buyer’s agent from a rather average one.
Great, so what questions should I ask a buyer’s agent?
1. Are you a fully-licensed real estate agent?
Be wary of hiring someone who doesn’t hold a real estate license for the state they’re working in.
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It can be tempting to hire a particular buyer’s agent solely based on their fees, but this is not a good idea.
If they provide great service and real added value to their clients their reputation and recommendations should speak for themselves instead.
2. How long have you been operating for?
There are many new young buyers’ agents in the market. While they often have the best intentions and enthusiasm, they haven’t got the benefit of experience.
They just don’t have the perspective that money can’t buy.
Don’t risk putting what could be one of the largest purchases in your life in the hands of somebody who hasn’t had the years of experience necessary to investigate and negotiate on your behalf.
Given property cycles generally tend to run for 7-10 years, as a general rule of thumb it would be wise to engage with an experienced and professional buyer’s agent who has been in the market long enough to experience both the ups and downs.
3. Do you have current professional indemnity insurance?
If something goes wrong with your property purchase you will have absolutely no recourse if your buyer’s agent is not appropriately insured.
This is one of the most important questions to ask during the process of finding a buyer’s agent.
4. Are you an independent and dedicated buyer’s agent?
It’s important to clarify whether the buyer’s agent is a division of a regular real estate agency or a solo person working from home – neither of these is preferable.
A so-called “buyer’s agent” will only be able to offer the highest standard of service if they are a dedicated professional who is focused solely on the process of searching and negotiation, without any conflicts of interest.
5. Do you specialise in home buying or property investment?
Expertise and strategy for home buying is one thing, but the experience and understanding needed for aiding property investment purchases is something else entirely.
If you’re an investor, it is critical that you make sure your buyer’s agent has a proven track record and experience in purchasing property as an investment.
Likewise, if it’s the purchase of your next home you want help with, make sure your buyer’s agent fully understands your needs, including location, home specifics and importantly, your financial situation.
6. Can you provide a reputable team of professionals to help me make a more informed investment decision?
Does the buyer’s agent have a proven team of solicitors, accountants, property managers, builders and pest inspectors to ensure you buy the right properties and maximise your investment returns?
After all, especially in the current market, you need more than just a buyer’s agent to make the best-informed choice.
Therefore it makes sense, when choosing a buyer’s agent, to look for one with good industry connections who is able to pull on that knowledge when needed because it’ll save you both time and money.
8. Do you have access to “silent sales”?
It is imperative that your buyer’s agent has spent years cultivating excellent personal relationships with real estate agents in the area you are planning your purchase.
That way, as soon as the properties come up for sale, you’ll be notified even before the general public – most of these properties are sold before they’re even advertised.
At Metropole, our buyer’s agents have access to many properties which never even hit the public market or are listed online so our clients have the opportunity to access them first.
10. Can you help me buy property interstate?
A buyer’s agent can be licensed in one state but not another but may still act for purchasers of property interstate.
But you’ll still need to ensure that they have the relevant experience and qualifications to do so.
You’ve started your online search and you’ve found a list of what is headlined as ‘best’ agents in your area.
You will probably come across a number of websites purporting claiming to help you find the best Buyer’s agent, seller’s agent, or even property manager around – and a lot of these websites do offer up a wealth of information by giving what looks like is a comprehensive list of all the listed Buyer’s agents in your area (and all their information) – but there is something you need to make sure you’re aware of.
You’ll likely find a disclaimer stating that not all agents listed have been reviewed, that they aren’t listed in order and that it’s not a conclusive list of all Buyer’s agents, seller’s agents or property managers in Australia and that the information should be used for general purposes.
And it’s not just that, most agents pay to be listed on these sites.
It’s also worth pointing out that while these websites are meant to look like something you would come across on Google Reviews or TripAdvisor, agents listed on the website are not reviewed or rated by customers.
So if you’re planning to look at these sites as part of your research to find a Buyer’s agent, it’s important to realise, and remember, that they are effectively paid directories where the website owner gets a portion of any commission for deals passed onto agents.
Think of it like the yellow pages, not a comprehensive list of verified and rated agents.
It’s so important, then, that if you decide to contact an agent on one of these website lists, you do all your background research as well.
Likewise, don’t dismiss someone you’ve come across in your research if they aren’t listed, because as I mentioned above, it isn’t a comprehensive list.
Isn’t that surprising?