Selecting the right buyers agent

Navigating the property market can be a daunting task. Understanding the buying process; accurately valuing a home; knowing which areas and properties are going to hold their value; and negotiating with experienced real estate agents are all non-trivial for the first-time buyer or novice investor. Then there’s Saturdays spent checking out open after open, auctions and opportunities missed by a bid too short or a half-day too late. That’s why it helps to have someone in your corner.

A buyer’s agent is a professional who helps those looking to buy a home or investment property. They often bring with them a network of professionals who can assist in the entire transaction process. From loan approval and financial advice, building inspections and property valuation to conveyancing, move-in day and even finding tenants for your investment.

Up to 30 per cent of Australian property is sold off-market. Engaging a buyer’s agent gives you access to these otherwise hidden properties. Should there not be any options available in the area you’re after that meet your requirements, a buyer’s agent can approach the owners of such properties and gauge their interest to sell. Access to the same data as the big banks and an established network of real estate agents gives your buyer’s agent a strong position from which to negotiate tactfully on your behalf.

As with all service providers, there are good and bad buyer’s agents, and then there are great ones. Here’s how to make sure you get the pick of the litter.

Ensure your agent has the right qualifications.

We live in an era rife with armchair experts, especially when it comes to property. But it is one thing to say and another to do. So, seek out a qualified expert with real credentials. A prerequisite for any agent you hire is a Real Estate Agent Licence. These are administered at the state-level in Australia and require the licence-holder to have completed extensive study in Real Estate Practice, at least 12 months of relevant on-the-job experience and maintained continued education and training credits. Other credibility indicators include regulatory body and industry network memberships such as Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA), Property investment council of Australia (PICA)

Check their success history.

Examine recent purchases and speak with current and / or past clients. This will give you a good indication of what they are like to work with, how well they understand their clients’ needs and their ability to effectively deliver what you’re after.

If they’re only relatively new or just starting out – that’s ok, everyone starts somewhere. Look to see if they have helped friends and family or built their own portfolio – that’s how even we got started at The Investors Agency. As long as there’s a track record of smart purchases that have performed well against the objective, that’s the evidence you’re looking for. The proof is always in the pudding and if the results aren’t there, then move on.

Also, look at how suburbs they’ve purchased in perform over time. Has there been a steady increase in value or have prices in the area been highly volatile? Have the properties they purchased held their value / gone up in value? Did they manage to negotiate a good price in these areas? Even if the property value increase has been marginal, getting a good price relative to the market helps boost that growth number – which is highly beneficial whether you’re an investor or owner-occupier.

Ask them about their research methodology.

The property market is the sum of so many different moving parts. Whether this is for your first home, dream home or an investment, you need someone that applies more than just a finger in the wind. Your agent should have a profound understanding of your goals, as well as any and all property needs and wants. This should then be layered with in-depth macro research, market selection and due diligence.

Deal with the decision makers.

If you’re looking to employ a larger firm, make sure to engage the owner or lead agent before committing. Get a feel for whether they are the right fit and that they can actually assist in finding the best home or investment for you. Some businesses employ sales agents who get paid a commission to sell properties en masse, whether the buyers are appropriately suited or not. Ensuring both yours and your agent’s objectives are aligned is critical to achieving the best outcome.

Whether you’re an experienced investor or a first-time home buyer, bringing on a buyer’s agent can not only give you better access to the right properties but make the entire process a much smoother one. However, not all agents are created equal. So, it’s important to do your due diligence. Ensure they’ve got the right qualifications and current registrations, check their track record for consistent success, ask about their research methodology and work with the best.

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