Buyers in Australia’s property market are becoming more savvy and sophisticated in a bid to cope with a strong, diverse and sometimes confusing market. And many are turning to buyers’ agents to find properties and purchase them on their behalf.
Janet Spencer, founder and director of the Buyer Solutions, based in Victoria, says buyers’ agents have grown in number over the last few years and can now be found in every state and territory.
“In the last 15 years we have seen the industry emerge,’’ said Ms Spencer, who was a long-time real estate agent and is now the Victorian representative of the Real Estate Buyers’ Agents Association of Australia (REBAA).
“It is a growth industry. When I started in Melbourne 18 years ago as a buyers’ agent, there were three or four people calling themselves a buyers’ agent. Now there are more than 100 in [Melbourne].’’
She says a buyers’ agent, who must be a licensed real estate agent or an employee of a licensed agent, researches suitable properties for their clients, scouting for any potential problems as well as negotiating the lowest possible price for the purchaser.
They represent homebuyers, builders, developers as well as local, interstate and overseas investors.
“We research what to pay for the property and advise the client on an appropriate price,’’ Ms Spencer says. “You prevent them from paying too much. We liaise with the selling agent and we interpret the whole process for the buyer. We are really streamlining the process for homebuyers and investors.”
The REBAA representative points out that a buyers’ agent represents their client in a similar manner to the way a real estate agent looks after a seller or vendor.
“The selling agent is working for the seller not the buyer and their goal is get the highest price for the property,’’ Ms Spencer says. “I am working for the buyer, and because I am objective I can point out the negatives. My goal is to reduce the price. So we – the selling agent and I – are diametrically opposed.”
Ms Spencer says the buyers’ agent also helps their clients understand the various modes of property sale including traditional private sales, auctions, sale by a set date and boardroom auctions.
“It can be quite intimidating and confusing for the buyer,’’ she says. “You need to know the methodologies. So we can bid at auctions for clients.”
Ms Spencer adds that an agent can also check if an owners’ corporation, which manages a set of units or apartments, is in a legal dispute, thereby saving a potential buyer from getting involved a nasty financial mess.