Choosing the RIGHT buyers agent for you: my top 10 questions
As the scope of buyers agency continues to grow here in Australia, from the demand for services that cater independently to buyers, it becomes increasingly more important to ensure that you select the RIGHT one for the job. As I enter my 15th year of business in this industry, I’ve not only witnessed a plethora of change, but have been fortunate enough to also train and mentor other buyers agents in this industry. I’ve seen the good and the bad, and know that it’s vital for consumers to select the very best possible buyers agent, when considering who is going to represent them in what is often the biggest financial transaction of their lives.
So how do you choose the RIGHT buyers agent for you?
Firstly I want to point out that not all buyers agents are equal, neither do they offer the same services. When searching, much will depend on YOUR particular needs and criteria, the location, budget and type of property you’re intending to buy. Here at House Search, for example, we specialise in assisting residential purchasers (not commercial) in particular locations within metro Sydney (see our Suburbs list on our site) and only take on a limited amount of clients at any one time. Though we help both home owners and investors, there are certainly buyers agencies out there who specialise in investor clients only, for example, so their strategies in processes and services may vary here.
Further still, if you don’t have a clue on what or where to buy, or are after more specialised advice you may need to seek out ancillary services (such as those of a financial planner, accountant, lender/mortgage broker, solicitor) or a buyers agency that provides suitably qualified financial planners as part of their offerings. Some buyers need to go elsewhere first, to set up entity structures for buying, organise approvals for finance or seek advice from their planners and/or accountants before jumping straight into a search or purchase. An experienced buyers agent, in this regard, will be able to ask the right questions to ascertain if the buyer is ready to buy or requires prior planning before commencement.
But if you are ready, prepared, have your finances in order and are primed to go property shopping, then how do you select the right buyer’s agent for you? Here’s my top 10 questions that will help in you in your quest to engage the agent that’s right for you and your needs.
1. What are your qualifications and how long have you been working as a buyers agent?
*Here in NSW you can easily check any agent’s qualifications (both their company and individual licences) and see how long they’ve held these for at Service NSW
2. What are your areas of specialty ie: location, property types, buyers?
*Ensure you drill down here to ensure that your buyers agent has the experience and knowhow to work in your preferred areas, as local knowledge and effective working relationships with selling agents can make significant differences here in outcomes
*REBAA have strict eligibility requirements for buyers agents to ensure accreditation and independence (ie: only work for and are paid by buyers and not taking fees or commissions from any sellers/selling agents or developers), as well as a Code of Conduct for members. REINSW offer support, education, training and lobbying for buyers agents.
4. Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
*This is mandatory legislation in NSW with all licensed agents requiring PI insurance to operate
5. Do you own property yourself?
*Though this isn’t compulsory, as a fellow property owner, I believe being able to genuinely go through the process and empathise authentically with buyer clients brings a greater level of understanding and connection
6. Can you let me know about your most recent purchases?
7. Are you able t0 provide written testimonials or references from recent clients?
*Though this is getting easier via avenues such as online social media and google review platforms it also doesn’t hurt to ask for phone numbers or emails of recent clients who are willing to share their experiences
8. Can you explain the process and what I can expect during the search? What due diligence are you going to be conducting on my behalf?
*A good buyers agent should be able to easily provide this information, either via conversing or supplied information
9. How do you handle competing client briefs? ie: if my wishlist is similar or identical to a client you are already working for
*This question is crucial, as you need to understand if you will be competing against other paying clients during your search, or if the buyers agent has a “first come first served” policy
10. What happens if my expectations are unrealistic or you don’t find me a property?
*A good buyers agent will be able to properly qualify you in order to ensure that no-one’s time or money is wasted on a fruitless or unrealistic search. They’ll also be able to explain what happens if things change during the search, or if the agreement period runs out without success.