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What is a buyer’s agent?

A buyer’s agent specialises in scoping out and evaluating properties on behalf of their client, a buyer (i.e. a purchaser).

If the buyer is interested in one of the properties introduced to them by the buyer’s agent, that agent can also negotiate the sale on behalf of that buyer/client. In some cases, a buyer may have found a property, but chooses to use a buyer’s agent just to take care of the negotiations or to bid on their behalf if the property is going to auction.

What’s the difference between a buyer’s agent and a real estate agent?

In a nutshell, the difference between a buyer’s agent and a real estate agent is their client. A real estate agent’s client is the seller (or vendor) of the property, whereas the client of the buyer’s agent is, as the name suggests, the buyer (or purchaser). The real estate agent is paid by the seller/vendor to market and sell the property. The buyer’s agent is paid by the buyer to find a property (or undertake a range of services associated with that).

Are buyer’s agents regulated?

Buyer’s agents are required to undergo specialised training and must be licenced from the Office of Fair Trading of the state or territory in which they work. Generally there are two types of registrations– registration for employees of a buyer’s agency and a full licence for senior employees and principals of buyer’s agencies. In order for a buyer’s agent to run a real estate agency, they’ll need to have a full real estate agent’s licence as well.

An important factor to consider when choosing a home loan is whether to opt for variable or fixed interest rate loan. There’s also a third option to put into the mix – opting to go with both.

What’s involved with the full buyer’s agent service?

Working with a buyer’s agent can be a comprehensive experience involving several steps.

First up, the buyer’s agent should work with their client to find out exactly what sort of property the buyer is after. This can take into account everything from location to number of bedrooms, closeness to shops, transport, schools and a range of other lifestyle factors.

In some cases, the buyer may be vague on some aspects –if they’re new to a city for example, they may not be sure of what areas would be ideal for them. If that’s the case, the buyer’s agent can help educate them on areas they might be interested in. If the buyer is an investor, the buyer’s agent may also take into account factors such as potential capital growth or rental yield.

When all this information is gathered, the buyer’s agent can use it to form a buyer’s brief and formulate a strategy for finding ideal properties.

Once the agent has a clear idea of what the search criteria is, the second stage, the property hunt, can begin. Ideally, the agent will provide a shortlist of properties for the client to look at; in “hot” property markets they may also give the heads up as soon as an ideal property becomes available on the market.

Should their client be interested in a particular property, the agent will supply a thorough appraisal of the property and what they believe its current market value is. Should they still want to proceed, the agent can negotiate the sale on behalf of the client.

How much do buyer’s agents cost?

There is no set rule as to what you’d pay to use a buyer’s agent – some agents will charge a fixed rate, while others will charge a percentage of the purchase price. Most agents will also charge a retainer fee up front when they are first engaged.

Why do people use buyer’s agents?

  • Industry knowledge and sometimes access to properties that may not be advertised
  • Time saving - having a professional do the groundwork on their behalf (potentially saving on a lot of open homes and lost weekends searching)
  • Investment knowledge of potential capital growth and rental yields
  • Expert negotiating and bidding skills.