12 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing Your Buyer’s Agent
Do you want to avoid a house-hunting disaster that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, months of precious time, or even worse - missing out on that perfect property?
If you’ve realised that hiring a buyer’s agent will give you the best result to find your dream property your decision is likely not just about saving time and money, but also about having a professional in your corner.
The thing is, not all buyer’s agents are equal. Some are more experienced and more persistent. Some have local knowledge and connections better suited to your needs.
Hiring a buyer’s agent is a big investment so understanding how to prepare for the buying process and how to choose the right agent for your search will save you in every way. Avoiding the following mistakes will set you up for a great buyer’s agent experience.
Mistake #1. Hiring a buyer’s agent before your finance is approved.
Property hunting without funds available will only lead to disappointment when you can’t purchase that dream property that pops up early on in the search so the first step of buyer preparation is to have your fully assessed loan ready to go so you can move quickly and buy with confidence.
Research the market, write your brief, and get your buying team in place during the finance application process, but the right time to put your buyer’s agent to work officially is when your finance is approved.
Mistake #2 Choosing a buyer’s agent without a buying team if you don’t have one of your own.
A successful buying assault on a sought after home or investment requires a team of experts. In addition to your buyer’s agent you’ll need a top broker and solicitor, and if the property is a renovation project, a builder, engineer and quantity surveyor as well. This group comprises your personal army, your buying team.
If you don’t have a team at hand make it a high priority to select a buyer’s agent who can bring one to the table. Hiring this agent means you’ll inherit their panel of experts who have worked together in the past. You’ll enjoy the advantage of ‘synergy’ when an experienced team works together with your buyer’s agent for a great result -all without you having to lift a finger.
Mistake #3 Not choosing a buyer’s agent who is completely independent and working for you.
A buyer’s agent should be paid by you to work 100% in your best interest.
This means they should not accept any type of incentive or remuneration from anyone but you. A clear contravention of this principle would be a buyer’s agent accepting commission from a developer for an introduction that leads to a sale. Less clear might be a referral fee accepted from a third party service ( a building inspector for example) they’ve recommended to you.
Standard agency agreements in all states generally make provision for an agent to disclose referral fees and commissions however for the utmost peace of mind you should insist on an agent that accepts nothing from anyone but you.
Mistake #4 Not choosing the buyer’s agent service that corresponds to your needs.
Good buyers agents generally have three or four core offerings ranging from “full service” to appraisal, negotiation, and auction attendance. Choosing the appropriate service will require you to be realistic about your own property skillset and the time you can allocate to your house hunting.
If you have the network, resources, and experience to access suitable properties then an ‘appraise and negotiate’ or ‘bid at auction’ service may really be all you need.
Be aware that although you think you can do the job using just these services, you can’t buy what you can’t see and this approach may cost you more time and money in the long run.
Mistake #5 Not choosing a buyer’s agent who specializes in your desired area.
An agent that works (and lives and plays) in the suburbs you are searching within is tuned into the important details that can affect a successful purchase. A formal appraisal or valuation is no comparison to the local knowledge of a seasoned area specialist. Bad neighbours, upcoming overdevelopment, problematic owners corporations are all troublesome issues not apparent to an outsider that a local specialist can steer you clear of.
Mistake #6 Not paying the right price for the service you’re getting.
Buyer’s agents’ pricing can vary widely, and with good reason. Any good agent will tailor the scope of works to your circumstance and most will agree on a fixed price that reflects the work involved. It is worthwhile to understand what that work entails.
A detailed, particular brief for a property in a tightly held suburb should command a premium and what you’ll be paying for is the buyer’s agent’s network of local selling agents, business people, and community, as well as their less conventional methods of sourcing property.
More abundantly available property in a less tightly held suburb will see you paying a buyer more for their time conducting inspections and putting together the deal, or their analytical skills if it is an investment property.
Paying an entry-level agent an entry-level fee for a challenging brief will not give you an expert outcome.
Be as wary of ‘cheap’ fees as expensive fees. Take a moment to consider the difficulty of the task at hand and not just the time, but the expertise and connections required.
Mistake #7 Not assessing the methods your buyer’s agent will use to find your ideal property.
Good buyer’s agents will apply multiple resources to source property and it merits asking how your buyer’s agent operates. Key activities you should listen for include personal outreach to a strong selling agent network, extensive use of research tools such as RPData, and direct outreach to potential sellers (calling and visits) amongst others. Opportunities arise from contact with people and the best agents spend all day talking with selling agents, property managers, local residents and business people in their task to understand who might be a seller.
Mistake #8 Not choosing an agent with auction experience if that’s the likely method of sale for your property.
If the common method of sale for your future home or investment is via auction then your buyer’s agent should have extensive bidding experience.
Auctions are volatile environments where the odds are stacked against the seller. There is plenty of room for error leading up to, and on the day and you will need an agent that, is calm, knows all the rules, and has multiple battle-tested bidding strategies. A well-chosen agent will often know the auctioneer and their calling style which can help.
It’s not considered rude to ask your prospective buyer’s agent about their auction experience, and their preferred bidding strategies.
Mistake #9 Not screening your agent for negotiating power.
Buyer’s agents are negotiators. They are the conduit between you and all the other players in a high stakes situation. They’ll probably even end up mediating between you and your spouse when the pressure is on at deal time! To screen for a good negotiator you’ll need to trust your instincts rather than ask questions.
Your prospective hire should be calm, confident, and leave you with the sense that all things are going to go your way. Chances are they’ll be waving that magic wand over the other parties too which makes a good deal more likely.
Mistake #10 Not having a well-defined brief for your agent.
The more thoroughly you detail and communicate your wants and needs, the better your outcome. A good brief goes way beyond just the property attributes. If the property is to be an investment share your overall long term goals, how the purchase will fit into your portfolio, and when and how it will be divested. If it’s your family home share what you do for work sport and hobby, what your evenings and weekends look like, where your kids spend their time. Property choice is driven by lifestyle and understanding this is key for your agent to find that perfect property match.
Mistake #11 Not confirming your buyer’s agent will be working exclusively on your brief.
A buyer’s agent cannot work in your best interest if they have signed on other clients looking for the same type of home in the same suburb and similar price range.
You need to ask the question- will your brief, price range and instruction have exclusivity in your agents’ portfolio, until they have found your property? It’s not a rude question to ask a prospective buyers agent what other types of clients they will concurrently be working on and what assurances they can give you there will be no conflict of interest.
It’s easy for buyer’s agencies large and small to blur the line by having multiple clients with similar briefs. In a tight market with short supply who gets first dibs on something matching multiple briefs?
Mistake #12 Choosing an agency where you end up assigned a junior or an associate.
As with many professional services sectors you run into the possibility of being pitched to by the senior staffer only to have your brief delegated to a less experienced and motivated agent once you are on board.
This can be a frustrating experience. If you are considering a larger agency to work with always confirm that the agent you want to be looking after you actually will personally be responsible for your search.
So there you have the twelve costly mistakes to avoid when choosing your buyer’s agent to find your ideal property.
Want to learn more? Here’s a 3 min read on the different types of off-market property a good buyer’s agent can scout for you.
Have questions? I’d love to hear about your property aspirations and understand if im in a position to help you. If you’d like to book in for a free, 20 min discovery call you can do so below
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