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Published June 15, 2023
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Should You Use A Buyer’s Agent?

Buyer’s agents, or buyer’s advocates, are real estate professionals who exclusively help property buyers through the purchase process.

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As a first-home buyer, you’ll probably be embarking on the biggest financial commitment of your life to date, and it definitely pays to gain a thorough understanding of the real estate sector and what resources are available to help you find the best property within your financial and location perimeters. One such resource is a buyer’s agent. 

What is a buyer’s agent? 

A buyer’s agent, or buyer’s advocate, is a licensed real estate professional who works for the buyer to search for a property, evaluate its worth and negotiate a sale. Unlike a real estate agent who works for the seller to sell their property, a buyer’s agent acts for the purchaser to ensure they are as well informed as possible and get the best price on the property. 

Importantly, by law, the buyer’s agent can only act for the buyer and cannot receive a fee from both parties in a property transaction. 

» MORE: 6 Things to Know About the Australian Property Market

What does a buyer’s agent do?

Buyer’s agents offer both full and partial services depending on what you’re looking for and how much of the property purchase process you are happy to go through with yourself. 

Buyer’s agent services can include some or all of the following. 

  • Compile a wishlist of everything you want in your property and provide feedback on what they can expect to get using available data.
  • Search for available listings in your area and price range.
  • Attend property viewings to provide you with a shortlist of the best properties available.
  • Arrange for building and pest inspections and engineering reports, if required.
  • Attend auctions and bid on your behalf, if required.
  • Help negotiate the sale price.
  • Liaise with the conveyancer to oversee the exchange of contracts.
  • Attend the settlement.

There is no rule as to when you should engage a buyer’s agent in the process, but it makes sense to get them on board from the outset so you don’t waste unnecessary time and money looking in the wrong places. 

Engaging a buyer’s agent at the start of your property quest may also give you a clearer idea of what you want, such as the number of bedrooms and living spaces or the location, in terms of proximity to shops, transport and other amenities. They should also be able to clearly indicate how much you can get within your price range. 

» MORE: How Much Can I Borrow for a Home Loan?

How to find a buyer’s agent

Word of mouth is always an effective way to find a suitable property professional, especially if you know that a buyer’s agent has helped a friend or family member. If you don’t have that resource, a good place to start is the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) website, which contains hundreds of listings of agents in each state and territory. 

Buyer’s agents in Australia are required to have a full real estate agent’s licence, either for themselves as an individual or as a company if they are operating as one, so you can be confident as a buyer that the agents listed on the REBAA website have the appropriate qualifications to offer market advice. 

Additionally, you can go on review websites such as Property Home Base, which provides reviews and testimonials of buyer’s agents in the Melbourne area. 

Buyer’s agent fees and costs

Fees can vary widely between buyer’s agents and will depend to a large extent on the cost of the property and its location. As with their real estate agent counterparts, a buyer’s agent may charge a percentage of the total sale price (usually between 1.5% and 3%) as a fee, or they could opt for a set or fixed fee. At any rate, you should definitely have that discussion at the outset of your communication.

Some buyer’s agents may offer to find a property within a particular timeframe, three months, for example, and not charge a fee if they cannot do so, while others will charge an up-front retainer fee from the moment you start using their services. 

» MORE: Costs To Know When Buying a House

Are buyer’s agents worth it?

Buyer’s agents are property specialists, so they should be able to help you across the entire process of searching for, finding and evaluating homes you may want to purchase and live in. They should be well aware of all the seller tricks of the trade but, more importantly, understand what you need to know as a buyer.

That expertise could mean saving untold hours searching for properties and analysing them yourself, which can be an extremely painstaking process. 

A buyer’s agent is also there to make sure you are as fully informed as possible so you don’t overpay, and their expert knowledge of a particular suburb or region may be invaluable in the negotiating process.

Buyer’s agents also have many industry contacts, especially with real estate agents, so they often have access to valuable information about when a particular property may become available or if it will be sold privately off-market.  

Just as important, as a first-home buyer, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process, and a buyer’s agent can give you the most objective information based on their experience. 


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