How to choose a professional buyers agent

You’ve made the decision to get help. After all, purchasing a property is costly and carries huge risks. So how do you find a professional buyers agent and then decide which one will do the best job for you?

The first thing to do is make sure you are talking to people who are qualified and experienced. A professional buyers agent will be appropriately licensed (each state is different), however the bar is low in some states, so you’ll need to add in a couple of other hurdles. Make sure they are a member of REBAA, which is the national buyers agent association. REBAA members are exclusive buyers agents, so there will be no double-dipping sales agents in there… And if you want to buy an investment property, make sure they are a Qualified Property Investment Advisor and also a member of PIPA.

Ask the local selling agents – they will tell you who is active in the area, who has the best local knowledge and who are the best negotiators. Possibly more importantly, they will tell you who they respect, which means that they often give a better quality of information to these advocates. A word of warning here, though – some agents get a kick-back when they refer you to a buyers agent, so ask at the outset whether they are paid a referral fee. The best recommendations are those based on merit. If that same sales agent suggests that they can do the job for you, well… be careful because a professional buyers agent needs a whole different set of skills.

Look for a buyers agent who takes the time to ensure that their clients are very comfortable with what the market is doing and what they can expect to get for their money. Sometimes this means that early opportunities aren’t grasped as the client may not be ready at the time, however, they will be prepared so they can be confident when they do buy.

We think that past performance is the best predictor of success. Don’t rely on written testimonials, ask for the phone numbers of past AND PRESENT clients so you can get a sense of the way they work and the quality of advice and service along the way.

Don’t go with the cheapest. There are a variety of operators out there and a range of pricing structures. Personally, I do not understand how a buyers agent can charge a percentage of the purchase price, so my advice is to ask for a fixed fee. Beware that there are low budget operators who may feel the financial pressure to push you to buy and get you off their books quicker than a professional buyers agent who has quoted you based on the work they believe will be involved in getting you the best outcome.

Beware of those who impose time limits and postcode restrictions. In our experience, many clients’ briefs are adjusted and sometimes completely rewritten as we go through the scoping process with them. You can’t expect to buy what you initially thought you wanted before you knew what you didn’t know!! Sometimes it is a straightforward process, but not always… It’s imperative that considerable time is taken at the outset to give you clarity, focus and information so that you are actually searching for the right property.

Lastly, if you live in the same city, meet with them. How do they come across? Do you like them? Most importantly, do you TRUST them?

Download these questionnaires to help you choose a professional buyers agent:

Questions to Ask When Interviewing Potential Buyers Agents

Questions to Ask Past Clients of a Buyers Agent

Further reading:

How to choose a good buyers agent: 12 questions to ask

Is it worth using a buyers agent?

Published: 31 January 2011

Updated: 19 February 2018

DISCLAIMER: Please note: Good Deeds buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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