What is a buyer’s agent?
Historically, real estate agents have represented only sellers in a property transaction. Recently there has been a rising trend for investors looking for property to engage the services of a buyer’s agent, also sometimes known as a buyer’s advocate or buyer’s broker. A buyer’s agent is a licensed real estate professional that acts on behalf of the buyer in a property transaction.
It is estimated that over 60% of homes in the USA are bought using a buyers’ agent, and whilst this figure is much lower in Australia the numbers are growing strongly.
An independent buyer’s agent will work exclusively for the buyer, avoiding the conflict of interest inherent in the traditional seller-oriented transactions. Within Australia an agent is prevented by law from acting for both parties in a property transaction as well as from accepting commissions from both sides. This means that a licensed buyer’s agent acts for you and you alone, representing your best interests.
There are a wide variety of services offered by buyer’s agents, and the most common types of assistance they can provide are:
- searching for property and evaluating its suitability
- negotiating the purchase of a property (i.e. price and terms)
- investigating finance options
- providing references to other related professionals (e.g. surveyors, solicitors etc) and
- facilitating inspections, pre-settlement activities, disclosure, contract compliance and settlement.
There are many reasons why home buyers and investors are increasingly seeing the value in engaging a buyer’s agent (see our article on why you should use a buyer’s agent here). It is understandable that there are still some buyers who balk at the idea of paying fees and commissions for activities that they previously performed for themselves. Ultimately, the question you must answer is whether you believe that taking advantage of an agent’s skills and experience will save you money, stress and time.