By Katrina Creer
Just a year ago, desperate house-hunters were hiring buyers’ agents to help them secure property in one of the hottest markets Australia has ever seen.
But successive interest rate rises have seen a turn-around in conditions. An expected increase of listings over spring will not only bring more choice for buyers but – for the first time in a while - vendor discounting.
Few people would list their home on the market without the assistance of a sales agent, but when it comes to securing property most are happy to go it alone.
Buyer’s agents, however, can add tremendous value, even when conditions shift in favour of the purchaser.
Buying with confidence
Falling house prices are good news for those looking to buy, but the current market is making people extra cautious about price.
Latest figures from CoreLogic, show Sydney dwellings are now -7.4 percent below the record high which occurred in January 2022. With the Reserve Bank of Australia tipped to continue its current cycle of rate hikes there will be reluctance to pay top dollar.
Buyers’ Agent Michelle May said there is a lot of fear in the current market with properties listed without a price guide.
“We are seeing a lot of people register at an auction having followed the campaign but then being rendered unable to put their hand up because they are just so scared of overpaying,” said Ms May, who is a member of the REINSW’s Buyers’ Agent Chapter Committee.
“It is the complete opposite to what we were seeing six months ago where people were throwing everything at it. But in this kind of market, buyers’ agents can provide a lot of comfort about buying the right property at the right price.”
Buying a property requires special skills
Purchasing a home is likely to be the most expensive transaction anyone will make in their lifetime; however, most will opt to do it on their own.
Ms May said some of her clients, particularly those with a business background, want to be involved in the negotiations. She believes a real estate transaction is not the same as a business transaction.
“The buyer is usually emotionally involved in the process and so are the vendor and agent, there are all these human elements,” she said.
Buyers’ agents can provide their clients with non-emotional advice and ensure they don't succumb to pressure or sales tactics.
Levelling the playing field
It is not just about negotiating the best price - buyers' agents can save their client time and stress.
Michael Ossitt, Director of STRAND Property Group, likened buyers’ agents to a ‘personal shopper’ for finding the right property. Just as a seller has their sales agent, the buyer also has an experienced professional in their corner guiding them from start to finish.
They can advise on a property that may not only suit their needs now but also in the future.
“Ultimately it is going to give them a better outcome than doing it by themselves,” said Mr Ossit, who is Deputy Chair of the REINSW’s Buyers’ Agents Chapter Committee.
“People are not experienced in what makes a good property and they can make an extremely costly mistake by buying the wrong property. We might see a vision or opportunity which will save them money in the future.
Building the right relationship
Working together offers advantages for both selling and buying agents. Mr Ossitt has noticed a shift in attitude towards his industry, particularly from the larger agencies.
“I will negotiate hard for my client to get the best price, but I also try to make the sales agent's job as easy as possible,” he said.
“This includes communicating well, sorting out the signing of contracts and deposit transfers and all that kind of thing so they don’t have to chase it – so we are doing part of their job for them.”
Sales agents will reach out to buyers’ agents as they know they have active and genuine purchasers. They are often the first port of call when listing a home off-market or before its official launch. This is becoming common in the current market where vendors may feel nervous about a full-scale campaign.
“This adds to our value proposition - we get more access to properties than people would on their own because they don’t have the same relationship with agents,” Mr Ossitt said.
Knowing the market
Buyer’s agents are able to have franker conversations with selling agents and gain an understanding of the vendor’s motivation.
Importantly, they know the market. Ms May said buyers’ agents want to ensure their client purchases a quality home that will give them more options when they want to sell.
“We want them to buy a property that will not only work for them as a family home or investment but will achieve above any median price growth in the suburb,” Ms May said.