By Cath Dickinson
Diverse. That’s the best word to describe the career backgrounds of the industry professionals who make up the REINSW Buyers’ Agents Chapter Committee. Find out what drove them to become exclusive buyers’ agents and what they love most about what they do.
Principal at Buyer’s Domain
Director at House Search Australia
Director at Albion Avenue Buyers Agents
Director at Essential Property Wealth
Director Gault & Co Property Advisory
Director at STRAND Property Group
Principal at OH Property Group
Nick Viner, the Chair of the Buyers’ Agents Chapter Committee was a property solicitor, but it was his own house search, and those of some friends, that resulted in a lightbulb career moment.
“I’d come out from the UK and was looking for a property to buy,” he said. “I was doing all my own research and going to lots of inspections. At the same time, I was talking to friends who were also looking to buy. They were busy, they weren’t as interested in the property search experience as I was, and they didn’t understand the legal side of things – so I started helping them.
“In two instances, I found the perfect properties. From the search through to negotiation and then helping them close the deal, I loved it – much more than my day job as a lawyer! I followed my passion and here I am today.”
Similarly, Deputy Chair of the Chapter Committee, Jacque Parker, who was a teacher prior to making her career switch, followed her passion.
“I’ve always had a huge interest in all things property related,” she said. “I’d been investing and renovating since 1991 and, over that time, had built up a wealth of experience. Becoming an exclusive buyers’ agent was a natural step for me and I established House Search Australia in 2005.”
Simone Luxford was working in corporate marketing and branding when a buyers’ agent crossed her path.
“I had my own research consultancy and lots of experience researching property markets,” she explained. “One of my clients was a buyers’ agent. I started helping them with property searches and then decided to obtain my licence. That was eight years ago, and I haven’t looked back.”
The importance of buyer representation
When Oliver Stier arrived in Australia in 2007, he saw a gap in the property market for professional buyer representation.
“My background is in finance and I’ve worked all over the world,” he said. “What struck me when I settled in Sydney was how vendor centric the property market is. For the most part, only vendors are represented.
“When my wife and I established OH Property Group, our goal was to share our property expertise and help our clients with what is often the biggest purchase of their lives. Importantly, we wanted to level the playing field, both on an individual transaction basis and market-wide.”
Shelley Horton, a former property valuer, agrees that buyers are under-represented in the real estate transaction.
“Buyers are generally left to fend for themselves,” she said. “There’s a definite imbalance, because sales agents are skillful negotiators. Add to this that the buyer is making a highly emotional decision and the risk of making an ill-informed purchase or overpaying for a property is exacerbated.”
It was a desire to help people make better property investment and buying decisions that led Michael Ossitt to establish STRAND Property Group in 2016.
“As a residential investor for a long time, I’d seen firsthand how other people were making really poor property decisions, whether they were buying for themselves or buying as an investment,” he said. “To be honest, I felt quite alarmed by some of the things people had done with advice they’d received in good faith. I knew there was a real need for advice that had the property buyer at heart.
“Although buyers’ agents only really make up around five per cent of the market, awareness of the benefits of working with us is growing year on year. We add genuine value by saving clients hours of research time, finding available properties, shortlisting options, viewing and appraising, carrying out due diligence and then expertly negotiating on their behalf.”
Ramon Mitchell, who was a sales agent for almost a decade, sees buyers’ agency as an evolving specialisation.
“By offering a holistic approach to clients – including analysing their goals, establishing strategy, acquiring assets, managing portfolios and ongoing audits – we have the chance to elevate the profile of buyers’ agents in the minds of the purchasing public,” he said.
“Being a buyers’ agent allows me to help people achieve their goals. I also love the idea of building a community of benefit among my clients and fellow professionals, where we all help each other to achieve.”
Never a dull moment
When asked what they love most about being a buyers’ agent, members of the Chapter Committee resoundingly replied, “what’s not to love!”
“Buyers’ agency is certainly never dull,” laughed Jacque Parker. “I love the daily interaction with a myriad of people and personalities. There’s also the range of ever-changing challenges and, most of all, the thrill of achieving a great outcome for our buyers.
“I really enjoy helping people through what is often one of the most stressful and financially costly events of their lives. It’s incredibly satisfying to see the joy – and relief – on their faces when we secure a new home or investment property for them.
“As cliché as it may sound, I feel truly privileged to work in an industry that I’m so passionate about.”
For Shelley Horton, it’s her clients that make her work as a buyers’ agent so enjoyable.
“Everyone is in a different situation and has a different story,” she said. “For me, that’s what makes each property search interesting, enjoyable and rewarding. You share the highs and lows with them along the journey, which creates a special bond.
“I can honestly say that I’ve learnt something new from every client I’ve worked with.”
Simone Luxford enjoys drawing on her creative background in marketing and branding to look at properties with a different eye and add value.
“I love the creative side of the real estate industry,” she said. “I’m pleased to say that our business has helped many of our clients with renovations and the redesign of floorplans.”
Michael Ossitt also uses his unique skillset to add value to the buying decisions of his clients.
“As a former architectural engineer, I can view properties with a different skillset and help clients understand potential issues and identify value-add opportunities,” he said. “What I love most about what I do is the ability to help my clients make better decisions around buying property, whether it’s to be their home or as an investment to build wealth.”
The variety that comes with being a buyers’ agent is what Nick Viner gets a kick from.
“No two days are the same,” he said. “While there’s always a plan in place for the day, I can’t tell you how many days there are that I walk into the office and the plan immediately goes out the window. A buyer might have decided overnight that they do want to pursue a property, after they told you yesterday that they weren’t interested. Or a selling agent might call and say that their vendors are now happy to sell and wants to know if our buyer is still keen.
“While I do love the thrill of the chase, for me it’s all about using my skills and knowledge to help people by doing what they can’t do themselves – and, at the same time, making them happy.”