A buyer’s agent or buyer’s advocate is a property professional who works for and represents a buyer, as opposed to a seller, in a property transaction. Demand for this service is growing in Australia each year.
In the second instalment of our ‘Property Experts’ series, we spoke to Miriam Sandkuhler, owner of property advocacy firm Property Mavens, on the role a buyer’s agent plays in purchasing a property and the importance of buyer representation throughout the process.
‘I’m passionate about protecting consumers when it comes to buying and selling real estate’, says Miriam, a twenty-year veteran of the real estate industry. She decided to move into property advocacy to ‘protect clients from making poor property decisions and to help them secure good outcomes.’
A licensed estate agent and accredited property investment advisor, Miriam is called upon frequently in the media to share her knowledge and advice, and is the author of ‘Property Prosperity’, a best-selling guide for property investors.
Property Mavens was established by Sandkuhler in 2012, and, to quote Miriam is ‘an independent property advocacy firm, helping investors, upgraders and downsizers to buy and sell smart, enabling them to achieve their desired outcomes and seamlessly move forward into the next chapter of their lives.’
‘We are fearless’, says Miriam, ‘as we advocate for, and lead our clients through, the property maze.’
We asked Miriam – what does a buyer’s agent do and who would benefit from using one?
‘Anyone buying a property, from first home buyers to upsizers and investors will benefit from engaging an industry-experienced and qualified buyer’s agent’, she says.
‘A vendor has independent representation from a sales agent in the negotiation, so it’s imperative that a buyer has independent representation too.’
‘A buyer’s agent sources, assesses and acquires the property for a client. They also advise on what is and isn’t a good property, provide market insight and develop relationships with agents that provide access to off-market properties.’
Buyer’s agents also use other specialised services, including research houses, building and pest inspectors, conveyancers, licensed valuers and property managers, in order to provide a ‘full package’ of expertise and guidance for their clients throughout the property-buying journey.
In a competitive market, how does a potential client find someone with the right qualifications and experience?
‘There is a rise of fake buyer’s agents in the marketplace’, Sandkuhler warns.
‘These are people who have bypassed their ‘apprenticeship’ in the industry and don’t have the actual training or experience required (for anyone) considering engaging their services as a buyer’s advocate.’
Miriam goes on to state that a lack of practical experience means a lack of knowledge and insight, all of which is vital to advise clients correctly. This lack of expertise, she says, can result in mistakes being made with your hard-earned money.
Property Mavens has compiled a comprehensive list of questions to ask when vetting a potential buyers agent.
Miriam also talked about the common mistakes she sees made by people looking to purchase property, noting that ‘buying property is easier to get wrong than right, and it’s not easy to recover from a mistake once it has been made.’
The most common mistakes are:
1. Thinking free advice is unbiased
2. Not understanding their investment risk profile
3. Not having a documented buying or investing plan
4. Not engaging the right team of experts to support them, at the right time
5. Not doing adequate market research
6. Not knowing the rules of buying, negotiating or bidding at auction
7. (Investors) Not reviewing their property portfolio annually
Miriam advises people to ‘seek independent and unbiased advice from an industry experienced and licensed buyer’s agent. They are your ‘insurance policy’ against making a mistake worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.’
On the question of cost, Miriam says ‘a buyer’s agent provides a fee for service, which could result in the client not only paying less for the property, but( includes having) all of the grunt work done for them.
‘It’s an investment in expertise – fees can start at around $1000 for bidding services and will vary according to the level of service offered.’
Property Mavens offer a free guide to the 7 Common Mistakes Property Investors and Homebuyers make, and a range of other resources are available on the company’s website.
If you have found the right property and need a quality residential building inspection, call The Home Inspection Hub on 1300 071 283 or ask us for a free quote today!