Can a buyer’s agent get you on the property ladder?
Getting onto the property ladder is a huge financial move and one you often have to make under time pressure.
Getting onto the property ladder is a huge financial move and one you often have to make under time pressure. If you aren’t used to negotiating over money – and many of us aren’t – you’re at a disadvantage against experienced buyers and real estate agents who are comfortable making business deals. And a house is a significant deal for anyone.
While sellers have an experienced real estate agent negotiating on their behalf, buyers have to act alone ‒ and some are better at this than others. For first-time buyers, and many other house hunters, the answer is to employ a buyer’s agent.
So what does a buyer’s agent do to help get you on, or up a rung, on the property ladder?
A buyer’s agent dials down the emotion
When you’ve fallen in love with a property, and you’re sitting down to negotiate with a real estate agent (acting for the seller), you’re in a weaker position. You might end up offering more than you need to, or forget to ask about the settlement conditions or even fail to convince the seller that you’re a serious proposition.
A buyer’s agent will accompany you to these meetings and be the voice of reason in what can be an intense conversation. They’ll help you negotiate and ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into.
At an auction, a buyer’s agent can bid on your behalf if you can’t attend. And they won’t go a cent over your ceiling price ‒ which is not always the case when a buyer is bidding on a home they’ve fallen in love with.
A buyer’s agent will offer you a neutral sounding board
When buying a home, it’s great to talk to friends and family. But it’s also helpful to talk to a neutral third party who doesn’t have a vested interest in where or what you end up buying.
As your buyer’s agent knows exactly what you’re looking for, they can help you secure the right property when it comes along. You can also talk (or rave) over the property’s attributes with them, rather than the agent, to work out if it’s the right one for you.
A buyer’s agent will get you access to off-market properties
Once upon a time, selling a house only required a small sign in the real estate agent’s window, a 20-word ad in the local newspaper, followed by a home inspection.
These days, marketing campaigns are serious affairs. You have internet advertising, home staging, a photo shoot and sometimes two home inspections a week to give buyers a chance to see the home at night and in daylight.
Many sellers simply don’t want this. They don’t want the expense, they don’t want photos of their house all over the internet, and they don’t want strangers in their home.
So, if they know their house will be highly sought after ‒ it might be a unique home, in a great location or both ‒ they’ll opt for a quiet, off-market sale. And if you have a buyer’s agent, you have a much higher chance of finding out about the property, because buyer’s agents are also real estate professionals and learn from their peers about properties that haven’t yet hit the market.
A buyer’s agent will ease your workload
House hunting can be time-consuming, and a good buyer’s agent will do some of the heavy lifting ‒ arranging conveyancing and pest inspections and facilitating contract exchanges, for example.
And because a good buyer’s agent will filter properties for you – appraising homes against your criteria, attending home inspections, talking to agents about what they’re about to launch, scouring the internet – you’ll find that the entire process is sped up, and you’re in your new home faster.
Buyer’s agents are also useful if you’re an expat looking to buy a house while living abroad. You might find that family, while initially enthusiastic, don’t want the responsibility of house-hunting on your behalf for too long. A good buyer’s agent can not only help you secure a home, they can also help get it ready for you to move straight into on your arrival in the country. That beats going to a hotel when you get off the plane!
A buyer’s agent will help you to negotiate
A buyer’s agent can’t promise you a bargain. In an auction or any other situation, if there’s competition, the market sets the price to a large extent. But a good buyer’s agent will have spent enough time in the real estate market to know what the fair market value for the property is and will be able to identify a good property deal versus an overpriced one.
They’ll then negotiate the best possible terms and price for you with an equally skilled real estate agent acting for the seller.
In short, if you’re serious about buying, consider a buyer’s agent
Every sale is unique, and if you’re happy to take your time and feel comfortable negotiating over money, you can certainly handle a sale yourself. But for many, particularly first home buyers, it helps to have an experienced advocate on your side, especially in an unpredictable market.