Buying a home can be an exciting experience, but the pressure to find one that ticks all the boxes can quickly leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
One way to make the process much less stressful is to work with a buyer’s advocate (also known as a buyer’s agent). These are licensed real estate professionals who help homebuyers find a property that suits their needs at the right price.
In this article, we'll explore the skills and services a buyer's advocate can offer and why you might want to consider using one when making a property purchase.
What is a buyer's advocate?
Unlike real estate agents, who work on behalf of a seller, buyer's advocates represent the person on the other side of a real estate transaction — the buyer.
A good buyer’s advocate will have extensive knowledge of local real estate markets and can help you identify properties that match what you’re looking for, whether that’s solid rental income or a new home for your growing family.
They can also use their industry contacts to alert you to properties that aren’t yet publicly listed, so you can snap up your dream home in a private sale before the competition has even had a chance to look at it.
What does a buyer’s advocate do?
A buyer’s advocate can be as involved in the home buying process as you want them to be. Some people only need their help once they’ve already found the right property and are ready to make an offer, while others prefer to use their services from start to finish.
In Australia, the types of services a buyer’s advocate offers can include:
- Working with a prospective buyer to understand their needs
- Searching for homes that present good market opportunities and fit the buyer’s criteria
- Arranging inspections and appraisals
- Providing access to off-market properties
- Finding investment properties with potential for capital growth
- Creating a shortlist of suitable properties
- Performing thorough due diligence to uncover any potential problems with the property
- Dealing with real estate agents and negotiating the purchase price
- Auction bidding on the buyer’s behalf
- Connecting the property buyer with other industry professionals, such as property managers and mortgage brokers
How much does a buyer’s advocate cost?
How much a buyer’s advocate charges will depend on the type of service you’re after. Full service (searching for properties, conducting research, and negotiating the sale price) will be the more costly option.
The fee structure may take the following forms:
- A flat fee
- A percentage of the purchase price (usually around 1.5% to 3%)
- A retainer fee, which is paid upfront (usually around $3,000 or half the total fee payable)
Why should I choose a buyer's advocate?
Advice from a licensed professional can eliminate a lot of the stress and guesswork that’s all too common when buying a home. Some other benefits of working with a buyer's advocate include:
- Time savings: For the time-poor, a buyer’s agent can use their local know-how to seek out properties and schedule inspections that fit neatly into your schedule. They can also handle any paperwork and legal requirements on your behalf.
- Experience: Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make, but most people won’t have much experience going into it. A buyer’s advocate will have years of experience guiding people through the purchasing process and can help you avoid common pitfalls.
- Negotiation skills: When it comes time to make an offer, a buyer’s advocate will keep you from making emotion-driven decisions. They will suggest the best possible price based on a property’s true value.