Why do people use buyer’s advocates? Can’t they just buy their own place? 27/08/12

In short the answer to this question is yes. A simple answer for a simple question. Is the question that simple though?

Let’s face it, for the most part it’s an accepted practice that when you are ready to go out and buy property, you head out in to the market place and target the things you want to buy. You compete against others that want to buy the same thing, and when you eventually strike a deal you get someone to lend you some money to complete proceedings. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? There is no need for licensing or training or any formal education in Australia when it comes to buying and if you pay for help from someone more experienced, society asks “why?”

So if the “simple task equals simple action” test applies to property, I guess it should apply to everything else? With all the information available on the internet today, learning how to change the battery in my car should be relatively simple. I mean, it’s only a matter of lifting the bonnet, undoing a couple of screws or nuts, pulling the cables off, removing the battery, and then repeating the process in reverse. So if it’s that simple, why doesn’t everyone do it? Why do car service groups like the RACV and MARSHAL make an absolute squillion off people every year showing up to their dead cars and replacing the batteries? Can’t they just replace their own?

Ok, maybe the car is a little difficult. Let’s try painting. I mean how hard can it be? Go to Bunnings, or the new Masters that have just arrived, tell them the colour you want, have them mix up a batch, buy a roller or a brush and just head home and paint. What else do you need to do? I don’t see the difficulty in pouring paint into a pan and then rolling it on a wall, and the people at the D.I.Y shop and on Television tell me it’s simple so it must be..Right?

If we were having this discussion, by now you would be screaming at me about being naïve and over simplistic. In the case of the battery, how do we know it’s just the battery? It might be something else. What if we break the plastic connectors when removing the battery, or the big one, what if we reverse the polarity when connecting the battery and fry the engine’s computer brain. It could cost way more than just a battery replacement. And do you know what car’s worth? $30,000 plus now days and that’s a lot of money!

And for the D.I.Y people out there that have tried and failed, I can hear you screaming about how hard it is to choose the right paint to match the house. I hear you also talking to me about preparation being the key to getting the job done right, not to mention having the right tools to get the job done in the first place. The advice you are getting from the people at D.I.Y. heaven seems to be very one sided too. You are told you need the better paint, the finer brush, and the $10 sheets of sandpaper because that’s what the professionals use. It kind of sounds like they are only telling you the things that will make you spend more money. The funny thing here is that when it’s all said and done, you realise you are not Michelangelo, and your home doesn’t look quite right. Hey, it might cost $4000-$6000 to have the job done by a professional, but at the least it will improve the look and value of your home.

Two simple jobs, both things that could be done by anyone with the internet and a little hand- eye co-ordination, yet both things, that if done incorrectly will cost you a lot of money. Coupled with an ongoing reminder of how trying to save a few thousand dollars has in effect cost you many more. Both of the tasks I have described do not require a licence to complete, and were commonly accepted practices when I was growing up. Yet the world has changed and the requirement to have a professional assist today is more common than not. Having someone with more experience, that can get the job done quicker and more effectively, is not a silly move in anyone’s language, especially where there is the capacity to spend more than is required when you are not guided by a professional and you get it wrong.

This brings me back to real estate. The place you are looking to purchase is worth twenty times the value of your car, and you are going to enter into a transaction with little to no actual hands on experience. You will be taking advice and guidance from the selling agent, (just like the D.I.Y counter guy), who does this every day of his life. Based on your level of experience you hope to get the best deal when faced with negotiating against a professional who knows the industry inside out. Coupled with this, you also need to be confident that you have not missed anything in relation to your finance or preparation, because if you miss settlement you get hit with interest, or more importantly if you can’t achieve settlement you might lose your deposit altogether. There are also the questions of “is it the right property for you”, “what’s it worth”, “am I paying too much”, “what should I be looking for”, “what’s the area like”, and many others.

When you bring a buyer’s advocate in to the picture, you engage a qualified real estate agent that works for the buyer. It’s as simple as that. They will do all in their power to ensure you get the deal done that best suits you, not the seller or the seller’s agent’s best interest. They will negotiate on your behalf and structure a deal so you are protected as best you can be. They will guide you through a process you are completely unfamiliar with and achieve the best possible result at the end of the day. In most cases they will save you thousands in the cost of your property as well, or at the very least reduce the competition so you get what you want for sensible money.

Too many ask the question “how much”, when it comes to using this service instead of asking “what do I get for my money”. When you call the mobile car workshop, you get a battery. When you call the painter, you get a great job that improves the value of your home. When you call the buyer’s agent you get a better deal, and let’s face it, the property deal is worth way more than the car or the paint deal. Or, you could listen to your uncle or your cousin, because they are property experts, (they watch under the hammer and other T.V. shows so they know!), and just head out and do it yourself. To be honest, I don’t really mind if you do. It just makes my job a little easier and means my clients will get the place that you want for less than you would have paid, before you even knew it was on the market. But hey, at least you did it yourself. You have got to love D.I.Y. As always, negotiate hard, but fair. Have fun and buy well.

Garry McPherson

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4 Responses to this article

Deni August 30, 2012 Reply

On a number of occasions, I have had the opportunity to work with several buyers agents/advocates here in Noosa. I have to say I enjoy working with them. All have been precise as to what their buyers want; they have done their research thoroughly re the local market & know the current state of the market well; All have been highly professional and all have come directly to me (the listing agent) with their requirements having first undertaken solid research about the properties/local property market. During the inspection they cast an experienced eye over the property, tell me if it is what they are looking for (or not) & then, after the inspection, they have provided succinct & early feedback for the Sellers. As well, if inspections ensue, the inspections are with highly qualified buyers who in most cases, are at the “pointy end” of making a decision about purchsing. To date, my experience has been 100% positive. Another reason? They haven’t tried to “backdoor” me (the listing agent) by ignoring the sign in the front garden & going straight to my Sellers with the old “I have a buyer for your property story” as I have experienced recently with a couple of “new to real estate local sales persons”. here in Noosa.
I am happy to work with a Buyer’s Agent/advocate any time.

Garry September 2, 2012 Reply

HI Deni, its good to hear the right practices are being followed more than just locally here in Melbourne. It’s great to see an agent that understands it’s not an “us” vs “them” situation when buying real estate. The Buyer AND the Seller need to win in the deal, and for the most part its not about the money really. The “win/win” is a lot easier when both sides get the right advice from qualified agents. When next I have a client looking to shop up North it’s nice to know there is someone to call. Cheers.

Janet Spencer February 28, 2013 Reply

Hi Garry, I am the current chairperson of the Buyers Agent Chapter at the REIV in Melbourne and we have a very active membership. My business has been trading over 11 years and when I started out people used to ask me ” you are a what” when I called myself a Buyers Agent. Now, this would never happen, the consumer is switched on and seeking professional value add. Also of interest is that in 10 years in Melbourne, we have gone from about 3 to more than 50 Buyers Agency firms.

Garry February 28, 2013 Reply

Hi Janet,
It ‘s great to see the growth of quality representation for buyers in Melbourne and indeed Australia. What’s even better is to see that experience and knowledge “stick around” in the industry, as I feel it’s only through hands on experience that the right guidance is available for buyers… And as far as I’m concerned 11 years is invaluable hands on experience and no doubt brings value to the transaction for both sides.

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