Buying

How buyers can benefit from speaking to a real estate agent

A real estate agent works for the seller, but as highly specialised local experts in their selling area it would be foolish for buyers to look past the information that can be gleaned from a chat with your local real estate agent.

Remember, local agents work the property circuit in your chosen area day in, day out at the coal face of the market. Seeing local auctions, handling queries and securing sales themselves, they are well placed to assist you with their local knowledge. Remember, going deeper into the data than the headlining figure suggests is crucial for buying well and there are few experts that know the real estate landscape in an area as well as a local agent.

Approaching a real estate agent should be a straightforward process – many are happy to respond to email queries or a phone call. If, however, you are looking to ask them a number of questions then it’s worth letting them know you are looking to buy and asking them if they are free for an in-person chat. Many will be willing to speak to you and may even be able to provide you with some properties that you may want to look at when you do so.

Localised research

Every home buyer has the task of understanding the dynamic of the area they wish to purchase in. There are a number of ways a real estate agent can help take the mystery out of this process.

Ask the following questions about the area:

  • What sort of property tends to be most popular in this area?
  • Is there a ‘better’ part of the suburb?
  • Do certain features in a home command a premium?
  • Has sales activity increased or decreased lately?
  • Have there been any zoning changes that you know of, or are there likely to be any?
  • What makes the area unique?
  • Have there been any recent sales along streets X, Y and Z or in a specific price range?
  • Is there anything exciting or different coming up for the area that I should know about?

Real estate agents have their fingers on the pulse of local sales results. As individuals who have chosen a naturally competitive career, it’s not surprising that they will know what their properties have sold for but also generally what their competitors have sold properties for. Some of this information will not be available on the leading portals yet as it can be quite recent, so asking will give you an advantage. In fact, some real estate agents offer this information out through regular emails or text messages to their database. For those looking to learn about an area, it pays dividends to be on as many of these mailing lists as possible. Do not be afraid to ask outright to be added to any information send outs and to be put onto their database. Some real estate agents include newsletters with updates of new listings, upcoming auctions and even their own perspectives on the market and purchasing tips.You won’t know what free information is available unless you ask.

Have you heard of SoldToday.com.au? Sign up for their auction alerts to get the latest sales and auction results direct to your inbox before they’re published anywhere else.

Another benefit of being on the radar of an agent is that they can contact you with off market sales and new listings, as well as give some indication as to any coming onto the market soon. Be open with them about the type of property you are looking for, stay in touch and ensure you’re the first to know about homes that will soon be available to purchase.

The purchasing process

For those who are uncertain about the buying process, particularly first home buyers, real estate agents can be helpful in assisting you through the buying process. They can explain terms and talk you through the necessary contracts when you are uncertain and let you know any required details around attending an auction.

Of course, all purchasers are encouraged to get their own legal advice and a real estate agent cannot tell you what to buy, however you should not feel wary of asking them about terminology or what you may need to do to make an offer.

They may also be able to explain to you the differences if you are purchasing in a different state or territory than you are used to. Some real estate agents will have access to a number of checklists and even sample forms that you can download to have a look at that can assist you.

For those looking to purchase an investment property it may also be worth checking to see whether the agency has a property management arm. If they do, they may also be able to fill you in about local vacancy rates and the type of tenants looking to rent a property. They should also be able to explain the local investor activity and any recent changes in the rental market.

 

The individual property

A real estate agent can also be very helpful when you finally select a property you are interested in. They can answer a number of questions, and are required to let you know certain material facts, about your prospective home. They can also line up viewings for you.

Real estate agents are your critical link between the seller and yourself and can alert you when other offers have been made if you ask them to keep you in the loop. Astute agents will also be able to provide price guidance for the majority of homes that will allow you to determine what you can afford and what you are willing to pay.

 

Points to remember:

  • Real estate agents are hubs of local expertise
  • They can provide you information about local sales
  • Ask to be on their databases
  • They can tell you about any upcoming homes
  • Agents can guide you through the buying process
  • They are your link to the seller