Talk to any real estate sales agent who has ever sold a few properties to buyer’s who themselves were represented by professional buyer’s agents and you’ll hear them describe a positive experience: “…they knew exactly what type of property they were looking for, were extremely decisive, had their finance sorted well in advance, they were reasonable with their price expectations, were constructive in their approach to avoiding any unnecessary contract crash, they wanted to get the deal done, didn’t waste my time, and were courteous and professional to deal with; I’d have no hesitation in using them myself”.
The problem is, if you talk to the members of the public you’ll get a completely different response. It’s not a case of the buyer’s agency profession being unpopular; it’s that it’s largely unknown – buyer’s agents are the equivalent of that white rhinoceros which a select few have come across out there in the safari somewhere.
If you stood in the middle of a shopping centre anywhere in Queensland and asked one hundred passers-by if they could describe the difference between a ‘buyer’s agent’ and a ‘sales agent’ I reckon you’d be lucky to get five people who answered it correctly; most people have never heard of buyer’s agents. Even in Sydney or Melbourne, where awareness of buyer’s agents is highest, most of the passers-by people would naively describe buyer’s agents as ‘those people who bid on properties at auctions for people’; I’ve purchased hundreds of properties over the years and only one of those was through an auction campaign.
The entire real estate industry needs to take control so that the buying public becomes familiar with the very significant value proposition that buyer’s agents offer. Imagine if a majority of sales agents across the country were able to describe experiences like the one above on a regular basis.
White rhinoceroses don’t become common overnight. But, for awareness to significantly increase, there must be a significant increase in the frequency of mentioning their existence.
While the opportunities for marketing campaigns to increase awareness amongst the buying public are endless, I believe that the important starting point is to get the basics right. The REIQ can start by replacing the term ‘agent’ with the different disciplines – ‘sales agent’ and ‘buyer’s agent’. Every single document, contract, advertisement, website, newsletter needs to distinguish between professionals who ‘sell’ and those who ‘buy’. From the top down, everyone should remove the word ‘agent’ from their vocabulary and be more specific about who they are referring to. We’ll all be pleasantly surprised by how effectively this will progressively recondition the mindset of the broader public?
In the same way that there’s a section on property purchase contracts to record details of sales agents and conveyancers, the industry needs to move swiftly to change template contracts in every state so that there is provision to insert details of the buyer’s professional representative. This subtle change will get consumers thinking, professional representation will increase, and everyone will be a winner.
In addition to creating general awareness of the profession, the industry needs to be promoting to the buying public the value proposition of using a buyer’s agent. Most consumers would be delighted to learn that there are professional property buyers who specialise in niche areas such as luxury homes, renovators, investors, and property market research.
Simon Pressley is Managing Director of Propertyology, a full time property market analyst, and accredited property investment advisor. Simon was also been awarded for excellence in the real estate industry as 2012+2013+2014 “Australian (REIA) Buyer's Agent of the Year” and “Queensland (REIQ) Buyer’s Agent of the Year”.