What Is A Buyer Advocate?
A buyer advocate is a trained professional who works on your behalf to locate properties that meet your individual needs. Once youʼve chosen a property to buy, they then help you secure it at a good price by negotiating the sale. Buyer advocates differ from real estate agents in that they only buy properties - they donʼt sell them. So unlike estate agents, buyer advocates act only in your best interests.
When you consider that property is typically the biggest purchase we make in our lives - and how easy it is to make a costly mistake - it makes a lot of sense to engage a professional to help you through the complex process.
We recently met up with Melbourne-based buyer advocate, Kim Easterbrook, to talk about how she can help home buyers minimise the cost of buying the right property.
The Benefits Of Engaging A Buyer Advocate
One of the key ways a buyer advocate can help you save money is by giving you a realistic assessment of a propertyʼs value. Shockingly, itʼs not uncommon for buyers to overpay for property by as much as $200,000 (wow!) - either because they donʼt know the true value, or they feel under pressure to buy and end up overbidding. This is a particular problem in Melbourne where competition is intense and property values are often overinflated.
Buyer advocates are a huge help here as they give you the low-down on the true value of a property, which can often be quite different from the listed value! Kim evaluates literally hundreds of properties a month and is very experienced in sorting the wheat from the chaff. With a Masters in Property Valuations and a Bachelor in Commerce-Accounting, she really understands good value and will help you avoid a poor investment.
Other ways a buyer advocate can help you include:
Objective guidance. Buying a home is a very emotional process for most people. Unfortunately, itʼs easy to fall in love with properties without really paying attention to their faults or the fact that they donʼt best meet your needs. A buyer advocate acts as your 100% objective sounding board throughout the property search, helping you avoid potentially disastrous emotional buys and ensuring you end up with a home that is a solid investment and truly meets your needs.
Deep knowledge of Melbourneʼs suburbs - what they offer in terms of lifestyle, schooling, recreational activities, proximity to transport and demographic. When you move to a new city, itʼs often very hard to know which suburbs are going to be suitable for your needs. Which suburbs are safe, near public transport, good schools, parks, good for families? Itʼs a buyer advocateʼs job to know the city they work in extremely well so that they can help you rapidly pin-point the neighbourhoods where youʼll feel right at home.
Major time saving. Finding the right property, whether that be a home or an investment, is a very time consuming job at the best of times. In a new country, where there are so many other things youʼve got to spend your time getting to grips with, a buyer advocate can save you literally weeks of time by building you a customised shortlist of suitable properties and taking care of most of the leg-work. Kim can also work with you to purchase property remotely, so that you have a house ready to move into as soon as you arrive in Melbourne.
Negotiating skills. Buyer advocates are experts in complex negotiations and securing the property you want at the lowest possible price. Many buyers feel intimidated dealing with high-pressure real estate agents, whereas buyer advocates are used to dealing with their tricky tactics and can help you avoid agreeing to things you donʼt want to or havenʼt thought through!
What Does It Cost?
So how much does it cost to use a buyer advocate? Kim charges a minimum of $8,800 AUD or 1.5% of a predetermined budget, which is set as a fixed fee in advance. This is broken up into two parts, a $1,100 (including GST) engagement fee and the balance upon successful purchase.
Now that might sound like a lot, but not when you consider how much she can save you through expert negotiation with sellers and by helping you avoid buying the wrong house or paying too much. Kim has saved some of her clients upwards of $100,000 - so thatʼs a pretty good investment.
How To Get Started
When you get in touch with Kim, sheʼll spend time with you going through your particular needs to understand exactly what it is you are looking for in a property.
She will then go out and find properties to suit, meeting with you regularly to discuss them and helping you quickly narrow in on a perfect property that suits your lifestyle and your budget.
Once this is done, Kim will negotiate a price with the owner to help you secure it for the best possible price.
Using a buyer advocate wonʼt be for everyone, but we think it is a service worth considering if you care about making a wise property investment and/or donʼt have the time to put in the huge amount of effort required to do it yourself.
Kim also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you are not completely satisfied, youʼll get a full refund - no strings attached. Essentially then, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving her service a go.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the advantages of using a buyer advocate - and Kim in particular - is that all her clients say there is no way theyʼd ever go through the buying process alone again after experiencing the benefits of her expertise!
To have Kim contact you to discuss how she can help, simply complete the form below.
Be sure to include your country code (+64 for New Zealand) to avoid any problems when Kim calls.
Great - your callback request has been sent to Kim. She'll contact you soon (usually within 48 hours).
Still have questions about buying a home in Melbourne? Check out our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us and other readers.