28 Mar 2023

Buyer's Agents: How to vet the experts

Australia’s largest professional body of buyer’s agents has spoken out in defence of committed and honourable real estate professionals in the industry on the back of last night’s ABC Four Corners program focusing on poor practice in the real estate industry.

Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) president Cate Bakos said any consumer needed to be careful about who they take advice from, in any part of the property sector, whether they were a mortgage broker, buyer’s agent, selling agent or accountant.

“Buyers’ agency should be a trusted role that a qualified and experienced professional takes pride in,” said Ms Bakos.

“Unfortunately, the property industry has been plagued by a multitude of untrained, inexperienced agents, spruikers and poor quality advisors who give the majority a bad name.

“This is the very reason professional industry associations such as REBAA were established.”

Buyer’s agents are licensed professionals who specialise in searching, locating, evaluating and negotiating the purchase of property on behalf of buyers. REBAA was established in 2000 with the goal to raise the profile of the industry and to establish guidelines for the professional conducts of buyer’s agents nationally.

“REBAA members are required to abide by a strict code of conduct,” said Ms Bakos.

“Entry into our association is approved via an intensive set of required steps including sponsorship from an existing REBAA industry peer and the provision of relevant referees, including past clients.

“Our organisation’s strength hinges on our alignment of core values, our deep regard for our clients, and a commitment to maintain independence with every transaction. 

“REBAA members are prohibited from taking secret commissions and must not have undisclosed related business activities, nor do they partake in any selling activity whatsoever. 

“We do not support disparagement clauses and our industry association supports the option for every consumer to have access to a suitable complaint resolution process if ever required, through the correct channels.

“REBAA will continue to strive for honesty and commitment to consumers and we will maintain the highest ethical standards to ensure that consumers can select a buyer’s agent with confidence.”

According to Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) Chair Nicola McDougall, it is important for consumers to always check the credentials of any buyers’ advocate or buyers’ agent they are considering working with.

“Given the property investment advice sector is unregulated, membership of industry associations such as PIPA and REBAA are a consumer’s best source of protection against unscrupulous operators,” she said.

“As well as being members of peak industry bodies, the very best property investment professionals are licensed, have additional specialist training, years of experience, and disclose any third party commissions they may be paid for referrals as an everyday part of their superior business practice.

“Not only that, professional buyers’ agents and qualified property investment advisers offer tailored and independent advice to their clients, rather than acting as a marketer for a sales agent or developer whilst potentially masquerading as a buying professional.”

When vetting your buyer’s agent REBAA recommends working through the following checklist:

Field and local experience: Look for agents who have a minimum of 12-24 months experience in the particular area that you are interested in. It is worth finding out about their most recent purchases.

Credentials: Check with the relevant state’s department of trading to ensure they are appropriately licensed and insured.

Membership of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agents Association of Australia: If they aren’t a member, ask why not. REBAA is Australia’s largest professional network of buyer’s agents. Its members must adhere to a strict code of conduct.

Contacts: A good agent will have a wide network of selling agents to access properties – not just one. They should also be able to connect you with representatives of complementary professions.