22 Mar 2018

Change agent: Cate Bakos

REBAA is proud to call Melbourne buyer’s advocate Cate Bakos from Cate Bakos Property, Your Investment Property’s Magazine’s number one buyer’s agent in the country. Cate took out the award last week beating some fierce competition in the property industry.

Entrants were judged on a variety of criteria including:

  • Number of properties purchased
  • Total value of properties purchased
  • Average property value
  • Total client numbers
  • Number of new client numbers
  • Number of repeat clients

A staunch advocate of REBAA and its mission to raise industry standards, Cate was elected Vice President of the association last year and has already spearheaded the REBAA Mentoring Program which aims to match experienced buyer’s agents with newer entrants to the industry. Cate, who among her qualifications holds an honours degree in Chemistry, prides herself on not only finding the best property at the best price for her clients but also on the responsibility she has on changing the lives of others.

Q: Why did you decide to become a buyer’s agent?

A: I loved the excitement and variety that working in the property industry offered, but my most thrilling moments as a listing agent were actually the intensive buyer matching tasks where I spent time getting to know my buyers’ needs and then found them a suitable property – sometimes off-market. I knew that I had a future as a buyer’s agent once I had my mortgage broker experience firmly under my belt. I made the decision to follow my dream in 2010 and registered to go back to university and study Property Services.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges the buyer’s agency industry in Australia faces?

A: A lack of differentiation between genuine, qualified buyer’s gents and marketers/introducers who don’t act for the buyer and don’t hold qualifications. We need rigour in our industry to separate the two because they are vastly different and many consumers are none the wiser.

Q: How has your previous work experience helped you in your current profession?

A: In many ways yes because I utilise my analytical skills on a daily basis, but the most obvious difference between chemistry and property is that one is absolutely black and white, while the other has many shades of grey. Property analysis is never black and white; what may be suited to one buyer won’t work for another, and how we scorecard property comes down to what the important criteria is for the client’s brief. Chemistry doesn’t allow for any shades of grey and it can be a lonely profession for anyone who loves interacting all day with many different people.

Q: You work in an all-female firm? Is that by design or do you believe women are better suited to this career?

A: I didn’t engineer my team this way but I wouldn’t change a thing. My staff have found a way to my door through the community. I’ve employed past clients, friends and contacts of friends. What I value in a team member matches exactly what I’ve got in my staff; a genuine desire to help each client, a drive to make the journey rewarding and pain-free, and an abundance of support and laughter in the office. It certainly helps that women can multi-task, talk to clients intuitively, care for the sisterhood and show patience when it’s required, but I know a lot of fabulous men in this industry can do all of this as well.

Q: What are your tips for valuing property?

A: Comparable sales analysis is our most used methodology but every now and then we need to apply other appraising methods, particularly when a property has limited or no comparable sales. Knowing land values, being able to roughly estimate dwelling values, reverse-calculating from rental yields and overlaying historical capital growth are some of the other applications I’ll use but at the end of the day the art just merge with the science. Taking into account supply and demand, other competing properties, market sentiment, and lending related caution on a particular property is vital.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see home buyers make?

A: Doing nothing. Planning to plan and continued planning to plan. Long term procrastination leads to regret and remorse.

Q: Last year you were elected Vice President of REBAA. What do you hope to achieve in this role?

A: I’ve got a long list of things I’d love to achieve. I’m super proud of the implementation of the mentoring program and I’ve proudly taken on an energetic mentee who is already gearing up to make a positive impact on the business she works within. I’d love to see other mentors take on mentees and collectively create a name for REBAA as a quality mentoring association in the industry, but most importantly I’d like to widen the divide between genuine, qualified and independent buyer’s agents and those ‘free service’ operators who unjustly call themselves buyer’s agents. Consumers deserve protection and REBAA holds a significant place on the property landscape to enable this.