22 Feb 2019

The benefit of a rigorous apprenticeship - Cate Bakos

REBAA is the national industry association for buyer’s agents. Members abide by a strict code of conduct and full member status requires a minimum of two years’ of consistent buyer agency work. Licensing, appropriate insurances and sponsorship from two existing members are part of the entrant criteria. REBAA focuses on promoting their members, raising market awareness of our industry body, and always seeks to protect consumers from industry misconduct and risk. REBAA caters to learner and provisional members and offers a mentoring program for those who seek one-on-one support from an experienced buyers agent.

In the first of our series on ‘The benefit of a rigorous apprenticeship’, we ask REBAA vice-president Cate Bakos from Cate Bakos Property to share her ‘apprenticeship’ experiences with honest reflection and candour.

Back in 2003 Cate decided to leave a corporate career with a chemical global giant to step into property sales. The experience shaped her understanding of real estate transactions, buyer and vendor behaviour and how a real estate office operates. Those difficult months of zero commission, tough opposition and competition within the office from other selling agents, and relentless days dragging sale boards in and out of the rain were a challenge. But the moments when a purchaser and a vendor had an exciting win-win, the nights of proudly presenting a signed offer to a weary vendor, and the friendships that were made with other agents in town made her time in the sales office a memorable one.

Cate’s early real estate mentors were numerous but the thing they had in common was old school experience and a love of people. From family friends who had been in the industry, to fabulously entertaining university lecturers from the Property Services course at Swinburne University of Technology, Cate’s mentors were there to offer an ear (or a shoulder to cry on) when things got tough or questions cropped up.

Her later experience as a mortgage broker (between the time that her daughter arrived and then began kindergarten) was highly valuable. Working as a broker during the GFC taught Cate so much more than cashflow analysis and lending policy. Delivering bad news, managing outcomes with banks and assessors, and working to an intense and high-stakes timeline was also an intense education.

Being a multi-property investor herself and feeling the highs and lows of property ownership over the decades has equipped Cate to appreciate the fears and emotions that buyers experience during their own journeys.

Cate has operated as an independent buyer’s agent for more than eight years and has been running her own business since 2014. She holds a QPIA qualification with PIPA and is an industry mentor through REBAA’s mentoring program. She continues to enjoy the daily learnings that such an exciting role delivers, but reminds those who think of buyers agency as a light-hearted “part-time gig” that the role is 24-7.

“You are always on. I haven’t had a week of working less than 70 hours in eight years,” says Cate.

“It’s a job that requires passion, focus and energy.It’s like being an obstetrician. When the baby comes, you have to be there. That is likely to be in the evening or on the weekend. Buyers and vendors make big decisions when they are together and not distracted. It’s important for new entrants into this space to understand that they won’t be able to do it part-time.”