26 Apr 2019

The benefit of a rigorous apprenticeship - Lisa Parker

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 buyer’s agent.

In the second of our series on ‘The benefit of a rigorous apprenticeship’, we ask REBAA VIC member, Lisa Parker, to share her apprenticeship experiences with honest reflection and candour:

Fifteen years ago, Victorian buyer’s advocate Lisa Parker started her own buyer’s agency business after working in the property division for a financial planning firm. Earning a commission from developers for educating the public on purchasing select properties, Lisa began to feel her ethics were being compromised. She wanted to be able to provide people with genuine advice that was not attached to her pay cheque. After learning that there was such a career working as an independent buyer’s advocate, Lisa quit her day job and quickly found a mentor in the buyer’s agency industry and started her career.

“When I first began in the industry 15 years ago, buyer advocacy was almost an underground industry,” says Lisa who has mentored and trained more than 10 advocates. “Up until two years ago I’ve only ever been met with blank stares when asked what I did for a job. Nobody really new what a buyer’s advocate was until The Block and following with Rich Harvey’s TV series Buying Blind. 

“There were very few advocates and no training course I could do, so I approached a number of existing advocates and proposed a deal. I would bring my own clients, they would earn the lions share of my fee, but in return they had to teach me everything they knew about being a buyer’s advocate – the correct processes, best practices, negotiating, filling out a contract – the works. During my apprenticeship I didn’t make a single move without going to my mentor for guidance and instruction first. Everything I did was overseen by an experienced advocate of many years. I was earning very little money but I was ‘home’. I was exactly where I was meant to be.”

As much as Lisa loves her job as the owner of Parker Buyer Advocates, she claims it’s not for everyone.

“Too many people think it’s just about looking at nice houses all day but that’s only a small percentage of what we do,” she says. “To really make it in this industry you need to have a natural instinct for property. This can be trained to a certain degree but there are subtleties that only a natural talent will grasp. Advocates also require a quick mind, strong negotiation skills, a deep understanding of market cycles, selling agency practices and they need to perform under pressure. Advocates need to be able to adapt and change course within minutes. If one tactic or strategy is not working, you need to grab another tool from your tool kit and reset. It is not a good career for someone who likes to control everything or likes their day planned out with little change to their diary. 

“The thing I love the most about being an advocate is how fast everything happens. I love the strategy and the tactics of negotiations. I love the feeling I get when I walk into a home and know it’s  ‘the one’ for my client – the right investment that I know my clients will benefit from for many years. I love the pressure of needing to get every piece of the strategy right to ensure my client gets the keys to their dream home.”