31 Aug 2020

Thinking of becoming a buyer's agent?

Buyers agents, (or advocates) are a growing force in the property market. Not only are people realising the value of having a professional advocate on their side, but more are also seeing it as a long-term career. Before you take the plunge, be sure to do your research.

If you are intending to set up your own buyer’s agency, you will need a full real estate agent’s licence – both for yourself as an individual, plus an agency licence for the company you will operate under. If you are currently an agent’s representative, (or operating under a sub-licence) then you will need to undertake further study and experience under a licensed manager* before you can apply to become a fully licensed real estate agent.

In terms of training, different businesses offer differing regimes. Some encourage a ground-up training system by partnering experienced BA’s with assistant BA’s in training, whilst others offer ‘apprenticeship’ style roles for new market entrants. Ideally undertaking an apprenticeship with a REBAA accredited buyer’s agent/advocate who can mentor you through the early years is recommended. The Real Estate Institute in your state plus TAFE and some private institutions run training courses. A strength in business operations is also beneficial for those who embark on running their own business.

Tertiary business courses, (including some marketing units) are also beneficial. However, buyer’s agents can come from many different backgrounds – each offering their own benefits which can be transferred and utilised as a buyer’s agent. Some of REBAA’s most experienced buyer’s agents hold tertiary qualifications spanning accounting, valuations, business, law, science, medicine, and nursing (to name a few).

Client service or professional services experience can help with managing clients; whilst analytical disciplines and research backgrounds can assist buyer’s agents with the science side of their role. Risk management and legal experience can help with managing contracts; and selling agent experience can help when understanding buyer/vendor emotions and negotiations. Past property investment experience is an essential undertaking for those who are committed to serving investment briefs for their clients.

Don’t get caught out

As an association, REBAA is becoming increasingly concerned by the number of new entrants with little or no experience. The association is equally concerned by reports from newcomers that some online non-accredited courses are failing to deliver the actual skills required in the role, despite charging large enrolment fees. These online courses are also often leading to false expectations in terms of salary expectations. If you are concerned that your training provider is overpromising and underdelivering please contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Look for these red flags:

  • The training course is not accredited by a professional training body.
  • The training provider offers a short-term course that leads to a licence in another state via Mutual Recognition.
  • The training course offers overly optimistic income expectations.
  • The training course provides limited buyer’s agent insights and focuses predominantly on lead generation.
  • The training course supports online portals to select property for your clients and lacks first principles training for you to learn how to search effectively.
  • The training course suggests you can do this part-time.
  • The training course suggests all you need is a laptop and nothing else.
  • The training course does not highlight the legal risks, obligations and requirements for the state in which you wish to operate within.
  • The promotional material is big on glossy brochures and promises little detailed information.

What to look for

When embarking on a career in buyer’s advocacy, it’s important to do your research. A true buyer’s agent does not take commissions, fees or other kickbacks from vendors. Make sure you’re fully licensed in the state/s you’re buying in and get advice from the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) or your local Real Estate Institute (REI).

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Seek out an accredited training provider to obtain the qualifications and licensing requirements necessary for the role.
  • Complete the qualification, and any other government funded courses to ensure you have the skillset to run a business in future.
  • Join REBAA – REBAA offers a learner membership for buyer’s agents with less than 12 months experience or no experience at all. This membership allows you access to the private REBAA members online forum, mentor program, AGM and resources on the REBAA website.
  • Join REBAA’s mentor program and get paired with an experienced buyer’s agent who might need some peer support from experts who understand the challenges of starting a small business. REBAA mentors can provide guidance on business planning and systems, overcoming call reluctance or improving sales/signing up processes, recognising your niche, SWOT analysis and workshopping challenges, marketing and PR, managing staff effectively, confidence, presentation and ‘who’ to ask for help in the industry/outsourcing.
  • Attend local state-based networking events with other BA’s and monthly zoom drinks.

*Each state has its own laws and licensing requirements regarding property transactions. To get started, please make an enquiry with your state-based Department of Fair Trading/Business Licensing.