It’s no secret that real estate agents get a bad wrap. Anyone buying or selling a home will always be warned about dodgy dealings and lying tactics.
But have Australian real estate agents been unfairly judged?
According to agent Justin Antonas from Harcourts Port Stephens the answer is simple: yes!
“I think there are many misconceptions of real estate agents,” says Justin. As a result, buyers and sellers have become wary of trusting an industry expert at a time when they really need their expertise.
LifeStyle catches up with Justin to uncover the truth about the biggest myths estate agents face…
MYTH 1: AGENTS AREN’T TRUSTWORTHY
Being a real estate professional for over 12 years I’ve know of cases where people have branded the local agent as being “untrustworthy”. Most of the time the story will unfold where a buyer has either missed out on a property after they’ve made an offer, only to find out that the property had been sold from under them for a higher price.
Yes, this is a term they call “gazumping”. This happens with properties sold by private tready - more so in a high market where there’s more than one eager buyer. There is nothing illegal about it. It happens!
Buyers need to remember that a selling agent is working for the seller not the buyer. The selling agent is engaged by the Vendor to achieve the highest possible price. In saying that, buyers need to be aware of 3 things when buying a property and that is: Ready, Willing and Able to move to an exchange of contracts quicker than others. If the buyer isn’t prepared, they leave themselves open to be gazumped. So at no fault of the agent, the agent will be called all sorts of things, one of them being untrustworthy!
MYTH 2: AGENTS ARE ALWAYS LATE FOR APPOINTMENTS
Maybe some are, but it’s usually the property managers that are late because they’re flat out doing all different things in the one day!
It’s a time management thing. Don’t get me wrong, not all agents are the same. Sales agents take their time to set up, they have signs, flags, buyer registers, brochures, incense to burn, candles to light, music etc. That all takes time, so you’ll almost likely see a sales agent at the property at least 15 minutes prior to the opening. Well, they should be!
MYTH 3: AGENTS LOVE TO INCLUDE DUMMY BIDDERS IN AUCTIONS
This is illegal. All bidders at a property auction now have to be registered. Their identification is screened and records are kept. You can’t bid if you haven’t registered. Registering yourself as a bidder will usually occur in the first half an hour before an auction commences.
These days the law allows a vendor to make their own bid during the auction – this is called the “Vendor Bid”. If a Vendor bid is exercised during the auction, the auctioneer will call the price of the bid and continue to call the auction. I think introducing this has been a successful way to eliminate the need for those agents who practice illegally. Just be aware that the vendor has the right to exercise only one Vendor bid during an auction.
MYTH 4: AGENTS ARE DODGY WITH THEIR COMMISSION
There’s no such thing as “doing a dodgy” on commission. It really depends on the area you are selling in and the price of the property and what type of property it is. In regional areas, I’ve noticed the fees are a lot higher compared to capital cities. There is no standard, so you just need to shop around and find what’s right for you.
An agent’s fees are an agent’s fees, and the best thing about it is, they are negotiable! If an agent can’t negotiate their own fee, how can they negotiate the best possible price on your property?
MYTH 5: AGENTS WILL SAY/DO ANYTHING TO MAKE A SALE
I like this one, it makes me laugh. I was buying a property once and the agent didn’t know I also was an agent. She didn’t really say “anything” just to make the sale, but she talked the talk. That’s what sales is all about. Everything she said was true about the property but it was all sales talk.
I bought the property in the end and complimented her on her professionalism.
MYTH 6: AGENTS WORK FOR KICK-BACKS
As agents, we are governed by strict laws that are heavily monitored by the Offices of Fair Trading. If an agent does receive a rebate or secret commission, it must be disclosed in an Agency Agreement and the client must be notified on what the rebate is and it’s dollar value.
Sure, agents do receive them, and there’s nothing illegal about receiving them, you just need to disclose them! Random audits of agencies are conducted by the Offices of Fair Trading, so you can’t slip through by not disclosing them. It’s not worth the risk.
Justin’s top tips for finding the right agent:
- Look for an agent who is licensed. “In NSW you can do this via the NSW Office of Fair Trading,” he says.
- Do the homework. Justin recommends: “Meet with various agents that are prominent in your area.”
- Protect yourself from being gazumped. “Be Ready, Willing and Able to make an exchange quicker than others.”
- Look for an agent who can kick your goal for you! “After all that’s why you engage an agent’s services,” Justin says. “You want to know that they can get the result you need, and the best deal in today’s market.”
Want to keep up to date with market trends? Get Justin’s monthly buying and selling advice here!