Buyers' agents are not the bad guys

Mal JamesAugust 24, 20110 min read

Each week as we go through the inbox we come across a number of what we  call “love letters” from sellers who in no uncertain terms question our parentage and suggest that our eyesight and perceptions are slightly below that of an umpire in a losing Collingwood game.

In a buyers’ market there are new people to "hate" other than selling agents and they are – wait for it – buyer agents or advocates.

But please wipe those tears from your eyes, as our job is basically a joyous one where you meet a lot of exciting people, walk through some incredible houses, have coffee with the wife, spend more than the husband wanted to and get paid a healthy living to do so – or so it seems to some.

Seriously though, when some sellers read a less than perfectly clean bill of health, such as a rating, on their property they go into an emotional frenzy and think abusive phone calls, legal action and threats.

But really, does balanced comment that may include a few negatives actually damage a home sale?

Does it actually result in fewer buyers, and necessarily lead to a lower price on the home – or does it in fact result in a higher price?

Think about it: how do we as buyer agents actually buy homes for our clients? We in fact buy homes by paying the highest price. If we pay the highest price are we not a positive factor for the seller?

How are we the enemy, even if we do point out the negatives (as part of a balanced report), if we pay the highest price to you the seller?

Do you think our role as buyer agents is just to highlight the positives of a home? Do you think we earn a living by acting for hundreds of professional people with millions of dollars to spend by exaggerating the positives and hiding any negatives a seller’s home may have?

Most buyers engage us because they want to make good decisions but they accept that there is no such thing as a perfect home – so therefore most purchases are made in the knowledge of some negatives.

Buyers feel more comfortable when they have all the facts in front of them, when “unknowns” have become “knowns” – and they do stretch further than when they have only half the story (the positives)

Take a home on a main road. A main road may be a negative in terms of noise and traffic and car access. But it can also be a positive, as long as the price is right, as it allows buyers to buy into an area they may not otherwise have been able to afford.

A number of houses perform better in this market when they are marketed by a skilled selling agent who presents facts in a way that counteracted negatives, rather than by a poor agent who hides them hoping  buyers won’t notice.

You might say that is just wordgames. After all, why would someone use an advocate if it wasn’t to get a lower price? True, we do lower prices. At times.

But in our experience any lowering we achieve is when sellers were expecting a price above what the market was prepared to pay – otherwise somebody else buys it!

So yes in a falling market, we consider price, if it is above market – but our primary focus is convincing a client to buy a good home that meets their needs.

And in a rising market or when we are looking at an exceptional home most of our effort is getting the client to the right level to compete and that in fact may be up not down on their current position.

Next time as a seller you have to deal with a quality buyer agent, please consider that although we are working for the buyer, that may in fact be in your best interests if you have a well-priced, quality home and a skilled selling agent acting for you. And if you don’t, we still may be your best bet in a few months when after a couple of price drops you do have a quality well priced home to sell.

Mal James is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million. Mal writes weekly auction reports, advice and in-depth market analysis on James' website.

Mal James

Mal James is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million.
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Find out more in our privacy policy.
Accept Cookies