We live in a DIY era: everything is readily available and we are encouraged to conduct as much of our own research as possible. With countless websites, blogs and how-to’s dedicated to property purchase and investment, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security.
With the plethora of online property listings available today, it’s easy to find out what’s on the market, visit open houses and even research sales data to come up with a reasonable price to offer for a home. There is just so much information out there.
Then, there are estate agents: online agents, seller’s agents, master agents and direct-with-developer deals. Like many other countries, in South Africa there are direct portals, agents and developers flying in to sell you offshore opportunities.
For years, there has been a misconception about what exactly an estate agent is. It has become increasingly apparent that they do not always act in the best interests of their buyers. After all, it makes no sense for them to: an estate agent can only sell what stock they have listed on their own books. They can’t go and find you something they don’t have a mandate to sell.
Now, the new agent on the street is a buyer’s agent. These professionals are already commonly used in the US and UK, and their specialty is serving you, the buyer, in your quest to find the perfect property. This service is now beginning to catch on elsewhere, and is especially popular with those wishing to purchase property in a country other than where they live.
So why should a buyer bother using a buyer’s agent?
In a nutshell: you need to protect yourself and your money by seeking independent advice form someone who you can trust to have your best interest at heart.
Speculative buyers often believe they can do it themselves. But what they often don’t consider is the extra risk when buying offshore property. You’re spending millions of rands on a purchase in a faraway market you might not fully understand… it’s one of the biggest investments you’re likely to ever make.
According to one website: “Shopping without a buyer’s agent is a little like grilling tenderloin without a meat thermometer; you might not know there’s a problem until you’re sitting at the table.”
Whilst there is no harm in doing your own research, a buyer’s agent is most essential when you get to the stage of being ready to purchase. You need the security of independent due diligence on a specific property or investment. You need someone to be honest about the pitfalls of your purchase and to let you know what you’re getting yourself into, warts and all.
What is a buyer’s agent?
Buyer’s agents are professionals acting exclusively on behalf of a property buyer, assisting the client throughout the entire purchasing process. At Hurst & Wills, we do everything from sourcing properties that correspond to the clients’ requirements, to negotiating the best possible price and terms with the seller. An agent can often negotiate a better price than a private buyer could manage, because they have a more personal relationship with a location, with local knowledge and networks.
Buying agents look at the different markets, keeping abreast of countries and areas offering the best returns. It is their job to know how the markets are performing, to identify the key markets to invest in, and to be aware of financial, tax and legal implications that may impact buying decisions. We can preview properties on behalf of our clients, short-listing only the most suitable, saving you time and costly mistakes.
As an independent company, we work exclusively for the buyer. This allows us to offer the largest possible portfolio of properties, and give advice that best serves our clients’ interests.
“Making a property purchase is a big decision for many, and this is made all the more daunting if the property is in another country. Hurst & Wills have both the experience and the expertise as well as independence to be able to partner with the right people, provide valuable insight into the market and guide you through the process. Hurst & Wills were always very efficient, up to date and proactive and kept me informed at every stage along the way. They really were a pleasure to deal with.”
How to get the most from your buyers’ agent
- Check that your agent has local knowledge of the areas they are advising in.
- Get testimonials from current and past clients.
- Engage your buyer’s agent before contacting estate agents online to avoid having to deal with several aggressive agents
- Define your brief, and explain your circumstance and motivations, to allow your buyer’s agent to match you with the perfect property
- Trust: It’s in your buyer’s agent’s interest to source you the right property; their business often depends on referral and so trust them to do their job.