The buyer’s guide to real estate agents: do you really need one?
By Richard Stringer, Manager, Harcourts Dunedin. Buyers often want to go with a DIY-approach to purchasing property. After all, real estate consultants work for the seller, don’t they? And they’re not there to help anyone buy property? This is a common misconception and, in actual fact, most consultants are just as prepared and eager to get results for a buyer as they are a seller. It’s all about timing Over the last six months, the median number of days on the market for property in Dunedin has been around 20. So what does that actually mean? This is the amount of time it takes from when a house is listed on the market to the day the contract to purchase becomes unconditional in all respects. Most sales in Dunedin are conditional subject to aspects such as building reports, electrical inspections, LIM reports or finance — and these can take 5-10 working days to come through. That means we’re seeing the large majority of homes go under contract within two weeks of being listed — and many in the first week. On more than one occasion recently we’ve seen homes go under contract or be sold unconditionally within two days of hitting the market.
So, essentially, you have an extremely short time to act once you see a property that suits you.By the time you’ve checked your saved search, other buyers have already been notified. By the time it hits the papers, others are already viewing the property. And by the time you decide you’re genuinely interested, it’s probably already gone under offer. If this scenario is happening to you, you’re not alone. Dunedin property is in high demand, and one driving force is out-of-town buyers who are looking to move here or are searching for solid investment options. Another force is local buyers: people are taking advantage of continuing low interest rates to upgrade their existing homes and better their family life. And first home buyers are using their Kiwi Saver grants to help them off the rental ladder and into the property market. So everyone is competing to get their hands on the same property at the same time.
But, using an agent, you’ll hear about a new listing before anyone else.Through a streamlined communication network across a company, consultants are informed the moment a property comes onto the market and they can pass that information directly to you. For this reason alone, I strongly recommend using a consultant. However, there’s more to it than that. Next, you have to pick the agency and the consultant you want to work with. Firstly, you want to choose a large agency or brand with a strong presence in both your current area and, if you’re buying elsewhere, your target location. A national or even international presence is advantageous, too. Companies with a large geographic spread will have more contacts, more sellers and more properties that suit you. Next, find a consultant who will listen to you and take the time to understand exactly what you’re looking for. A good consultant will be willing to work all hours to find you the right home. They will ensure you match their commitment! And, if a good option comes up, they’ll know that the open home could be too late and they’ll enquire about viewing as soon as possible. A good consultant will encourage you to share your financial situation so they can understand your budget limitations. Many homes go on the market without a price these days — there’s little point running around and viewing homes that you realise are out of your price range when you get there. That’s just more time wasted which could be spent zoning in on suitable property. You should also find someone who is technology-oriented. The latest up-to-date technology will allow them to record your requirements in a database which matches you with suitable properties as soon as they’re listed. Another benefit of working with a consultant is that they are likely to be able to recommend a good mortgage broker to help you get all your ducks in a row. That’s vital as you need to be completely ready to make an offer when the right property comes along. Looking after both sides of the table Yes, real estate consultants usually work for the seller — the seller pays the commission. But a good consultant also keeps in touch with and cares for their buyers. To be the best consultant, they need to be able to match buyers as soon as possible. No seller wants to spend any longer on the market than they have to, enduring weekends of open homes and tireless cleaning in case a buyer comes through. So to be successful, agents have to genuinely care about both sides of the table. To stand the best chance of landing your perfect property, make sure your consultant knows you well and understands your requirements, and be ready to view suitable new listings at the first chance. Best of luck in your search.