Before engaging with a residential buyer’s agent, it’s important to be well-prepared to ensure you get the best value out of their services. I have done the research for you, this is my 10-point checklist to ensure you are prepared and ready, before starting your buyers agent journey:
- Plan out Your Timeframe
Have a clear understanding of your timeline for buying a house or investment property. Be conservative with your timeframes, as in different market conditions eg: a tight supply market, where stock is limited, the length of time may be longer than anticipated. Always consider any significant upcoming life events that may also influence your timeline and also if it’s an investment property or primary place of residence (PPOR). The time frame, from start to finish, including stages such as settlement, may vary from 10 weeks to over 26 weeks.
- Assess Your Financial Position
Understand your financial situation in detail, including your income, commitments, discretionary and non discretionary spending, borrowing power, deposit or other savings, existing debts, and credit score. This will help you determine your budget for a home purchase. There are many calculators available online, to assess your borrowing capacity, try the financial institution or bank that you bank with first. Other include Canstar or finder.
- Define Your Property Needs and Wants
Identifying Your Needs:
- Size: Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. This usually depends on the size of your family or if you plan to have guests or a home office.
- Location: Think about the commute to work, physical suburb, shopping, amenities, school zoning, proximity to essential services like hospitals, and access to public transportation.
- Type of Home: Determine if you need a single-family home, a condominium, an apartment, or a townhouse. This decision can be influenced by factors like privacy needs and maintenance preferences.
- Any Specific Features or Requirements (if any): If someone in your household has specific needs, like wheelchair accessibility, working from home room, study, multi-dwelling, this becomes a necessity.
- Budget: Your financial situation will dictate the price range you can afford, making this a primary need.
Understanding Your Wants:
- Aesthetic Preferences: Desirable features like a modern kitchen, orientation (north facing), hardwood floors, or a specific architectural style (open plan).
- Outdoor Space: A large garden, patio, or balcony may be desirable for leisure or gardening but not essential.
- Additional Rooms: While extra rooms like a guest room, a home gym, garage, powder room, are nice to have, they might not be necessary.
- Luxury Features: Amenities like a swimming pool, a large master suite, or a home theatre are typically classified as wants unless they serve a specific need.
- Community Features: Access to community amenities like a pool, gym, or clubhouse can be great but aren’t essential for every homebuyer.
- Get Mortgage Pre-Approval
Before you start looking for a home, always get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you a clear idea of how much you can afford and shows agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer.
- Do your own Market Research
Gain a basic understanding of the real estate market in the areas you are interested in. Look at current listings, recent sales, and general market trends. This will ensure you have a base knowledge and understanding of the real estate market and purchasing process, unless you are a seasoned investor.
- Identify Potential Suburbs
Begin by evaluating lifestyle factors, such as a preference for urban, suburban, or rural settings, which will influence your daily living experience. The commute to work is a key consideration; proximity to business centers and the availability of public transport will greatly affect your daily routine.
Essential amenities like supermarkets, healthcare, and schools are particularly important, with the quality of local schools often being a significant factor for families. The unique character of each neighbourhood – whether it’s vibrant and artsy, relaxed and family-oriented, or something else entirely – should also resonate with your personal preferences.
- Understand the Role of a Residential Buyer’s Agent
Research what services a residential buyer’s agent typically provides and how they can benefit you in the home buying process.
- Prepare a List of Questions for your Residential Buyers Agents
This might include questions about their experience, knowledge of the area, fees, and how they will communicate with you.
- Check the Residential Buyers Agent Credentials and References
Always, Verify their licensing details of potential residential buyers agents and consider asking for references or reading online reviews.
- Decide on your Level of Service
Residential Buyer’s Agents typically offer different levels of service to cater to the varying needs of homebuyers. Buyers can select a service that best suits their situation to ensure a more efficient and effective property acquisition.
- Full Service: This is the most comprehensive package, where the agent handles all aspects of the buying process. It includes identifying properties, scheduling and attending viewings, conducting market analysis, negotiating the price, managing paperwork, coordinating inspections, and providing post-purchase support. This service is ideal for buyers who want a hands-off approach or are new to the property market.
- Evaluation and Negotiation: Some buyers prefer to search for properties themselves but need expert help in evaluating the property’s potential and negotiating the price. In this service, the agent steps in once the buyer has identified a property they are interested in.
- Auction Representation Only: In markets where property auctions are common, buyer’s agents offer services to represent and bid on behalf of buyers at auctions. This is particularly useful for buyers who are unfamiliar with the auction process or unable to attend.
Having these elements in place before you engage a residential buyer’s agent will help streamline the home-buying process and ensure you are well-prepared to make informed decisions.