Q: Hi. I am interested in buying my first investment property here in Australia and I am considering hiring a buyer's agent who charges a fixed fee (13k). Does anyone recommend using one or will I be better off doing everything myself? What's your experience?
A: Hi 'Surfer',
As a Buyer's Agent myself who specialises in purchasing investment properties, I would be biased in saying that using a Buyer's Agent is certainly worth the fee...but you need to make sure you are getting value for the service. Good advice doesn't come free or cheap, especially when you are dealing with an asset purchase in the 100's of thousands of dollars.
A Buyer's Agent's fee is 'fee for service' and they should be saving you time in the process (take into account the hundred's of hours it might take you to buy somewhere on your own), they should negotiate better than the average buyer (saving you money off the purchase price) and they should also be presenting opportunties through their relationships with selling agents before the rest of the market sees them, giving you an unfair advantage. When a Buyer's Agent does their job well, it should save you money well in excess of the cost of the service.
I would highly recommend using a Buyer's Agent that is a member of both PIPA (Property Investment Professionals of Australia - http://pipa.asn.au/) and REBAA (Real Estate Buyers Agents Association - https://rebaa.com.au/) to ensure that they follow a code of conduct for best practice and put your best interests first.
An investment buyer's agent and/or investment advisor should ascertain your capacity to invest, your risk profile and your capacity to maintain the cash flow requirements of the proposed property purchase before recommending any properties.
Unfortunately I see too many buyers who invest into property without going through a thorough process first to understand the full picture and the cash flow ends up being higher than they were expecting. I also see a lot of buyers who purchase property from someone who has a vested interest in properties for sale, such as referral partners of builders/developers and project marketers and these properties are more than likely to be overpriced with commissions built in (which the buyer ultimately pays for). Please make sure that you are working with someone who will search ALL available opportunities specifically for you and is not trying to push you into something that may not be suitable, especially off-the-plan properties which in my opinion don't generally make for good investments.
The fee for a buyer's agent should depend on your purchase budget, so the 13k you have been quoted is subject to that and also the level of service they provide. Generally fees can range from 1 to 2.5% of the purchase budget. It is also recommended to get a fixed fee upfront so the buyer's agent is not incentivised to purchase a higher priced property.
In terms of DIY, many people do go through the process themselves and it can be successful, but location and lack of knowledge of the local market can sometimes make this very difficult. I would only recommend someone buys an investment property on their own if they have done thorough research and undertaken property investment education from a reputable organisation who don't have properties for sale.
I hope this helps, and please don't hesitate to reach out below if you have any further questions. Depending on your budget and purchase location I can help recommend someone to assist you.
STRAND Property Group
Q: We have two young kids and wanting to get into a home on Sydney’s North Shore. Our budget is $1.6m and the lower north shore seems out of our reach so we wanted to ask if there are some areas further north we should look at?
A: Hi Stephanie,
Great question and I agree with Michael's response above, the Forest area between Roseville Bridge and Dee Why is a great place to have a look. You can still commute back into the city very easily and it is really close to the Northern Beaches.
You will certainly get a lot more for your money in terms of land size compared to areas closer to the city or suburbs along the Upper North Shore. With a family, the suburbs around Forestville and Frenchs Forest are perfect for creating a longer term home with more space and access to great family amenities, including good schools, shops, parks and of course the beaches only 15 minutes down the road.
As Michael pointed out the new major hospital is under construction at the moment along with $500million in upgraded roads to make access in and out of the area, and between Chatswood and Dee Why much easier. There is also a planning structure plan in place to amend the zoning around the hospital which envisages a brand new dedicated town centre for Frenchs Forest on the existing High School site with a plan to build a new school next to the aquatic centre. You can see the details of this here:
In terms of a potential purchase, to secure a house on land within your budget of $1.6m, it may require buying something a bit older with the potential to modernise. Many of the baby boomers who originally settled in the area when it was first established are now moving on to smaller properties or aged care facilities. This is creating an increase in the number of younger families moving into the area and people are renovating the older properties into really nice homes. The family community is really strong in this area too, with a dedicated Facebook page you could check out - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586507361584723/
I moved to Frenchs Forest about 4 years ago and really enjoy the leafy surrounds and family friendly amenities. I am also a Buyer's Agent that helps people to buy property on the Lower North Shore and Northern Beaches, so if you need any further information, please don't hesitate to reach out. I send out a weekly property market update for the Forest area which you might be also interested in, you can subscribe here: http://zc.vg/wkNDz
Good luck with your search!
STRAND Property Group
Q: How do I find a buyer's agent for investment property?
A: Hi Frank,
It is highly recommended to find a buyer's agent that specialises in investment property. Most buyer's agents work with owner-occupiers, but a purchase for a client to live in themselves is very different to a property which will make for a good investment. It is also important that an investment property is matched to the client's personal needs and goals as not every property on the market will be suitable. A buyer's agent who spends time working with a client initially to ascertain their investment strategy, risk profile and financial situation will more than likely find a property which is better suited to their needs.
I agree with Amy above that the best place to start would be the PIPA website (www.pipa.asn.au) and find a buyer's agent that is also a Property Investment Adviser. This will ensure that you find someone that will act in your best interests only.
As a Property Investment Adviser and Buyer's Agent based in Sydney I am more than happy to answer any further questions you may have, feel free to get in touch below.
STRAND Property Group