Know who you are dealing with

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There are many Buyer Advocates in the market today. Most will be able to tell you what happened over the weekend, and some will remember what happened last year. But how many have been negotiating with real estate agents for their clients for ten years. How many have even worked on the selling side of Real Estate. Every day there are advocates, selling agents and property managers popping up all over Melbourne.

There are many buying and selling agents out there that are not licensed. I have spoken to many people who have entered the Buyer Advocacy business and didn’t realise they needed a license. This is illegal in the State of Victoria. Anyone accepting money whilst assisting someone to buy, sell or manage a property must be a licensed estate agent. There are many Vendor advocates who are also not licensed. This is actually not illegal. They are not allowed to assist you in anyway regarding advice on assessment, negotiation or even choosing the “right” agent, however these people can simply earn a spotters fee from the agency they sell your listing to. If you are dealing with an unlicensed agent, they will have no professional indemnity insurance, they will not be members of the REIV, and you will have little or no prospects of reimbursement when something goes wrong.

Some people you deal with will be licensed. With the advent of the 3 day license from New South Wales and then mutual recognition in Victoria, anyone who has worked in the industry for 12 months under a licensed agent can pay money and without sitting any exams, nor doing any assignments be given a full Real Estate License. This allows them to open their own business and begin buying, selling or managing property. Instead of going to a college and getting a certificate IV in business studies, you simply pay money and are given a license.

There are steps you can take to find out how long a person has been fully licensed for. There is a government website that you can look up every Real Estate agent that is allowed to operate in Victoria. You can see when they were licensed and if there are any restrictions on that license. You can look up an individual agent and you can look up a company agency as well. Check both before signing with any advocate or selling agent.

Insert the name of the agency or the name of the agent you are dealing with. The date they were licensed will be there. Also remember to scroll down the page to see if there are any restrictions on their licenses.

Before signing with anyone, ask them if they have worked in all facets of the real estate industry – Buying, selling and property management. Have they purchased / sold properties in the area you are interested, and the price range you are contemplating. An experienced Real Estate Agent will make you or save you much more than their fee. An inexperienced Advocate could easily cost you twice as much as your fee.

There is an enormous amount of highly reputable Real Estate Agents but unfortunately there are also many people who are out to make a “fast buck” and this unfortunately taints our industry. Protect yourself, do some homework and think before you sign an authority with anyone.

Ian James
Director JPP Buyer Advocate

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About the author

Ian has been operating his own businesses for more than 25 years. During this time the self taught lessons of building the business, dealing with staff, suppliers, clients and economic woes have been invaluable. Ian is a fully licensed Real estate Agent, a member of the REIV and registered with the Business Licensing Authority.

Buying property is not just sticking up your hand and outbidding your rival. It is an emotional, fiscal and psychological decision that needs to be planned and well executed. Ian is usually involved in over three hundred property negotiations per year; ranging from the $250,000 first unit purchase for a young couple to multiple million dollar residential developments. Ian's business background and endless numbers of negotiations make him one of the industry's leading negotiators.

Ian is married with two adult children, living in Patterson Lakes. He is a keen fisherman when weather and business allows the time.