First-time home buying is a daunting experience, as many will agree. I recently found myself trying to find a home to purchase and move into before my existing lease expired and my wife gave birth to our first child. (Heavily pregnant women are not keen on moving house a week before they are due.)
Although there are many ways in which to search for properties, not least being the online route, I kept coming up against a barrier – my own knowledge. Was I looking at a good deal? Were there underlying defects that my untrained eyes couldn’t spot? How many good deals did I pass over because my assumptions were totally off? And many more.
There are plenty of estate agents who could probably have answered my questions, but in South Africa agents almost always represent the seller and not the buyer. Overseas, the concept of an agent representing the buyer is commonplace and this person is known as a buyer’s broker or buyer’s agent.
Basically, a pre-qualified property hunter can contact a buyer’s broker and commission him to find a home or commercial property. The agent will then follow through by representing the buyer throughout the transaction. An obvious benefit to such agents is that they know upfront what the buyers can afford and all they have to do is find the right properties, as opposed to finding the right people as well. The buyers have peace of mind knowing that industry professionals are looking out for their best interests and making sure that they get the deals they want.
I eventually found an agent who was willing to do this for me in the area I was looking at. She sourced exactly what I wanted and worked with me in negotiating the deal with the seller’s agent. It was a win-win situation. I knew before I signed anything that I was being looked after and was more than happy to pay her a commission.
I work in the online environment and decided to set up a website in the interests of connecting potential buyers with agents who are willing to represent them: www.buyersbroker.co.za. This site is not a business – it is a free tool that I developed to create opportunities for South African estate agents and function as a resource for potential buyers.
I invite your comments on this concept. Is a buyer’s broker something we need and want? Are any estate agents or potential buyers interested in trying out such an arrangement? Anyone who is interested in engaging on this concept is welcome to contact me through the site or comment on this post.