With all the different options available to you in the 21st century to find your own home, it pays to put them to good use. To help you in your search, we outline the main ones to keep in mind.
The internet continues to invade all areas of modern life, and the property market is no exception! Check out www.domain.com.au and www.realestate.com.au for the two leading examples. These sites essentially provide the same service, but with different formats and search options. Be careful though, searching properties online can become addictive! Recent surveys show that these two sites are the most commonly accessed in many workplaces throughout Australia.
You can even sign up for an email alert when new properties matching your search criteria are listed online.
Agents have long endured a reputation for pursuing their own interest during the property sale process, due in part to the behaviour a few shady characters in the industry. Fortunately in this digital age buyers are far more educated about the process, and are thus in a better position to achieve their desired outcome without unnecessary risk.
In the past, commissions paid to agents were set at a standard rate. Today, many vendors structure their agent's remuneration to ensure that everyone's interests are aligned. Buyers are thus left at the mercy of the market, with agents seeking to maximise the sale price by encouraging competing bids.
In Sydney and Melbourne, agents list a 'value range' for a property. Despite state government regulations banning the practice of underquoting, the listed price ranges are almost always much less that the owner is prepared to sell the property for. Agents engage in this practice to boost numbers at open days and auctions, to encourage a favourable atmosphere and hopefully higher prices.
In this current market as a rule of thumb, add 10% to the top price quoted in the listed range for an indication of the true sale price. The only way to beat the agents is to be an informed buyer. Do your research on comparable sales in the area and base your offer on these, adjusted for specific pros and cons of the property in question.
If you are not comfortable or do not have time to engage in this process, you may want to consider using the services of a buyer's advocate.