Tips for buying interstate properties for clients

As a buyer’s agent, inspecting properties when you are based interstate in Australia can be a challenge. However, there are options available to help you make informed decisions without always being physically present.

Ultimately, it’s rare for a buyer’s agent to buy a property for a client without seeing it, and the best person to view the property is you. But by using local contacts or online tools to inspect the property, you can rule out unsuitable homes quickly and reduce the number of properties you need to view in person.

Key stages when buying an interstate property for a client

Research is everything
Before inspecting any properties, research the local market and identify your priorities. This will help you focus on the properties that are most likely to be a good fit for your client.

Research schools, public transport and other facilities, and commuting distances, as well as price trends and availability.

The research stage is also when you can introduce yourself to local agents, who are often key to a successful outcome. Ultimately, your goal is to build up a team of contacts who will keep you in the loop about upcoming properties that you can secure in off-market sales for your clients.

Compile your list of questions
Prepare a list of questions to ask the real estate agent, including questions about the property’s condition, history, and any potential problems. If you already have experience selling or managing properties, you’ll be able to use your industry expertise to pre-empt any potential issues. You’ll also need to ensure that your client’s wish list is addressed and get everything in writing for your client.

Next, you’ll need to inspect your shortlist of properties. There are several ways to do this.

1. DIY options

Rent a short-term apartment in the area

Renting an apartment or house for a few days to a week in the area where you are interested in buying will give you a chance to explore the neighborhood on foot and by car, and personally inspect the properties you’re interested in. You can get a sense of a place even from just a few days. You can also use this time to meet local agents and find out about any upcoming listings.

If you are buying properties interstate for clients, you’ll need to factor in the cost of travel when calculating your retainer fee, and charge accordingly.

Use a third-party inspection service

A second option is to engage the services of a local buyer’s agent, real estate agent or property manager. Ideally, what you get here is a trusted and expert second pair of eyes to inspect properties and give you feedback.

A local buyer’s agent will inspect the property and provide you with a detailed report, including photographs, video or even a Facetime walkthrough. This can be a smart option if you are unfamiliar with the local market, and you can then arrange to visit the property if it fits the bill.

If your client is looking for an investment property, you may wish to appoint a property manager to be your local contact, as they will be able to identify the best rental properties and the ones to avoid.

Having a qualified building and pest inspector assess the property can help identify any potential problems before you purchase, and a local conveyancer will do land and title checks.

Some companies also offer independent property reports that provide detailed information about the property, including comparable sales data, market trends, and property history. They can collect all relevant documents on your behalf such as draft contracts and disclosure statements, and begin to get an idea of price expectations and terms of sale for you. New services such as Before You Bid will generate a report and offer it to all potential buyers for shared purchase, which can reduce the cost of building reports greatly.

Go digital

Many real estate agents now offer virtual tours of properties, which can give you a good overview of the layout and features. These can be 360-degree tours, virtual reality experiences, or simple video walkthroughs.

Virtual tours are increasingly common for house hunters, particularly for people moving interstate. For example, in 2022, as many as 2/3rd of buyers purchasing a home on the Sunshine Coast came from interstate. Virtual inspections make the process more efficient, and the technology will only get better.

Virtual tours are useful for filtering out unsuitable properties, but don’t give you the full picture. Once you’ve created a shortlist of potential homes for your client, you can visit suitable properties in person, saving time and money.

In short, it’s possible to buy interstate for clients. And as technology improves and people increasingly rely on buyer’s agents to take the stress of house-hunting or choosing a good investment property away from them, it’s set to become increasingly common.

Thinking of becoming a buyer’s agent?

As a real estate professional and coach, I help people build their wealth through property. I also run courses for real estate professionals who are interested in retraining as buyer’s agents. Please get in touch with me, Julie Crockett, if you’d like to discuss the possibility of becoming a buyer’s agent.