Ways to charge for your buyer’s agent services

Buyer’s agents are a rapidly growing sector of the real estate industry. If you’re a property professional who is considering becoming a buyer’s agent, or you have recently launched a buyer’s agency, you might be scratching your head, wondering how you will charge for your services.

As with many things in life, it depends. One thing I can tell you is that, unlike most property professions, it’s commonplace to charge your clients an upfront fee – ensuring you never work for free!

How much money do buyer’s agents make for finding a home?

There are three ways that buyer’s agents charge for their services: 

1. Percentage of the purchase price
As a buyer’s agent, you will charge a percentage of the price of the property. The percentage might range from 1.5% to 3% and is much like the way sales agents are paid. You may have to negotiate the percentage with your client. 

2. Fixed fee
In this scenario, you will charge a fixed fee, regardless of the purchase price of the property. This is the preferred option for buyers who have a specific budget in mind and want to know in advance exactly how much they will be paying for their buyer’s agent’s services. This fee may cover finding and securing a property or simply one element of the process, such as negotiating or bidding at auction. Most buyer’s agents ask for an initial payment of up to 50% of the fixed fee in advance and the final amount paid when the exchange of property contracts occurs. 

3. Tiered fixed fee and/or percentage
Another popular option is to charge an initial fixed fee to cover your research costs and then either a tiered fixed fee or a tiered percentage fee based on the property purchase price. This is a good option for home buyers or property investors who are flexible with their budgets and want to pay a lower fee for a lower-priced property. However, it’s less predictable than a fixed fee, and clients will obviously have to pay you more if you secure a more expensive house. 

What do buyer’s agents typically charge?

The specific fee structure that a buyer’s agent charges will vary depending on the agent’s experience, location, and the specific services that the home buyer needs. 

Buyer’s agents most often charge a percentage of the property purchase price, ranging from 1.5% to 3% for a full service, including finding and inspecting multiple properties and then negotiating or bidding at auction. 

Fixed fees can start quite low if the agent is purely helping with one stage in the process, such as negotiating on a specific property the buyer has already found. Fees may range anywhere from $8,000 to $24,000 if the buyer’s agent is covering the entire sales process, including assessing properties to ensure they are good buys. 

Here are some other factors that can affect buyer’s agent fees:

  • The complexity of the purchase

If the purchase is complex, such as if the property is off-market, the buyers are overseas, or if there are multiple parties interested, the buyer’s agent can often charge a higher fee.

  • The experience of the buyer’s agent

More experienced buyer’s agents can typically charge higher fees than less experienced ones. A wide pool of industry contacts, well-honed negotiating skills and excellent reviews will set the great buyer’s agent apart. Clients, particularly ones from interstate or overseas, value a buyer’s agent’s relationships with local agents, their access to off-market properties, alongside their suburb knowledge of the best streets, schools and other factors only a local would know. 

  • The location and type of the property

Buyer’s agents in more expensive cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, can typically charge higher fees (generally around 3%) than buyer’s agents in less expensive cities, and a prestigious property may also command a higher fee. 

As the Australian real estate market becomes tighter and more competitive, engaging a property consultant can mean the difference between securing a property and missing out, and buyers are increasingly aware of this fact.

Many of the people who appoint buyer’s agents simply don’t have the time or desire to spend their weekends looking at homes or navigating the housing market. They want a property consultant to take this task off their hands completely and are willing to pay for that service.

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 investors and 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.