Buying an investment property can be both an exciting and stressful time.
Ultimately, choosing the right investment property comes down to your investment plan, but also knowing how much you can afford and understanding what is available to buy.
This is especially the case at a time when property stock is low and prices, although cooled, are significantly higher than pre-pandemic.
Sometimes it can feel like the whole market, and everyone in the sale process is geared in favour of the seller.
But that’s where a buyer’s agent can help.
These professionals guide buyers through every step of the property purchasing process, from identifying suitable properties to negotiating prices and closing the deal.
An experienced buyer’s agent can help to level the playing field and make your property buying experience better.
However, this expertise comes at a price.
So here’s a full breakdown of everything you need to know, plus how much you can expect to pay in your state.
The first thing you need to think about when engaging a buyer’s agent is how buyer’s agents get paid, and how much.
Put simply, the buyer (you) is the person responsible for paying the buyer’s agent their fee or commission depending on your agreement.
This can be as one of 3 pricing models:
- A percentage of the property value
- A tiered fixed rate or,
- A flat fee.
This payment will be an out-of-pocket expense and cannot be covered by a loan or financing.
In some cases, you will find that the buyer's agent will also receive a commission from a developer or builder if the property you're looking to buy is a new development or a piece of land.
If that's the case, run away as fast as you can!
They are not really acting on your behalf, are they?
They represent the builder or developer and are not really a buyer’s agent, even though they may call themselves such.
As mentioned, buyer’s agent fees depend on how they structure their charges and it also depends on the type of service you want - a set fee to attend an auction can start from as little as $500 while a full search and negotiation service could be as much as 3% plus GST.
Here’s a breakdown for each fee structure:
Percentage of property value
Most professional buyer’s agent fees are set as a percentage of a property value.
Under this pricing structure, you would pay a fee based on a percentage of the final purchase price of your investment property, so it varies depending on your budget.
And, of course, this is similar to how selling agents get paid.
In Australia, a typical buyer’s agent percentage fee would be between 1.7% and 3% + GST depending on what service is provided.
So for example, if you were to buy a $500,000 property, the buyer’s advocate cost would be $10,000 for a 2% fee and $15,000 for a 3% fee.
If you were to buy a higher price property at, say, around $1 million, those costs would be $20,000 and $30,000 for a 2% and 3% fee respectively.
Tiered fixed fee
If a buyer’s agent fees are set using a tiered fixed fee this means that there is a set fee which, like the above, varies depending on the bracket of your property sale price.
For example, a buyer’s agent might charge a set fee of $5,000 for properties bought up to $500,000 but then this can jump to $10,000 for properties sold from $500,001 to $1 million, then $15,000 for the next bracket up… and so on.
The benefit of this structure is that, unlike a percentage fee, you know upfront what costs you’re expected to pay.
But the negative is that this can be costly if the brackets for each property sale price (and associated fee) are large.
For example, if you were to buy a property at $550,000 you’d pay $5,000 more in buyers agents fees than someone who bought one for $500,000.
A flat, or fixed, fee pricing structure means the buyer’s agent will charge you depending on the service that they’re giving, regardless of what the final sale price might be.
For example, you will pay one flat fee for a buyer’s agent to bid on a property for you, another higher fee if you wanted them to source the property and more for a full service where everything is included.
Not only does a fixed fee differ by service, but it also differs depending on the agent and even your location.
While the buyer’s agent fee will cover the bulk of the cost of buying, there are some other costs that you need to take into account such as fees for property assessment reports or due diligence fees.
GST will also be added on top of any costs incurred.
So whenever engaging with a buyer’s agent it's important to always ask for a full list of all the fees involved so that you’re not caught out.
Sydney buyer's agent fees generally range from:
- Percentage fee: 2% to 3% +GST of a property purchase price
- Fixed fee: Anything from $1,000 for auction attendance only to $30,000 for full services
In Sydney, most buyers’ agents will also charge an engagement fee, to begin with.
Buyers' advocate fees (as they’re better known versus a buyer’s agent in Melbourne are typically similar to Sydney with a rough guide of the following:
- Percentage fee: 2% to 3% + GST of the purchase price
- Fixed fee: Anything from $500 for auction attendance only to $25,000 for full services
In Brisbane, a buyers’ agent may cost a little less, at around:
- Percentage fee: 2% to 2.75% +GST
- Fixed fee: $500 for auction attendance only to $20,000 for full services
Yes and no.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO’s) most recent advice clearly states that while a property investor can claim the cost of fees such as regular management fees or commissions paid to a property agent or real estate agent to manage or inspect the property or collect rent on your behalf.
- Also read:Heat comes out of the housing market as values across Melbourne dip and Sydney slows | Corelogic Home Value Index
- Also read:Latest property price forecasts for 2024 revealed. What’s ahead in our housing markets in the next year or two?
- Also read:Sydney property market forecast for 2024
- Also read:Home Price Growth Still Strong Over November | Latest Housing Market Stats
- Also read:Boom to bust: What makes property prices rise and fall
But you are unable to claim the cost of:
- Commissions or other costs paid to a real estate agent or another person for the sale or disposal of a rental property
- Buyer's agent fees are paid to any entity or person you engage to find you a suitable rental property to purchase.
So this means that the cost of your buyer’s agent cannot be claimed in order to reduce your tax for the corresponding financial year.
These costs may form part of the cost base of your property for capital gains purposes.
- the ATO says.
That means that the buyer’s agent cost of buying your investment property (this is not applicable if you use a buyer’s agent to buy a home you live in) can be included in the calculation of your investment property’s cost base (how much it costs you to purchase, maintain and hold the property).
This means that your buyer's agent’s fees can be included in tax calculations when you sell the property.
Buyer’s agent fees are not tax deductible for owner-occupiers, however, at any point.
Note: Using a buyer’s agent can save you valuable time, money, and headache, which is why they’re a good investment to make when buying your next investment property.
Savvy property investors are lucky that they now have access to more professionals than ever before, but beware, the growth of the sector means it has attracted a handful of unscrupulous operators.
What many buyers don't realise is that not all buyer's agents are created equal, and many are not experienced enough to handle such a crucial responsibility.
So it’s important to do your thorough research to understand exactly what (and who) you’re getting yourself involved with and how much it will cost you.
That’s how Metropole can help.
You see, when you use Metropole as your buyer's agent you also have access to our wide range of relationships with local agents, solicitors, finance strategists, building inspectors, and our in-house team of property managers, property strategists as well as wealth advisory, renovations, and development division.