THERE ARE BENEFITS to working with a large real estate agency when foreign investors are looking at opportunities in the Australian property market.
Aaron Brooks, chief executive of real estate group Harcourts Queensland, said investors should look closely at the organisation and the agent they were dealing with when buying in Australia.
'A large organisation is generally an advantage,' he said. 'Gaining information on an agent from a distance can be difficult at times because it is often difficult to assess the character of an individual when there are cultural differences. The best practice is to work through a large organisation which provides easy access to the information an international investor needs to gain a market understanding.'
Mr Brooks said potential buyers could also check their real estate agent's credentials.
'All Queensland agents are licensed by the state government and have an understanding of the law in practice. In addition, there is membership of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, which binds agents to some extent by a moral code of conduct as part of the membership criteria.'
A similar infrastructure exists in other states.
Buyers who were dissatisfied with the service they were receiving should contact the fair trading office in the state they were considering, he said. Foreign investors should also demand a complete range of services from the agent they eventually engaged.
'A foreign investor can expect an agent to find tenants for their property, manage the payment of rent and the maintenance of the property while it is tenanted and manage the inspection and bond return processes at the end of the lease. A good agent should be always working to maximise the value and return of an owner's property,' Mr Brooks said.
He also noted that the internet was empowering buyers and transforming the way real estate agents operated.
'The impact of the internet cannot be overstated. Buyers of property are more informed on property values and features than ever before. This leads to the average person on the street holding a great deal of power in negotiation when purchasing a property. It has changed the role of the agent from information provider to marketer and negotiator.
'To purchase an investment property in another country requires a great deal of understanding by the agent throughout the process,' Mr Brooks said. 'With good management, there are great opportunities in the Australian market for international investors.'