Scrapping the Buyers Agent Checklist

You may have come across a checklist on the Internet which tells you what you should be looking for in a Buyers Agent.

It has some great advice and checks you should be making to ensure you’re getting a genuine Buyers Advocate.

You think “Great, now I know what I should be asking” and proceed to interview 3 agents using the checklist.

But after calling everyone on your list, you still haven’t found the perfect Buyer’s Agent.

You know why?

The checklist method doesn’t work.  


The Problem With Most Buyers Advocate Checklist Questions

Using a checklist to interview a Buyer’s Advocate is a good idea, but don’t use it as if it is the be-all, and end-all. Here’s why:

1.    Most questions are not open-ended

The questions are usually very direct and usually merits only a basic yes or no response from the Buyers Agent. Example questions include:

  • Are you a licensed real estate agent?
  • Do you hold a membership with an industry body?

These questions leave no room to build rapport and really get to know the Buyer’s Agent.

If you interview five Buyer Advocates, chances are every single agent will answer in exactly the same fashion because most agents meet the criteria set out in the checklists. The legislation requirements mean that we have to meet these standards. They are not optional.

It’s important to note, however, that it doesn’t mean that all Buyers Advocates are the same. We are not. We have different ways of approaching things, and we all have different personalities.

If you follow your checklist strictly, it will be difficult for you to find out which agent you’re going to gel and connect with. Your checklist won’t allow room to build rapport, and you cannot get to know the agent on a professional and personal level.


2.    Some questions don’t mean anything at all

Asking questions about industry memberships aren’t really relevant to you. It’s more relevant to the agent’s business, and the support it needs to run its services.

Asking a Buyers Agent if they are a member of an industry body doesn’t really tell you anything.

An industry body is NOT there for consumers. It’s there for the professionals, and the professional can choose whichever industry body they want to be part of.  

At the end of the day, as a consumer, you will not know which membership body is offering the most benefits to its members. You also won’t be in a position to determine if the agent has chosen the best industry body, or not.

Here’s what you really need to know:

  • If you do not understand why you are asking the question, or what the answer means to you as a consumer, then it is likely you will not benefit from asking the question in the first instance.
  • If the question means something to you, then the answer is likely to help you sort the wheat from the chaff when interviewing Buyer Advocates, and ultimately help you make the decision whether to hire the Advocate.

Some industry bodies have no requirements to gain membership. Some offer continuing professional development. Some offer nothing but a sticker the agent can place on their email signature, which does not help make the advocate better at their job in any way.

We choose to be members of two professional bodies, the Real Estate Institute of Australia and Real Estate Buyers Agents Australia.

We receive different support from each of the industry bodies when it comes to running our business. They update us on legislation changes, give us access to legal support, provide property market updates and continuing professional development opportunities.

Ultimately, it is up to us which industry body supports us in the way we need it. 

Lastly, to be really frank, you don’t have to be a member of any industry body to be an outstanding Buyer’s Agent.


3. Interviewing creates a barrier between you and the agent

Firing off questions from a checklist always comes across as impersonal and interrogative in nature. It results in impersonal conversations and causes other people to put their guard up and become wary of you.

When someone feels uncomfortable or wary, they will automatically recoil and become a little less trusting of you too.

Speaking from experience the “checklist, drill sergeant” type interview is a heart sinking conversation for me. It makes me feel like the person is really skeptical and is trying to either trip me up or catch me out.

When we can jump on the phone and have a great chat for half hour covering all sorts of topics, we will go deep. We get to the heart of their needs, I share how we can help (if we can help, because we don’t take on every client) and we work out together if we are a fit for one another.

I really enjoy connecting with people heart to heart. Sure, it’s business, and business has to make sense logically, but nothing beats working with someone who also feels good on gut or heart level, too.

Here’s the thing. If I take the time to really connect with you then I get a sense of who you are and if I am really the right person to help you, and so do you. None of that can be established when I am answering really simple, checklist-style questions which can be checked easily outside of the Get Acquainted Call.

The Right Way To Interview A Buyers Advocate

If you’re thinking of throwing out that checklist, don’t. Instead, use it as a supplementary tool to refer to and make sure your most important questions get covered.

Here are a few tips to find the perfect Buyer’s Agent for your needs:

1. Ask open-ended questions

With this approach, you’ll not only get answers to your checklist questions, but you’ll also get to know the agent’s philosophy, values, and approach, all at the same time.  

This method will help shortcut your process, and it will allow you to find the person you feel you resonate most with.

2. Have a real conversation with the advocate

There are many benefits to engaging in an actual conversation with an agent.

In an organic free-flowing conversation, you’ll probably end up with answers to most of those checklist questions anyway.

From a real conversation, you’ll get a sense of whether or not the Buyers Agent is a good fit for you.

You can tell straight away if you like their personality, and if you could trust them to manage your half a million or million dollars that you’re investing into a home, or an investment property.

3. If you are uncertain – here’s what to do

If you are unsure and don’t know what you should be asking – relax. Just let the agent know that you are new to this and allow them to lead the way.

It is far easier for an agent to lead the conversation with someone who shares upfront that they are not sure what to ask, than it is to try and speak with someone who isn’t sure what they should be asking, but is trying to present as though they are a pro.

Still not sure? I have an amazing free resource that can help:

How To Hire A Buyer’s Agent Webinar and eBook

If you want more information, I’ve just produced a webinar on this topic for how to hire a buyer’s agent. Get access to the webinar here [link to webinar].

You will receive:

  • Examples of open-ended questions you could use as conversation starters
  • Shares which checklist questions are really important, which ones aren’t, and why
  • A free downloadable eBook you can use as a guide on how to hire a buyer’s agent [link to e-book]

Get access to the webinar here [link to webinar].

Get your FREE "How to know what to pay for a property" cheat sheet guide here



Jo Gifford August 21, 2018 Buyer's Advocate