The offer of free real estate services should be seen as a “red flag” by investors according to Australia’s peak buyer’s agent body.

The Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) has hit out real estate companies it believes are misrepresenting themselves as buyer’s agents and in the process harming the industry’s reputation.

“As Australia’s largest alliance of independent buyer’s agents, we always get concerned whenever we see mention of anyone advertising ‘free buyer’s agent services’,” said REBAA president Rich Harvey said.

“Red flags instantly start waving when words like “the seller pays the fee not the buyer” and “we will find your perfect investment property for free” appear on websites,” Harvey said.

While the idea of a free service may be appealing to buyers, Harvey said buyers need to be aware that those offering such services are unlikely to act in their best interests.  

“Calling yourself an independent ‘buyer’s agent’ while selling property is simply dressing up the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“True buyer’s agents have a fiduciary duty by law to act in the best interests of their clients and this is legislated in each individual state’s real estate law.”

Harvey said anybody who sells real estate cannot be called a buyer’s agent and any offer of free advice or services should be treated with scepticism.

“As a buyer you always need to ask if there is a vested interest in anything. Why are they wanting to act for you for free?”

“Usually they want to buy developer stock or take their fee from the vendor – hardly exclusive or independent advice.

“Essentially, these “free buyers agents” are selling agents in disguise.

“They have a huge financial incentive to help you buy that property and that’s not necessarily in the investor’s best interest.”