There have traditionally been three parties involved in a real estate transaction - the vendor, the buyer, and the agent.
Now a fourth party is commonly playing a role - the buyer's advocate.
Both investors and home buyers are turning to the services of buyer's advocates to help them navigate the often time-consuming process of finding and securing a property.
Advocates, or buyer's agents as they are also known, are popular in the US and are becoming more common in Australia.
Peter Nicolls, the director of KR Peters, said he has met advocates who are representing as many as 135 active buyers.
Most buyer's advocates are former real estate agents who are experienced and knowledgeable about all facets of the industry.
A buyer's advocate will inspect properties, evaluate recent sales data, arrange inspections such as building and pest, negotiate price and terms with the agent, bid at auction, oversee contacts and arrange settlement.
Advocates are often the first to receive information about upcoming listings and have access to the entire market, including off-market listings.
They save clients time, eliminate stress and frustration and act without emotional attachment.
Importantly, they can also provide their client with anonymity.
"Most buyers don't want to show their hand, they hold their cards close to their chest. They prefer to have someone else as their spokesperson," said Mr Nicolls.
According to Choice.com.au, there are several things to consider when engaging the services of a buyer's advocate:
Mr Nicolls says an increasing number of sales negotiated through his business now involve a buyer's advocate.
He said advocates can be good for those who are not in the market on a regular basis as advocates understand how the real estate game works. Their aim is to ensure their client makes the right purchase and doesn't overpay.
"The other reason people use them is because they are time poor professionals like lawyers or doctors, or they live interstate so they don't have the available time to go out and do all the work," Mr Nicolls said.
"People moving here from overseas also find advocates useful. There are up to 35,000 Australians overseas, many in the process of moving home. Engaging the services of an advocate provides them comfort and surety that they will not overpay."
He said a good advocate acting on behalf of an investor will factor in investment rental return, research competition in the area and make sure the property has potential for capital growth.
"They go to a lot of trouble to pick the right property for their client, one that will grow in value and create wealth."
He said in some scenarios, the client will inspect potential properties then get the buyer's advocate to step in and negotiate.
"Agents understand they need to work with advocates. At the end of the day, the advocate doesn't want to waste their client's time or their own time. My advice to my team is to work with advocates and assist them."
"At the end of the day it's about getting a sale with every party having a 'win-win' outcome."
To discuss the advantages of using a buyer's advocate phone Peter Nicolls on 0418 311 048.