Which buyer’s agent course do you need to do?


There are four different types of buyers agent course that aspiring buyers agents need to be aware of. The first will get you started in the industry, the second will allow you to work as a buyers agent under a licensee, the third entitles you to run your own buyers agency and the fourth will equip you with skills that are not covered in the first three. To make it even more complicated, the educational requirements are different in each state and territory. This article will explain how each buyers agent course fits into this career pathway.

Key takeaways:

  • Buyers agents are not required to do a specific buyers agent course
  • Real estate qualifications offer very little content for buyers agents
  • There are additional skills freshly qualified buyers agents need to learn

Table of contents

  1. The Real Estate Registration Course
  2. Certificate IV in Real Estate Practise
  3. Diploma of Property (Agency Management)
  4. Work Experience
  5. Ongoing Education

The Real Estate Registration Course

All states and territories have an entry level qualification, which requires completion of at least the 5 core modules of the Certificate IV in Real Estate Practise (Cert IV).

In some states, such as New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Queensland, you’ll need to complete their requirements before you can work as an assistant agent. In all other states and the Northern Territory, you can study whilst working in the industry and you’ll have 12 months within which to complete their minimum requirements.

In some states, such as NSW, ACT, NT and Tasmania, the first step in your educational journey is to complete the 5 core modules of the Cert IV. In Queensland and Western Australia you’ll need to complete 12 or 13 modules to complete your Registration qualification, while in Victoria you have to complete the whole thing before you can get your start as a buyers agent.

Certificate IV in Real Estate Practise

The Certificate IV in Real Estate Practise (CPP41419) is the nationally recognised qualification for buyers agents and you will need to complete 18 modules over a period of time specified by the state or territory you wish to work in (from 12 months up to a maximum of 4 years). The Cert IV offers 5 core subjects and 51 electives, of which you’ll need to complete 13. There is no separate buyers agent course and as you’ll see below, there are limited electives that specifically relate to buyers agency practise.

Number of Cert IV subjects for each type of real estate agent:

  • Buyers Agent – 4
  • Sales Agent – 12
  • Property Manager – 16
  • Business Broker – 6
  • Stock & Station Agent – 9
  • Commercial Agent – 6
  • General – 9

The buyers agent subjects are:

  • Appraise property for sale or lease
  • Complete purchase of property as buyer’s agent
  • Develop and promote property industry knowledge – buyer’s agent
  • Represent buyer in sales process

Once you’ve completed these, you need to choose 9 more electives. There are general subjects you can take and you might also choose to take some sales subjects in order to give you insight into the other side of the industry.

There is a big problem for new buyers agents starting out. You can get qualified without learning about some of the fundamentals of the role. For example, there is nothing in the curriculum about due diligence or how to assess a strata property. Nor is there anything about how to help a client develop their brief so that you are not searching for a unicorn (believe me, some clients will expect miracles!).

All states and territories require you to complete the Cert IV before you can work as a buyers agent and usually this will be under the supervision of a Licensee in Charge. You won’t be able to run your own business until you’ve completed further study.

Diploma of Property (Agency Management)

The Diploma of Property (Agency Management) (CPP51119) is what you will need to complete if you want to work for yourself or start your own buyers agency in every state and territory except Queensland, where you’ll only need to complete an additional unit of competency in order to receive a Full License. Everywhere else, you’ll need to complete 7 core units and there are 21 subjects from which you’ll need to choose 5 elective units. This is a business qualification and not a buyers agent course, in fact the Diploma offers nothing specific to the role of buyers agent.

Number of Diploma subjects for each type of real estate agent:

  • Buyers Agent – 0
  • Sales Agent – 1
  • Property Manager – 2
  • Business Broker – 0
  • Stock & Station Agent – 2
  • Commercial Agent – 1
  • Strata Manager -4
  • General – 18

In NSW, ACT and Victoria there are also minimum work experience requirements before you will be able to work as a Licensee in Charge (in NSW and ACT this is called a Class 1 License).

Work Experience

The real learning starts after you’ve got your license. Now you need to learn how to do the job and every successful buyers agent I know agrees that there is a lot more to the role than they initially expected.

For example, how can you know what information a sales agent has that you don’t have? How can you anticipate how they will negotiate and whether there really are any other buyers making offers? These are things that your client will expect you to be all over. But this on-the-job intel is not taught in these courses, it comes through experience, through learning from mentors and other experienced colleagues.

Here’s another example. How can you know when information in a strata report is missing and where to go to fill in the gaps? And what if the strata manager won’t talk to you? How should you inform your client and advise them?

I could go on and on… As buyers agents, we need to help protect our clients against making decisions that might cost them dearly in future years. As a trusted advisor, our role is an important one, and if we only rely on gaining the qualifications without focusing on extensive work experience, we’ll be caught short and doing our clients a disservice.

Ongoing Education

In some states and territories there is an ongoing requirement to do further education, called Continuing Professional Development (CPD). In NSW, ACT, WA and Tasmania, every licensee must do a minimum amount of CPD points or hours each year. In Victoria and Queensland, only members of each state’s Real Estate Institute have compulsory CPD. If you’re not a member of REIV or REIQ, you don’t have to do any. And in South Australia and NT there are no CPD requirements.

In NSW, where I am licensed, there are compulsory and elective CPD subjects and, at the time of writing this blog, none of these related to buyers agency.

What this means is that if you want to get to the top of your game and stay there, you’ll need to look at other ways to educate yourself. Which is hard to do when there is a lack of buyers agent courses.

If you want to specialize in working with investors and become a property strategist, then you could consider the Qualified Property Investment Advisor course offered by PIPA. I completed this myself some years ago and, depending on the type of clients you want to work with, this could be a valuable extension to your learning.

If you want to start your own business, then there is a course covering the entrepreneurial aspects of a buyers agency. I have requested a curriculum so I can make a recommendation, however, at the time of writing this, they have not responded.

I should note too that some states will give you a real estate license if you have a property degree, which can be particularly useful if you want to expand into other areas, for example, valuation or get involved in developments.

If you want to learn the hands-on skills that successful buyers agents have mastered, the best way to learn is through a mentor. They are hard to come by, however, due to being an emerging industry with a lot of small players. That’s why many buyers agents have done it the hard way: through trial and error, crossing their fingers and managing their imposter syndrome until they feel like they’ve made it. Or you can do it the easy way, join the Buyers Agent Mentoring Program and benefit from my 20+ years of experience.

PLEASE NOTE: The information about buyers agent courses contained in this blog were correct at the time of writing (December 2022). For up to date information, check with your state or territory Real Estate Institute or Office of Fair Trading.