Buying Blue Chip

Buyer's Agent Jack Henderson

In a short space of time, Jack Henderson has quickly established himself as one of the country’s leading buyers agents through his business Henderson Advocacy.

Jack started his journey in property investment at a very young age, purchasing his first investment as an 18-year-old. In just a few years, he had managed to build himself a multimillion-dollar property portfolio, centred around some of Sydney’s most sought after postcodes.

After leaving school at an early age and starting out in the workforce, Jack was able to save a deposit and start his property journey earlier than most.

“I left school at 15 and then went and worked as a labourer in the construction industry and I didn’t really have a lot to spend my money on so money started piling up in the bank.”

“After I turned 18 I had a sizeable deposit and my parents guided me and said, you’ve got this money sitting in the bank, maybe you should go buy a property with it because then you’ve essentially bought the most expensive thing in your life and you’re only 18.”

With his success as an investor gaining him a lot of attention and his passion for property, it was a natural progression for him to make the move towards helping others achieve success as a buyers agent. When he was starting out he looked to mentors for guidance and that led him to consider a career in property.

“One of the biggest things was one of my mentors, Chris Gray, he’s got a buyer’s agency called Your Empire and I was inspired by him and what he did. He generated a lot of wealth through it so I thought, “Let’s go down this avenue or let’s go at least explore it.”

“Then, as I was starting to progress in my investing journey, I had a lot of people ask me how I did it and what I did and asking for advice. So I thought, “Well, people are obviously interested in how I’m doing things so why not monetise it?”

Throughout his career as both an investor and now buyers agent, Jack has always focused on buying the best property he can afford, always looking to blue-chip locations.

“My investing philosophy is always very blue-chip. It’s buying in areas with a lot of scarcity, areas with people that have very high incomes and there’s a lot of affluence attached to where they live because obviously affluence and high incomes then generate growth and people paying premiums for properties.”

“As a buyers agent, we still use the same principles, but it’s really going to come down to the individual and how much money they have to work with and we tailor something specifically for them.”

“For myself, I’m generally buying two-bedroom apartments in beach-side locations in the eastern side of Sydney or Newcastle, in boutique buildings with great sunlight and lots of scarcity to them.”

“As I continue to progress to where I am now as a more sophisticated investor with a higher income, I’m starting to get into semis and homes – because I can afford the cashflow. Yields are lower, but they are more lucrative from a growth perspective and then also having the ability to develop down the track.”

When Jack started as a buyers agent, he began working with another firm to learn the business, before eventually starting his own company.

“I joined a firm when I first got into the industry and stayed with them for a little while but quickly outgrew them from a performance perspective and then also a culture perspective.”

“Now I’ve since started my own agency called Henderson Advocacy and it’s just learning every single day. We’re growing very quickly, we’re doing great things and it’s all very exciting.”

Since he started his journey as a buyers agent, Jack has worked closely with the BAI and it’s a relationship that has continued to this day.

“I began working with Ben in the early stages there’s a lot you learn from the course and there’s a lot you learn from Ben’s experience. If someone’s got 10 or 15 years’ experience, there’s a lot of their mistakes you can learn from.”

“I learned a lot from the course and then I went an extra step and went into the mastermind and I’ve been in that from day one. Ben’s now an advisor for our business so he’s continually helping us through his experience in terms of what we should do and what he did and did wrong and how we can learn from that.”

“It’s a very, very lucrative and rewarding relationship for sure.”

In the coming years, Jack is looking to continue to grow his rapidly expanding business and also focus on other areas of property.

“Over the next 12 months, the goal is to generate over two and a half million worth of revenue while having a sizable team that are all on the same page and are all high achievers.”

“In the next 5 to 10 years the goal is to diversify out of just buying property and get into developing and doing joint ventures with people and just to keep growing.”

“Growth is the keyword for the next 10 to 15 years ”

Educating Buyers

Buyer's Agent John Comino

Coming from a career as an accountant, John Comino knew that property investing was his ticket out of the rat race.

During the time he worked as an accountant, John and his wife were able to build a significant property portfolio and in the process learn what it takes to become a successful investor.

“The process of buying for myself turned out to be an opportunity to develop a passion for something, but also to make a lot of mistakes and to find out what worked.”

“That turned into a real understanding of property cycles and property selection and the financing behind property. From there, people started coming to me to either bid on their behalf or just give an opinion on properties that they wanted to buy.”

After finding personal success in property, John then wanted to use it as an opportunity to build his own business.

“I became a buyer’s agent towards the end of 2017, beginning of 2018 and there were two drivers at the time. One was to own my own business. A part of that concept of planning my escape, but one was just financial independence and running my own business.”

“The second reason was to explore the skill that I had in sort of choosing properties and putting deals together.”

As a buyers agent, John focuses on finding off-market properties while educating everyone he helps.

“I’m always conscious that there are three reasons that people come to BAs. One is to save time, two is to educate and to help make better purchasing decisions and then the third one is to purchase off-market properties.”

“With that in mind, my strategy as a buyer’s agent is to be more of an educator than a head kicker because I don’t have a background in sales so that can be a double-edged sword, but I do focus on the soft skills of sort of educating the clients.”

“The second thing is that I do try to target off-market properties because I never want to get into the conversation around ‘I could have done it myself’, which is always a risk, as a buyer’s agent.”

Having started his career after the property cycle peaked in Sydney, John had to navigate a tricky time while launching his own business.

“I started at the end of ‘17, beginning of ’18, which was a really tough time in the property market. I think it dropped, 15% in 2018.”

“I got very lucky in that one of my very first clients was actually an ASX listed media company who wanted a very substantial property at the time. So even though the market was sort of languishing, I was able to put together a fairly large deal and that was really helpful.”

“That was very good for my brand and that was good for my experience and obviously good for cashflow. But it’s a difficult sort of deal to repeat so they don’t come along very often, but that was one of my first deals.”

John used a number of approaches to help get his business off the ground in the early days.

“It’s been tough to get established, but I focused on three things. One was thought leadership and articles and podcasts. I was writing articles fairly prolifically. I do it a bit less now, but lots of articles and lots of podcasts.”

“The second thing I did to get established was networking and meeting people and trying to meet new people every week. That’s an excellent way to do it. And the third thing is that I do and did invest in a lot of social media at the time because you don’t want to be the best buyer’s agent that no one’s heard of.”

For John, one of the hardest parts of working with buyers was trying to educate them on cycles and when to buy.

“Buyers buy in sellers’ markets, not in buyers’ markets, which is sort of strange – they should be buying in these dips, but human psychology is that they don’t.

“When property was on sale, buyers weren’t interested in property and now that it’s hot again, the buyers come back in. I used to try to fight that and my articles were all about being a contrarian. I don’t worry so much about that now. I just accept that that’s how people are wired and so I don’t fight the tide on that one.”

In a bid to build momentum in his business John worked with the BAI and it was instrumental in learning how to grow his client base.

“I started as a buyer’s agent before I did the Buyer’s Agent Institute so the institute was really helpful for me because it covers everything from scripts and dialogues to mindset and time management.”

“Because I got in very fresh, I didn’t really know where to start. So for me, the most important part of the Buyer’s Agent Institute were scripts and dialogues and also scripts about how to convert prospects into clients.”

“The other big thing that the Buyer’s Agent Institute helped me with was understanding the value that I provide to the referral partners.”

“If you go to, a mortgage broker or a real estate agent, you don’t want to just ask them for a favour – “Hey, come and help. Send me some referrals.” What you want to do is create a transaction of mutual value for them rather than simply asking a favour.”

Going forward, John wants to continue to grow his business, through more effective practices that depend less on him.

“In the next five to ten years I want to focus on systematising the process more and scaling up so that it’s not so dependent on me.”

“That’s one of the things about the buyer’s agent business, it is very personalised and it’s very much about my brand as John. I want to sort of get away from that towards a more scalable model.”

For anyone considering a career as a buyers agent, John notes that it is a people business.

“The main thing is that being a buyer’s agent’s about people, not about property.”

“A lot of people get into the buying business because they love property, but if you simply love property, it might not be the right thing for you because as a buyer’s agent you deal in the peoples’ wealth, their frailties, their insecurities, their fear of debt and their fear to take action.”

“It’s not about the properties, it’s about the people.”

Helping Buyers

Buyer's Agent Darren Piper

Darren Piper has been running his buyers agency, Universal Buyers Agents for 4.5 half years and in that time has seen both his business and the industry grow significantly.

With a passion for property and a significant investment portfolio under his belt, Darren saw the opportunity to help on the buy-side and made to move to start his own business.

“I’d owned a couple of investment properties prior to getting into real estate as a profession myself. I was working in the mines previously before getting into real estate and then decided to make the jump.”

“I was a selling agent for myself for two years in and around Brisbane and then started Universal about four and a half years ago.”

When Darren was operating as a selling agent, buyers agents were few and far between, but he saw an opportunity.

“When I was on the selling side, I’d bump into or come across other buyer’s agents from time to time, but it was a very rare thing. And knowing it’s large in the US and it’s very much a niche part of the real estate sector, my belief on it was it was only going to grow.”

“So it was more of a strategic decision more than anything, coupled with wanting to have my own business.”

With his business, Darren focuses on helping all types of property buyers.

“Back when I started the business, a lot of other buyer’s agencies were focusing on one type of buyer or one buyer profile if you will, whether it was owner-occupiers or just investment.”

“My opinion back then, I still haven’t changed to this day, that if you’re a buyer and you need assistance for whatever reason, whether it’s being time poor, frustration with the agents or lack of choice or whatever it may be, I want to help you. So I really went into it from the get-go with very open arms if you will.”

When Darren initially set up his business, the biggest issues for him was educating buyers.

“The biggest challenge that we faced back then and it’s certainly changed now is that it’s an awareness and education.”

“A lot of people don’t know that buyer’s agents exist and then they sort of look at it and go, “Well, 99% of the buyer pool in the country buy themselves, why would I pay you a fee to do it?” But that’s changing given that there is more education and more awareness now.”

Darren decided to work with BAI to help improve the processes in his business.

“Working with Ben has been an absolute game-changer for me in a couple of ways. I was already established and was already trading for probably three years prior to engaging in Ben’s course and furthering that relationship in a mentor and sort of business coach capacity.”

“I knew of Ben for quite some time, obviously with his involvement with Cohen Handler. And then over time I’ve just built a stronger and stronger relationship with him and it’s made a huge impact on my business from an accountability point of view – dialogue, structure, recruiting.”

“He’s just across every segment of the buyer’s agent space. I mean, he’s been there and done it so I’d never not use him as a business coach.”

Going forward Darren wants to continue to grow his business while focusing on quality.

“My view has always been quality over quantity and I think that’s something that somewhat lacks in real estate in general.”

“There’s a lot of agents or agencies out there that get bums on seats from a recruitment point of view simply for the public perception that they’re bigger than they are. That’s certainly not our approach.”

“We’re about quality agents and quality team members rather than just building a team for the sake of it. So recruitment’s a big focus for me at the moment – adding more people to the team, which is certainly well underway.”

“But really just to be the absolute best that we can possibly be and dominate the Brisbane Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast market.”

For those looking at a career as a BA, Darren suggests getting the right people around you and know what you’re looking to achieve.

“Have clear direction, have the right mentors and people around you and if you’re not willing to go it on your own because it’s not for everyone, get the right mentorship or work for a company that can provide the right career path for you.”

“Because it is a really exciting career in itself and there’s a lot of flexibility with work hours and you can certainly enjoy the fruits of your labour. And I think from a job satisfaction point of view, you certainly get more out of acting for the buyer than you do the seller.”

This Is What Flipping Properties Can Do To You

Buyer's Agent Gus Lander on what flipping properties can do to you

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agents Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents, to bring awareness around the career opportunities that the buyer’s agent sector is providing people. To bring awareness around the value that buyer’s agents provide to people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest growing career sectors in real estate right now.

Ben Handler:

Our guest today is Gus Lander. He is no stranger to selling or buying property. He’s based in the Inner West in Sydney. His background is in wine. He had a business and has a business in wine, and he also did a very quick stint in recruitment. He is very, very passionate about renovating. He specifically focuses in buying owner occupied properties. He has a new business. It’s a buyer’s agent business. It’s called the Inner West Nest. So he’s focusing specifically in Inner West. He is a Balmain resident. He’s been there 15 years. So today I would like to introduce Gus. Welcome Gus.

Gus Lander:

Thanks, Ben. Appreciate the intro. Thanks for the invitation.

Ben Handler:

Thank you so much. I wanted to dive straight in to the renovations.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

Your passion.

Gus Lander:

Absolutely. Love it.

Ben Handler:

Did it all start in Sydney?

Gus Lander:

Yes. Back in 2012, I suppose, was the tipping point. We bought our first home with my wife. We bought a gut reno, old terrace in Balmain and went right through that with everything, paint lights, carpet, landscaping. We had four years there and then we sold it 2016. Did quite well obviously, then we found ourselves on the other side of the fence buying and as you know, it was a very hot market back then. And yeah, there was a lot of competition for houses. And so we struggled for a few months and then we ended up engaging a buyer’s agent, Nicole Graham, who’s a wonderful, wonderful agent. And she secured us the keys for another renovator, bigger block. And we’ve just gone through that now and finished that this week. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Nice. And let’s go back to just, so you said that you did quite well, and I think you’re been quite modest because you did mention earlier that you nearly doubled the money.

Gus Lander:

We did. Yeah. Look, it was a crazy auction, as you remember. It was a very silly time, a very hot market. We didn’t expect it. And it was very nice to come out of that side. So it recently traded last month less actually. So yeah, no, it was quite lucky. Quite fortunate. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, you got out well. So what did you learn in that? I’m just curious now because obviously renovations can go terribly wrong. Blow out, a lot of surprises. Did you learn anything specifically?

Gus Lander:

Look, it was a very safe reno. I mean, we got it I think under market value and it was very much cosmetic reno. New kitchen, all the typical things I mentioned. Live in it for maybe six months, which we did and then work out what you like, work with the space and then just trust your gut really. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

You mentioned when you bought that property it was through one a buyer’s agent, Rachel Cruz.

Gus Lander:

Yeah. Well she was actually a selling agent at the time with Cobden & Hayson. And it’s funny how we’ve sort of stayed in contact and now seeing her out and what she’s done, she’s absolutely crushing it obviously. So she’s done amazing.

Ben Handler:

I’m just curious to dive into this a bit deeper. So you engaged the buyer’s agent, Nicole?

Gus Lander:

Yep, yep.

Ben Handler:

Was it at that point when you were going through that process with Nicole, that you were like, “Hey, maybe this buyer’s agent career could be for me”?

Gus Lander:

It was that moment actually. Looking back, I’ve always loved property and renovations obviously. I never really worked out where I fit and then having gone through that experience, which was an amazing experience, she over-delivered on so many things and it was a big investment at the time. I mean, it was a lot, but we got something fantastic. For me, that was the moment where I thought this is what I want to do. How do I make it happen at this point? So, yeah, it’s been a few years, as you know, from then to now. A few kids along the way and at the build and whatnot. So just launching out more or less last few months. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

You mentioned around like the investment, like at the time, or even at any time, it can feel like obviously it’s a lot of money.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

So I understand, what was the main reasons you were looking to engage a buyer’s agent at a time?

Gus Lander:

I mean, we were time poor, which I think is the big one.

Ben Handler:

Yeah.

Gus Lander:

I think for particularly people in my area. Super time poor, dragging a kid around the Inner West every weekend. We wanted to see what things weren’t on the market. Obviously having access to someone like Nicole, who has amazing relationships across the Inner West, that was huge. And not wanting to overpay I guess in a very hot market.

Ben Handler:

Now you’re up and running with your BA business, Inner West Nest. So focusing specifically owner-occupier Inner West. Reno’s as well?

Gus Lander:

Oh, absolutely. Yep. I think for me, I’m not ruling out the investor side, but I’ve just never really been drawn to that side of it. I think there’s obviously plenty of potential maybe to spread out to that, go into that, in the years to come. But for me personally, I’m much more drawn to that human, emotional element in property and the journey, I guess, and whether it’s a first time buyer or a young family, growing family, downsizer, there’s a lot to sort of go through on that emotional side and I really enjoy. I think maybe it’s my customer service sort of roots, I guess. I love to sort of understand that and deliver that.

Ben Handler:

That’s good. And it is a very different service to investment.

Gus Lander:

Totally.

Ben Handler:

Especially when you’re dealing through that whole, it’s a whole other layer of emotion. Someone’s really going to be there for an extended period of time.

Gus Lander:

It is.

Ben Handler:

And you’re right. I mean, there’s still, like you said, customer service roots. So where does that stem from?

Gus Lander:

I was in recruitment for a little while. Fell into that, loved it for about a year.

Ben Handler:

A bit like real estate in the sense.

Gus Lander:

Yeah, it is. It totally is. I had a few jobs before that in lead gen making appointments for software, things like that. That was interesting, like door knocking and stuff, but good, good fun. Learn a lot. And then obviously moved into wine, which I was supporting a team of reps in wholesale. So we were supplying a portfolio of wines to restaurants. So restaurants, cafes, bars, so really supporting and serving that team. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

And so you still got a wine business now?

Gus Lander:

I do. So, yeah, during my tenure in wholesale, I created a brand called Excuse My French, which is a French wine label from the Languedoc in the South of France. We basically saw an opportunity in the market to launch some rose and spec in 2015. So a while ago now, and yeah, had a bit of fun with it. It’s a bit of a piss take on the whole French label, French wine Aussie market, but we’ve got it into a few markets now, which it’s going really well. Yeah. So I still have that. I still manage that as my side hustle and love it. Yeah. I handle the production, all the marketing on the side as well. So yeah.

Ben Handler:

I interview so many people, but what’s very common is just, and you might have an opinion on this, is around how transferable the skill is. From what you’re learning, let’s say, in lead gen or you’re working in IT doing sales, or you’re in recruitment, or you’re running your own business and learning how to, it’s a start up when 2015, it’s all transferable, right?

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

And so now that you’ve kicked off Inner West Nest, do you feel like you’ve already climbed up the ladder a bit so you can leverage from that to really propel forward?

Gus Lander:

Yeah. I think there’s definitely some transferable skills. When you’re running your own business, obviously you’re wearing lots of hats. In your course, you had a great episode about all the different things you’ve got to do. It’s never ending, right? And we’ve been lucky with the timing, I guess, because it’s very competitive. But yeah. Look, to answer your question, I think there’s lots of skills. You’ve got to be driven, you’ve got to be time management. You’ve really got to understand your market and execute. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. I saw a photo recently at an auction and I saw you in the background of that photo-

Gus Lander:

Oh really?

Ben Handler:

I think it was Inner West Auction. Looking very sharp. You could have passed as one of those really well dressed real estate agents. And then I saw Gus Lander in the back. What’s going on now? You’re turning up to, I’m assuming, you’re like a lot of auctions? You’re upskilling with product knowledge? What’s going on?

Gus Lander:

Yeah. Just trying to go to as many opens as possible, obviously great space to meet not only agents and develop those relationships, obviously lead gen with clients. I think you made a comment in the course about getting leads from opens. And I thought that’s not going to work, but it’s-

Ben Handler:

He’s bullshitting me.

Gus Lander:

It’s so good. Yeah. I reckon it’s the number one spot now for me to make clients. It’s great. I love it.

Ben Handler:

I spoke to another guy who came through the program, his name’s Trent, and he works full-time so he doesn’t have a lot of time. I spoke to him about two weeks ago and he said to me all he gets is Saturdays off and all he does with that time on Saturdays is go to opens. And he’s basically picked up all his buyers from Saturday turning up to opens. So yeah, it’s an interesting way. I mean, you can be so specific with how you want to, like if you want a buyer between four and five in Balmain, you turn up to those listings or those auctions, there’s your buyers.

Gus Lander:

I’ve just been going like 10 minutes early and obviously you’re dressed up and obviously the obvious thing is people think you’re a real estate agent. It’s a perfect ice breaker, right? And immediately they’d sort of, “Oh, you’re on our side.” So I found that a really good way to meet people and just to hear and listen and make a few connections. So look, it’s yeah. I’m really surprised myself actually with that. So it’s been good.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. You’ve got that personality that is not confronting, non salesy. And so I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with building rapport and-

Gus Lander:

Sure.

Ben Handler:

Sparking those-

Gus Lander:

Well done for the tip. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Thanks. And so you’ve been in Balmain 15 years?

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

So small place. How do you feel your product knowledge there is at the moment?

Gus Lander:

Yeah. Look, I know the streets obviously. I mean, I live there and love the area. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, very proud to live there. And having had an interest in property, I’ve obviously got to know the agents over the time for them and gone to auctions and just explore the area. So that’s definitely paying dividends now in terms of getting leads and making connections and just really having access to properties off market. And yeah. I’ve been fortunate to that. I’d like to obviously explore my core area a bit more now and move into Summerhill and Tempe and all over. So yeah.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. The market’s interesting. I mean, Inner West, I don’t know very well in terms of how it performs, et cetera, but I’ve heard it’s low stock, right?

Gus Lander:

It’s massively low stock and particularly now. It’s totally, like the rest, like the East, Lower North, prices are holding in there, even still going up for the right properties, driven by lack of supply.

Ben Handler:

Our role in this style of market as a buyer’s agent, when it’s super low, like we have to try and just do whatever we can to create the opportunity, right?

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

To find that stock.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

And so are you feeling like there is a lot of off-market popping up? Is it-

Gus Lander:

Not as much as I would have liked to. I mean, it’s super tight, right? I’m trying to be upbeat with my clients and sort of saying it’s coming, and it’s dripping through obviously, but there’s still not much out there. A few off markets are coming up, but yeah, surprisingly it’s just kept, it’s just, yeah, tight.

Ben Handler:

It’s interesting. I think, who knows, but maybe the low stock has been driving prices still high.

Gus Lander:

Yeah. And I think as these prices get around, people will be encouraged to list. I think as September is only a few weeks away. We’re hopeful that we’ll see some more. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

We talked about customer service earlier. It’s obviously something that, I guess, you embody. You’ve obviously worked with clients already. Have you found that experience like that client journey? Because you obviously went through it when you engaged Nicole. Now you’re effectively the Nicole with the client. How is that experience?

Gus Lander:

It’s been great. I just like to connect with people and you go in with a bit of an agenda in your head, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about connecting on that personal level to establish that trust and rapport. And obviously if we’re a fit, that’s obviously really important to a client to hand their trust over and deliver a brief and yeah. I love it. I think it’s such a rewarding part of being a buyer’s agent to be able to have that complete trust. And it’s pretty amazing, really. Yeah. It’s fantastic.

Ben Handler:

You’re right. There’s a high level of trust. It’s different to the sell side in the sense of like when you’re selling a property and you engage the real estate agent, the money comes out, not really, it comes obviously out of your bank, but it’s not really straight out of your back pocket in most cases, if you’re clearing out okay without having to pay down any further debt. But when you’re engaging a buyer’s agent, it’s coming straight out.

Gus Lander:

It is, sure.

Ben Handler:

I’ve always felt like there has to be, and where I’m going with this is that trust because to really pull money out, you really need to really believe in that buyer’s agent. And the client experience, I think is, as you said, it’s such an incredible part of the journey, especially with owner-occupier clients. You develop this bond. It can go quite deep, which I think is really special.

Gus Lander:

100%. I couldn’t agree more. You learn about their lives and everything, their hopes and dreams. Obviously that’s on the seller side too, but there is, I think, a very intimate level of trust. Probably much more on the buying side, for sure.

Ben Handler:

You’ve just had a third kid and so congrats.

Gus Lander:

Thank you.

Ben Handler:

Had a conversation earlier about all that stuff, but I guess running a new business now-

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

Spending a lot of time with the kids, juggling a few different things. Do you feel like you’re good at managing time?

Gus Lander:

It’s tough. I won’t lie. I’m definitely working the business around the kids. My wife’s a freelancer, so she’s in and out a lot. We have a lot of help, but we make it work. And yeah. It’s a combination of being driven and organized. Yeah. It’s a bit of a tug of war, but with the house, obviously which we’ve just finished, it’s now time, I think, to really let loose and put a bit more time into this journey. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Isn’t that one of the benefits of running a buyer’s agent business, like the flexibility? I mean, I know you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve already got your own wine business, but hypothetically let’s say COVID wasn’t here. So not everyone’s working from home, you’re working nine to five in the city or whatever the job is. You can’t just be at home with the kids, right? And it doesn’t all work around like that.

Gus Lander:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

I personally think you work hard as a buyer’s agent, we’ll say seven days.

Gus Lander:

Sure.

Ben Handler:

Seven days, like you don’t switch the phone off on a Saturday and Sunday. It’s on. And you speak to clients on Sunday nights, Saturday nights. It’s always on.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

My experiences though, even though it’s seven days, it’s flexible. Like if you wanted to go for a surf at two o’clock, you just jump out.

Gus Lander:

There’s so much flexibility. That’s part of the appeal obviously. Third kid, we were battling at home and had the flexibility, so I can work around it. It’s very convenient. And being obviously leading in my core area, I can pop out to an open for half an hour and we can manage that. Yeah. I think my decision to focus on just that area at the moment is doable it seems to be working out okay so far. So yeah. But flexibility is huge for us as a family. We needed that and the timing was right. So yeah.

Ben Handler:

Let’s dive into a bit about Inner West Nest.

Gus Lander:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Obviously you’ve thought about it because I like your website, but I’ve thought about Inner West Nest, you’ve committed to that. I’m focusing. Inner West. If the Mosmann buyer comes I’m Inner West Nest. I ain’t Mosmann.

Gus Lander:

Send them away to Rachel. Yeah, exactly. So, no, look, it’s the area that I know. It was a natural progression for me, starting out, obviously not coming from a property background or a real estate background. So that for me was the logical place to start. And I did get a lot of feedback, actually, people saying, “Is this going to limit you? Is this going to be something that will date?” I’m going with my gut on this. And you make a few comments as well in your course about being a specialist and really owning a space. And that’s obviously years down the track to be in that position, like where Rachel is now, for example. I think it’s a logical point for me to start with. And I think that’s a big area, like there’s 30 suburbs to stretch out to. And there’s lots of different architecture. We’ve got Federation homes, we’ve got modern contemporary homes. There’s everything in between.

Ben Handler:

It’s a big area.

Gus Lander:

It is.

Ben Handler:

If you look at, not that you want to play the comparison game, but if you look at most real estate agents, they will typically work in a certain amount of postcodes. Some will just do Balmain as you know. I think as a buyer’s agent, having the geography of the whole, let’s say, Inner West, it’s large.

Gus Lander:

It’s huge. Yeah. And just doing owner-occupies really for now, it’s the area that I gravitate towards again. So it is a niche business. I definitely agree with that. Yeah. It’s-

Ben Handler:

Specific.

Gus Lander:

It is specific. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Which is good.

Gus Lander:

Yeah. I’m just trying to sort of own that space and really build up clients and relationships and yeah.

Ben Handler:

Well, it clearly works. I’ve thought about this a lot, even back at the Cohen Handler days because it is different from a buyer’s agent in the sense of selling agent, let’s say in Balmain, they just call all the vendors in Balmain and then they get their opportunities. As a buyer’s agent, we don’t do that. And so business does come from so many different places. So I always was thinking, well, how does the geography work? But I guess if you can specialize, which you are in the Inner West, you’ve got all the real estate agent relationships, you build that reputation, the business will just gravitate, which it is clearly towards you. That’s awesome. So as we wrap up, what are plans? Any plans for Inner West? I know it’s fresh?

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

Is there anything on the horizon?

Gus Lander:

I think it’s too early to say. I think it’s only a few months in and done just a couple of deals so far. So I think my goal for the business really is to, know that I can have the time to really put into it, is just to push on and really just focus on the process and doing things right. Not worrying too much about the numbers or the buyers. Look, it’d be nice to scale, but at the same time, it’s like that thing where, do you lose that sort of direct intimate contact with your clients? But look, I’m not going to put a tag on it at all. I just want to just go along for the ride and just go for it.

Ben Handler:

That’s awesome. Yeah. You said the word process and focusing on that, and that’s important. In the sporting world, it’s always process not outcome. And starting off in that, in any business, right, I think you’ve got to take those baby steps in order then to work out whether you actually want to scale because you will lose that intimacy in most cases.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

And I think the great thing about the buyer’s agent business, in my perspective, I was having lunch earlier with someone about this before we caught up now, and you don’t need to have a big business. You don’t need to have all these people. It can be a very profitable business. And if you’re happy servicing a certain amount of number of clients, it’s a good business.

Gus Lander:

Absolutely. It’s always going to be something that I’ll have to work in with the broader agenda at home. And that’s the great thing about the business and the industry is you can do that.

Ben Handler:

Awesome. Where can people find you?

Gus Lander:

So I’m at my website, www.innerwestnest.com.au, or my Instagram @InnerWestNest.

Ben Handler:

Thank you so much. Awesome chatting. And can’t wait just to see you just tear up this Inner West, okay? So well done.

Gus Lander:

Thanks Ben.

Ben Handler:

Everyone, if you’re listening, if you’re looking to buy in Mosmann call Gus. He is specifically focusing on the Inner West, hence the name Inner West Nest. He’s got a lot of experience selling and buying specifically as he’s was mentioning in renovating and for owner-occupier specific properties. Lived in Balmain 15 years. He knows the area back to front, so check him out. See you next week.

Please watch the full episode here:

What 20 Years of Financial Planning Can Do To You?

Buyer's Agent Paul Mollica on what 20 years of financial planning can do to you

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents. To bring awareness around the career opportunities that the buyer’s agent sector is providing to people. To bring awareness around the value that buyer’s agents are providing to people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to really strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents who are paving the way for the fastest growing career sectors in real estate right now. Our guest today is a special one, his name is Paul Mollica. He’s here from Sydney. He has 20 years experience. He’s been self employed in the financial planning space. He’s written a book on personal finance, he’s very passionate about property investment.

Ben Handler:

We’re going to talk and dive into this whole concept around leverage, which he really enjoys talking about. He’s got a very strong opinion on super, which we’ll also going to dive into and hopefully we’re going to really flesh that one out. And he really has had a passion to get into the buyer’s agent space, primarily to focus on providing quality advice. He is the director and founder and buyer’s agent at Wealthkey Property. Today I’d like to introduce Paul Mullica. Welcome Paul.

Paul Mollica:

Ben hi. Thank you for having me.

Ben Handler:

Pleasure to be here. I don’t know where we start. Do we dive into super or do we dive into leverage with property?

Paul Mollica:

Well, it’s your show Ben, so where do you want to start?

Ben Handler:

Let’s talk about super.

Paul Mollica:

He’s gone for the throat.

Ben Handler:

I just thought we’ll just dive straight in because you obviously, you’ve got a lot of experience in this space. A lot of people think they have experience and don’t. So it’d be good I guess, just get a bit of insight around I guess, just your perspective on super

Paul Mollica:

It’s a very interesting and highly regulated industry. There’s a lot of money in there. There’s a lot of what I would call a false sense of economy around superannuation. I spent 20 years as a financial planner. I have now left that business and I’m a full time buyer’s agent. I was a part time buyer’s agent before and I’m also a passionate property investor myself. So I’ve joined the dots between how people have created wealth with property versus how they’ve created wealth with superannuation and other assets and have landed firmly on this side of the fence.

Ben Handler:

And what side of the fence is that?

Paul Mollica:

The side of the fence that says, “Use leverage wisely and buy property and over time you’ll do fine.”

Ben Handler:

And when you were working as a financial planner, I guess if clients were coming to you saying, “Hey, we want to get into direct property.” Well how would you deal with that?

Paul Mollica:

The thing with property is that it’s not a regulated financial asset. So by default, there’s a strong bias against property from people that can’t make a quid out of it. So there’s this blind spot. And as the walls have calmed down and financial planners and accountants and mortgage brokers and other professionals have built wealth or seen wealth being built through property, their eyes have been opened up a little bit.

Ben Handler:

When you were working in the financial planning space, you were doing buyer’s agent work then?

Paul Mollica:

I was, yeah. Yeah I was one of the very few licensed financial planners that also had my real estate license. So I was very firm on that. About halfway through my 20 year career I started investing in property myself. And I joined the dots and thought all these clients that have a decent amount of wealth, they are Sydney homeowners and they’ve got 6, 7, 8, $900,000 perhaps in super and I was helping pre-retiree and retiree clients and wondering and asking the question, “How did you get there?” And a lot of the time they’d bought a property 10 or 20 years ago. They’d had a property that had grown their own wealth, the family home or they’d inherited property. Next to none of them saved their way to wealth which leads me on to leverage.

Ben Handler:

That makes sense though. I can say that especially where we are today with the world as it is. I mean consumer spending so high and people accumulating so much debt on credit card and there doesn’t seem to be like a new wave of like, let’s save. It doesn’t seem like it’s been there for a while either.

Paul Mollica:

It’s just impossible to save your way to wealth and interest rates are so low at the moment. If I can buy a quality asset in a growth area for someone that’s delivering say a 5% rental yield and they’re paying three and a bit in interest rates, it neutrals itself out. So the question to ask my clients, if fear isn’t holding them back and that they’re buying quality assets is, “If it costs you next to nothing per month to hold a 3, 4, $500,000 asset, how long can you hold it for?” And the answer is as long as you damn well please.

Ben Handler:

What do you see as common mistakes? And you might’ve seen this when you were working in the financial planning space with some of your clients, but where do you see people go wrong with buying resi property. Like investment, not on a rock where they’ve inherited or they bought a family home, but more when they’re investing?

Paul Mollica:

They’re sold schemes, they’re sold scheme. So crappy bill quality, investor slums, marketing companies that are offering 25, $35,000 in commission and buying solely on shiny new products that have a depreciation schedule. You’ve got some experience there.

Ben Handler:

Well I’ve seen it and people fall for it.

Paul Mollica:

They do.

Ben Handler:

It’s like their attention goes depreciation schedule and they forget about the product that they’re buying.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, yeah. And it’s smoke and mirrors and a lot of it’s just bullshit and it’s rubbish stock. I’ve developed a system in the business called the ABCs. So when you’re looking at the ABCs, you look at the area, then you look at the building itself. What’s income? What’s in demand? What’s livability. Can I add value to it? Is there a decent block of dirt under it? So the area, the building and then cashflow is last and comparables.

Ben Handler:

I like it. [AB double C hey. 00:06:49] You’ve kicked off Wealthkey Property and now you’re kicking big goals and I knew it was going to move quick. So now working with clients, for example, that are coming to you specifically to buy property, how do you compare that experience? Because obviously you had 20 years in the fin planning space. How do you compare now the client experience, the journey, it must be different.

Paul Mollica:

It’s night and day, it is night and day. The amount of rubbish and compliance and complexity that was in that financial planning world that didn’t protect anyone. Because you can give bad advice in a compliant way. And there’s also dodgy real estate agents and dodgy market is out there for property as well. But the question was, how do I compare the experience? I jump out of bed, mate. I love it. I love it. And I love project managing the process. So I only make people two promises. One is that I’ll get you invested because time poured don’t know where to start. We’ve got this whole, what I call the circle of confusion house or unit? Regional, city, what price point et cetera. So the two promises I’ll get you invested and I’ll keep you safe. That’s it.

Ben Handler:

Powerful promise.

Paul Mollica:

I keep it.

Ben Handler:

It’s compelling.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

So clients, I mean you’ve obviously built up 20 years self-employed in the fin planning space. You’ve obviously built up a series book of clients who like and trust you and you’ve done work with, have you felt like a lot of your clients naturally have come from past dealings or is it a new wave of new clients coming to you?

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, I’m promoting my property business in its own right. So I can’t actively pursue for commercial reasons or can’t actively pursue my previous clients but maybe they’ll say this video. But yeah, a lot of new stuff and I’m working the business to business referrals. We’ve got I think some fairly realistic goals and that is to help 50 to 70 families per year to get invested safely in areas that have got good growth drivers where they’re not going to have high vacancy rates. They’re not going to have dodgy assets. So we manage the building and pest the, introduce them to conveyances and lawyers and all that sort of things that can be very confusing particularly when you’re buying into state. But the interesting thing is that a lot of the clients we’re working with now want to buy two and three properties with us immediately. So that’s a really nice feeling when you’ve just gone unconditional on a property and you get a text from the client saying, “Thanks can we go again?”

Ben Handler:

So is that stemming from your first initial discussions with them about a strategy or are they just coming to you saying we’re ready, we want to go again? I guess the question is, has that been pre-framed earlier on around, this is part of the plan and then they’re just comfortable to go again now or they just bring it up to you?

Paul Mollica:

It depends on the client. A lot of the times it is pre-framed. I’ve got a one page worksheet and I’ve been talking to people about their money stuff and their life stuff for 20 odd years. So I get the strategic intent and I get that you’ve been working your ass off paying tax for the last 30 years for a lot of my clients around 50. And you’ve only got X amount in super what the hell’s going on there? And I can overlay that with my own property journey and say, well I’ve got 200 grand in super and $2 million worth of property assets or whatever it is and show them real examples. But the beauty of this business is that no one needs to be sold on property, they get it.

Ben Handler:

But they’re getting extra value with you. Like when you said earlier around your experience with financial planning, talking about managing money and just lifestyle and understanding and getting awareness around super and just how to do things. I mean that’s an extra added bow they’re going to get when they come to you for the buyer’s agent.

Paul Mollica:

Look I’m not licensed as a financial planner anymore but no one can take my knowledge and my connections away from me. So like a really classic example is that if you’ve got, you’re alright for me to just unpack a bit of a case study for you.?

Ben Handler:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Mollica:

So you’ve got a mum and dad that are earning 150 grand a year combined. So they’ve got say 15,000 odd going into superannuation each year. They might have $300,000 in assets there and there’ll be paying between 2 and 3% in fees. So that’s between seven and $10,000 in fees. If they took 150,000 of that money and used it as a deposit and costs against a $450,000 asset a property, then they still had 150 left over. They’re only borrowing 70 or 75% of the cost of the property. So it’s positive cashflow, it’s bidding off rent and they’re controlling $600,000 in assets that they’re not losing sleep at night over instead of $300,000 worth of assets that they’re getting [builted 00:12:20] on fees for. That is really exciting to be able to do that for people, for a long play, for a 7 to 10 to 15 year play.

Ben Handler:

How do they respond when you first break down an example like that? When they’re unaware of that example?

Paul Mollica:

Most people just ask if it’s legal.

Ben Handler:

Makes sense.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

This is all about board poll.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah, yeah.

Ben Handler:

Now that’s exciting. I guess this is the value that people get coming to Wealthkey Property. It’s not just about…

Paul Mollica:

Money is just an idea and it’s pretty basic when you break it down to its core which is why I wrote the book that I published a few years ago. But essentially if you and I are in a race and you’re earning 150 a year, I’m earning 150 a year and you’ve got $300,000 in superannuation going up and down with the market, getting fees taken out of it and I’m controlling property and both assets perform at the same rate, it might be 6% a year. I think actually ASIC money smart website says that direct property will perform over a 10 year average at 6.3% shares 6.5%. So you’re going to beat me by 0.2. But getting back to the race, you’re controlling 300,000 worth of assets, I’m controlling 600,000 worth of assets and we’ve both got 15 or 20 years till retirement. I’m going to beat you because compounding says that if something doubles twice over a period of time, you’ll go from 3 to 6 to 1.2, I’ll go from six to 1.2 to 2.4, I’ve just builted you.

Ben Handler:

Outperform.

Paul Mollica:

And all I’ve done, all I’ve done is use leverage and compound interest.

Ben Handler:

So yeah using property is of the vehicle.

Paul Mollica:

Absolutely, yeah.

Ben Handler:

That’s interesting. I don’t think there’s a lot of people who are, especially in the buyer’s agent space that I know of who are really playing and who really understand this space and applying it. So it’s obviously a big opportunity for you.

Paul Mollica:

Yeah. Well it’s a big opportunity for the mum and dad consumer more to the point.

Ben Handler:

So Paul you’ve obviously started Wealthkey, you’ve kicked off the ground quickly. A lot of quiet acquisition, a lot of purchases and no surprise. I guess with any new business, it comes a lot of learning. Do you mind sharing I guess maybe some things that have popped up that maybe surprised you, bit you in the ass, or maybe didn’t? Just I guess anything you think it’s worth sharing?

Paul Mollica:

I think control growth is really important. So once you deep dive into a suburb and you’ve got the area, you’ve got the building then you’ve got to negotiate. And then all of a sudden you’ve got all these different parts to manage. So having really strong systems and processes and a really good team is key. So I’ve got a great in house team. We do research, outsourced research but then due to the Rona, I’ve had to have acquisitions teams set up into state because that’s where I’m buying a lot of value for my clients. And that has proved to be really awesome because I can build in efficiencies. Not only have I got into state partners that will do video walkthroughs and have really good suburb knowledge but clients now are more accepting of doing a zoom meeting. So not having to go and pay for parking and spending three hours doing a one hour meeting is really good. So yeah, it’s just control growth and having some fun along the way but looking after each client from beginning to end.

Ben Handler:

Yeah I love what you said. You said teamwork, systems, processes. I mean the pillars of any business and you seem to have obviously understood that and nailed that early on, which is important. And that’s how you do grow. You talk about controlled growth, but when you do get that dialed in, you can grow at a speed.

Paul Mollica:

I had a little bit of a head start there Been because I’ve been working on this stuff for years as a part time proposition and now I’ve bitten the bullet and gone full time and I can simply help more people. It’s…

Ben Handler:

It’s so good. What’s the future of… I know you’ve just started, but obviously is it like next 12 months? I know you said you’re looking to, was it 50 to 70 families you’re looking to buy for? Is there anything else on the agenda for Wealthkey Property for this FY?

Paul Mollica:

We’d like to, I’ve got a really good support person at the moment that I’d like to get licensed up so that there’s two buyer’s agents and one support staff but like most areas of my life, I’m making it up as I go along.

Ben Handler:

I love it. Good stuff. And where can people find you?

Paul Mollica:

Wealthkeyroperty.com.edu and Wealthkey Property on Facebook as well.

Ben Handler:

I love it. And book, title of the book?

Paul Mollica:

Your Money Boat. I’ll send you a copy.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, I’ve got to read that one. I’m looking forward to it. It’s got your personality in it, then I’m ready.

Paul Mollica:

A lot of people have said to me, “Reading this book it’s like hearing your voice,” and it’s driving me a bit crazy. So I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not, but I’ll take it.

Ben Handler:

I think it’s a compliment. Thanks Paul, I appreciate it.

Paul Mollica:

Okay. Thanks Ben.

Ben Handler:

For those that are listening, it’s pretty rare that you’ve got someone like Paul with literally 20 years of financial planning experience. Obviously he’s not licensed as a financial planner anymore. However, I guess, going to someone like Paul, you’re not just getting the stock standard I guess buyer’s agent experience. You’re going to get a wealth of knowledge prior. And as Paul said, he’s focusing on investment, he’s buying interstate. So I’d highly recommend check out Paul at Wealthkey Property. It’s on the screen. As you can see, massive big personality, lovely guy. Hope you really enjoyed this episode. See you next week.

Please watch he full episode here:

From Selling to Buying

Buyer's Agents Sue & Simon Scott

After purchasing her first property as a 19-year-old, Sue Scott has gone on to build a large property portfolio that spans the globe.

Sue has been involved in the industry in various capacities for many years and now works with her son Simon, at Scott Properties Group based out of Queensland.

“I bought my first property when I was 19 in England and then invested in other properties until I came back to Australia in 2006.”

“I started the process over again by buying properties that were not always in the high-end areas that looked to be good opportunities moving forward, so it wasn’t for any instant capital gain, but they had good rental potential.”

“Simon bought his first property in the UK when he was 22 and he had a similar path. We’ve been buying and selling, in Australia for the last 14 years.”

Sue has worked as both a selling agent and buyers agent but liked helping people as opposed to the marketing side of sales.

“I was a selling agent in Noosa for many years and when Simon got his licence, he sat on it for quite a while not sure what we were going to do because I actually did not want to go back into the selling arena. I’d had enough of putting boards up.”

“Simon’s background is slightly different. Simon is an award-winning architect in the UK and an award-winning building designer here in Australia.”

“After we thought it over we said, “How about a buyer’s agency?” Because up here in Queensland generally there’s very little education as to what a buyer’s agent was.”

With Simon also having a background in architecture, Scott Properties Group is able to help both investors and owner-occupiers, and especially those looking to build or renovate.

“As a buyer’s agent, we nurture our clients as if they’re our friends in the end, especially owner-occupiers because it’s a very, very different strategy to an investment property.”

“We’re kind of like a more of a one-stop-shop that’s for people who want to buy. So that’s quite an important part of our business as well. It’s not just a buyer’s agency and negotiating it’s also having someone who can actually advise them on all manner of different things and also building.”

“A lot of our clients who are investing come to us because they know that we’ve got a critical eye on the actual building itself, especially if it needs renovating.”

Sue and Simon decided to work with the BAI to improve their all-round skills and build a network of other buyers agents across the country.

“We upskilled with Ben, which was great to be part of that and we’ve made some really good connections within that group as well.”

“It wasn’t so much how to run the business because we’re already entrepreneurs and business people, it was more tapping into his knowledge and to better understand the difference between being a selling agent and a buying agent. Because why reinvent the wheel?”

“No-one knows it all. So to have a mentor who has been through it from day one through to current times is worth everything quite frankly, we thought to be honest because it stops us from doing things that we probably didn’t need to do.”

Sue hopes to keep growing the business over the next five years but wants to retain the personal, boutique business model to better serve her clients.

“We will always be a boutique business. We don’t want to have hundreds of clients. It’s not how we want to be. We want to keep boutique, we want to be about the people that regardless of what they want to purchase, we’re going to be there and we’re going to control it ourselves.”

Why Focus on Process Instead of Outcome?

Buyer's Agent Darren Venter on why focus on process instead of outcome

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute how. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents. Bring awareness around the career opportunities the sector is providing people. To bring awareness of the value that buyer’s agents are providing people who need help buying property.

Ben Handler:

Our goal of the show is to strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest-growing career sectors in real estate right now.

Our guest today is Darren Venter. He’s the director and founder of Strat Prop here in Sydney, an investment-based national focused property business. Darren migrated from South Africa in 2008 to Australia. His first taste of real estate was actually in development. He was buying land for a developer for the purpose of development sites here in Australia. Darren has a background in CAD designing, which was actually the fundamental reason why he moved to Australia.

Darren’s now moved on. He’s got entrepreneurial, I guess, the taste of what it’s like to really get out there and do his own thing, and he’s started his own buyer’s agent business. As I said earlier, it’s called Strat Prop. What Darren is doing is quite unique. He’s developing a very custom bespoke client journey, fully focused on building investment portfolios. Investment portfolios for the future. So I’m really excited to introduce Darren Venter today. Welcome, Darren.

Darren Venter:

Thanks Bennie. Very warm welcome. Thank you very much.

Ben Handler:

For people who don’t know, what is CAD designing?

Darren Venter:

Well, CAD designing is… So there’s obviously a lot of different industries that use CAD designing, but CAD is computer-aided designing. The objective with CAD designing is that it’s a quick method to produce something, but there’s a very logical thought process in the actual workings of CAD design.

You have to reach an objective by starting at a start point. Like anything, I mean, you could put that analogy into baking a cake. You want to get a cake out of the oven you’ve got to start with the recipe. It’s the same thing with CAD. So there’s a very logical thought process when coming into a situation, being able to divide it out into the steps that you need to take to get to the end product.

Ben Handler:

I love it. And like building an investment portfolio, which is probably why it’s fundamental to what you’re doing with your new business at Strat Prop, right?

Darren Venter:

Absolutely. So with Strat Prop what we’re more focused around more than just buying property is actually growing the portfolio for our clients. So understanding that maybe while CAD designing is the process to get a product, building that portfolio or buying those properties is the process to build that portfolio. So when we do purchase our properties for our clients, we actually go in knowing exactly what their profile looks like as an individual.

And we question them out by a series of questions. It actually puts them into, I think it’s three different sets of criteria that they fill out or rather three different buckets that they are put into by means of, I think it’s 27 or 28 questions. And these questions essentially profile them out into nine major sections and it shows their weaknesses and their strengths. And then we basically take those, and we use them inside the process to be able to purchase their property.

So what this looks like, just to elaborate on that, is if we have a client that might be time-poor, but they have high funds, or if they have a lot of time available, but low funds, you could strategically purchase that property knowing that if they do have more funds then they can basically put that cash towards contractors to be able to develop a property. Therefore, that means that that property will have to be that type of a property. Then we have to look in certain areas because those properties are only in certain areas, but it’s also got to then fit into their actual budget.

So being able to balance all of these things is basically how we purchase our properties for our clients, and then build off that every single time in their portfolio. So getting that property to perform in the right way for them, and then essentially withdrawing the equity, moving it on to the next property and building out in that strategic layering that we go through.

Ben Handler:

How important is the first purchase?

Darren Venter:

Extremely important. So a lot of the times that first purchase is also considered the exit property, just because you can only lend so many times from the bank and therefore the bank’s only going to give you so much money. So that property, the initial property purchase that you’re going through, that actually has to be the one that’s going to be able to get you into the good books with the banks again, because essentially you can’t borrow forever. The banks handicap you at a point and that property is then the tool to get you out and re-inject that equity back into your portfolio and use it further on.

Typically, you’re probably looking at around four to five purchases before you get this knockback. Sometimes six purchases, depending on obviously the client’s profile with the bank because everybody has their absolute individual profiles, but it’s about being able to balance that profile financially within the property structure.

So very important to get the first property right because that property is the one that’s going to be able to essentially lead you onto further growth when you do hit speed bumps. Because as we all know, property investment is not all cakes and cookies. There are some speed humps on the way, but it’s about preparing yourself and making sure that you go into the game with that exit strategy in place.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. And which is like what you were sharing with the CAD designing, you’re thinking about the end goal and you’re moving.

So let’s talk a bit about research. Obviously it’s fundamental to what you’re doing, to what all investors do. One of the big issues I think for investors and buyer’s agents is a bit like a membership site is overwhelm. You go in there and you’re like, I’ve got Real Estate Investar, I’ve got HtAG, I’ve got [inaudible 00:06:08], I’ve got RP Data. I’ve got Pricefinder et cetera. This does this, that that.

What’s your approach to A) Consolidate and then B) For it to become a bit more seamless for you to move quicker.

Darren Venter:

Well, the consolidation is the biggest thing. You’ve got to get the information, but you can’t just get the information. You got to get the right information. So data is available to everybody. We’re all got privy to it. Everybody can get it. It’s really easy. That’s not the problem. It’s being able to understand what that data means.

So being able to construct that into an actual legible format and to be able to predict what that’s going to mean. That’s the trick there. So if we take a look at, for example, a low vacancy rate in that area, it might be a good factor to make judgement off, but it might not be that right factor to make judgement off. You’ve got to look at the demographic behind that vacancy rate. You also got to ask yourself why that vacancy rate is there. And also what influences around there are the government putting in place to influence that vacancy rate and what’s going to influence it negatively or positively in the future.

We basically base a lot of the information and a lot of the data that we collect is off government’s portal. And you’re able to take this information because the government makes it really available to a lot of people. And you can take this information, understand what infrastructure expenditure’s going into certain areas, be able to make a prediction of what that is going to look like in terms of the projection of value growth in an area and work off that.

Ben Handler:

So if you’re looking into an area, I’m assuming you’re looking at obviously local economy, looking at vacancy. What are the key things you are looking for when you’re moving into a potential let’s call it a new hot spot or new area?

Darren Venter:

So we want to understand what the actual demographic movements look like. So the vacancy rate is one thing, but what is that vacancy rate over? We keep harping on the vacancy rate, but it is an important point. But it also really does come down to the rate of movement. So what are those people… How quickly are they moving into an area? How quickly are they moving out of an area?

The infrastructure spend is a big thing. And I’ll just put that back into an actual situation. So if we look at, for example, out in the western suburbs of Sydney or in Canberra, they’ve got the international expansions for their airport at the moment. And we all know that Canberra’s going under a very high injection of tech at the moment, introducing the first 5Gs connectivities and a lot of tech hub around Canberra. But what we also need to look at is that those international airport connections are going to be in the likes of Los Angeles and Tokyo to the biggest tech hubs in the world.

So some of this influence can be predictive of what else can we look for in terms of tech development, tech boom. And so then we can go back into the Canberra market and find out what other influences the government’s putting in place to assist that. And therefore, if that’s going to be… They’re obviously going to need cabling under the ground or other infrastructures that are going to be able to support that industry.

Then essentially we can look for the people that are going to be able to work to support those industries. Those people have to live somewhere. We’re in the business of buying property. So we have to buy those properties that are going to be able to work for those locations, for those industries, for those reasons. So it’s about back stepping and understanding the full scope and then honing in on the actual data, which is the supportive point for it.

Ben Handler:

Most of your clients are they typically locking in interest-only loans to support this strategic direction that you’re going in?

Darren Venter:

We work very closely with our finance partners because not everybody is the same and it depends where you are in the portfolio too. Throughout that big questionnaire that we give our clients… It’s not a big questionnaire but throughout the questionnaire that we give our clients, a lot of that stuff is also financial questions, but we also then lead onto the conversation with our mortgage brokers and our financial partners.

So every instance is very specific and particularly tailored to the client’s needs. If there’s a need for a principal and interest, then we might go that way. But typically getting into the investment properties, starting off interest-only, great. If you can get into the 80%, great. If you can’t there’s still lenders mortgage insurance, which we can tap on. It just means that your rate of growth is influenced by the decisions you make on the financial side too.

So there’s two very important things that we need to do here is the property purchase strategy and then the financial placement strategy. And if you can place those together to work really well, then essentially that property is going to be able to perform for you, perform for your portfolio and allow that to grow in a very structured strategic way.

Ben Handler:

Are you focusing on existing stock or is it new or are you doing both?

Darren Venter:

We don’t buy new stock. It’s very rare that we buy new stock. And just a bit of a background. I used to actually do land finding, land investigations for building companies and for mass developments. And I stepped away from that because it’s not necessarily the point where I found value because I really value finding properties where the growth of the property is influenced by what I’ve literally been speaking about.

A lot of developments don’t necessarily have a lot of that interest best of mind or front of mind. And I’m not saying that’s in every single case, but that is one of the reasons why I actually stepped out of that side of the industry is because I really saw the value of what the market growth does. So because of that, I actually took myself away from the new builds because we couldn’t really justify the value growth in the new builds.

Ben Handler:

Which makes sense.

Darren Venter:

Yeah. So we actually purchase existing stock most of the time. In fact, all of the time. So we find these products in regional pockets of Australia, also outer metro areas of Australia. And as long as it makes sense for the clients, then that’s what we go ahead with. But essentially every property that we purchase for our clients is individually picked. We don’t have a place where we like to pick right now, because that might not be right for the portfolio. Every product and every property has its own reason in the portfolio.

Ben Handler:

Which makes sense. And it’s obviously a backdrop to your business model, which is obviously very custom bespoke. And as you were saying around the interest-only or the PNI, it’s based on that specific time for that specific client for what they need at that time. And I think that’s great because there’s no one size fits all approach for investing. I think you need to analyze the situation as it is, which I’m sure clearly you’re doing and then working out what’s the best strategy to meet the objective outcome.

Darren Venter:

Absolutely. Everybody has their own situation. Everybody has their own objective and everybody has to have their own plan to get there. So it’s about creating that plan and doing it through strategic purchasing is to me the only way to do that.

Ben Handler:

What have you found challenging? Obviously, as an entrepreneur starting your own business, it’s never easy. Buyer’s agents are starting to grow now. Obviously property is something you’re passionate about. What have you found most challenging starting out Strat Prop?

Darren Venter:

The most challenging part of starting any business is being able to let people know what you’re able to do for them. There’s a big rapport that you have to have. There’s a big amount of rapport that you have to have with your clients and potential clients. Building that relationship is always the biggest thing for me to be able to get people to understand what it is that I do and why I do it.

So I think for me, that’s probably always been the biggest thing. I wouldn’t say it’s been necessarily a challenge, but it’s been my main focus in business would be to try and get that relationship with people because when you are purchasing properties for them, which is of such… They’re good volumes of cash spend that they’re putting down into your trust to actually be able to purchase a property for them, you really do need to get to know those people because you need to understand what their objectives are.

So in terms of the biggest challenge, it would probably be to get out in front of my potential clientele and let them know what it is that I’m able to do for them. But like with any business that you create, there’s a lot of challenges. There’s the marketing challenges. And that’s pretty much what I’ve just harped on there. So that is marketing 101 is about getting people to be able to trust you and understand what you’re doing. Probably the most important thing or the most challenging thing would probably be getting in front of the right people.

Ben Handler:

Which is also comes down to getting clients. And I think that’s a common problem for all businesses typically starting out is client acquisition.

Darren Venter:

Yeah, absolutely. It is a tricky part, but what I’m finding is that as soon as you take on a couple clients, they refer on to other clients, they refer on to other clients and you build your network that way. And you really do grow a strong clientele base. And that I think is probably more valuable than any sort of online marketing that you can do because you know the product that you’re supplying to this person, and they’re able to share that knowledge with somebody else.

So understanding what you do and sharing that with your client, allows them to share it with their clients. So being really open and exposed about the whole process is one of our… Is basically top of mind for us is that we expose all of our discussions and our conversations and our findings. And we actually train our clients up along the way so that they have a very good understanding and comfort level with what we’re trying to do.

Ben Handler:

The whole transparency. I sent an email out to my database a few days ago, and I was sharing two tips on what I felt buyers wish they knew before they… Because I personally with my experience, I think that buyers are very naive. I’m sure you’ve got your own experience and perspective, but I think they think they know what they’re doing, especially the ones who might have, they might have bought one property or two, or they may have never bought before. They don’t know what they don’t know.

So my two tips. Just one of them and we can elaborate on this. I’m curious to get your perspective. The first tip was around, I guess the whole essence of developing real estate agent relationships. The importance of having a solid real estate agent relationship for two reasons, especially for a buyer’s agent. One is getting access to all available stock. So not relying on real estate and domain. And then the second is to position you to buy the property at the right price because you have that relationship so they’ll say, “Hey Darren. I’ve got two other buyers here. If you just give me 420, deal’s done. We’ll go unconditional.” So that was the first one was about agent relationships.

And the second tip that I mentioned was around negotiation. In the sense of… I was mentioning that the negotiation begins when you walk through a property if you do go through it. Just judging body language. If you’re looking like you love it all and you try not to say much and you think because you’re not talking that you’re winning it. And then when you get on the phone to try and crunch the deal out as a buyer potentially they know you love it. And they’re going to use that as leverage. And they’re going to squeeze you.

What’s your take on those two things? So one is obviously the importance of real estate agent relationships and two just around negotiation.

Darren Venter:

Number one. Real estate agent relationships. It is extremely important. I know there’s, unfortunately, a little bit of a taboo thought process around real estate agents. And I’ll be honest with you. They are all great people. They’re all doing their job, and they’re all doing the best that they can do.

So when you’re going into a negotiation or a discussion with a real estate agent, be open, put your cards on the table, know what you have to hold back if you do have to hold anything back, but understand that they are still people trying to do their job and work with them as much as you can. If you’re open, if you’re upfront and if you are basically putting everything out there that you should be, you can’t put everything out because there’s negotiations taking place, but if you are open and you’re friendly and you’re humble and you are just… If you put out the energy to be able to receive the energy, then that’s when that good relationship comes through.

And having an open conversation with an agent is probably the first step in the right direction. Going into those discussions being closed off to an agent is not going to get you anywhere. You’ve got to befriend them. You’ve got to make them understand that you are doing your job just as much as they are. And understanding that basically allows a good coherence between the two parties.

Ben Handler:

And also, I guess, gives you more access to stock. And what your take on negotiation? Because I think a lot of buyers think they know how to negotiate. They can negotiate on a fridge, or they might be negotiating in something very different to property, but then they jump into property, and they think they’re this expert negotiator. What’s your take on that?

Darren Venter:

The negotiation game it comes down to every single circumstance at hand. There’s a lot that you can play on in the negotiations. When you do go into negotiation, I would just be mindful that there’s a lot of options that… Because you obviously can’t put everything on the table at the same time, they’re probably not putting everything on the table at the same time, too.

As long as you have a good rapport and you can go into that negotiation on a good holistic level where you’re not battling each other, where it’s a good conversation, I think that will get you further in uncovering a little bit more information which you’re able to use in your negotiation. So definitely being able to create that rapport with an agency is very important too, especially with being able to get those off-market listings. It’s creating the trust between the two parties and there’s obviously the trust factor, but then there’s the fact factor.

The trust factor you can only get so far being a negative person without much trust. But if you have a bit of a positive attitude going into it, you’re going to get more of the fact factor than the trust factor from the party that you’re actually negotiating with.

There’s obviously always a lot of tools that you can use in a negotiation strategy. Obviously on forwarding the rental onto the property. Helping the agents keep that property on their rental. So there’s a whole bunch of different factors you can use. It’s always very dependent on the property at hand. But I would say number one is, go into it understanding that they are just as human as you are and that you’re having this human conversation between two parties and don’t make it an argument, make it a discussion.

Ben Handler:

I love it. And let’s talk about all these buyers out there who are waiting until September to buy. And then yesterday we just got news that it’s going to be… So they could be waiting until January.

Darren Venter:

They could be.

Ben Handler:

And they could be waiting until 2063. So what’s your take if buyers come to you and they’re like, Darren, I’m just waiting to September or now they’re going to be waiting until December to buy. Have you got an opinion around that or is there something that you’d like to share to them?

Darren Venter:

Absolutely. Don’t wait because the more you wait, the less interest you can earn or the less gross you’re going to get on that actual money that you have saved up. A lot of our clients come to us, and they do you have this discussion with us where they say, well, we just want to wait, and we want to test out the market because we’ve heard that something’s going to happen. It may happen. It may not happen, but what’s the point of waiting?

Right now with the funds you have available, with the place that you are, with what you’re looking to achieve, we can create that plan. That plan might look different in eight months’ time and that’s that plan. But right now it could be this plan. Each plan will have an outcome, and it’ll basically be able to take us towards your objective one way or another. But if you wait, you’re going to get there later. And that’s the bottom line.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, it’s an interesting one. I always tend to think that the people who are on that fence wanting to wait, I guess the real question is how serious are they? Is it a high priority to buy? And I tend to think not so much because why would they want to then…? If the right property presented itself today at the right price, why wouldn’t you want to buy it?

Darren Venter:

Absolutely. I think that comes down to, again, the question of what is your desire to work with a buyer’s agent too? If you’re able to find that on your own, if you see it on your own and you want to buy it on your own, then buy it on your own. But is that property, the right property for you to be buying and for the right reason?

So it’s understanding what the market factor is behind the property, but it’s also understanding what that property is going to be able to do for you. So if you’re waiting for the property to do something, I can tell you now, today it’s going to be there and in two months it’s going to be there. It’s still going to be there in a year. It’s not going anywhere. It’s the performance of the market and how you can gauge that with your personal profile.

Ben Handler:

What made you personally want to become a buyer’s agent? What was the drive behind it?

Darren Venter:

Well, my whole family comes from property originally. So my mum was a real estate agent. My auntie was a very big real estate agent. My grandfather actually owned one of the biggest real estate agents in Johannesburg.

Ben Handler:

Why didn’t you get the sales gene?

Darren Venter:

No, you see, that’s the thing.

Ben Handler:

You missed it.

Darren Venter:

I think I got my technical knowledge and my technical head from my dad. All the property was on my mom’s side. And I took this love for property, which I could see that they were doing really well with, and I saw what it had done for the family on that side, but I’ve got a more technical approach on things. I’m not necessarily a salesperson, but I do like the interaction with people. I love that.

So being able to take the property, which I love. I love the property factor of it. And being able to put it into a technical aspect such as investment purchasing through strategic plans. Then I think yeah, onto a winner, and I think I got that from my dad’s side because we used to sit down every Sunday and draw out house plans on A3 papers, and we’d be like, yeah, this is the house we’re going to buy, and we’re going to build this one. Good memories.

Ben Handler:

Obviously we’ve hit a new FY. What’s the plan for Strat Prop high level?

Darren Venter:

So I’d say high-level plans is we’ve got some new, really cool tools inside of our business, which we’re using with our clients. And it allows our clients to basically be able to grow their portfolios effectively without having to actually manage it themselves.

Ben Handler:

This is your IP?

Darren Venter:

This is our IP. And we’ve developed this over the last several months. It’s come to fruition just probably about four weeks ago. The new development release of it at least has become fruition about four weeks ago. It’s really interesting stuff. So basically we’re stepping more into the portfolio growth rather than property purchasing side of things.

So for our clients now, for the next coming years, we are wanting to take on clients who are actually looking to be able to grow their portfolios, rather than just buy one or two properties. We actually want to set them up and nurture them and manage that whole system and set up and structure for them.

Ben Handler:

Okay. That’s exciting.

Darren Venter:

It is very exciting.

Ben Handler:

It’s big. And so you’re based in Sydney, mainly?

Darren Venter:

Based in Sydney, Northern Beaches, but we purchase countrywide pretty much.

Ben Handler:

Love it. As we wrap up, where can people find you?

Darren Venter:

So the website’s www.stratprop.com.au. Facebook is Strat Prop AU and Instagram is Strap Prop, I believe. LinkedIn Strap Prop again, Darren Venter. My personal email address is [email protected] or you can give me a call. The number’s on the website.

Ben Handler:

Awesome, man. Really appreciated the chat.

Darren Venter:

Thank you very much.

Ben Handler:

Great to see your journey evolve and just looking forward to see you kick some massive goals over the next FY.

Darren Venter:

Thanks mate, you too.

Ben Handler:

Great to have you.

Darren Venter:

Thank you very much.

Ben Handler:

Appreciate it. Okay.

So hope that was a good little background and backdrop on to Darren’s story at Strap Prop. As you can see, being a buyer’s agent, you don’t need to be that salesperson. Like you see the real estate agent with the shiny teeth and the pointy shoes and the flashy car and all that stuff.

A lot of buyer’s agents are actually quite technical like Darren. Especially for investors, they’re analyzing data. Like we talked about. There’s so much information that it’s overwhelming. You’ve got to learn how to consolidate it all. And as you just heard with Darren, he’s actually built out with his own IP a lot of tools around delivering his client a different, fresh innovative experience to really grow that portfolio and watch it grow and measure it.

So if you want to learn more about Darren, check him out. His details are on the screen now. You can check him out on his website. You can email him. He’s running an investment national business. It’s very bespoke and custom. Awesome chatting. See you next week.

Please watch the full episode here:

Giving People Honest Advice

Buyer's Agent Ben Plohl

After 15 years as a property investor, Ben Plohl has built up an extensive understanding of what a great investment looks like.

Ben started buying property at 18 years old and built up his portfolio across the course of his working life. After working as both a chartered account and CFO, Ben made the transition into a full-time property, in a bid to follow his passion and help others.

“As soon as I turned 18 I went out and bought my first property and from there I really developed a passion for property.”

“Over a long period of time I was able to build up a pretty large property portfolio and towards the end of the corporate career I didn’t need to have that corporate lifestyle anymore, I had a young family, I decided to make the transition into a buyer’s agent.”

Having worked with buyer’s agents throughout his own investment journey, Ben understood the benefits and felt he would be a good fit both personally and also given his background in business.

Ben’s business, BFP Property Buyers, focuses on the Sydney area for owner-occupiers given his in-depth knowledge of the area but also helps investors identify properties in all locations.

“We do both owner-occupier and investments. For owner-occupier perspective, we target Sydney, predominantly around the Hills district, Lower North and Upper North Shore, the Eastern Suburbs and the Inner West of Sydney.”

“From an investment perspective, we don’t have a bias to any particular location. Our location analysis and selection are based on a scientific data approach where we look at the economics behind certain markets and understand what’s going on at a sort of micro-level to then give our clients the advice around where to invest in in order to meet their specific goals. At the moment we invest in just over four different states across the country.”

BFP Property Buyers started at the beginning of 2019 and has grown quickly. Initially, Ben reached out to the BAI to help him get the business started on the right foot.

“Having run businesses in the past and big teams, I think going into your own small solo-operator business is always daunting in a new industry.”

“With Ben’s help and his course, it was a way to give me comfort in having a crack at it and ever since I started it’s been great. He’s a good guy.”

Going forward Ben is looking to continue to grow his business while focusing on helping people.

“Setting up a business is always great – the financial benefits are always great. But for me personally, it’s just helping people – giving them honest advice about helping them make better decisions when acquiring their largest asset that they most likely will buy in their lifetime. So that’s really important.”

“It’s important for me to be giving them independent representation in making smart decisions and not overpaying for property.”

For those looking at a career as a buyers agent, Ben suggest people give it a crack.

“I think it’s important that you have a good, thorough understanding of property. I think that’s really important. Having good interpersonal skills, being able to understand or extract information from your client to really give them valuable advice around what they might need and what they might not need.

“But ultimately it’s just if you’ve got the confidence then have a crack. I think the industry’s still in its infancy and there are opportunities for everyone.”

Mind, Body, Sold

Buyer's Agent Elaine Davies from New Road Property on Mind, Bold, Sold!

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute how. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents. Bring awareness around the career opportunities the sector is providing people. To bring awareness of the value that buyer’s agents are providing people who need help buying property.

Ben Handler:

Our goal of the show is to strip back and dive into the remarkable stories and journeys of buyer’s agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest-growing career sectors in real estate right now.

Ben Handler:

Our guest today is Elaine Davies. She’s from the UK. She’s from Wales. She’s got an awesome career background. It’s very diverse. She was a TV and radio presenter. She was a magazine columnist. She is an author. She recently published a book called Mind, Body, Sold. She’s published, I believe, four books. She’s also worked as a selling agent, and that was in Asia.

Ben Handler:

When she did go through a divorce, when she was back in Australia, she then got back into becoming a selling agent again. But then realized that the buyer was heavily misrepresented. There was a massive gap. The buyer needed more attention. So she became a buyer’s agent. She worked for a few firms. We actually worked together at my former company Cohen Handler. She’s awesome.

Ben Handler:

And now she’s recently started her own business, called New Road Property. And Elaine has a very strong purpose. I think it’s very deep. It’s really focused on empowering women. Helping women become more financially secure. Helping women understand how to get the money to work for them. And using the property as an investment vehicle to really achieve it.

Ben Handler:

I’m super excited to introduce Elaine. Welcome.

Elaine Davies:

Ben, thank you. What a beautiful introduction. You’re so gorgeous.

Ben Handler:

Thank you. There’s a lot there. We knew you’ve got a good background. It’s a deep background. So, did I nail it?

Elaine Davies:

You nailed it. There are no re-takes here.

Ben Handler:

Awesome. You’ve got the book there, Mind, Body, Sold.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, I’ve got the book. So, you’re right. I wrote this because I really… You were a buyer’s agent, I’m a buyer’s agent, but not everybody wants to use a buyer’s agent. And maybe people live in small communities. So I gave away every single tip. Everything from the searching to the negotiating. It’s all in here. So for 30 bucks, people can have our experience.

Elaine Davies:

But I also delved into the mindset. Because a lot of times people don’t buy, not because they don’t know how to look, and not because they haven’t got the money, but there’s something in them. They’re in property mindset, or people around them are going, “Don’t do that. Come out for a cocktail. Don’t save that money.” They haven’t got goals. They haven’t got a vision. So I wrote that as well.

Elaine Davies:

And I’ve also written a little part about why women drew the wealth short straw and the circumstances around that. But, more importantly, what we can do about it.

Ben Handler:

It’s powerful, and I love the heading. I know I spoke to you last year about it. I read it, and it is very good. And you give away a lot. I always admire it when people actually give it all out. They’re not just giving a bit, as like a tickler.

Elaine Davies:

It’s not a lead magnet.

Ben Handler:

That ain’t a lead magnet. No, but I think you’ve got a lot of experience. As I said, you’ve worked as a selling agent overseas. You’ve worked as a selling agent, here in Sydney, for a long time. You’ve worked as a buyer’s agent. You’re running your own company now. You’ve also got life experience. You’ve been a writer. You are a writer. You’ve got a lot to bring to the table, right?

Ben Handler:

And I think, more importantly, what I feel connected with what you’re doing is… even though I’m not a female… is how you are connected with serving women.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, that’s a good word.

Ben Handler:

Why are you so passionate about it?

Elaine Davies:

Oh, well, two reasons. Yeah, I’m glad you asked me that. There’s a really big picture, in that statistics are showing that the growing stats around homelessness is women, and it’s growing evermore.

Elaine Davies:

So, women coming out of divorces, or all kinds of reasons. But women are actually ending up on the streets. So that’s the big picture. I just want to be a tiny little cog, in helping that level down, and come back a bit. And that, I think, is a lot to do with mindset, and people [inaudible 00:03:57].

Elaine Davies:

Now, on a personal level, as you say I was on the TV, I was on many radio stations, including [inaudible 00:04:05], Qantas. I think I was writing about seven magazines. I was publishing authors. I was the Carrie Bickmore of Sydney. And I was running large. I was flying all over the world. I was working, even back then, on my computer.

Elaine Davies:

Then I got married, and within four years, I was a single mother of a two-year-old. Now if I hadn’t frittered that money away in my 20s and 30s, I would’ve been fine. But I was of the mindset then, and I don’t come from a family where we create money. I come from a family where you work hard. We’re grafters. That working-class thing. It’s week to week. And everything’s got to be hard.

Elaine Davies:

My own story, my life would be… I’ve caught up now, but when my marriage broke up, I was like, “Okay, what do we do now?” And it was quite tough for quite a number of years.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, I’ve seen that story happen so many times, and it’s so easy just to save a little bit, and get an investment.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. It sounds easy, but a lot of people don’t do it.

Elaine Davies:

We just need to spend less and save more. My grandmother had four dresses in her… I think she had three dresses in her wardrobe. A day dress, a church dress and something else. But think how big the wardrobes were. They were just little wooden wardrobes.

Ben Handler:

I’m surprised about the women and the homelessness. I actually didn’t know that. That’s insightful. How are you finding women, in terms of them being receptive, to wanting to go on this journey? To really have the money working for them, and to really start building wealth themselves.

Elaine Davies:

I think a lot of them feel really relieved because a lot of them have said… women are really good savers. We run households, sometimes with six people. We’re juggling bills. There are mortgages, there are school fees going out. There are school notes going out. So women are actually very good managers of money.

Elaine Davies:

It’s the next step we don’t tend to take. For some reason… And I was talking to a very successful woman about this the other day. She said, “Oh, we’re a great team. I do the searching, and my husband does the buying.” And I said, “Oh, interesting. So you do the pretty bit at the beginning, and you hand over the finances?” She went, “Oh, yeah, I suppose so.”

Ben Handler:

Handballs it.

Elaine Davies:

Handballs it. “You do the negotiations. I don’t want to do that.” We’re really good negotiators, women. We are constantly negotiating all day, every day. We need to own that in a really deep and powerful level. And just step up and go, “Yeah, man, I’m going to create this life.”

Ben Handler:

I personally think that women, in my time that I was working specifically in the buyer’s agent space in my company, I actually think women are more suited for the role. I think the selling side is very alpha male. Dog eat dog. And I do… And I would see that… I know you’ve been a selling agent. I haven’t. But I would see it’d be hard for a lady on that side. Maybe that’s wrong, but that’s how I see it, unfortunately. But on the buy side, I think the women have the power. And I hope to see more women.

Elaine Davies:

Me too. It’d be great to see more women in the industry as a whole. But it’s interesting you were saying… Because I became a buyer’s agent because I didn’t like the way the buyers were being treated. And, while I’m in real estate and so are you, I think we’re pretty honest people. Our core is that we’re working for the particular clients we’re working for.

Elaine Davies:

And I remember, it happened to me a few times, a buyer would call me and say, because I’d built up such a good relationship, “Look, Elaine, I can go another 20, but don’t tell the vendor. Start at five.” Well, they’d already told the vendor. I was the vendor’s representative. So I’d file my nails all day, go for a coffee and come back, and go, “Really exciting news. We’ve got it for the 20. I couldn’t go to five, don’t worry about that. Really exciting, got it for the 20.” And I was a pretty level negotiator.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, absolutely, people really need a buyer’s advocate, because you’re making money when you buy, not when you sell. You buy rubbish, it’s not going to come up above the medium, which is what we all want.

Elaine Davies:

So I would rather see people put their money into a buyer’s agent, than into a real estate agent.

Ben Handler:

It’s fascinating what you just shared, I’m not surprised, regarding how transparent buyers are with real estate agents. I think they forget that the selling agent works for the vendor.

Elaine Davies:

Selling agents, just by their nature, are friendly, even if they’re not behind closed doors. But a lot are. I’ve got nothing against selling agents. But they’re working for the vendor. And they just don’t know.

Ben Handler:

How was the shift? I know you’ve been a buyer’s agent for a while. This is not new to you. And real estate’s not new to you either. You’ve got a lot of experience. However, how was that shift when you moved? Because you would have moved from a selling agent to a buyer’s agent at a time when it was still not very recognized.

Elaine Davies:

I was kind of one of the first. Not real… There was another batch before me, but it wasn’t like it is today. I loved it straight away. Yeah. And the guy I was working for had… he’s a quite flashy guy around town. He had his Ferrari. Actually, it’s not that fun to get in and out of. They’re better on paper than they are. No, but apart from that, I loved it straight away. Looking at all these amazing properties. But not getting fooled by the smell of fresh coffee, and lights on inside, and all that. A lot of it is common sense, but you only know once you know.

Ben Handler:

It’s true, and you get fooled. A lot of buyers get fooled. They walk into a place, and they don’t judge the light correctly. They’ve gone at the wrong time of the day. They can do stupid things.

Ben Handler:

Let’s talk about New Road Property. So you’re based in the inner-West?

Elaine Davies:

Yes I am based in the inner-West, and inner-city.

Ben Handler:

Okay, inner-city. So you’re focusing on…

Elaine Davies:

Inner-West and East, which is why I chose to have my office in the city. Because I really know both just as well as each other.

Ben Handler:

And they’re good areas to service.

Elaine Davies:

They’re great, and I love them both.

Ben Handler:

Are you specializing primarily in owner-occ, investor, both?

Elaine Davies:

I’d say I’m 50, 50. It’s funny, I was just thinking about two of the last properties I bought. I bought a beautiful terrace house here in Surrey Hills for 2.3 million, and I bought an apartment… I can’t remember the name of the suburb now… for 850. But the apartment was for owner-occupiers, and the 2.3 million was for investors. And they could easily have been the other way around. So a good property is a good property.

Ben Handler:

What happened during COVID? Obviously, for all of us, it was a shock, it was quick, a lot of change. What did you notice, whether it was property or anything?

Elaine Davies:

Well, my garden’s looking good.

Ben Handler:

Your garden…

Elaine Davies:

It’s never looked so good. Obviously, for a while, we couldn’t take people out. But, in a way, I was busier, because we were really finding the off markets even more. And I found that one conversation was leading to another. I actually found real estate agents were more open to saying, “Look, I think there is a house coming up actually.”

Elaine Davies:

Because, suddenly, people just became more of enclosed society. That’s the wrong word. What am I trying to say? Just started working better together, I felt.

Ben Handler:

They were collaborating more.

Elaine Davies:

That’s the word. That’s the word, Ben.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, I felt that as well. I felt that.

Elaine Davies:

I think it was such a shock to the system for everybody. Because I was a person who was in denial. I was one of the last to go, “Okay, this is really serious.” I really found people quite helpful.

Elaine Davies:

So I’d be… As I say, speaking to one real estate, “Actually, there is a house coming up, that’s not me.” I’m like, “Okay.”

Ben Handler:

You’re being nice today.

Elaine Davies:

What’s going on? I like COVID.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, it seems like people became a bit more vulnerable, a bit more open.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah. Let’s hope that stays.

Ben Handler:

That’s what I’m praying for.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, me too. It would be wonderful if the world stayed… It does feel like we’re all now against this big baddie out there, and the baddie’s the virus. And we’re all looking after each other.

Ben Handler:

Question. It might be a silly question. Are you only servicing women as clients? Or will you take on…

Elaine Davies:

No, I’m not ever turning away. You know, we turn away clients.

Ben Handler:

Of course.

Elaine Davies:

The funny thing is, I don’t tend to work with many single guys. So I work with couples a lot. And we have a good laugh with that. Because I like to separate them. So I have this thing… Giving away a few of my tips now. But I get them to fill in separate briefs, the husband and the wife. No peaking. Because that, straight away, gives me a clue into what’s stopping them buying, what’s one of the things.

Ben Handler:

That’s smart.

Elaine Davies:

Because a lot of people, again, they don’t know what they don’t know. Hopefully, they love each other. So one is saying, “Oh, if you found a great house up there, I would live there.” And vice-versa. But really deep down, they’re not going to. They’re not going to move suburbs. Or they’re not going to live in an apartment. There’s something there that is fundamentally a stop, and they can go looking for a property for two years.

Ben Handler:

So, hypothetically… I’m sure you’ve been through this. You get two client profile forms back, quite different. Do you then, “Is this intervention now guys?”

Elaine Davies:

Yep, it’s intervention nos.

Ben Handler:

And, “Unless we come to a mutual agreement, we’re not moving forward.”

Elaine Davies:

Oh, we always come to a mutual agreement.

Ben Handler:

Who budges first? Male, female?

Elaine Davies:

Okay, let me think of it. [inaudible 00:13:08] So that was the male. No, I’d say half and half. A lot of it is just pointing it out. It’s not a gender thing. It’s more personality dominant, or whatever.

Elaine Davies:

One couple had been together for 30 years, and she was the one that called me. And she was like, “He’s getting on my nerves.” “Now”, I said, “We need to talk.” So they came in, hardly talking to each other, and their story was, “We are in the car on Saturday.” She would say to him, “Stop the car.” And he’d say, “Fine.” And she’d get out and slam the door.

Elaine Davies:

And what I realized was, she had put, “They wanted to buy in the next three months”, and he said, “No rush.” But she was the one that felt under pressure. So I said, “This is really interesting. What it’s telling me is, his communication with you is just showing you stuff. He’s just going, ‘What about this one? What about this one?’ He’s not actually… Not everyone he shows you, he wants to buy. He’s just trying to have a conversation.” And they walked out of my office holding hands.

Ben Handler:

Wow! I’m sure… Is that a rare outcome?

Elaine Davies:

Well, it’s usually… Holding hands, yeah. But, no, there’s usually a joy or a breakthrough. So sometimes they’re just exhausted, and they’re like, “Okay, get it.” And we get it.

Ben Handler:

What’s happening for New Road this year? Obviously, this year’s been a crazy year for everyone?

Elaine Davies:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Is it just business as usual? Obviously, you’ve got your course coming out. Is there anything different coming?

Elaine Davies:

I don’t think this is the year for me to change anything on New Road Property. It is business as usual. But I’m very excited about my course because as I say, it’s… and a lot of it is around understanding the real estate agent, and what they do, and what they say, and how to look at the property negotiations. So, I’m really excited.

Elaine Davies:

And I’m going to jump into a Facebook group and be part of it. To build a community around that. But it’s going to be business as usual because I love it. I love it. What’s to change, you know?

Ben Handler:

You don’t… In real estate, we don’t need to change a lot.

Elaine Davies:

We don’t. I’ve kind of arrived.

Ben Handler:

A lot of the old stuff really works. So social media, there’s some new stuff, nuances, that you can do, but a lot of the old stuff still works. And I think a lot of people are trying, I feel, with where we are now in 2020, to use technology to get somewhere quicker. A lot quicker. And take short-cuts. But what we do in real estate, I believe, it’s the old stuff that works.

Elaine Davies:

You can’t outsource relationships. You can’t say to somebody else, “Make this call. Read this thing.” You’ve got to be in front of people and talking, and luckily I quite like that.

Ben Handler:

You can’t outsource relationships. That’s what is going to be the title for this discussion. That is one thing that cannot get outsourced.

Elaine Davies:

No, anything can pretty much get outsourced, but that relationship… One of the things I really dislike, is when there’s almost I feel like a con when you are signed up by one buyer’s agent, and then you sign, and you go, “Actually, it’s not me you’re working with. It’s this other person.” And there’s been no transparency through that. That really irks me when I hear that. And it happens in a few industries, it’s not just ours.

Ben Handler:

Can I ask you, why do you really feel you can’t outsource relationships? Because a lot of things, we can outsource now. Everything’s basically outsourced.

Elaine Davies:

Because it’s so personal. It’s my relationship. I can possibly introduce somebody into there, back into my relationship, but then I’m… obviously I’m in… not in [inaudible 00:16:27], but then they would recreate their own relationship. And that’s different. That’s an introduction and a warm… But if you… You know people hire people to do what they call cold calling, or warm calling. “Call this person, and see if they want to work with me again?” It’s like, “No, that’s the one thing, that is the relationship.”

Ben Handler:

Relationships for real estate is… some people say it’s more important than property.

Elaine Davies:

Well, that’s ironic. I’m glad you brought that up, because I’m a people person. It’s my clients I’m passionate about. I know all about property. I know a good one. I know how to negotiate. But it’s the clients that I’m passionate about.

Ben Handler:

Are you very [inaudible 00:17:06] with who you take on?

Elaine Davies:

Yes, from experience.

Ben Handler:

Is that because would you say you’ve taken on the wrong client?

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, in the past. They’ve always bought, but I think if you buy… And this is any business, and actually any part of life. If you take on somebody that you just know is not going to be quite right, or are going to be draining on you for some reason, you’re actually sabotaging meeting the next great person that you would’ve met. The next great client that you would’ve met. And as I say, this is relationships as well. Because you’re exhausted, and your time’s all caught up here in this negative area. Whereas you should be out there, attracting the people you want.

Ben Handler:

No, you’re right. You’re spending your time more productively doing other things. Talking about, I guess, utilizing time, do you feel like your meetings, when you’re getting in front of people, they’re specifically in that time coming to you, experiencing similar problems? A lot of your clients that you decide that you want to work with, typically more time-poor, typically sick of real estate agents? Do you find there’s a commonality, or is it all very different?

Elaine Davies:

No, no, no, there’s a commonality. I think there are five basic things, isn’t there? And one of them is confusion in the household. Confusion between the partners. And I think that’s missed a lot. People don’t delve into that. But, absolutely, time-poor.

Elaine Davies:

As I say, I have a lot of time for real estate agents. I’m not here to say they do a bad job, because they do a good job for the vendor. But, yeah, buyers get very fed up of real estate agents. But they don’t understand that underquoting is a way in Sydney. It’s quote it low, watch it grow, quote it high, watch it die. We are all trained for underquoting in Sydney. If somebody quotes it at the right price, people are going to then add another 10%. In a way, they can’t win. So people have to understand under quoting is the norm. 10% is normal. It can be 25%.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, and you’d know that from being on the sell side?

Elaine Davies:

Oh, I know it from being a buyer’s agent, because that’s the one thing I never listen to with a real estate agent, is what they’re actually quoting. That’s white noise. You have to do your research, and find your comparables, and go, “It sits in these properties.”

Ben Handler:

And that’s why people engage us, as buyer’s agents. They will especially engage people like yourself who actually understand this. You can see through it all.

Ben Handler:

The story you shared earlier was interesting, about the buyer who would, when you were a selling agent, reveal everything to you. A lot of these buyers have got no idea what they’re doing.

Elaine Davies:

No, because they don’t come across… We’re in this every single day. And I say this to buyers, “The good real estate agents are having training every Tuesday morning for two or three hours. Dialogue. They’re role-playing.” Whereas a buyer will walk into the real estate agent’s lair, really, once every seven years.

Ben Handler:

Yeah, that’s a good point. Walking into their playground, and I think they’ve got something up on that real estate agent.

Elaine Davies:

Absolutely. And real estate agents know how to build the relationship that I was talking about. They know how to do that. And again, I talk about that in the book. In fact, the auction, I depicted that as Game of Thrones. So I don’t know if you’re a Game of Thrones… But, of course, the buyers are the Norths, the Starks. Lannisters are the real estate agents, and Little Finger is the auctioneer.

Ben Handler:

Oh, I like it.

Elaine Davies:

No alliance to anyone.

Ben Handler:

Buyers get bullied by the auctioneers.

Elaine Davies:

That’s right.

Ben Handler:

Bid against themselves. Real estate agents also put a lot of pressure on buyers. It’s an interesting part. We’ve got a lot to talk about. And we’ve got to, unfortunately, finish up.

Elaine Davies:

Can I just say one more thing about COVID?

Ben Handler:

Yes.

Elaine Davies:

I’ve really enjoyed the way that buyers have been bidding from home because that has given them power. They’re not being whispered at, or having a real estate… the very loud and successful auctioneer do that. They’ve actually been sitting in their own lounge room. And I think, “Long may that last.”

Ben Handler:

Auction Now.

Elaine Davies:

Auction Now.

Ben Handler:

Damien Cooley. Did you use that platform?

Elaine Davies:

No, I was thinking of AuctionWORKS, David Scholes.

Ben Handler:

Oh, I haven’t used that. They’re all effectively doing the same thing. I thought that was an interesting transition and move. I’m curious to know whether it’s going to play out.

Elaine Davies:

Yeah, I do worry that people drink though, because you can’t sign. It’s illegal. I always say to people, “Never settle your nerves with a drink.”

Ben Handler:

I didn’t think of that. There, you could see some silly bidding. I didn’t think of that. If people are drinking, or-

Elaine Davies:

They’re at home. That’s the only thing I worry about.

Ben Handler:

Nervous. Where’s the best place for people to find you?

Elaine Davies:

My website is newroadproperty.com. And then on Instagram, I’m elaine.davies.inc., I-N-C. I’m Elaine Davies on Facebook. And LinkdIn. I’m on LinkdIn. I spend a lot of time on LinkdIn. That’s where I hang.

Ben Handler:

It’s the professional hangout.

Elaine Davies:

Oh, I’m so professional.

Ben Handler:

I’ve noticed on social media, you have a new energy about you. It’s like it’s the new version. Elaine is out here to do something impactful now. I notice that, so I’m sure people who are watching and looking at social media… Because I’ve seen the old Elaine, which is great, but there’s a new energy.

Elaine Davies:

Thank you Ben.

Ben Handler:

So I’m really excited to see where you’re going to go.

Elaine Davies:

Thank you Ben.

Ben Handler:

I always love chatting. Good energy.

Elaine Davies:

Love chatting to you.

Ben Handler:

Personality. No surprise you’re in the people business, real estate. And I think this book is really gold. So I appreciate it. Thank you.

Elaine Davies:

Thank you.

Ben Handler:

For everyone listening, you can check out Elaine’s book, Mind, Body, Sold. I read that last year. She does give away a lot in that book. So if you’re a buyer, read it. If you’re a buyer’s agent, read it. If you’re a real estate agent, whatever you do in real estate, I would read it. There’s a lot of good information. Check out Elaine on her website.

Ben Handler:

I used to work with Elaine. Elaine’s super impressive. She brings a lot to the table. She’s an incredible human being, number one. And she’s doing this new business, I believe, with a lot of purposes. Different energy she’s bringing to the table. And she’s got a lot of experience, working on the sell side, and the buy-side.

Ben Handler:

When I used to recruit buyer’s agents, I always used to look for buyer’s agents who had worked on the sell side, because they understand the mentality of both sides. So if you’re a buyer, check out Elaine as well, because she brings a lot to the table for Sydney, for inner-city, inner-West and the Eastern suburbs. See you next week.

Please watch the full episode here:

Maintaining High Standards

Buyer's Agent Matt sharp

Matt Sharp has had a passion for property for as long as he can remember.

When he turned 18, he set about saving for his first property and in the process started to learn everything he could about what drives property prices.

It took him six years to buy that first property, but since that point has gone on to build a substantial property portfolio and in the process has helped many people get started on their own property journey.

“Property is my passion and is something that I just love. I just enjoy all aspects, whether it be the data research, inspecting the property, or seeing how I could potentially develop or add value and then sharing that with other people.”

After finding a level of success personally, Matt wanted to expand what he was doing and felt that going down the path of becoming a buyer’s agent and helping and educating others was the right fit for him.

“The biggest thing for me early on what that, for every one positive story around property investing I heard, there were ten horror stories.”

“Not many people were having good experiences investing in property and unfortunately a couple of years ago there weren’t too many people out there giving good property investment advice.”

Matt is located on the Central Coast, an area that is doing exceptionally well at the moment and somewhere that he personally feels is a great place to be investing. His personal investment philosophy is a highly risk-averse one.

“In terms of the properties that we buy, I don’t buy anything brand new. Everything is existing, in areas that offer very low risk, low stock, low vacancy rates.”

“I’m a very, very low-risk investor personally and probably even more of a low-risk investor professionally when I’m advising people because obviously, I want to make sure that I’m eliminating every single pitfall possible.”.

While Matt had great success as an investor, getting his business up and running took time and plenty of perseverance.

“I’ve been operating for about 18 months now and to start with because I was on the Central Coast, the service wasn’t well known, so initially I just spent a lot of time just spreading the message that there was a buyer’s agent here on the central coast and sharing the message of what it was that I offered.”

“But getting clients just started from my inner circle or my established network of friends and other professionals or referral partners that I already had existing relationships with and those who sort of trusted me enough to refer some people to me and then obviously had some really good outcomes for people.”

“Then it just sorts of snowballed and snowballed from there. Now I get my clients from multiple referrals mainly because I’ve been fortunate enough to have some good outcomes and then people obviously trust you and then it just builds from there.”

Matt went through the BAI program and he feels it really helped him get where he wanted to go.

“Initially I didn’t really know how to get from A to Z. That’s what the BAI course does – it gives you a framework on how to run a successful buyer’s agency.”

“That help for me was tremendous and it just gave me the blueprint to be able to build my business and then how to run my business as well. So it taught me a lot.”

“I was never in real estate sales or anything like that, never wanted to be, never will be. I didn’t have a real estate background as such but leveraging my own personal experience and knowledge as well as the information that Ben shares in the BAI course combined, that can be quite powerful.”

“If you have your right morals and ethics and if you know your stuff, it can be very powerful.”

Going forward, Matt is looking to continue to grow his business while maintaining high standards.

“As clichéd as it sounds, I really want the buyer’s agent profession to have high standards and for people to look at us and our profession with a viewpoint that we add tremendous value and service because we all know what a real estate agent is and how people perceive them.”

“I really want to make sure that people look at my business in a completely different light.”

Matt suggests if you think a buyers agent sounds like the career for you, give it a go.

“There’s been a lot of late nights, there’s been a lot of early mornings, there’s been a lot of ups and downs, but for me personally it was probably the best thing that I did.”

“If you have a fire in the belly or if you have an itch that you feel as though you should be doing this, I would say give it a go because that’s what I did.”