Prior to starting out as a buyers agent, Paul Mollica had a long career helping others as a financial planner.
Over the years, the ability to help his clients achieve financial success through traditional superannuation investment strategies began to diminish and he realised he needed to help his clients do what he was already doing.
Paul had a 15-year record as a successful property investor and understood that property represented a better option for most people to build wealth.
“I spent the last 20 years as a financial planner and absolutely over time realised that it was failing consumers miserably. I thought there had to be a better way.
“I was starting to invest myself and see the benefits of that through leverage and the fact that you’ve got control over the asset, you can add sweat equity, you can manufacture improvements, all these sorts of things. I started talking to my clients about it and also looking at where my wealthier clients built or accumulated their wealth.“
“None of them accumulated it from the superannuation system or saving money, it was all through either business, buying and investing in property or inheriting property. So it was pretty easy to join the dots there.”
These days Paul operates, Wealthkey Property and uses a range of different strategies to assist investors to build wealth, including looking for positive cashflow opportunities outside of metro areas, adding value through renovation while also buying in blue-chip locations, if it suits the individual. Paul is also able to help project manage any properties that are using strategies such as a cosmetic renovation to provide a full end-to-end service.
Over the past few years, Paul has transitioned out of financial planning and into a full-time buyers agent. A move that was helped by his prior relationships with both clients and referral partners.
“I was operating the BA business part-time for the last six years and then last June I jumped out of planning completely and I only do property buying for clients now. I’ve got two staff, we’ve got acquisitions teams everywhere we need them nationally and it’s going really well.”
“With my financial knowledge both inside and outside of super and mortgage broking and also my contacts over the years. I’ve got a fairly healthy referral stream coming through.”
While his transition to fulltime buyers agent has been relatively smooth, Paul found that one of the areas that were lacking was data and research. After initially looking to outsource, he found that he needed to bring the process in-house to get the best result for his clients.
“There was no-one out there that could provide that data and research service. You’ve got get the real-time data but you’ve also got to have eyes and ears on the ground as well and someone to translate that data otherwise you might as well just go and buy a property investor magazine.”
“Because of this problem I started my own service called Right House Research, cherry-picking perfect properties for investors and that’s an exclusive research service for other buyer’s agents. If we can continue to help a number of those every month as well, I think we’re doing a good thing for the buyer’s agent community and for consumers in general.”
Going forward, Paul’s goal is to continue to grow the business, while also adding value to the buyer’s agent community.
“If we can continue to help 50 to 70 families a year to make well-informed buying decisions and if I can put possibly one or two buyer’s agents on under our licence and help and grow Right House, then I think that will benefit a lot of people.”
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 ”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Thanks, Ben. Appreciate the intro. Thanks for the invitation.
Thank you so much. I wanted to dive straight in to the renovations.
Absolutely. Love it.
Did it all start in Sydney?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
You mentioned when you bought that property it was through one a buyer’s agent, Rachel Cruz.
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.
I’m just curious to dive into this a bit deeper. So you engaged the buyer’s agent, Nicole?
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”?
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.
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.
So I understand, what was the main reasons you were looking to engage a buyer’s agent at a time?
I mean, we were time poor, which I think is the big one.
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.
Now you’re up and running with your BA business, Inner West Nest. So focusing specifically owner-occupier Inner West. Reno’s as well?
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.
That’s good. And it is a very different service to investment.
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.
And you’re right. I mean, there’s still, like you said, customer service roots. So where does that stem from?
I was in recruitment for a little while. Fell into that, loved it for about a year.
A bit like real estate in the sense.
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.
And so you still got a wine business now?
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.
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?
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?
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.
Yeah. I saw a photo recently at an auction and I saw you in the background of that photo-
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?
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-
He’s bullshitting me.
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.
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.
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.
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-
Well done for the tip. Yeah.
Thanks. And so you’ve been in Balmain 15 years?
So small place. How do you feel your product knowledge there is at the moment?
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.
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?
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.
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?
To find that stock.
And so are you feeling like there is a lot of off-market popping up? Is it-
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.
It’s interesting. I think, who knows, but maybe the low stock has been driving prices still high.
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.
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?
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.
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.
It is, sure.
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.
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.
You’ve just had a third kid and so congrats.
Had a conversation earlier about all that stuff, but I guess running a new business now-
Spending a lot of time with the kids, juggling a few different things. Do you feel like you’re good at managing time?
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.
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.
I personally think you work hard as a buyer’s agent, we’ll say seven days.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s dive into a bit about Inner West Nest.
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.
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.
It’s a big area.
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.
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-
It is specific. Yeah.
Which is good.
Yeah. I’m just trying to sort of own that space and really build up clients and relationships and yeah.
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?
Is there anything on the horizon?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Awesome. Where can people find you?
So I’m at my website, www.innerwestnest.com.au, or my Instagram @InnerWestNest.
Thank you so much. Awesome chatting. And can’t wait just to see you just tear up this Inner West, okay? So well done.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Over the span of his working life, Vaibhav Rastogi, also referred to as ‘Rasti’, has learnt how to manage money and investments in both property and financial markets.
With a degree in Architecture and an MBA in Finance, behind him, Vaibhav after working in IT embarked on a career in Funds Management, where he managed over $2 billion of client funds. However, he realised that his passion was best served in helping individuals achieve wealth, rather than those that already have money.
As a successful property investor himself, he felt that helping people achieve success in property by becoming a buyers agent was the right fit for him.
“Eventually, I realised that my value system is more congruent to helping people on the ground level as compared to multiplying money for those who already have it.”
“Property investing is one of the most common, most trusted way of building wealth as we have seen throughout humankind, but at the same time, not everyone makes property investment a success. Property investing is simple but successful property investing is not that simple.”
“That’s where I started using my architecture skills of evaluating a property and its design, investing as a vehicle and understanding it’s not just about capital growth and cash flow, but also about the risk that people tend to overlook in all the excitement.”
Vaibhav had built a personal property portfolio of 15 properties, and his goal is to help others achieve the same or better level of success.
“When I looked back, I realised that I started my property investing journey when I didn’t have much in my pocket, and now, I’m sitting on decent equity – this is exactly what I want to do for my prospective clients.”
“I had been unofficially helping my friends and family, but the whole reason that I wanted to start a business around it is so that I could reach out and help other people beyond my social circle.”
Given his success as an investor, Vaibhav already had a network of people around him that were interested in using his services as a buyer’s agent, which made the transition easier for him.
“Lots of people around me were actually waiting for me to start a business so they could approach me, so the pipeline was already there.”
“The business is going great so far. I run workshops on a monthly basis, where I outline my portfolio approach, referred to as Get Rare Model, and how I built my own portfolio without taking too much risk.”
“Calling myself a professional buyer’s agent has also given me a lot of leverage when I talk to the selling agents as well because they know that I’m actually representing not just only one client, but maybe a handful of clients in one go. Apparently helping me establish the relationship rather one considered as a transaction.”
Despite having a solid background as a successful property investor, Vaibhav decided to reach out to the BAI to gain a better understanding of running the business side of a buyer’s agency as well as to see how others built their businesses.
“Ben and his team at BAI do an amazing job as for me, coming from the corporate world where it was all about teamwork and working together, when I started on my own I realised that I’m all by myself.”
“BAI with their guidance, coaching and mentorship, has given us a network of other fellow buyer’s agents and it’s easy to visualise what a business can potentially look like in, twelve months or even five years.”
Vaibhav’s main focus is working with property investors and given his background and personal success, that was always going to be a good fit. One of the core components of Vaibhav’s methodology is centred around managing risk across an entire property portfolio. In much the same way a share investor looks to diversify, Vaibhav believes having a portfolio approach to both risk and growth is vital. Having worked in research advisory for Financial Planners, he appreciates how essential it is to get the solution client-centric and holistic.
For those people looking to start a career as a buyer’s agent, he feels that passion for property is vital.
“It is such a big responsibility and one has to take it very seriously because clients are giving you the responsibility of buying their property, which is one of the biggest investments they are ever going to make.”
“Buyers Agents also have to have a passion for the people because it’s just not about the properties, but also about the people.“
Before becoming a full-time buyers agent, Kyrillos Mansour clearly had a passion for property.
While learning what fundamentals drove property price growth, he built up his own database of every suburb in Australia, with 100 data points per suburb. At the time, Kyrillos was working as an optometrist, but he quickly realised his passion lay elsewhere in property.
“I always had an interest in property and in business. While I was working as an optometrist, I was doing my own property investing and I was building up my own database of information and research regarding different suburbs in different states in Australia because at the time I didn’t really have enough money to invest in Sydney.”
“I thought, if I want to invest outside of Sydney, I need to learn about the other suburbs in different states.”
Kyrillos built a huge database and quickly built up an understanding of how to identify suburbs and areas that were set to grow in value rapidly.
“I started compiling my own data and that became a huge Excel spreadsheet of every single home in every state in Australia – about 60 to 100 data points per suburb and I just kept getting more interested, more fascinated.”
“I started seeing how property can make people money and how you can generate wealth and pretty much just fell in love with it from that point on.”
After successfully building his own property portfolio, he was quickly approached by friends and family to help them achieve success in the same fashion as him.
“After I had bought my first few investments myself, a few friends and family members asked me, “how did you know about that suburb? How did you know where to go and the strategies to use?” So I started sharing my spreadsheet and data, with them.”
“In the end, I was pretty much doing a buyer’s agent’s job for them and really enjoying it.”
After making the decision to move into helping others achieve success as a buyers agent, Kyrillos slowly started to build up his business.
“The business itself is only just over 12 months old, but I’ve been buying property for people for around three years.”
“The first 12 months is always difficult no matter what business it is. I think a buyer’s agent is even harder because it doesn’t really exist in Australia, it’s such a small industry.”
After a slow start, he focused on giving value and educating others on property and then the business started to grow.
“For the first four months there were no customers, then we got the first customer and it was quite a big achievement.”’
“It took a while to go from number one to customer two. It took a little bit of time from two to three. Once we got to about five done, it just started to roll like the compound interest rule – the same thing with people.”
“This month I think we’ve been working on seven clients in a month.”
“The first 12 months has been a huge learning curve in terms of how to get customers and I see other buyer’s agents who probably achieve customers quicker, but I think the way I approached it about free education, giving out, giving out, it’s bringing in quality leads as well and building a brand.”
With his background in data, Kyrillos helps all types of home buyers and investors, locate properties all across the country.
When Kyrillos was getting the business off the ground, he was able to reach out to the BAI, to help at times when it was difficult finding the right way to move forward with the business.
“My idea of the Buyer’s Agent Institute course when I first started was someone’s going to teach me how to buy property. Very quickly I realised that wasn’t it. It was more so how to run a buyer’s agency business.”
“When I was first starting and I was a bit struggling to get any sort of leads, I used to message Ben. I said, “Hey, Ben. I’m struggling a bit. What do you reckon?” He said, “Yeah, come in for a chat”.
“When we spoke about things he said, “How about you explore this option? How about you explore that? He wanted to see me succeed.”
Going forward, Kyrillos’ goal is to both educate and help people achieve success through his company First Brick Property.
For people looking to get into a career as a buyers agent, Kyrillos suggests you need to be passionate and be looking to do it for the right reason.
“You’ve got be passionate about it, you’ve got to really understand it.”
“Equip yourself with the fundamentals of property by listening to every podcast you can find, read every book you can find, learn about all the different strategies you can find because everyone in Australia’s a property expert so if you’re going to charge for it, you really need to know what you’re talking about.