Here Is What Happens After 15 Years Of Property Investing

Property Investing Growth

Ben Plohl:

So, um, I guess when we first started the business it was, yeah, it’s a, it takes a bit of time, a bit of nurturing. But um, to be honest, I didn’t expect it to be in this position now in such a short space of time. Now that’s, that’s a, that’s a guaranteed, yeah.

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the buyer’s agent Institute show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyers agents to bring awareness to the career opportunities that this sector is providing people to bring awareness around the value that buyers agents providing to people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to strip back and dive into the remarkable stories of buyers agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest growing real estate sectors. Right now. Our guest today is Ben Plohl. Ben’s been investing in Australia himself over 15 years at a national level. Ben’s professional background was in the finance sector. He worked at an executive level and at a CFO level. He’s also a chartered accountant. So he loves crunching the numbers. Ben is now running his own buyer’s agent business called BFP Property here in Australia. He’s buying at a national level for his clients and really empowering and mentoring and showing his clients what he has learned to develop for himself over the last 15 years. I’m really excited to introduce Ben today. Welcome Ben.

Ben Plohl:

Thanks. Very good. Have good to be here. Thank you.

Ben Handler:

So we’ll chatting earlier and I was pretty surprised. Well not kind of surprise, but you’ve signed up 10 clients in two weeks or three weeks last the last three, four weeks.

 

Ben Plohl:

It’s been, it’s been a bit overwhelming. But to tell you it’s been really good. It’s been really good. Did you expect it to grow this quick? Uh, no. No. So, um, I guess when we first started the business it was, yeah, it’s a, it takes a bit of time but a nurturing. But um, to be honest, I didn’t expect it to be in this position now in such a short space of time. Now that’s, that’s a, that’s a guaranteed. Yeah.

 

Ben Handler:

Okay. So you previously worked in the financial sector? Yes. Did you ever think, you know, five years ago or before that you were going to move into real estate?

 

Ben Plohl:

No. No, I never said no. So I didn’t, didn’t really have an interest or, um, didn’t really cross my mind. So at, say, five years ago, you know, really keen to, to expand the, the, the, the finance career and, and continue to grow. So no, I never really had the thought process of, uh, becoming a buyer’s agent.

 

Ben Handler:

I mean, my, my story is I was working in corporate only for four years and then transitioned into the buyer’s agent role in business and that was still quite difficult. With that change. I mean, you, you’ve had 15 year’s experience in that sector. How was that transition for you?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, it was, um, I guess it was a big leap of faith. Um, I guess when we did the course, um, it really got me interested in, in sort of taking that deep dive into, into the business.

Um, personally, yes, I’ve used my buyer’s agent, um, for a few properties that we purchased in the portfolio. So I understood the process and, and really liked it. Um, and, um, and I thought that with my experience I could, I could add something to, to, to my clients. So, um, I guess it was still a difficult decision to dive into the business. Um, but I guess I took the decision to do it part time, I guess originally. Um, so doing some consulting in the CFO space, part-time business and then, uh, five months ago I’ve, um, decided to go full time, which has been crazy.

 

Ben Handler:

And this is your first business that you now running? Uh, yes. As an entrepreneur running your own business, you’ve got to work plenty hard, but I guess you do have some flexibility. Have you found it?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, it’s been really good.

So I guess background of, of being involved in, in managing large businesses, but it’s totally different when you’re running your own. Um, that’s, it’s been a bit of an eye opener. Uh, but I guess with my background it’s been able to, I’ve been able to sort of make it work from a financial perspective, finance perspective, operations perspective. I kind of understood the process of, of how to run a business. Uh, but it’s still daunting, right? When you’re, when you’re doing it on your own. Um, from a flexibility perspective, it’s been fantastic. Um, you do, you do need to work hard and I guess it is, everyone knows it’s, it’s a tough gig and you need to put in the effort. But, um, I guess from my perspective it’s, um, I’ve got a really young family. It’s given me the opportunity to just spend a bit more time with them I guess, and being flexible, being at home when, when needed.

Ben Handler:

And um, it’s been really good. I remember the, we caught up and you were, uh, working as a consultant for the CFO for that company and you were doing the buyer’s agent work part-time and you’re considering jumping into it full time. And I remember speaking with you and I was thinking, well, you’ve got a massive track record building a portfolio for yourself on a national level. And you’ve obviously got such a significant financial background. So, you know, looking and analysing data and helping clients and yourself making effective decisions, I always just felt you’re going to absolutely nail it. So, I mean, do your clients when they meet with you, obviously feel that with your background and what you’ve done like personally and also professionally that you add a lot to the table? Yeah.

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah. So pretty much all my clients have, I guess jumped on board and I think they’re really, they’re there. It’s kind of a unique, I guess, position where I’m a chartered accountant and now also buyer’s agent with that, you know, significant experience in investing as well. So a lot of clients have really sort of been drawn to that. Um, and I guess there’s a whole bunch of other things that I can bring to the table. But, um, yeah, from a client perspective, I think that’s what, what’s kind of been a bit of my draw card. Yeah.

 

Ben Handler:

Yeah. Are you following a similar investment strategy for yourself with your client now as you’re running a new buyer’s agent business? Are you following a different strategy you’ve developed?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, 100%. So I’ve, I’m only investing in locations that I’ve personally invested in. It’s something that I’ve, I think it’s been, um, something that I really decided on early on. Um, I’ll only invest in a property that, that I would personally invest in.

So there’s a bit of vested interest there. Um, so my, my personal philosophy is exactly the same, pretty much to, to what I’m adopting from our clients.

 

Ben Handler:

Mostly your client’s coming to you with similar objectives or are you finding it’s quite unique, like a, some focus more on the growth, some focus on year. What are you finding different strategies for different people?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, so we’re getting some people that are, you know, I’ve got some significant, a large portfolio and they, they’re looking for something with a bit of a bit of difference, a bit of X factor, whether it be cashflow, play or whatnot. Um, but then we’re getting a lot of first time investors that I guess they’re at the, the early on stage of their portfolio. Um, so we’re looking at predominantly growth assets for those guys. Um, so yeah, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Ben Handler:

And you’re doing resi only not commercial, correct?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yes. So residential only, I think commercial is, uh, it’s, it’s something that I’d probably get into later on down the track, but I think it’s, um, it’s probably more of an education perspective from my, from my end, um, before I, I think go into that market. Yeah. Nice.

 

Ben Handler:

And I also saw online that you bought some minor rocks?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yes. Yeah. So I have done, um, I’ve done a couple of deals, um, in the owner occupied space, very different to, to dealing with investors. It was an enjoyable journey. Um, but I think it, um, it’s sort of highlighted I think where my, um, I guess my interests and my, um, probably my, my passion lies and the thing I do really prefer to deal with with investors. But having said that, there’s a couple of others that have come on board that want assistance in buying their own homes. Um, and I’m happy to, I guess, you know, help those guys out as well.

 

Ben Handler:

How are you enjoying like mentoring your client? I’m sure with your experience now, when you take the client on the journey for, let’s say they’re an unsophisticated invested in, you know, purchased or border, Oh, built a portfolio before, are you enjoying mentoring them and coaching them around your philosophies and what you’ve done?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, yeah. It’s a really enjoyable, um, uh, part of the, of the role. Um, you know, people coming on, coming on board and, and not having any idea of what it’s about. Right. Even a mindset change too. So helping people I guess open up their mindset and um, and look at opportunities outside their own backyard. Um, so it’s been a really enjoyable, I guess part of, of what I do for my clients. It’s, it’s just giving them that grassroot education on, on all things related to property and I guess, you know, helping them leverage off, you know, the experience that off attained over the last 15 years.

Ben Handler:

Nice. And have you, obviously it’s been a short period of time, but have you had any clients go for the second one?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yes. Yeah. So funnily enough, yeah. I’ve had three clients that have bought, bought ’em two properties each quite quite quickly and I’ve just taken on another one that’s looking at three. So there are people out there that um, I guess, uh, sitting on, you know, sizable equity in their home, um, and you sit down with them, you build a strategy and they’re happy to I guess buy multiple properties at the same time or within a short space of time. So that’s been quite enjoyable.

 

Ben Handler:

Are you finding when people come to you, are they really aware of buyer’s agents and the value in the service or do you feel like when you’re meeting with them you’re educating a lot?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, I think it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

As we know, the, the, the industry is still very in its infancy. Um, there are some people that, that do have the understanding of what a buyer’s agent is. And I guess it’s then just you explaining to them, you know, the value that you bring to the table. But there are a lot that, that also come to me and a lot of other buyer’s agents that they have no clue of of what we do and what we’re about. So it is a bit of an education process. Um, and look, you know, it doesn’t suit everybody and as we all know, um, but the people that we can serve and we can help, they understand that concept and they can sort of really see the value that we can bring to the table and, and they jump on board and it’s really good.

 

Ben Handler:

Have you found it challenging? Articulating value to the potential clients who don’t really have an understanding of what we do?

 

Ben Plohl:

Um, look, yeah, it can be challenging, right? So I guess my background is there’s no, um, I guess education around sales, right? I’m not, not a sales person and I never will be. Um, so sometimes it can be a little challenging in articulating, you know, the value that you can bring to the table in what we’re about. Um, but, um, I guess, you know, every day I’m learning something new of, of how do, I guess, you know, portray yourself and, and the service you provide. So you’re learning every day. Yeah.

 

Ben Handler:

What are some of the key, uh, reasons you’re finding why people are engaging your service? Like, is it time poor? Is it they’ve never bought before? Is there a common theme of reasons that you’re noticing?

 

Ben Plohl:

Absolutely. Yeah, it really is.

So I’m mainly working with, you know, busy professionals, so it’s time poor, not having the time to, to devote to, to research and not knowing where to start. Right? It’s, I think a bit of analysis paralysis and, and I know that I felt that many, many years ago when I was going through the process as well. Um, there’s so much information available that people just don’t know where to start. Um, and, and I don’t want to make mistakes. So I think leveraging off, you know, the buyer’s agent is, you know, you really, it’s a bit of an insurance policy, right? You’re, you’re leveraging of someone that’s in the market every day that has access to the data. Um, and that’s, that’s kind of, um, I guess the, the value that these people are, see, yeah.

 

Ben Handler:

I mean for me, I didn’t, I never really understood when I started  my buyer’s agent business 10 years ago why buyers didn’t want professional.

I mean, never grasped it. I mean, real estate agents represent the vendor and the buyer is communicating with the real estate agent who’s representing the vendor who’s not even working for them. It never really stacked up.

 

Ben Plohl:

No, no, you’re right. It’s, um, again, it’s a, it’s an industry education process, which I guess we’re doing through the, through the Institute. It’s just, uh, making people aware that um, when you’re looking for a property and you’re going and speaking to the local selling agent, look, they’re going to be helpful. But you know, we need, they need to understand that their vested interest obviously lies with their, their climate and the vendor. If they want some independent advice, they’ll need to, I guess to come to someone like a buyer’s agent to get some that, some of that unbiased assistance.

 

Ben Handler:

How are you enjoying negotiating with the real estate agents now that you’ve got clients, you’re not doing it for yourself, you must be doing a lot more negotiation.

How are you enjoying it?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, look, that’s a fun part of the job. It’s, um, it is enjoyable that it’s, it’s about getting the best deal for your client and um, uh, yeah, again, you learn something new, every deal that you do. Um, but it’s, it’s good fun.

 

Ben Handler:

And in terms of like speed to buy, is there like an average time, I know you’ve been doing it for about a year now, but an average time that you’re buying for your clients from signup to exchange?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, so I think the quickest was really about two weeks. Um, then some clients that have some, uh, you know, some tricky briefs, uh, it can take up to two months. I’ve had deals that, that have taken that long. Um, probably more so that the owner occupied, um, clients that I’ve dealt with. It does take a bit bit of time.

Um, so yeah, it’s kind of within that three to four week is probably your average period now.

 

Ben Handler:

And average purchase price that you’re doing with your clients?

 

Ben Plohl:

So, um, if we’re looking at, we’re predominantly looking at, um, a lot of your affordable markets in your growth pockets around the country. It’s really around that four 50 to 500,000 Mark is what we’re spending on for most properties for our…

 

Ben Handler:

Yeah, it’s a good sweet spot. And in terms of the property manager, you’re not doing property management. Okay. So you obviously pass them onto a obviously a highly reputable agency that facilitates that management.

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So as part of the process we’ll put people, we’ll put our clients in touch with, with other professionals being, you know, conveyancers and, and obviously your property managers as well. So we’ll give them a couple to choose from and it’s up to them to really make the decision of who they think will be best suited to them.

Ben Handler”:

Yeah. Nice. And in terms of your clients, they come from marketing or like how have your clients, cause I mean you’ve got, you’ve had 10 in a short amount of time, like where they come from. If you don’t mind me asking.

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Again, it’s um, it’s, I think in the early stage of the business it was my personal network, um, putting my name out there and then people saying, yes, let’s do it. Um, um, some referrals from partners, I mean mortgage brokers is probably my best. Um, and then I’m actually already seeing referrals from past clients, which is really, really great and I think that’s the model that you would like to get to. Um, and then there’s a little bit on face on, on Facebook and, and uh, and other social media channels. Um, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on a couple of different podcasts.

So, you do get your name out there and um, and people reach out that way.

 

Ben Handler:

Yeah, I mean we were talking earlier about that referral based business and you know, to get to that, you know, 80%, 90%, even a hundred percent referral based business is really the Nirvana of where you want to get to..

 

Ben Plohl:

100%. Yeah. So if you can, if you can base your business model on, on a referral based model, I think it’ll be a sort of, like you said, an Nirvana. Absolutely.

 

Ben Handler:

And what about next year for, for plans for you and your business? I mean, it’s growing quickly, you’re getting a lot of traction. Uh, you’re signing up a lot of clients doing good deals. What are the plans for 2020?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, so, um, like I mentioned before, I’ve just engaged some marketing assistance. So a lot of my, um, the business hasn’t really been, I’m reliant on marketing as such.

Um, but I’m really just becoming a little more sophisticated in that respect and things like systems and processes. It’s just really, um, you know, mapping them out and trying to refine them using technology wherever possible. And, um, I think in this day and age we’re quite lucky and fortunate that we have access to some really cool tools that, um, that can streamline your business. So, so next year is really about just growing as much as we possibly can. Um, but also, you know, we want to, I want to, um, keep the business, um, a decent size where it’s still a boutique type of agency. I don’t really have the plans of, of sort of just growing for the sake of growing. Um, I think surface levels is crucial, um, for what I’m about and what I’m offering. So, um, as long as we can grow but also sustain, you know, solid, um, you know, client service, then that they’ll be happy with that.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. The client service, you’d never want to drop that. I guess just going back to owner-occ, you went through that experience, you wasn’t where you need to be. Would you consider hiring a buyer’s agent to carry out that for your company? Is that something that you’d look at?

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, look, absolutely. So, um, um, that would be an opportunity if I had, you know, a bit of, um, you know, an influx of, of inquiries for the owner space. Um, special. I’m based in the Hills of Sydney and that is a bit of an untouched market for from a buyer’s agent perspective are a couple of operators. But I see that as a big opportunity. Um, so yeah, potentially that that’s something, um, that, that, that I could look at.

 

Ben Handler:

Awesome. And we’re, where can people find you?

 

Ben Plohl:

Um, so websites’,  bfpproperty.com, um, all the links to two emails and phones are on there.

 

Ben Handler:

So, and your LinkedIn, I’m sure.

 

Ben Plohl:

Yeah, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and they’ll also the website

 

Ben Handler:

You know, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much. It’s been awesome chatting. And I mean, from my perspective, just seeing someone with so much experience, like, uh, not just in buying property, but I think just professional experience and then in a short amount of time, like literally less than a year, get your business up and running, doing deals, signing up clients, and really take the leap of faith to move on from the corporate world. It’s a lot of courage. And I mean, just seeing that from my, from my lens has been, I mean, it’s inspirational. It’s been an, it’s been amazing to see what you’ve achieved. So I just wanted to take congratulations and I know you’re going to smash 2020.

 

Ben Plohl:

Thanks, Ben!

 

Ben Handler:

So closing up now, and for those of you who haven’t seen Ben, you can visit his website at bfpproperty.com. Ben is super switched on with servicing investment clients on a national level. So I highly recommend you check him out. As he said, you can check them out on LinkedIn or Facebook, Instagram, but visit his website. We’ll see you next week. See you there.

 

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