This Is How You Can Use Your Skills Wisely

by Ben Handler

November 3, 2020

Buyer's Agent Anthony Spagnolo on how you can use your skills wisely

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agents Institute show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyers agents to bring awareness around the career opportunities at the buyer’s agent sector is providing people to bring awareness around the value that buyers AINS providing 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 buyers agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest growing career sectors in real estate in Australia. Right now. Our guest today is Anthony Spagnolo. He runs Agenzia in Western Sydney and he has got a very, very in depth level I believe of diverse experience. He brings to the table, he’s a licensed real estate agent. He’s a qualified accountant. He’s a licensed builder. He is a property developer and he’s also stayed at university, a bachelor of commerce and accounting and he runs his buyer’s agent business to focus on higher yielding properties across Australia.

He primarily, at the moment, he’s focusing in Queensland and he’s also taken a focus, which we’ll talk about in this show, in an area in a disability area called NDS. That’s the acronym which we’ll dive into soon. I’m super excited to dive into this discussion with Anthony today. I’d like to introduce Anthony.

Anthony Spagnolo:

Thanks for having me. Thanks for the intro.

Ben Handler:

Did I get that intro? Okay. I would say there’s a lot of good skills you bring to the table. It’s obviously very diverse. Do a lot of declines. Have a talk about what you bring to the table. Uh, let’s turn the truth.

Anthony Spagnolo:

Uh, to tell you the truth, it’s throughout, it’s in trying to find my actual job title to this point. So I’ve, yeah, Buyer’s agent is just the part of what I do is essentially had an accounting business for 12 years, moved out of that space into property development and my love for real estate. It’s led me down this path into, uh, into becoming a buyer’s agent or property strategist as such.

Ben Handler:

So you didn’t strike me as the accountant.

Anthony Spagnolo:

Well, that’s why I’m of of diversified. Uh, it’s, it was good stepping stone. Um, gave me broad, a broader, uh, range of knowledge I guess, and uh, onto the nexts project, which is now my passion for property. So, um, we’re really trying to push this business to take it to the next level.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. I, I mean, I really do believe you bring a lot to the table. I mean, having an accounting background, focusing in development and understanding building and obviously buying property yourself. I mean, it’s a lot you bring to the table and so it’s going to be exciting to see how you roll this into this new business of yours. You, we talked earlier and I know that you, you, you’ve put a focus into, obviously you focus on high yielding properties, but you’ve taken a, uh, a liking and a focus into what is called NDIS. Yes. Do you mind sharing like what is NDIS and NDIS stands for?

Anthony Spagnolo:

National Disability Insurance Scheme. And the part of the plans that we’re focusing on is called SDA, which is Specialized Disability Accommodation. It’s a fairly new scheme, early sort of been legislated in the last, uh, two years. Uh, most of the properties are only under construction at the moment. That’s new builds because it’s so complex and there’s a lot of compliance to be, uh, SDA approved so that the participants who are the people with disabilities or tech tenants can move into these properties cause they have to obviously be, uh, purposely built and signed off on. So they’re, um, regulated I guess. So. So essentially there’s 30,000 participants or people waiting to get a sufficient housing, uh, Australia wide. So yes, there’s a lot there. That’s the supply. The supply can’t meet the demand currently.

Ben Handler:

My next question is like, why did you take a liking and a focus into this?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Uh, it was through a chance, um, conversation or meeting with a colleague of mine who’s based in Brisbane. Uh, he was representing a company up there and I said, why didn’t you have a look at this is unbelievable returns, uh, often between 10 to 20% a year, net yields per annum. So I said, well, that got me sort of looking at it. Also, I have a cousin that has, uh, had cerebral palsy and can and have, it’s close to my heart. I guess that seeing what families go through behind the scenes as well as knowing some other, um, uh, participants and meeting a lot, uh, throughout our journey of doing research and reverse engineering the whole process. It’s just, uh, it’s taken us down the path that we, we feel, uh, an obligation to work, work out all the moving parts so that we can, um, yeah, help, help, uh, provide the specialized housing to these people.

Ben Handler:

I don’t know a lot about this space, but, well, from what I read in here, it seems complicated. And for someone like you who’s got a special cause, um, it’s, it’s, it’s close to your heart. You obviously know property very well. And so it seems like you’re going to be this perfect solution to come to the table to help make the experience a lot easier for people. Why do you think it’s been so difficult?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Well the, the, it’s not like just, uh, purchasing a standard property for, for an investor, then taking a tour and an agent to manage it and find tenants. Uh, it’s basically you gotta start from the ground up prior to finding the location, which means that you’ve got to deal with care providers. There’s 7,000, uh, accommodation care providers or thereabouts, Australia wide. So you can’t just build it in a certain location and hope that they will come. It’s a matter of going to these care providers or coordinators to work out which clients in which areas are requiring which level of housing. And then then we will sort of go through the, the criteria of what makes a property good. If it’s close to um, uh, transport station. Obviously a lot of the people that live in these houses are wheelchair bound, so it just needs to be, uh, in the right location so they can have a quality, like a good lifestyle, I guess. And, and convenience.

Ben Handler:

Where do you think the gap is? I mean in terms of like, do you think being that group like you are, who can say this is the right care provider, this is where we should buy. Like e.g., we should go to Queensland. This is the right product. Like do you think it’s, do you think there’s a gap or there’s a need to find someone like yourself to help package it all up?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Oh definitely. Cause if it’s a normal person just goes out to put a bought or build SDI house hoping that they’ll get high returns and haven’t done their due diligence in groundwork, the house can be empty log. There’s no point just building it for the sake of building it I guess. Uh, um, like I said by, by going through the process and reverse engineering it, we’ve gone all the way back to what the participants require with houses. So we’ve actually surveyed a lot of participants and just through our work with the care providers, with our builders that are preferred builders, we come up, we have come up with some really good designs that make the house has, is really functional for the needs of the participants. And then we also have those intimate relationships with the care providers on an ongoing basis to know where we should be sourcing. Then knowing that we’ll have investors come to us. And so we sort of reverse the process of working out what the requirements are of the people that are moving into the houses and where they’re located. And then we’ll match them with the investors and our developers and builders to like one stop solution.

Ben Handler:

And it’s a big, it’s a big space to be operating in and there’s massive obviously shortage of supply. High demand. Why would someone, okay, then the net yields, you said between 10 and 20%. It’s very high.

Anthony Spagnolo:

Yeah. In some cases it can vary from it depending on local does the land components, uh, the major variable factor. So the rates that the SDI pay, you only change by location. Very minimally. So it’s more so if you want to go close to a CBD, then the land component is going to be higher. Then you may be affected, however you might get a higher capital growth.

Ben Handler:
But the yields are very attractive?

Anthony Spagnolo:

That’s what they’re very attractive. But for me personally, like as, as I mentioned, it’s more of the feelgood factor of helping people get the right housing and it’s a social scheme. It’s the second biggest social scheme only behind Medicare.

Ben Handler:

It’s interesting because let’s just say I’m an I, I’m an investor. What do you feel like most investors would be looking at this? Obviously there’s, there’s very intent behind it. You’re, you know, it’s not just a standard purchase you’re providing and giving someone a place to be, but obviously the yields are attractive.  What else would be attractive for an investor is a capital growth. Like what…

Anthony Spagnolo:

If we can purchase in the right locations, which we like, we know where like even like you mentioned, we do a lot of work in Southeast Queensland. We know those suburbs like intimately and we know where we should be purchasing and we’ve got projections on growth and whatnot. So we’re able to definitely as well as getting the high, high, um, cashflow or, or yields, we’re able to get capital growth for our clients too. So that’s great. Yeah. Without some level of risks. Like, obviously the rewards high, but um, at present, yeah, the lending criteria is, uh, you need a little bit more deposit to get into one of these properties because, uh, they’re cause they’re fitted out to such a high standard. There’s a short sometimes in vows for the fit out costs. But that’s just a thought. I’ll put that out there.

Ben Handler:

What would you say the average average purchase prices waste from all we’ve been purchasing on behalf of our clients?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Look, we for say a four bedroom or, or could be a three bedroom with a Oh eight quarters, which is, uh, for an overnight carer, um, the standard builds around 500,000 or thereabouts. That’s, so that’s essentially a four bedroom SDA home. But as you go down, you can get three bedroom, two bedrooms, so you can, the price range would be, would probably start at five 50 to 600 K in Queensland to probably up to a million probably. But it’s high. I mean, I’ve seen some of the specs and what it looks like. It’s, it looks very good quality or very high quality or, or bath or bedrooms have large bathrooms. But for wheelchair access, uh, there’s a breakout area for when participants have their families over kitchen shared living. So they’re, they’re really well thought designs and they do provide a great level of comfort and livability for the participants.

Ben Handler:

What’s your view on, I mean at the moment with what’s going on with the, the economy at the moment? This pandemic tenant security is obviously an issue in just not just rezzy commercial everywhere. Have you seen a change in like investors who are looking at NDI indice because obviously there’s going to be no issue with tenant security. Have you seen there’s been more people who want to get in or…

Anthony Spagnolo:

there is a lot I think as, as the people who come more aware of the scheme and what indices like it’s quite new to a lot of people. So there has been just general, uh, increase as we’ve sort of, um, began over 12 months ago. We’ve seen a steady increase of, uh, interest. However, w a S like a selling point that, uh, identified as being during coronavirus that there is government guarantees and the governments is essentially the government’s the one that will be paying you the rent on behalf of the participants. So you have a 10 plus five plus five lease, um, with the SDA. So tenant security and risk of not receiving rent isn’t a problem. So if anything, um, we’ve come up with a solution to overcome any objections due to the current market crosses. It’s very attractive. How has been the experience?

Ben Handler:

I mean you obviously, I know you’ve gone through and done quite a lot of purchases already. You’re very busy. How, I mean obviously I just wanted to get a check in, like how’s the experience been from finding the property for the your client?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Yeah, it’s been, it’s been a challenge local, low. As I mentioned, we’ve sort of gone through Oh 10, 15 different, uh, builders that we’ve interviewed and vetted and, and also service providers who, so you’ve got the care providers are, they’re the ones who look after the whole India’s plan for the participants. However, then you’ve got the service providers who are the ones, they’re essentially like a lock, the agent of the property, but on a high level because there’s a lot more compliance and reporting that needs to be done to the, with them to the SDA to maintain the compliance of the property.

Um, as well. They need those relationships with, um, the care providers on an ongoing basis to make sure that, um, the tenants are happy looked after and if there is, uh, an event that a tenant may be relocating or moving out, that they’ve got someone else lined up to, to fill that spot. And we ha we don’t have a high occupy, uh, if I can see rights, uh, on these properties. So the, in most cases they’re fully occupied majority of the time due to the fact that there’s not sufficient housing around for the participants at this stage.

Ben Handler:

Do you see the business going really heavily all in, into the San Diego, in gen Z into the induce phase? We’re not pigeonholed to induce I guess, but it is a niche that we’ve really, uh, we’d like to call ourselves specialist in and we’ve been, like I said, we’ve done a fair few transactions in this space.

Anthony Spagnolo:

So we are, we are really in, uh, enjoying the challenge and enjoying being like, um, we want to be someone that people will come to to come up with the solution. And we’re, we’re at the point where we’re confident that we’ve got multiple solutions available or, yeah, it’s so needed. I mean, it just seems like a space that if you’re trying to go through it yourself 7,000 provide, like it just seems like it’d be a nightmare. Yeah, it is. That’s why you need the right service provider to have those relationships in specific areas. Obviously you can’t deal with all of them and they’re spread out across Australia. However, it’s, uh, it’s having those solid relationships that we can confidently put our investors into these properties knowing that they’ll be looked off, look, looked after and going forward, that the properties will perform for them. And we think that without designs with future proofing the properties, uh, for the investors, so when more more properties come on the market and uh, and they catch up with the demands that our properties are still going to be the best properties that people want to live in.

Ben Handler:

Yeah. And it’s great that you, you’re reverse engineering the entire process. Is anyone else going about it that way?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Um, look we’ve met a lot of good people in this space and a lot of passionate people because everyone’s got a story. They know someone that’s affected or someone that needs the housing happy to help people. Even if they’re looking for housing and not an investor where we’ve got the right connections to point them in the right direction to be able to come up with whatever solution they may need. If it’s from a holistic approach of getting someone that specialized in actual the hope doing the whole plans, cause they can be quite complex. So we look, we’re happy to just help in any way we can. In this space. You’re primarily buying

Ben Handler:

Queensland. Do you see yourself going in any other state?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Obviously the land in Queensland has been cheaper than what new South Wales or Sydney has been. So that’s why the use can be higher. It’s just sort of where we started. However, we, we’ve got some partnerships now that in the next two, two months we should have some really good options available in Sydney or broader new South Wales, central coast, Hunter Valley. We’ve got, we’ve got things in the pipeline or other partnerships that we can sort of definitely facilitate for that.

Ben Handler:

Nice. And so how have you found on a different note like the buyer’s agent space, obviously you working in the accounting space for a long time, pretty different to the buyer’s agent space. Are you, are you enjoying the style of service model?

Anthony Spagnolo:

Oh yeah, very much so. I enjoyed it. Um, as uh, you mentioned I was doing a CA counting and then I went into property development. Uh, larger scale developments was sort of what my family business was. So that’s how I sort of got my builder’s license along the way. Cause I was project managing our jobs and said, well one of our come a build up. But that’s not the direction I sort of went. And, uh, what I was doing as an accountant and now as a licensed real estate agent is, uh, a little bit of a hype, uh, hybrid between sort of, like I said, it’s property stretched strategists and it’s not yet. It’s not just the South side of things. It’s all been able to have those partnerships in the background with brokers, solicitors, other accountants, um, and AIS, it’s just having multiple relationships and also a marketing team behind me, uh, and just working with clever people that can really, um, give a client a holistic view and a strategy to move forward as opposed to just purchasing a one property. We want to look further further than that and actually help them build a portfolio and wealth. So,

Ben Handler:

yeah, and that’s, that’s what I was saying at the beginning. I think what you bring to the table in terms of skill and knowledge is incredibly unique. And then focusing that into indice like w what’s the right product and what’s the right area to buy in. And so because you’ve got that building experience, you’ve got the development experience, you’ve got the accounting background. Like it’s a lot of value it brings to the client.

Anthony Spagnolo:

Yeah. Well when we build a property like it’s not just set and forget and move on like part of my services locked off for the client that throughout the project I will essentially be project managing from a building level. Even though there’s a, we’ve got our preferred builders and it’s, we know that it’s in trusted hands. A client wants to know throughout a 20 week build cycle. I guess a client still wants updates. They want to know where it’s at and, and we’ll be even on site having a look with the builder and just making sure, keeping track of it. I can show everything’s on track I guess.

Ben Handler:

I think it’s awesome. What you’re doing I think is incredibly unique. There’s, I think it’s, I, it’s obviously a very big space I think to play in and there doesn’t there done from what I’ve seen that doesn’t seem like there’s that holistic, uh, group out there that can provide, has got that hybrid model to really service the client. I’m so mad I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do in this space. It’s exciting. Where can, as we wrap up, where can people find you.

Anthony Spagnolo:

On my website, Agenzia.com.au or Anthony Spagnolo. Uh, that would be, I’m happy to talk to anyone anytime with numbers on there. Give me a call, drop me an email and just happy to help in any way possible.

Ben Handler:

I love it. My well done. I’m pumped to see what you’re going to do in the future in this space. I really am. So thanks for joining. I appreciate it. For sure. Cheers. Okay, so check out Anthony at Agenzia.com.au. If you want to learn more about this NDIS space, it’s a very unique space and Anthony has got all the skills and putting a lot of the time the energy has put in the effort to build relationships so people can really understand this space and not many people in my opinion, really intricately do. So reach out to Anthony if you have any questions, check him out. He’s really passionate about serving this space and so I’m really excited to see where it goes cause there’s such a lack of supply and I think a lack of a consolidated skillset to support this industry. So check them out. See you next week.

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