This Is What Flipping Properties Can Do To You

by Ben Handler

December 15, 2020

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

Ben Handler:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

Your passion.

Gus Lander:

Absolutely. Love it.

Ben Handler:

Did it all start in Sydney?

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep, yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

Yeah.

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Totally.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

It is.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

A bit like real estate in the sense.

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

And so you still got a wine business now?

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Oh really?

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

He’s bullshitting me.

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Sure.

Ben Handler:

Sparking those-

Gus Lander:

Well done for the tip. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

To find that stock.

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

It is, sure.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Thank you.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Sure.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yeah.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

It’s a big area.

Gus Lander:

It is.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

Specific.

Gus Lander:

It is specific. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

Which is good.

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

Is there anything on the horizon?

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Yep.

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

Awesome. Where can people find you?

Gus Lander:

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

Ben Handler:

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

Gus Lander:

Thanks Ben.

Ben Handler:

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

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