We All Have A Story To Tell

by Ben Handler

August 18, 2020

How to become successful buyer agent

Ben Handler:
Welcome to the Buyer’s Agents Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyers and to bring awareness around the career opportunities that the sector is providing. People who want to turn buying property into a career to bring awareness around the opportunities that buyer’s agents and the value that buys agents are providing to people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to strip back and dive into the stories and the journeys of remarkable buyer’s agents. We’re paving the way forward in one of the fastest growing career sectors in Australia right now. Our guest today is Brent Backhouse. Brent’s got a very, very long bio, so stick with me here. So Brent has assisted over 26,000 people, so he’s assisted and bought property over 26,000 people across 24 countries. He’s a property investment expert. He’s also a passive income specialist.

Ben Handler:
He’s had a professional sporting career. He’s also currently a coach for the Sydney swans Academy. He was a GABA at one stage. He’s got a civil engineering and business degree, and right now presently he’s running a buyer’s agent, Peter’s business under a Squire property. So, Brent has a lot of experience. He’s also built his own portfolio across five countries in residential property. So, Brent currently right now is focusing on the buyer’s agent business model across Australia, servicing clients in investment, but he’s also doing principal place of residence in the Northern beaches and other suburbs. Today I would like to introduce you to Brent. Welcome mate. Thanks very much Ben. Matt, you have got a long bias. I hope I nailed that right. Did I miss anything?

Brent Backhouse:
Probably there’s a bit in there. So you said before from Garbo to Buckingham palace. Yeah. What do you, I mean obviously it for itself, but do you want to talk us through a bit of that story? Um, yeah, sure. I mean, when I was younger I was living in Canberra, freezing cold, grew up in Canberra, born and raised and playing footy back then as 17 year olds. Uh, and a lot of the guys in the team were Garbos cause it was an early morning thing and then you’ve got the rest of the day off. We were sort of finishing by seven, eight o’clock, which allowed me to go to school further education and study engineering and that. And so I did that for a year, you know, freezing cold. And then that sort of progressed through a variety of different things. Traveled around Australia playing footy, but also started investing in property and made a lot more money in property than I was in engineering, which sort of sidetracked me, which was okay.
My dad wasn’t too pleased cause he sort of started losing me and then went to England and had a business over there that uh, we were helping a lot of sporting people over there. And through the business success, uh, I was invited to go on, um, met Prince Charles at Clarence house and then the following year through the same sort of process to Buckingham palace and met the queen. And uh, it was for Australian succeeding in business in the UK.

Ben Handler:
Yes, that was pretty cool mates on it. It’s obviously like a lot of people would dream of. You’ve ticked a lot of boxes and right now you’re obviously running a new buyer’s agent business. I mean, you’ve got so many transferable skills.
I mean, I’m trying to think which ones to really tackle, but predominantly when you were buying property in so many countries, for so many people, you were taking the fee from not the buy side, it was the sell side pay the vendor.

Brent Backhouse:
Yeah, that’s correct. The vendors. So how have you found that transition now of asking mr and mrs buyer for the fee? It’s been difficult. Yeah. As we’ve discussed, you know, it’s been hard because I’m used to sort of using that as my IP. We don’t charge you for a fee. Uh, but at the same time that business has always run as though we were a financial advisor giving support, but in one asset class, just rezzy property, and now it’s actually more empowering asking for the fee because if you’re able to communicate and show the benefit of actually using us in our industry as buyer’s agents, uh, that they’re going to get an independent response on property options, we’re not going to be looking for the most commission. We’re going to be looking for the best deal that’s suitable to that individual. So it’s certainly been a change in mindset.

But, uh, I, I enjoy it, you know, and transparency as well, which is quite cool. So with over 25 years experience, you’ve obviously bought property in so many countries for so many different people. What do you see as your, you know, unique value prop compared to all the other pies? Yeah, I think, uh, personally I bought way too many properties, uh, personally for ourselves, my family, and made a lot of mistakes when I was young. I knew everything and couldn’t make a mistake until I did. And that was very costly. And you learn a lot more when you lose money that’s your own than you do when you make money. And it’s those sorts of lessons. Understanding the risks has been probably the most powerful thing for me. So I can now identify risks, things having done so many transactions. There’s a pattern of things and attributes, things that will always work.
Ben Handler:
Things always won’t work and things that may or may not work. So if you can control a risk and remove it, then that’s what we try and do.

Brent Backhouse:
Uh, and that’s probably my unique thing, is to identify risks in sort of 10, 15 seconds, but also communicate that to the buyer. So it’s a big one. It’s, it’s pretty important. I mean, it’s where people lose money through those two, those risks. The challenge is everybody lives in a property predominantly, you know, and so they think they’re an expert and they think they know what they want. Or they bought property in 2013 and made money by 16. They made, if you bought property in Sydney, you made 200 grand. Minimum.

Ben Handler:
Doesn’t matter. But could they do it again? 99% of people?

Brent Backhouse:
The answer is probably no. Uh, whereas I’ve been doing it consistently for 25 years.
Um, not every year, not every single asset, not every single purchase. Uh, but a lot more successes than failures. But the failures hurt more. Yeah. And learning compliance across different countries and all that. The intricacies of buying and selling, I mean, focusing now predominantly on Australia must be, Oh, it’s, it’s pretty straightforward. I mean, vanilla is probably the word I use a lot. Uh, yeah. Trying to get stuff translated in languages, dealing with currency risk, transport access, risk consulates, a questionable title. Um, you know, even in, even in places like Thailand on guaranteed title and things like that, like Indonesia has got issues. Uh, places like Albania, we’ve transacted in Africa. Um, yeah, lots of different countries. It’s exciting. So a lot of your clients now are, they are Australian citizens or you, I’ve still got legacy clients from Europe. Obviously. I’ve got clients that have been with me for nearly 20 years and they, I help them with different stuff in different countries, but that’s not a core business.
Uh, and some are doing properties in Australia now, which is really good, really exciting cause they’re experts in England for example, or Asia and expats are really easy because they’re just looking for a pure return. Right. And they’re not looking for emotional stuff. And having built that relationship and trust, uh, outside of that, it’s just all a hundred percent Australia property. Australian clients. Yeah. When you started, I mean, I know squat has been around for a while, but when you started focusing purely on the buyer’s agent business model, did you expect the PPOR to move the way it’s moves, given your experience, obviously in investment for so long as in the value of them or what inquiry? Just in quite acquiring clients, I’d hoped that my experience would stand out and it has a, and it’s almost like people are championing my experience, so when I’m getting referrals now from local estate agents to help people buy property that they can’t or they’re not selling for example.

Ben Handler:
So they go, look, I don’t have anything that matches this client’s needs. Can you help them?

Brent Backhouse:
That’s great. It’s phenomenal. Yeah. Northern beaches, Northern beaches, and these are guys that are saying, why aren’t you charging? They were actually pushing me to be a buyer’s agent because they’d seen me at auctions bidding for clients, negotiating for clients and doing it for free. Unpaid consulting. Yeah, pretty much. And they’re just like, what? Why aren’t you doing this? What are you doing? You’re charging, you know? Nah, that’s big market. Those agents that were saying, why aren’t you charging at the same agents referring clients? Yeah. They trust you. Correct. Big market, Northern beaches for PPI and an investment that, I mean mostly PPR people. It’s, it’s a good market for that and it’s a great place to live, you know, and you’re getting a lot of Eastern suburbs, people moving up, they’re starting to identify value, you know, sell a place in Koji for three and a half, four and a half on two 8,300 square meters and go and buy something with ocean views for three mil.
Put a mill in your pocket and say the beach every day. It’s, that’s a pretty compelling argument. It’s commandment, it’s what, 45 minutes away from here in the city. It’s 10 minutes to Manley and it’s a 20 minute ferry. It’s a good lifestyle. I’m enough thought about it. I’ve thought about it. It’s a, it’s a beautiful part of Sydney and it’s just value-wise as you’re just saying, just compare especially the part in the East or in a West. I guess the other thing with the engineering that I was doing and having done developments and seen projects and renovations of my own and others, helping others identify what scope is available. So where a lot of, I see a lot of agents are struggling. They just want to sell, flog anything real estate agents. They can’t or they try and sell what you could do without knowledge.
You know, I’ve enormously, through my own personal challenges with planning in the Northern beaches council and uh, I’ve spent a lot of money, um, educating myself I’ll say in terms of finding out what is and isn’t permissible. Uh, and that’s the thing that also in my view for PPOR certainly in that space is hugely valuable. You can say, you cannot do this, that I don’t care what he says. You just can’t do it. Um, or you can do this and this, we’ll do this, this and generate this return and this much value increase. And if it’s a ticket at 2.2 and I’m looking at it guy, man, it’s, this is a two five property we’re in, you know, and if for whatever reason people can’t see it or there’s not the interest that day, you can sort of identify it immediately, you know, when you bought properties in the same area.

Ben Handler:
Absolutely. What are you finding with clients that you’re, or prospective clients you’re getting in front of? Like why are they engaging? You think it’s a time frustration and trust with the state agents, the selling agents. So you know, like this, um, underbidding underquoting like this is for sale for 2.1 go, I haven’t seen anything in this street in the last three years for under two five and then it’s suddenly sells it to seven, you know, but they’re getting people in and they’re frustrated their budgets to four and that, that’s repetitive and you know, they’re just, it’s an estate agent trait. We want to fill the room. Uh, whereas the ironic thing is when I talked to the agents, they know that I know, so they just tell me so I can communicate to the client, we’re not bidding, I’ll still turn up and register in case, but I’m not dragging them along out of their day.

Brent Backhouse:
So it’s the time consumption. You know, I’ve, I’ve met a client just before Christmas who was at an auction. They missed, we went straight to another property that was an open and I said, guys, this is good value. This, this is really good value. You know, and they haven’t bought it, but they’d been looking for nine months. They’re not a client. I just met him there and uh, you know, it, it’s a funny one. People, I think there’s a huge trust challenge with everybody in the space. So until you sign them up and secure that a hundred percent trust, it’s really difficult to sort of even communicate the truth. Uh, it’s a challenge, not communicate it. Have the truth hood. It’d be like the car industry, unfortunately, massive state could be worse. Yeah, it’s a big one. The real estate agents like just, I think because they’re so focused on vendor, which is their responsibility of representing of indoor naturally buys aides haven’t existed for so long that they disservice by as naturally, but their focus is the vendor even though the is important.
So I think unfortunately so many buys, I feel like from what I’ve heard as well feel like they’ve been burned by real estate agents, that it’s now a tip. It’s, it’s a, it’s a common theme as to why they want to engage a buyer’s agent. It’s exactly that. You know, that’s the common thing, which is frustrated prices are well over what they can afford or what the guide was time missing out because their budget’s not big enough and miscommunication of what’s achievable, how transferrable has obviously, you know, you play professional sport, you’re now coaching at the swans Academy.

Ben Handler:
How transferable is that now, just with what you’re doing business for example, like coaching clients through you know, situations and stuff.

Brent Backhouse:
Yeah, I think it’s really, really transferable because it’s about building blocks of education and I mean I had a client in Queensland bought his own home and he was struggling, works for Rio Tinto, moved down to Brizzy and it was looking very unlikely he was going to be able to secure what we needed and he said it was next week.
And what I did with him was I took him in to every real estate agent meeting, every negotiation before I did it. I stepped him through what I was going to do and he was actually really excited at the insight of, you know, the navigation process and how we negotiated to get our outcome. Even after we agreed the price, we then got another 10 grand discount after it was signed. Um, so he’s pretty happy and now I’ve got to go up there next week and talk to the REO guys, which is pretty cool. Yeah, I’m sure that all the REO guys are gonna want to piece. But I mean, just, just the ability, because even buying for investment purposes as is misconception, I think that no emotion, I think it’s a load of bollocks because you’re building wealth for yourself. And so there’s a motion with all of that.

And so I think you being able to always just, I think take a control of the client, coach them through each step, make them feel safe, et cetera. Like that’s a skill. It is definitely is. I think the emotion is less, um, tactile emotion. What something looks like, right? It’s financial emotion is very high. The outcome is determined by the performance, right? So that’s enormously, um, required. The emotional bit that isn’t involved is I want to paint the wall pink, you know, and sometimes I get some families that typically the, the female wants to make it a pet project and I sort of go, you’re not doing that on this, you do that on your home. We can put some pink cushions in, you know, so it’s commercial. It’s about what someone else will want and as many of those other people as possible, not what you want to make it perform.

And it’s important that we share that to the client is really important cause they all want to put that emotion into those IPS. Yeah. So the focus is Australia is the for investment, is it, is it passive income, is that the strategy? It’s two fold. We’re trying to see moderate capital growth with passive income that supports their lifestyle or ideally starts paying down their own home or building towards that. So I’m getting, I’m getting a lot more clients that are looking to rent, invest rent vest. So rent where they want to live and buy where others cause they can afford it. Especially in Sydney, the younger people. Uh, but you know from driving, uh, the investment side and the income side, the income is required purely to build a portfolio. If you don’t have that income, then the borrowing capacity stops. So your portfolio growth as you’d appreciate, it just is completely restricted, you know?

Ben Handler:
So are you buying existing and new or is it, is there or, yeah, so existing, um, could be putting a house and land package together for someone, uh, where if we, if we see an offer for it or an incentive, I’m able to rebate that or upgrade spec for free, uh, which is pretty, pretty cool. Uh, but mine is very much about making sure the client gets a success and a successful outcome was there’s commercial side obviously. Uh, I wanna make sure that the client has a smooth experience and that’s not always going to be the case, but it’s about, as you’ve taught me, I’m already aware, but managing the expectation, it’s really communicating that expectation management front and as you go. Yeah. You know, so if something changes, it’s really jumping on it immediately so that everyone’s still on the same playing field rather than someone getting upset either side.

Brent Backhouse
Yeah. And that’s going to enable, as we all know, like a referral based business, which is the best business. And you’re buying across, how, is it three States or is it predominantly for at the moment? Yeah. So basically it’s the Eastern seaboard and you obviously got good relations with the agents now in those places. I do and I mean there’s so many different property vendors or project marketers and you know, just on the way here today, I’ve had about 15 emails from project marketers saying buy this townhouse in Logan or whatever it is. You know? Uh, but because of the time in the market and being able to communicate very concisely to those people, I can just say, look, do you have this or not? Don’t show me if you don’t. So it’s really quick and efficient and that if they get it, they call me straight away, you know?

Brent Backhouse:
So, which is really handy, like reverting back earlier when we’re talking about you getting money from Vandal when you, you know, you assisted 26,000 people. I see a lot of the value in like let’s say you’re a buyer now looking to let’s say buy something in Southeast Queensland and you’re getting all these emails like you are, cause you’re on all the lists now from all these project marketers or agents or whoever’s hitting you. It would be confusing and overwhelming going into I buy and Logan do I buy in this development? Do I buy this stock? And so having someone like you now to represent their interest, to actually sigh for through all the crap and say this is a good product and this is why I think it’s a lot of value in that. Well, the other thing is I go to every single property that any client buys.
Brent Backhouse: (19:24):
It doesn’t matter where it is. So that to me is of utmost importance for me, for me personally, and I use this sentence, I’ve got twin boys, I’ve got my own problems, I don’t need yours. I want to make sure it’s clear and that we’ve covered all the risks, you know. So, um, and by doing that you pick up different opportunities that you weren’t there to see, but you also highlight risks.

Ben Handler:
You know, what’s that substation sitting across the road that’s not on the brochure develop as a grader? Uh, things and Photoshops incredible. And the guys that might be sat in an office that are 26 that don’t have the experience and not this thing. Anyone that’s 26 and starting out, but just have a bit more, ask another question. What are the risks? What else could be out there? What could be concerning for this?

Brent Backhouse:
You know, and you might buy the right property in the wrong area. So that’s why I put a huge emphasis on going to every property. I can rule them out in 30 seconds, 10 seconds from standing in front of them or investigate further, you know? And that to me it gives me comfort and if I’m comfortable, it’s easy for me to communicate that information and confidence to a client. Yeah, I mean I’m, not everyone gets the opportunity to do that. I appreciate that as well. But there’s just so much video experience buying so many properties. Obviously your civil engineering background, building your own portfolio, there’s just so much value that you can provide to a prospective client who’s looking, even Dubai, let’s say they’re looking to buy into a rezzy development of 40 apartments. Just you being able to understand like, Hey, the cars and the in the basement here, this is actually a pretty shit spot.

Ben Handler:
Maybe let’s allocate it somewhere else or look at something else. Just mentioning little things and just adding value that people wouldn’t see. Like the light could be bad in this apartment. Yeah. Which orientation in the building is that? It’s cheap. Why? Because it looks at the service alley where the trucks are coming to pick up the trash from the restaurant that’s behind. You don’t see that in a brochure. You see a floor pan and price and then you go, this is cheap compared to Sydney sign here. Um, you know, whereas I’ll see the service Allie and I’ll see the truck. Oh God, this might have this whole development might be out for us. Yeah. And you might even say this, this, this build is not great. Just developers, not great, whatever it is. But I think there’s so much value in that same people getting, as we all know, we see a lot of horror stories in the, in the media, around bad developments.

Brent Backhouse:
There are very good developments, but a lot of people do get shafted. Yeah. And everyone wants to sensationalize that. No one wants to hear about the guy that I just made 200 grand for. Right. Cause they’re jealous or they can’t afford it or whatever. You know, as we just saying. Yeah you don’t. Yeah. You don’t hear the beautiful stories of people making good money off off the plan. You hear all the horror stories, unfortunately until you’re 50, you know, and I’ve got to myself, you know, I bought off plan and I’ve sold off plan and I’ve lost money off plan, but I’ve made plenty of plan as well. So it’s knowing what the risks are of doing it off plan and not having the ability, if circumstances changed as I did 1617 to be able to fund any downturn in a market or access to funds by only putting a 10% deposit in and you’re strung out, you know.

Brent Backhouse:
But if you haven’t seen it or written it, it’s really hard to even communicate it. Um, yeah. But I’ve got those scars and I can sort of show them and I’m happy to communicate the losses to people. You know, I lost X amount of money on this property and this happened and this happened and this is what it hurt. You know, and you’re not going to be able to do that because I did it and if we’re looking at this, it could have this risk. So let’s just avoid it all together and look for something else.

Ben Handler:
Yeah. And that’s the value of engaging someone like you. You’ve made the mistakes, you’ve lost the money, you went through the pain, the client won’t correct the client. Why? So Asquire Property, obviously it’s been running for a number of years. How have you felt about the momentum since you’ve now jumped to the buy side? You’re clipping the fee from the buyer. Have you been happy with the growth so far?

Brent Backhouse:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I only did the course in November, maybe pretty recently before then, so November. But I’ve signed, you know, I’ve got a pipeline right now as I sit here, it’s got bigger in the car. I’m outside waiting. Uh, I don’t know if maybe got a pipeline for this month to transact this month of eight. Uh, when I say this month, probably February to transact in February and I’ve done five or six in December. January?

Ben Handler:
Yeah, it’s very good. I forgot, I forgot it was November. I thought it was August. So yeah, it’s cool. It’s good traction.

Brent Backhouse:
Very good traction. I mean it helps having my background, but as I said, discuss with you, and this is sort of something I say to people in clients is just because you know something about one sec, that doesn’t mean you know, what about all of it. Like even accountants don’t know everything about depreciation for example. And I don’t know everything about property and that’s why I did the course. You know, I wanted to go to someone, I wanted to fast track my knowledge in this space. So I come to you, look, look for the best and,

Ben Handler:
And you know, to be honest, in fairness, I didn’t, I didn’t understand the extent of, of, of, of what you did. And I’m excited that we are, we’re on this now because I think you’ve got so much skill to bring to the table and, and I, and I know that this year will be a year where you’re gonna hopefully bring it out and let people know about what you’ve done and what you’ve been through. Because I mean, people pay people like lots of money. We get paid a lot of money as buyer’s agents to, to represent them. And there’s so much we bring to the table outside of just calling an agent and doing a deal, as you said, like assessing all the risks, losing a lot of money on bad calls, bad mistakes. I mean, that’s why people are paying us. I think it’s really for, for what we’ve been through that they haven’t. And I think it’s, it’d be great to see you get out there with, with what you’ve done more. And even just, even when you’re spec around in sporting and the discipline, the diligence around that. Like I think, you know, I, I look for that when I’m looking to, to work with people. I think it’s very

Brent Backhouse:
Well, I mean even from go all the way back to the Garbos that was hard work and it’s, you know, studying engineering whilst doing that whilst playing professional sport all on the same day. You know, it’s, it’s exhausting but it’s hard work. But, and it’s so funny and it’s said all the time, everyone looks at the success, no one looks at the graph to get it. And everyone tells me that all those hours I spent, I’m so lucky, you know, and that’s the bit, no one sees the six months where I bought a property and I split up with a partner and did everything I could to keep it and I kept it. But I was eating rice and tuner and stuff like this for six months to keep that property. And everyone was telling me how lucky I was.

Ben Handler:
It’s interesting cause you know, obviously sadly Coby, Brian’s pass and obviously phenomenal athlete and because big fan and you know, he talked to, that’s the dream, right? Like all that hard work you put in that no one sees when people are sleeping, you’re training like, you know, he says that’s the dream. And I, and I think it’s interesting, you’re right, like people see the success but they forget it or they aren’t privy to it.

Brent Backhouse:
What’s happened before. So what I say to the kids, the Academy kids, cause it’s really, it’s a, it’s a great program but it’s really challenging, you know, and the attrition is quite high as, especially as we start to get to senior professional athletes and when they’re going through their benchmark programs or cutting the age group numbers, I say to the kids, it’s all the work you do when no one’s watching counts the most when everyone is, you know, and it’s, um, it’s true in anything in business. You know, I’m up till two o’clock this morning doing stuff, uh, and I’m up at six getting the kids out the door to school and that’s okay. No one needs to see it. I know I’m doing it and I’m getting stuff done and I’m seeing momentum and progress as a result. Yeah, it’s awesome. Final question. So I’m sure you’ve got a lot of plans, but, but what is the, what’s the focus for 20, 21st Squire and you like, yeah, it’s, well, personally I want to help as many people buy property, buy their own home or an investment as possible.

Brent Backhouse:
I don’t have a fixed number like others in our group have, which is great. Uh, and I guess it’s sort of working at efficiencies and getting some systems in and uh, just making it so that, uh, I can communicate better with people, give them better education and better results really for the year. Um, helping people buy their own place on the Northern beaches. That’s great. I love the Northern beaches. You get to see some sensational properties, but helping first time buyers or investors buy their first property is super empowering and so rewarding, you know, really rewarding. Um, yeah, and helping with charities and giving back is really important to me as well. So that’s awesome. Where can people find you? So, websites, uh, the property buyer.net. Uh, on there, there’s a form, get in touch on the form and uh, if you want to start your journey with me or want my support more than happy to help.

Ben Handler:
Thanks mate. Awesome. Really enjoyed chatting. Um, for everyone who’s listening in, check out Brent on his website. I personally haven’t seen a scoreboard bio like his lot of experience, 25 year-experience as we mentioned. I think what’s really valuable personally from my perspective, is buying across so many different countries, 24 to be specific and helping, you know, 26,000 people with their property transactions and also being a successful investor himself and making so many mistakes and now specifically focusing on Australia, I think huge. And Brent knows everything. He really goes into the detail in relation to, I think predominantly as we’ve been discussing the risk, right? Like the risks is what you need to be mindful of those big curly mistakes, which can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So check out Brent on his website. See you soon.

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