What It’s Like to Live Out Your Hobby

by Ben Handler

September 22, 2020

Buyer's Agent Peter Toma on what it's like to live out your hobby

Peter Toma:
It really started from my parents when they came here. They came here like many immigrants didn’t have much to start off with that just had this thing about property and he started investing in property and I was probably too young to really understand what was going on until later on in life where, you know, you start talking to parents a bit more and understanding what’s happening and it’s always been around in my family and it’s really influenced what I think is a good asset class to invest in. And the passion really started from there. You know, a lot of that knowledge was passed on from them and I’ve continued to learn through reading and podcasts and so on now and I run my own property advisory business and helping other people do, do things that I’ve enjoyed doing and that’s helped me and my family. So hopefully I can do the same for them.

Ben Handler:
Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents to bring a readiness around the career opportunities that this sector is providing people to bring awareness around the value that buyer’s agents are providing, people who need help buying property. Our goal is to strip back and dive into the stories and the journeys of remarkable buyer’s agents who are paving the way forward in one of the fastest-growing career sectors in real estate right now. Our guest today is Peter Toma. He’s based in Sydney. He runs a buyer’s agent business called elite one property that buys property Australia wide, not just investment properties but also primary residence here in Sydney. Peter’s journey started back when he studied civil engineering at university, then went into construction and then became an active property investor himself accumulating a very successful portfolio and now he’s very focused on his buyer’s agent business to really give back and empower other people to follow similar philosophies and investment strategies that he has deployed on himself.

Today I’d like to introduce Peter. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Toma:
Hi Ben. Thanks to me. Good to be here.

Ben Handler:
Thank you very much. I’ve been seeing you a lot on social and you obviously came through the Institute, but I wanted to reach out to you because my background, I mean I came from a construction background as well. Went to university, didn’t study engineering though I didn’t like engineering. That was part of my program that I was studying. And we’ve seen, it seems like we’ve been on a similar style of journey. Then I got into investment as well and I wanted to learn from you. Where do you, where did you buy your first property?

Peter Toma:
I bought it in Sydney back in 2012. Bought the first one, obviously a good time. Not knowing much back then. But the market’s moved and get more equity and to keep purchasing and purchasing and it’s, yeah, it’s done really well for me over the last few years.

Ben Handler:
When you purchased back in 2012, did you know buyer’s agents back then?

Peter Toma:
No. No.

Ben Handler:
I mean I was running my business, but I don’t think many people, many people still don’t know what they are. But I was wondering if you’d come across them?

Peter Toma:
Back then. I hadn’t come across them. Even now when I speak to people, they, they still seem a little bit unsure as to what buyer’s agents are. They still think we sell real estate. It could be further from the truth. I don’t want to sell real estate. I just want to find good deals for people.

Ben Handler:
Just jumping back to that experience, when you’re back on your own, going to buy your first investment property 2012, I mean, did you feel like, did you, did you feel quite vulnerable thinking “I’m buying my first property.” It’s a lot of money. I’m assuming, you know, you weren’t paying cash, so a lot of financial commitments over a period of time

Peter Toma:
Definitely I wasn’t buying cash. And definitely I felt a little bit vulnerable. You know, all those savings you spent all those years collecting in the bank and the minimal interest you own. So it was big, it was a big deal back then. But looking back on it now, fantastic decision, great decision to, to be able to do that. And really help accelerate, you know, your wealth generation and, and growth for yourself, your family, other people you want to help.

Ben Handler:
So yeah, it’s awesome. And I opened up at the beginning just talking about seeing you online and you obviously very busy, a lot of activity. Seems like you’re getting a lot of good deal flow getting a lot of coverage. I’ve been seeing some PR that you’re doing, so you, you, you’re getting out there, which is great. I wanted to also talk about effort because we talked about the effort just before we jumped on this and if it’s an interesting one because the only thing that we can control, have you found just the whole notion of effort in, in relation to starting your journey, running a new buyer’s agent business?

Peter Toma:
I think just in general, business is difficult, right? So if you think about it going, if you think about that, it’s going to be easy going in. You’re probably kidding yourself a little bit. And because of that, your, your, your success is proportional to your effort. And I’ve just noticed myself, the more effort I put in, the more reward you’re seeing coming back into the business. So if it is definitely a big thing and it is really in your control, that’s everything else that you know, outside markets and everything related to economics and property and governments that you can’t control. The only, the only thing you can control is your effort and your ability to add value to people.

Ben Handler:
Yeah, it’s true. And people are so focused right now with obviously what’s going on globally, viruses and, and the rest it’s, I think it’s also, whilst it’s a distraction, what a great time to now jump back in when people are so fearful staying at home, go buy property.

Peter Toma:
Well, right now there’s minimal competition, right? So people don’t want to go and look at property. They can’t buy property. So if you’re looking to buy now is a good time to buy because you’re not going to have the level of competition you had for six weeks ago. Really?

Ben Handler:
Yeah. Have you noticed your negotiation skills have sharpened a lot since you become a buyer’s agent running your own business compared to when you weren’t running an agent business looking for property for yourself?

Peter Toma:
Yeah, I think the biggest thing is their relationship with their real estate agents. At the end of the day, they’re just normal humans like us and they’ve got families and everything to feed and they, they just want to get a job done as well and they want to get the best outcome for their for their vendor. And if you understand that and understand the personality of the real estate agent, then you’ll, you’ll be able to, I guess hone your skills and you dictate your negotiation to suit them to get the best outcome that you want.
So definitely I think it’s sharpened my negotiation skills. I continue to do so. But also it helps when you have that relationship with agents because they know who you are as a person and it becomes less like negotiation and more about a conversation to get something done for both parties.

Ben Handler:
How important is the relationship with the real estate agent? As part of, not just negotiation, but what we do?

Peter Toma:
Super critical. It’s without them, you’re not going to find the deals so well you may, but how many people sell their own home or sell their own investment property? Not many. So they’re the guys that have the stock that you need for your for your, for your clients. And so they are super critical to the whole process.

Ben Handler:
You know, I think a lot of buyers don’t realize just how important or not just buyers, people out there looking to buy property, how important that relationship is.
Because it can be make or break when you’re trying to get a deal done. Right?

Ben Handler:
That’s right. And we’re talking to them every day. So like I said, they’re just normal humans and they want to get a deal done as much as we do. And you just got to find a way to do it. And that’s what we do.

Ben Handler:
You, I think you broke a record around a record when you, when you became a buyer’s agent and started your business. I think you bought a property in the North in around two weeks or three weeks. Am I bit off?

Peter Toma:
No, no, that’s it. Right. yeah, so I finished the course. I think it was two weeks. We, we signed the contract and exchange on the contract. So it was surprising, a good surprise. I wasn’t expecting that. Hopefully they continue to come through here, which I’m sure they will.

Ben Handler:
I mean, because I saw something after that, it was a while ago, but I saw like there was a video testimonial. Was that through them? Yeah. So how did you feel going through that process with representing a client? Buying a property so quickly and you know, just, just going through that experience with the client?

Peter Toma:
Yeah, so for that particular client, it was a principal place of residence. So for them as an emotional buy not necessarily alike an investment property where it’s about the numbers. But the process itself, I felt good because I was buying a home for, for a family that had two kids that were very young and they were going to be, they are going to be in there for the next 20 years or so. They’re renovating at the moment, which is great. But I felt good because I knew I was doing the right thing for them and I’m representing these guys who a new home for their family.

Ben Handler:
There’s a lot of emotion, obviously an owner-occupier purchasing and going through that process for the buyer. I think there’s a lot of emotion that goes into investing as well. People think it’s commercial, but I think there are objectives where we’re looking to achieve financial freedom, et cetera. So there’s emotion attached to that as well. But from my experience as well, going through that journey with the client looking to buy for owner-occupied for own occupy reasons, it’s, it’s, it’s a very different feeling as an outcome as opposed to buying for an investor. There’s just a lot of, I feel like there’s a lot more joy and happiness and, and it’s a, it’s an, it’s a great time to really bond deeper with your clients as well. Right?

Peter Toma:
I think when you, when you bought for a an, an occupier, the feeling of relief that it get when they’ve signed the contract because they’ve been so stressed throughout the whole process, they may have been looking for six months, every weekend, you know, had arguments between each other, disagreed about what they want.
And when you go through the whole process with them, it’s fantastic when you get, when you get that done. So it’s definitely, I think it’s more emotionally draining to buy for owner occupiers. For investors, it is still emotional, like you said. But I think they’ve got a bit more of a longterm view with, with buying property as opposed to, I’m going to live in this house for the next 20 years. So it needs to be perfect.

Ben Handler:
Yeah, there’s definitely different objectives. So right now you’re running a nationwide business in terms of investment.

Peter Toma:
Yep.

Ben Handler:
You buying owner occupiers, you’re buying phone occupies in Sydney. And how have you felt like obviously getting into being a new business owner, as you said earlier, like it’s hard work and there’s a lot of challenges. There’s rewards. How’s the experience been for you?

Peter Toma:
It’s been, it’s been up and down.
It’s been up and down to be honest. But when you’re working for something for yourself and you know that it’s, it’s, it’s bigger than you. Like everything we’re doing now is really for, for us, for my family, future generations. So it is a roller coaster, but when you have a passion for property and people, it doesn’t become like a job. It just, you just feel good about finding and helping people through property. And that’s what we love to do. So,

Ben Handler:
and it’s funny, isn’t it?

Peter Toma:
I think it’s fine. I mean, I’ve gone open homes talking to agents. Some people absolutely hate it, but that’s part of the process.

Ben Handler:
Well, that’s what we do, right? Like a lot of people that they’re engaging us because they don’t want to talk to agents. Some of them they see we’re going to opens time pool, concerned about overpaying, all that stuff and we fill that void for them. So as a buyer’s agent, you have to want to go see properties and do a lot of that work and that grunt work that buyers don’t want to do.

Peter Toma:
Yeah, exactly right. At the end of the day, you’re presenting the buyer, they’re effectively employing you to do, to do a job and you need to be able to do that job to the best of your ability to add value to them. And that value can be, like you said, different for every person it might be they don’t have the time, they might know everything, they just don’t have the time that it’s outsourcing it for you to do or they just don’t know what to do. And so you help guide them through that process. So it’s different for everyone, but you can add value in various ways.

Ben Handler:
What have you noticed since becoming obviously a new business owner, entrepreneur?
I’m getting into this space specifically. It’s such a niche space. The buyer’s agent space. What have you noticed? Just around the industry or anything that you’ve observed that…

Peter Toma:
I’ve noticed. People still don’t understand what buyer’s agents actually do. They get confused between buyer’s, agents, property advisor, real estate agents, mortgage brokers sometimes as well. So that upfront conversation is very important. I’ve noticed specifically in Sydney towards the back in the last year. And, and the start of this year stock is very, very low. And there’s a lot of competition, RBA cutting interest rates as well. So money is getting easier to buy effectively. But over the last two weeks with this, you know, Corona virus going around, I don’t know, it’s going to, it’s a bit funny. It’s a bit funny. It’s uncharted territory. So, yeah.

Ben Handler:
Did you, do you see it as like you obviously an astute investor, business owner in this space, do you see this as an opportunity?
Peter Toma:
Definitely less competition means opportunity. So long-term, obviously. And when you’re investing in property, you got to have a long-term view, I believe unless you don’t developments or windows to flip. But it’s all about the long-term and I think there’s great opportunity. Now, like I said, money is very cheap to buy. So leverage is your friend and property. Unlike some other assets like stocks, you could probably still leverage a lot of money. But yeah, it’s a lot of volatility.

Ben Handler:
If, if the share price is still there, you can maybe get it out. It’s going made. So maybe there’s not a lot of fit to get out. And in terms of the investment side of your business, are you following a similar strategy that you did for yourself? Is it..

Peter Toma:
I am for those people that I find that were in the same position I was.
Yeah. But everybody’s in a different position. So some people have a lot of capital behind them so they can afford to buy different types of properties. Some people don’t. So they, they need a different strategy, positive cash flow. Some people can afford negative gear, never negatively give properties with better, better potential growth. And some people can afford to do developments, which is a fantastic thing. But it’s the thing is just different for everybody. Cause everyone’s in a different part of their journey really in their investing career.

Ben Handler:
Yeah, it’s good. So you’re, from what I’m hearing you, you apply a specific strategy to that personal people around what their needs and wants are as opposed to, I know some buyer’s agents have just once one, one vanilla strategy that they deploy.

Peter Toma:
Yeah, Def definitely don’t have a one, one strategy.
One size doesn’t fit with what we do. So you need to have a specific strategy for each individual client, couple person, whatever it might be.

Ben Handler:
As we all know, most businesses it’s all about, I think, you know, you have to, in my opinion, in the, in this day and age, have a good product or service. If you’re selling a product or you’re providing a service like you do, it needs to be good. Otherwise you just don’t survive. Like, just with social media and just testimonials being so transparent, et cetera, that it’s hard to, to, to last by providing a crap service. Have you been noticing the importance of like sales and marketing in, in your, in your new business?

Peter Toma:
A hundred percent, if nobody knows about you, then how they’re going to buy from you. So social media is massive now. All social media is, is a way for people to get them to talk about you.
So you need to show people what value you’re adding to their life, to their investing careers. Social, so important. If you weren’t on socials, I think it’d be, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to survive. But it’d be very difficult, I think. I know some like solicitors and so on that they don’t have socials. They’ve obviously, they’ve come through the era where social media wasn’t a thing, but and they’ve stood the test of time, but I think it’d be very difficult now. There’s just so much noise out there and sometimes whoever screams the loudest gets heard.

Ben Handler:
Yeah, it’s true. True. And it’s, it’s very important now to be online. I mean, I, I know some buyer’s agents who aren’t online who do very well. I think you’ve got to do what works for you, in my opinion. I believe by having a presence online you can reach more people.

Peter Toma:
Yeah, definitely. If I sitting here, you and I are talking one-on-one. If I put something on Facebook or Instagram, I could be talking to 10 people and if those 10 people share it or tell someone else, there’s another 10 people, there’s 20. I think it’s just, it’s really, again, leverage. That’s what really you get from social media. So, yeah, super important.

Ben Handler:
What do you do in your downtime? You, you mentioned that you’ve got a kid on the way, you know, you’ve got a busy work life, the up and down roller coasters of the entrepreneur journey, family, et cetera. So what do you do? Downtime to chill?

Peter Toma:
Downtime, scroll through real estate.com.

Ben Handler:
Yeah, you’re going to be a good buyer’s agent.

Peter Toma:
Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely love it. But you know, other things I’m opposed to real estate, like you said, got a first child on the way.
So I’ve been busy recently attending to the wife, making sure she’s okay, appointments with doctors and midwives and so on and getting ready for the baby. But other than that, just, you know, having, having coffees with, with friends watching a bit of TV usually property shows. And that’s about it. Head down to the Murray rebates, which is fantastic. Yeah, that’s about it. Yeah.

Ben Handler:
Nice. And it’s usually signs like when you’re spending time on scrolling real estate domain, et cetera, you’re watching property shows. That’s it’s, it’s usually a sign that you like property and you know, I think for people like you who then transitioned to this as a career as we said earlier, that doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun.

Peter Toma:
I, I don’t think you can do it if you’d just like it. I think you’ve got to love it.
I know it’s cliche, but you kind of have to because there’s so many ups and downs and that passion is probably just going to keep you going.

Ben Handler:
We’re going to finish up now and I just wanted to check with you where people can best find you. I know you’re on a few different platforms, you’ve got a website, but where, where is good for people to see you?

Peter Toma:
They can connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn. Otherwise I can send me an email, [email protected] Just get in touch with me or give me a call and yeah, we can have a chat.

Ben Handler:
Cool. And I appreciate you being here and I’ve seen you obviously transpire your journey and I think it’s awesome to see what you’ve done. And I know it’s hard with juggling so many different things and I’m just excited to see what you’re going to do 2020. And I know, because I know it’s hard work and as you said, it’s up and down and that’s your entrepreneur journey.
And we, I think we all just have to be diligent and disciplined. And stay consistent with our activities, with what we need to do, and it all works itself out.

Peter Toma:
I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Ben Handler:
Thanks so much for everyone listening. Peter’s awesome running a really successful business based in Sydney, as I said earlier, and he said he’s buying nationwide investment, but also buying owner-occupier in Sydney as well. So check them out. Details on the screen now. See you next week.

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