Two best friends decided to get together 30 years ago and develop a business out of their passion which is property. In today’s show one half of that dynamic due, Belinda Smith from oohm.com.au, discusses flipping and how that has helped them build a strong property portfolio.
Kevin: Two best friends – who incidentally share the same first name – decided to get together 30 years ago and develop a business out of their passion, which is property. Belinda Westblade and Belinda Smith are the real deal when it comes to renovating and/or flipping property, and along with their husbands, they have built a very strong property portfolio.
One-half of that dynamic duo, Belinda Smith from oohm.com.au, joins me. How do you pronounce that, Belinda?
Belinda: It’s actually oohm, as in the mantra.
Kevin: Of course, you and the other Belinda, your mate, have developed quite a good following online, as well.
Belinda: Yes, we do. We actually had started to talk about the things that we enjoyed about property and the things that we knew, and sharing tips and hints. We found ourselves with a really big following on Facebook almost immediately right from the start, so I knew that there was interest in the topic. We just kept going our that online chatter.
Kevin: I think what both of you have done is a tremendous inspiration for women everywhere. Do you see that women are actually seeing what you’re doing as a bit of a career path?
Belinda: Absolutely. Belinda and I are a testimony to this. It’s something that we really tackled while we had children, while our children were very young. Our children are now in their early twenties.
Renovations are a beast when you’re very, very busy but you have lots of time off in-between. The whole process of going to visit properties to purchase, to look at or doing the research and statistics, is very achievable when you have kids.
Kevin: I think, too, you have to learn it there, because I know personally, Carolyn and I have made many mistakes with property. While we always say it’s very unforgiving, it can also be quite devastating if you make the wrong turns, particularly with renovation.
Belinda: Absolutely. My husband and I, in particular, we put a lot of thought and we’re probably overly cautious in comparison to other investors who I’ve watched over the years. We do put an absolute lot of research into every property that we buy, and if it doesn’t fit into our portfolio, if we don’t know that there is going to be profit at the end through previous sales in the street and from conducting our proper research, we actually don’t bother and leave that one alone.
I think the commonality with Belinda and me is that both of our families have never been on big incomes and yet we’ve been able to turn renovating into a source of growing equity and income and lifestyle.
Kevin: You’re very inspirational. Do you think that women see the business of property differently from men? I ask you that question because I know both of your husbands are involved, as well. Is there some dynamic there?
Belinda: Just naturally, I think women look at property from an emotional sense. We gather information – or I do and Belinda does, too – and we walk through companies together and we look at the same sorts of things.
Is this livable for somebody? Where the sun comes from. Is this going to be a pleasant home for our tenants? Is there great potential to flip this property fast? Can we keep it within its own style and genre, which means that we don’t have to do so many façade changes, which means that we can keep our costs down but we can also get the property looking fabulous so it will sell at the highest price?
We look at that sort of thing, whereas my husband and Rod, Belinda’s husband, will walk through and they will look more at do the fences need fixing? They look more at the repairs, probably because we’ve spent so much time with them working, they actually look at the hours they’re likely to spend on a place.
Kevin: Not wanting to oversimplify, but I’ve always looked at the situation. I think women look at property emotionally whereas men look at it quite statistically. I sometimes wonder if therefore there is more opportunity for women to make mistakes with property where you do have to take the emotion out.
Belinda: Absolutely. We take the emotion out because this has become a business for us, but we try and play on the emotion of women when we’re selling our properties, because I know – and you just mentioned it then – it’s really quite obvious that women will become very, very tied up in wanting something.
When the woman wants something and she wants it really bad and she won’t look at another property, you know that you have a buyer. If you can get a couple of people like that interested, that’s when your prices really are pushed. When we renovate, we renovate to appeal to a woman’s sense of wanting that to be her own home.
Kevin: Has that made those properties more saleable? I do believe that women will actually make the home-buying decision, so by getting in touch with that emotion, does that help you flip properties quicker?
Belinda: Absolutely. We’ll do little things like when you walk up to the front veranda of a property, we will make sure that there is a lovely chair and a cushion there. We’ll make the appeal from the very first part of that house that you see. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do it. It’s really simple little techniques that appeal to buyers that tweak those emotions and the must-have desire that give you a quick sale and give you a good price.
Kevin: Belinda, I want to have you back in a couple of weeks’ time, if I could, because there are a couple of other questions I wanted to ask you. I want to talk about flipping and renovating to hold and how do you make those decisions? I wonder if you’d come back in a couple of weeks, rejoin us, and we’ll cover those topics, as well.
Belinda: Yes, I’d love to. I’ll come back anytime you like, Kevin. Happy to share.