Today we talk with Kieran Clair from Australian Property Investor magazine, who won an award for his real estate reporting. We get an interesting insight into how writing articles about real estate investing can change how you see property.
Kevin: A regular contributor to our show is Kieran Clair who does the news every week. Kieran, of course, is a very talented journalist who works at Australian Property Investor magazine and writes a number of the feature articles that we sometimes include as our feature stories in Real Estate Talk.
I’m pleased to say that Kieran took out a recent award in Queensland for having written the best article of the year 2014. He joins me. Kieran, congratulations.
Kieran: Thank you very much indeed.
Kevin: A very proud moment, I’m sure, and having been your avid follower over many years, looking at your articles in API, the series that you won the award for went into great detail about the property markets – in great depth and great research.
There must be a lot of time and effort goes into writing these articles.
Kieran: Certainly. We are afforded plenty of time to make sure we get down to the tintacks, right down into the detail for those articles. One of the things I really love about working at this magazine is that we’re always encouraged to get plenty of sources and try and be as balanced as possible in the articles. I think that being given those resources really helps a great deal.
Kevin: Yes, I’m sure it does, and you get to talk – like me – to a lot of really interesting people. I sometimes get very motivated when I talk to someone about how they’ve done a recent renovation or they bought their tenth property. I think “Wow!” It really motivates me. Do you find the same thing?
Kieran: Absolutely. My significant other – my wife – is a property valuer, so a lot of table talk about property occurs in our house. It’s pretty hard when you come away from talking to someone who is talking about syndicated investments or talking about small developments or even as you said, renovation, not to go home, sit around the table, and say “Hey, I’ve had some really good information today, and I think we could do something.”
I just wish there was always the time and funds to take on everything that comes into the imagination.
Kevin: Yes. I find that, too. It must have been I found that as a real estate agent, as well, going out and seeing so many great properties, there were so many that I wanted to buy, but you just simply can’t do them.
Have you learned much out of the experience of being with API in terms of how you research a particular market and the lessons we can learn from that as investors?
Kieran: Yes. I’ve certainly learned a great deal here. My previous experience in property valuation, whilst I was a specialist in property valuation, you also specialized in geographic areas, so I would only be a specialist in 15 suburbs in Brisbane. Coming here, you get an expanse; the whole country opens up to you and there are people out there who know a lot about our markets.
I think that the lessons to take away from here are really to do your research and seeking good independent advice. I think that the skill is to be able to realize when someone has your best interest at heart or someone is just wanting to impart knowledge to make you a better investor; they’re not looking to talk themselves up or have an agenda.
I think independent advice is the one thing that is going to put you in very good stead when it comes to investing in property.
Kevin: I’m interested in a comment you made there about valuers and how you find a particular area, become a specialist in an area or a class of property. I thought that valuers were able to go across a broad range because they look at it fairly analytically.
Kieran: You will certainly find in the bigger firms nowadays that valuers are going to become specialists, particularly in geography. In the firm that I was in, for example, we would have had 25 valuers on staff doing residential property only, and they’ve divided up the capital city here in Queensland.
It’s actually a very effective way to conduct that sort of work because you become intensely informed in particular sales, particular properties, and the way that the market reacts to them.
That said, valuers need to have a very broad knowledge on how markets work. Most do. You have to keep up to date with your continuing professional development, etc., but certainly when you become a specialist in an area, it’s pretty impressive how you can sit and talk to anyone in the industry about a particular part of the geography and know it almost down to the house color.
Kevin: Do you think your experience at API over the last year or two has broadened your experience? If you were to go back as a valuer, would you be looking at it differently?
Kieran: Absolutely. I think that it’s opened up a whole different part of the property brain for me – the ability to talk about how markets are analyzed, how people look at statistics, looking at vacancy rates, etc., but also there’s this whole relativity thing that the valuer works in. If you become too centralized in your areas, you forget that there are suburbs out there with an average or median price of $1 million plus in Sydney.
That’s almost mind blowing for a Brisbane valuer who’s working in the outer western suburbs who’s putting property values of $200,000 to $400,000 dollars on most home. I think that you just get a better appreciation of how markets work and the way that people think when they’re buying.
Kevin: Lovely talking to you. Congratulations on your award. More great articles coming from you, as well, and it’s always good to have your input into our show every week.
Thanks for your time, Kieran.
Kieran: Thank you for being so generous with me, as well.