Take responsibility not advice – Miriam Sandkuhler

Take responsibility not advice – Miriam Sandkuhler

Buyers agent and author Miriam Sandkuhler talks to us about her book that is a how to guide for investors, detailing a seven step process.


Kevin: A few weeks ago I was talking to my next guest in the show, and found out that she had written a book. She was kind enough to offer to send me one, which she has done. Always a woman of her word. Not only that, but it was also autographed. Miriam Sandkuhler sent me her book, Property Prosperity: Seven Steps to Investing Like an Expert, and she joins me. Good day, Miriam.

Miriam S.: Good morning, Kevin.

Kevin: Miriam is the CEO and Buyer’s Advocate for Property Mavens. Also a very gifted and best-selling author. How about that?

Miriam S.: Good to hear.

Kevin: I really enjoyed the book. Thank you, and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up years ago.

Miriam S.: Maybe it got lost in the post.

Kevin: It did. In fact, Miriam, there are so many things inside this book, particularly the seven steps. You talk about, right at the start there, you said the seven steps to investing like an expert. You’ve actually defined them quite clearly in the book. What would be a great idea is for you and I to do some extended videos on this to help, one, promote the book, but also I think it’ll give a wonderful insight to anyone who wants to get in as a property investor. Would you be willing to do that?

Miriam S.: Absolutely, that’s a great idea, Kevin.

Kevin: Okay, I just want to talk to you now about the book generally.

Miriam S.: Sure.

Kevin: And then we’ll let you know, our contributors, subscribers to Real Estate Talk, we’ll let you know when those videos are coming out. Miriam, if I can just … the forward I thought was fascinating in itself, where you talk about your free advice … or the introduction … free advice is never free. I guess that’s a very hard lesson for a lot of us to learn. There are so many people who come on to programmes like this one and talk about that free advice, but I’ve always seen our role in Real Estate Talk as putting out a whole lot of information, but then people have got to go away and make their own decisions. They’ve got to be responsible for their own actions and their own decisions, don’t they?

Miriam S.: That’s right, absolutely. It’s called “buyer beware”.

Kevin: Is it that simple? Just buyer beware? There are a lot of traps also for sellers too.

Miriam S.: That’s right, and unfortunately in the industry, the nature of the fact that it’s so easy to get into it, into the real estate sector. We don’t have high levels of entry required in terms of qualifications, and so it can attract a lot of people who maybe don’t have high qualifications and therefore may not give high-quality advice.

Kevin: Do you see that changing?

Miriam S.: I hope so. There are associations out there like PIPA and PIA who are pushing for people to be qualified property investment advisers if they’re going to give property investment advice, but currently the industry is unregulated in that respect. Which makes it highly highly dangerous for investors, if they’re taking advice from people that a) aren’t qualified and b) have got a biassed agenda-

Kevin: Yeah.

Miriam S.: … towards their own interests.

Kevin: I want to pick up on that second one you mentioned, and that’s bias. That’s probably the biggest trap, I think, for people, is trying to determine whether the person giving me this message is biassed towards the message they’re giving me and the product they’re recommending. Is it about the product recommendation? Because I’ve seen some bad spruikers but I’ve also seen some people who spruik really good advice as well.

Miriam S.: That’s exactly right. That’s why it can be a bit confusing. I think the one thing to be aware of, the distinction between the advice and whether or not it’s biassed is really determined by whether or not you’re paying an adviser and if they’re giving you independent and unbiased advice. So a buyer’s agent, and accredited property investment adviser, these are professionals who you would pay a fee to, to help you potentially develop a strategy, and then to go into the marketplace and seek property that meets that strategy, and in that process they will provide you with independent and unbiased advice. Including advice around what not to buy, and how much not to pay, and that may mean you need to go look for a little while.

Miriam S.: Whereas usually someone who’s biassed, they tend to have a property model, it’s not an advice model like an independent buyer’s agent. It’s a property model where again they give you a strategy and it all sounds fabulous, but it’s all about leading you down the path of buying the property that they have in stock, that they want to sell you. So in some instances these people charge you a marketing fee or a strategy fee, so you might get confused in thinking they’re providing unbiased advice, but the reality is when it comes to selling you a property, they’re generally getting a commission or kickback from the vendor, which means they actually work for the vendor in that instance and not you.

Kevin: Yeah. I’ve seen strategists … and that’s what I call them … but I’ve seen strategists who’ve given advice, have been paid for it, haven’t recommended a property but given advice on a location, as an example. Further down the track, that location is proven to be a real bummer. Where they lose lots and lots of money. These are things you can’t foresee though, aren’t they?

Miriam S.: That’s right, and again it comes down to the qualification and the expertise of the strategist, but there’s also a lot of marketing terminology and puffery.

Kevin: Things you could … yeah … warning signals, really, aren’t they?

Miriam S.: Yeah, confusing and conflicting information. When you get people talking about buy wholesale, not resale-

Kevin: Retail, yeah.

Miriam S.: Retail, rather. Secret strategies to go about investing, fastest-growing region, land banking, investment membership-

Kevin: Hot spots.

Miriam S.: Hot spots. Hot spots, they do exist, and there are definitely researchers in the marketplace that provide really good information about hot spots.

Kevin: But by the time we find them, they’re no longer hot spots. Or by the time we hear about them in a lot of cases.

Miriam S.: Yeah, potentially, and again that’s where maybe seeking independent and unbiased advice comes in. Ballarat, for example, I’ve been buying there for over five years and in recent years it’s become a hot spot.

Kevin: Another good example would be Hobart, I guess.

Miriam S.: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, definitely. Hobart’s a good example for that as well.

Kevin: Yeah, secret strategies, things that are shrouded in mystery are always a bit of a telling sign for me.

Miriam S.: Alarm bells need to go off when you hear that.

Kevin: Yeah, because it’s no longer a secret by the time they talk about it. All these things, and you’re right, it is puffery, it’s terminology, they’re the warning signs.

Miriam S.: And also the one-size-fits-all. Alarm bells need to go off when someone’s promoting a particular strategy to you on the basis that it suits everyone’s circumstance, and that’s what people need to be really cautious of.

Kevin: One of the things you and I will talk about, in talking about that, is towards the end of your book you give a number of tables where you talk about investor type, what’s your risk attitude, how you can measure yourself. We’ll provide a lot of this information. You can’t beat picking the book up as an example, but we’ll cover a lot of that in our videos, because I think that’s a critical thing, is how you assess what sort of investor you are. Miriam, unfortunately we’re out of time, but tell me, where do we get the book from?

Miriam S.: You can buy it on Amazon.com, the print version, or you can download the Kindle version for $3.99 on Amazon.com.au, or go to propertymavens.com.au resources and you can buy a printed version, autographed version, off the website directly.

Kevin: Excellent stuff. Miriam Sandkuhler, my guest, CEO and Buyer’s Agent from Property Mavens. Miriam, thank you so much for your time.

Miriam S.: Thanks for having me, Kevin.

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