8 key questions most sellers don’t ask agents

Property investor and mentor, Nhan Nguyen, tells us how to structure offers to suit the market conditions and when to do quick or long settlements.
Michael Yardney tells us the two things 90% of investors fail to do and as a consequence do not maximise the potential of their portfolio.
Last week in the show I carried an interview with Shane Oliver from AMP with some dire predictions about the Australian property market. Well almost immediately I received a stinging email from Simon Pressley at Brisbane based Propertyology and this week we give him the right of reply.
Ben Kingsley shares with us the process he takes potential investors through when he is designing their portfolio. He says there are 4 elements that need to be in place for the plan to succeed. You will hear all 4 today.
There is a great book I want to tell you about today – its called The Real Estate Matchmaker. In it, Tim Eaton sets about explaining the 8 key questions most sellers don’t ask agents to guarantee they never leave any money on the table when negotiating the sale of a property. You will hear them in the show today.
Our question of the week comes from Rita who asks about depreciation on a cosmetic renovation and if she needs to replace her existing schedule or just add to it.


Tim Eaton

Kevin:  I told you I’d tell you about a book that’s been written by Tim Eaton. It’s one of two books actually that Tim has sent me, but today, we’re going to talk about the one that’s called “The Real Estate Matchmaker” because inside the book, he gives you the eight key questions that nobody asks to guarantee that you never leave money on the table.
First of all, I’ll say hello to Tim. Good day, Tim.
Tim:  Good morning, Kevin. Good to be here.
Kevin:  I’ve been trying to put together a list of key questions that you should ask every agent before you appoint them, but the thing that I’ve found is that quite often we can ask the questions but we just don’t know what kind of answers we should be expecting because agents are very good at not spinning but selling themselves, Tim.
Tim:  Yes, spinning is not an unfair word sometimes, Kevin. Yes, that’s true. They’re looking to convince the homeowner why they should choose them and selling the big story about themselves. The great agents sometimes appear a little intrusive. They’ll ask questions of the homeowner, which is the best way to get a conversation going.
Kevin:  Yes, you have to understand about the person. A house is a house. It’s the person you’re actually either taking to auction or taking through the sale process.
Tim:  Absolutely.
Kevin:  Yes, I did promise that we’d go through the eight key questions. We’re not going to be able to talk about them all in detail, but we’ll certainly get across the top of them. There’s one in particular I want to talk about, and then I think over the next few weeks, we might pick up on some of the others. Let’s quickly run through what are the eight key questions that need to be asked or understood about how an agent works, Tim.
Tim:  The subtitle of the book, Kevin, is that everything sells best fresh. The first of the eight keys is days on market. It’s a terminology that is a bit of jargonized within the industry called the DOM, or days on market. It means how long has the property been on the market before it sells, and the earlier it does that, the better.
Kevin:  The measure of a good agent is that their days on market is likely going to be less than their opposition or the market generally.
Tim:  Absolutely, and that information is available to the homeowner. It’s free. It’s on public websites. What is the average days on market in that area? You want to see your agent would be less than the average in the area.
Kevin:  Okay, second one.
Tim:  Auction clearance rates. This won’t apply to every jurisdiction in Australia, but for most of them, you want to see high auction clearance rates. An agent who’s bringing properties to auction, getting somewhere between seven to eight out of ten sold under the hammer, that’s fantastic. Most of those will get sold. If they’re not sold on the day, they’ll get sold shortly after.
Kevin:  Yes, a lot of focus is currently on what’s happening with clearance rates in Sydney, and we’re seeing that’s a good indicator that that particular market is actually slowing down. What’s number three, mate?
Tim:  Private treaty average discounts. The house that we call for sale – with a “for sale” sign – that’s called a private treaty. It’ll get listed at a first starting price. Let’s say it gets listed at $500,000. Most properties at that point have a little bit chipped off the top of them before they’re negotiated to a sale price. The percentage that they come down is what we call the average discount. With your agent, you want to see that to be a very low figure – they start at much closer to where it finishes.
Kevin:  Number four?
Tim:  Number four is the ratio of private treaties to auction that your agent has. Are they in offices with a great sense of urgency, that they bring to their properties, that they bring to the market? Offices that have a high ratio of auctions tend to have a higher sense of urgency. That feeds back into the first key: they’ll probably have lower days on market.
Kevin:  I’m going to dig more into some of these topics in the coming weeks, as well. What’s number five?
Tim:  Five is the vendor’s investment in promotion. There’s an old-fashioned saying, Kevin. You’ve probably heard it. You can’t sell a secret.
Kevin:  That’s right.
Tim:  The homeowners have to be prepared to put a bit of money on the table to invest in the marketing of their property to attract an emotional buyer.
Kevin:  Yes, that’s always cause for a lot of debate. “Why should I pay for the advertising when it’s all going to be about you and so on?” But I don’t want to get into that debate today; I’d love to have it in the weeks to come. What’s number six?
Tim:  Number six is surveys. You’ll probably find that when the agent is sitting down with the homeowner looking to bring their property onto the market, they’ll put some testimonials down from their previous selling clients.
It’s very strong if the agent can have both surveys done from buyers and sellers. If you have a good report from the buyer and from the seller, you have an agent who’s got a tremendous ability to create rapport and that’ll always end up with getting a better price for the homeowner.
Kevin:  Number seven?
Tim:  Guarantee of service, Kevin. It’s a big one. When the homeowner is prepared to make their commitment to presenting the home as well as they have, when they have been prepared to put some investment into their marketing, your agent should be able to guarantee that “If we don’t do what we said we’re going to do, you can just tear up the agreement.”
Kevin:  More and more agents are using them now, too, so you should expect your agent to have one. The final one is the one that I want to spend another minute or two talking about. What is it?
Tim:  It’s an odd one, Kevin. It says: your fee is the highest in the area.
Kevin:  Yes, now why would you want to do that as a seller?
Tim:  We can look at the implications, Kevin, of why would you want the lowest fee? That appears to be obvious. It appears at a glance that that’s a good deal, but really, if you were choosing any other profession – in the book, I use an analogy of a medical professional – would you be going looking for a heart surgeon who’s the cheapest, or do you just want the best?
The implications here for the homeowner are that the quality in the service and the ability of the agent you choose has a massive input on the outcome that you’re going to have. You should be looking for somebody who is able to justify being the best in their area.
The competition will know that. The competition will either be able to match that higher fee or they won’t be able to. They simply won’t be able to match the service and the outcome so you should be looking for somebody who is able to justify the best fees in the area.
Kevin:  I work with a lot of top agents, and the thing I know about them is that they’re not afraid to ask for the top fee, but demonstrating how they can actually earn that is because they demonstrate how good a negotiator they are. Some of them actually will say, “When I get a buyer, this is how I’m going to negotiate.” They can actually tell you how they’re going to negotiate to give you confidence.
Tim:  It’s chapter six, Kevin, negotiation. It’s “Show me, and show me the money.” You should be able to demand of your agent, “Do it for me right now. Show me exactly how you’ll be doing it for me.”
Kevin:  Yes, you’re going to hear a lot more about this book and this man too. “The Real Estate Matchmaker” is the book. Timothy Eaton has been my guest.
Hey Tim, we’re out of time, unfortunately, but I want to catch up with you again in the weeks to come. We’ll talk about a couple of the other eight key questions you need to ask to make sure you don’t leave any money on the table.
Hey, Tim, thanks for your time.
Tim:  My pleasure, Kevin. Thanks for having me.

Brad Beer

Kevin:  As I said at the start of the show, we had a question – and a good question – from Rita, who writes and asks a question about tax depreciation:
“I had a depreciation schedule done about 10 years ago for my investment property, which is now 12 years old. I’ve just done a cosmetic renovation, replacing the original carpets and blinds and adding new fencing. I’m also doing other repairs and maintenance, like painting and floor sanding. Do I need to get a new depreciation report done, or do I just give my tax accountant a list of the costs and let him work out the items and add the depreciation schedule, which ones to claim as repairs?”
Thanks for that question, Rita. I imagine a few people would probably want to know the answer to this. Brad Beer, our tax depreciation expert, joins us from BMT Tax Depreciation.
Brad:  Hi, Kevin.
Kevin:  What would you say there to Rita?
Brad:  Look, Rita, Kevin, it is a good question, and it’s a regular-type question. Now that’s a very specific one about what to do in a renovation, but let’s address that one and some of the other things for people who are doing slightly different renovations.
Simply, if you had a depreciation schedule done on the actual property that you purchased 10 years ago, the things that relate to the claims on the building and the things in there don’t actually change. Now when you change things, you change what is there to claim. But the original building is still depreciating, so you’re still using that original depreciation schedule, yes.
When you do a renovation, obviously, you change things. You change the cost of what is there, so you change the things that are able to be depreciated. Those things that you have done there are mostly cosmetic – a carpet, blinds. For simple things like that, you have a cost, so yes, your accountant should be able to apply the correct rate to those things and make deductions for those things going forward.
For fencing, once again, a new fence is a capital improvement that will need to depreciate, and you have the cost of that fence, so the quantity surveyor doesn’t need to come and tell you how much that fence costs. Your accountant should be able to apply the correct rates.
Some of those other things and other work that are done sometimes that are repairs and maintenance, generally, your accountant will be able to make a decision as to whether they should be added to a depreciation schedule and claimed if they’re a capital improvement or actually claimed as repairs and maintenance if they’re repairs and maintenance.
Accountants often have different ideas of what things they would like to claim. It gets a bit specific about that, and we can help with that. But normally, we work alongside the accountant. As a quantity surveyor, we’re the cost guy who comes up with the costs. If you have all the costs, sometimes we don’t need to get involved in that because it’s generally fairly simple for your accountant to work out.
There’s a fair bit of work done here, but they’re fairly simple items. If you do a major renovation and you rip it apart, it’s good to probably see the quantity surveyor about that so that they can make sure they do split up the costs properly and identify all the correct plant and equipment items and maximize the deduction going forward. That, obviously, is very important because that’s what as an investor you’re after doing.
One other thing I’d like to add, Kevin, is making sure that when you do do renovations that you do take advantage of making sure you have claimed everything on the items that were there already, and if you haven’t claimed it all and you scrap those items, make sure you claim that scrapping allowance on them.
Kevin:  Yes. That’s what I was going to ask you about – scrapping and whether or not any of the items that Rita mentioned there would allow her to do that, Brad.
Brad:  She’s had a property there for 10 years. Some of those things, their actual effective life, may have actually finished, and she may have actually claimed all the deductions. But if there is anything left on the carpet or anything there… Now the fencing is a very interesting one because the fencing, if it’s only 12 years old, you should have a scrapping allowance related to that existing fencing. It depends on whether there is any value.
Your original depreciation schedule should show the value that may be left on any carpets, blinds, or planned equipment items, and it’s simple; your accountant can adjust that. If you’ve ripped out fencing and things that are 12 years old, then you have to potentially get them to give you a bit of help to split some of those costs out. But yes, it can be done. Definitely, scrapping is something to consider whenever you do a renovation.
Kevin:  Yes. Some of the points you’ve raised here would indicate to me that probably Rita is better off getting another schedule done, especially after 10 or 12 years. You think it wouldn’t hurt to go back and refresh it all, Brad, anyway.
Brad:  I guess the misunderstanding there is it’s not necessarily a new schedule; it’s an adjustment to the existing schedule.
Kevin:  An update, yes.
Brad:  It’s best to have whoever did that schedule in the first place, make sure you talk to them and the accountant about this thing and make sure you do get it right.
Kevin:  Very good advice from Brad Beer at BMT Tax Depreciation. There’s a button on our home page, too, if you want more information there.
Brad, thanks for your time.
Brad:  Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin:  I want to congratulate Rita. Rita, you are our question of the week, and as such, you get to win a 12-month subscription to Australian Property Investor magazine. Congratulations. We’ll be in touch to get your address, and we’ll get it out to you.
Keep those questions coming in, too. Do it through the website on the Ask Our Experts button, or send me an e-mail direct to Kevin@RealEstateTalk.com.au.

Simon Pressley

Kevin:  Last week in the show, I carried an interview with Shane Oliver from AMP with some dire predictions about the Australian property market.
Almost immediately, I received this stinging comment from Simon Pressley in Brisbane-based Propertyology. I quote: “If there’s one thing which really irks me most about property markets, it’s the long list of headline-chasing commentators who, each time they come to the public with a property opinion piece, do little more than demonstrate their limited knowledge on the complexities of the property markets.” Wow.
He joins me. Simon Pressley, you’re a bit fired up about this, aren’t you?
Simon:  I certainly am, Kevin. Look, fired up – it’s not personal. I’m passionate about property. I’m very confident about property. It’s my business, but I do get fired up when we get broad-brush statements from generalizers about a very specific component of the economy.
Kevin:  Well, you’re not the only one. In fact, my phone went crazy after we carried that piece and also what followed on with Macquarie Bank and so on.
Simon, do you think the problem is that some commentators, and even investors, look at the property market as they would the share market?
Simon:  I think that’s probably where it stems from. They’re not necessarily doing that consciously, but share markets behave a lot differently to property markets. A lot of the things that influence share markets also influence property markets, but we don’t see a property value decline by 10% in two hours as a stock in a company could.
I think that too often the generalizers – and I say this respectfully, economists are generalizers – are implying that Australia is one big property market. Now, there are 550 independent local government bodies within this country. That’s the equivalent of 550 different stocks on the stock exchange.
Kevin:  Gee, it makes it very confusing, though, doesn’t it, for investors? How can we really work out what’s happening when we get so much conflicting comment?
Simon:  For someone who’s reading something, or watching the news, or reading a magazine, first, as an independent consumer, ask yourself what’s the motive and what are the qualifications behind the person who’s releasing this information? Do they have a vested interest?
Economists don’t have a vested interest, but are they specialists in the topic they’re talking about? If they’re talking about Australia’s broader economy, yes. If they’re talking about a specific segment of the economy, such as the property economy, are they specialists in that? No more than the GP would be a specialist as a heart surgeon. They are different.
Kevin:  Let’s get down to a few specifics, though, if we could. Is an easing population growth rate a cause for concern?
Simon:  If it’s a significant decline in population, yes, but that’s not what the latest data has indicated. The latest data shows Australia’s population growth rate of 1.4% over the last 12 months. That is slightly lower than the 1.5% national average over the last ten years, so it’s easing, but it’s nothing dramatic.
If we had a national property index, one might form the argument, as an economist would, that property values broadly might ease, but Sydney and Melbourne, for example, their population growth rates have increased. When we talk about that on a national level, that doesn’t mean that every town or city has declined.
Kevin:  Are we at risk of oversupply? That’s been indicated. In other words, supply outstripping demand. Is that a concern?
Simon:  We’ve been saying for about two years that we are in a construction boom. The mining construction boom, as that eased off, the residential construction boom picked up. Again, there are some cities that will suffer for a couple of years of oversupply and there are others where supply is quite normal.
Australia’s three biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane – do have some concerns at different levels about oversupply for the next couple of years, but there are other cities where supply is quite normal.
Kevin:  Simon, what are the critical factors that we should consider when we’re looking at the market overall? How important are employment and household incomes? Do they really give us a bit of a clue about an area?
Simon:  As a market analyst, I don’t place a heck of a lot of relevance on household incomes because which household are we talking about out of the 9.6 million households in this country?
Employment is certainly a significant factor, and there will always be some cities that are creating fantastic levels of jobs and others that are not attracting, depending on the industries that drive each of these individual economies.
But something that an investor can and should do is understand the different industries that drive each city and what’s the outlook for each of those industries? If you really want to understand property markets, you need to understand local economies.
Kevin:  The bottom line, though, I guess, is that if you’re going to invest in anything like property, you really have to do your homework, cut your way through all the commentary and really work it out for yourself, Simon. There are no shortcuts, are there?
Simon:  There are no shortcuts, and it’s important for anyone who is ever looking to invest to recognize that property markets are extremely complex, just as complex as share markets are. A lot of people who invest in property say, “I’m doing this because I don’t understand share markets.” I’d put it to those same people that you actually don’t understand property markets. You might understand your neighborhood, but that’s not understanding the markets.
Kevin:  Yes, great advice from Propertyology’s Simon Pressley.
Simon, always great talking to you, mate. Thank you. Keep up the passion. I love it. Talk to you again soon.
Simon:  Thank you, Kevin. Have a great day.

Michael Yardney

Kevin:  I often wonder with about 1.7 million property investors in Australia why so few get past just one property. There has to be a reason for this, and I’m sure my next guest will know, Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists.
Michael, where do investors go wrong? Why don’t they grow their portfolio this way?
Michael:  I think those investors who fail do so because of the things they do, and successful investors are successful because of things they choose not to do.
Kevin:  Well, you’ll have to explain that a bit more.
Michael:  I think successful investors have formulated an investment strategy, so they don’t get carried away by all the fads and all the fashions and all the new fancy toys. That’s one reason. I think the other thing successful investors do is they regularly review their portfolio’s performance. They treat it like a business.
Kevin:  I want to dig a little bit deeper into those two, Michael. Let’s deal with the first one – having a formula. I know that you have one. Can you take us through that?
Michael:  Sure. My formula is basically relying on capital growth to build an asset base. Once you have an asset base, then what you do is slowly lower your loan-to-value ratios and live off your property. To choose those properties that are going to outperform the averages, we use a top-down approach to find the right states, the right locations, the right areas in those locations, and the right properties, Kevin.
To me, the right property is one that’s going to appeal to a wide range of owner-occupiers, because it’s owner-occupiers who push up property values of similar properties to make your property increase in value. I buy properties below their intrinsic value, so I don’t buy off the plan. I don’t buy new properties, Kevin.
Kevin, I buy in the areas that are going to outperform because I examine the demographics, the locations where people who have higher disposable incomes want to live. I like buying properties with a twist, something a bit unique, a bit different, a bit special, and I like buying properties where I can manufacture capital growth by doing renovations or by doing redevelopment – things like that, Kevin.
Kevin:  So any property that you look at for your portfolio or anyone who you’re advising, Michael, they have to follow those five tests?
Michael:  Well, the five-stranded approach means that I’m going to more likely outperform the market. If one or two of those strands doesn’t work, I still have two or three other strands to make sure that my property is going to be stable – it’s not going to go up and down in value much – and it’s going to grow significantly.
What that does is give us the maximum opportunity of getting the capital growth to get the equity to buy the next property, Kevin. That’s why most only stop at one, like you said. They don’t get the capital growth.
Kevin:  Michael, I guess having an approach like that, sometimes you are going to get it wrong. That leads us into the second part of this, and that is reviewing your portfolio.
Michael:  Yes. I think that’s another big mistake that those who don’t succeed do. They actually buy and set and forget. If they treated it like a business, they wouldn’t do that. I believe it’s important to annually look at how your portfolio is performing and ask yourself some questions.
Kevin:  Let’s run through them. Can you give us an example?
Michael:  What I do every year is I look at each property and say, “How has this property performed over the last few years?” I ask myself, “Knowing what I know now, would I buy this particular property again if it came on the market?” I ask myself, “Is this particular property likely to outperform the averages over the next decade?” Then I look to see if there’s anything I could or maybe should do to improve the property maybe to generate a better return on investment for me.
If a property hasn’t performed well over a three or four year period, Kevin, I have to consider is it the right thing to keep, or should I actually be selling it?
Kevin:  Yes. Is there sometimes the wrong time to sell it, Michael?
Michael:  That’s what people seem to think at the moment. They say, “Oh, look. I don’t want to do it now because I’m not getting the optimum price. I’ll wait for the regional areas to go up. I’ll wait for the mining towns to go up.”
But my feeling is that you shouldn’t do that because the gap between underperforming properties, Kevin, and the better performing properties is only going to widen, and it’s going to be very difficult to ever get into the market if you wait. I suggest you treat your properties like employees.
Kevin:  I suppose you have to be pretty ruthless about them, don’t you?
Michael:  Well, you’ve probably heard me say it before. You should treat it like a business. In this case, your properties are really your employees. Think about it. If your employees came late to work, Kevin, if they played on Twitter and Facebook all day, if they took a long lunch, and then they came back and weren’t in the mood to see the customers or the clients, what would you do, Kevin?
Kevin:  Well, I’d terminate them, wouldn’t you?
Michael:  Yes. Look, you’d probably do a performance review first, which is what we did. We asked those questions, and then you’d terminate them. You’d replace them. Kevin, sometimes you’d have to pay a redundancy package to move them on so that you could employ harder-working, better employees.
It’s really much the same with your properties. These are your employees in your real estate business, and they have to work for you in the long term. If your properties aren’t giving you what I call wealth-producing rates of return, you’re never going to achieve the financial freedom you want.
I hear too many people saying at the moment, “Oh, this property is really not costing me much to hold.” The problem is, Kevin, they’re not factoring in their lost opportunity cost. They may be cash flow neutral, it may not be costing them out of their pocket, but they’ve missed out the capital growth that some good properties have had, often $50,000 to $100,000 a year.
I think the lesson from all of this, Kevin, is you actually have to take a financial hit sometimes. Remember that redundancy package that you have to pay your employees just to allow you to move forward.
Kevin:  Yes. Great advice. Michael Yardney, from Metropole Property Strategists, and his blog, of course, PropertyUpdate.com.au.
Michael, thanks for your time.
Michael:  My pleasure, Kevin.

Nhan Nguyen

Kevin:  A deal is a deal is a deal. Well, not always. You have to structure your deals to suit the market conditions. That’s what I’m going to talk to Nhan Nguyen about right now. Nhan, of course, is from AdvancedPropertyStrategies.com.
Hi, Nhan. Good to have you back on the show.
Nhan:  Thanks Kevin. Thanks for having me.
Kevin:  Tell me about this. How do you go about structuring those offers, and how do you make them different?
Nhan:  Structuring an offer is a critical thing in the marketplace. Two or three years ago when the market was flat, in Brisbane especially, you could get really, really good terms and conditions. You might be able to pay asking price and get long settlements. These days, if the market is hot and everyone is going to auction, for example, you need to be willing to settle quicker and use shorter contingency clauses or escape clauses.
What does that mean? In the past, you could have gotten away with probably 30 days finance and maybe another 30 days settlement after that, but these days, if it’s a good property and you know it’s good, you might have to go and settle quickly. You might have to do 14 days finance or 14 days building and pest and settle maybe 21 or 28 days, just giving yourself an edge to the marketplace.
You have to get your finance in place, get yourself pre-approved, get your entities or your companies and trusts set up already if you’re looking at buying those entities. It’s just really about being organized, knowing exactly what you’re looking for, and going in knowing that other people will be wanting to buy those properties, as well.
Kevin:  I think the point you made there is the key one. That is being organized. Be ready and make sure that you have all these plans and strategies in place so that you can be quite flexible, because it’s not just about market conditions. Sometimes it’s about the property, or it could be about special conditions for a seller, as well, Nhan.
Nhan:  Absolutely. Some sellers, if they’re going to market, some of them will have high expectations, and the only way if you really want to get a good discount on the price is maybe giving them better terms. If you’re wanting longer terms, you might have to increase your price or pay more than what they’re asking. If you want longer settlements, you might have to adjust it that way, but it depends on the expectations of the seller.
I’m looking at one at the moment whereby they are going to auction in about three and a bit weeks. Ideally, I’d want to buy it before auction at my price, so I’m going to go in with a sharp number – very, very low, as low as I think I can get it for – but I’d have to be settling quickly.
Kevin:  Why are you doing that? Why aren’t you prepared to buy it at auction?
Nhan:  That’s the thing. Auctions create a competitive environment, and the last thing you want is to buy under pressure and have people bid you up and also buy emotionally. For me, it’s either an investment or a development. An investment is something I’d hold, or a development is something I’d build and sell, for example. However, in this instance, I don’t want to be competing against somebody and waste my time turning up at auction if it’s going to go for $100,000 over.
If I want the property, I need to be the sole negotiator, and not a lot of people put in offers before auctions, so it’s a good negotiating strategy, and if you don’t get it, you may turn up at the auction or not.
Kevin:  Of course, there are times when you’ll have to be affording the seller a long settlement but for whatever reason, you may need to get in quickly so therefore, you can offer them some compensation back in return for allowing you early access.
Nhan:  Absolutely. That just comes and goes depending on what you want to do to the property, whether you want to renovate it straight away, or you might just want to put an approval on it.
Getting onto the property or into the property may be not a necessity. It just may be certain timeframes or certain terms and conditions that you’ll want. It’s critical to be able to negotiate that upfront rather than if you go to an auction, you’re running out of time and you’re under pressure to make a decision on the day, it can go against you. Yes, that’s why real estate agents use auctions because it forces you to have a deadline to make a decision, doesn’t it?
Kevin:  Just to round this out, what are your top tips in structuring a good offer that is going to meet the market conditions, Nhan?
Nhan:  Yes, the first thing is, like I mentioned there, being sharp on your terms and conditions of finance and/or building and pest. You might have to sharpen that up. It might be instead of 28, it could be 14 or 21 days for the finance and building and pest, and short settlements, as well. If you can do a 21 day settlement, a 14 day settlement, or around that timeframe, it allows the agent to be incentivized to present your offer.
Make sure you put it in writing. It’s one thing to verbalize it over the phone or face to face, but when you put it in writing and you put a deposit check with it, that makes it a lot more appealing.
Kevin:  Nhan Nguyen, thank you so much for your time. Nhan, of course, is from AdvancedPropertyStrategies.com. Thanks for your time, mate.
Nhan:  I appreciate it, Kevin.

Ben Kingsley

Kevin:  As a property investment advisor, Ben Kingsley, founder and CEO of Empower Wealth, spends a lot of time developing property investment plans. That’s everything from single properties to very large portfolios. Now as part of that process, Ben believes that there are four essential elements of a personal nature that must be included in the mix to create a successful plan. He joins us to share what they are.
Ben, thank you very much for your time.
Ben:  Thanks, Kevin. Thanks for having me on.
Kevin:  That’s a pleasure, mate. Where does it all start?
Ben:  It all starts with the numbers, and it all ends with the numbers when you’re trying to build out a property investment plan and portfolio for clients. The four personal elements that we’re looking at are income, expenditure, the time we have available, and the target.
If we want to break them down into a little bit more detail, when we’re trying to build out an investment portfolio for a client, we need to understand some essential things:

  • What is the current income coming into the household?
  • Is that income going to fluctuate in terms of maybe mom or dad going off on maternity or paternity leave?
  • Are we going to take some time out for study?

It’s not just about looking at the revision and seeing what’s gone in the past; it’s actually about forward projecting that income.
Kevin:  It could be things like family schooling or buying a car, as well, Ben, could it?
Ben:  Yes, it could, and that’s the expenditure side, Kevin. What happens with the expenditure side is you’re trying to unpack all of those big one-off expenditures, but you’re also trying to unpack the changes that may occur that happen over a period of time. The classic ones are child-care fees turning on and off, buying a car – as you mentioned – and the big one is obviously the private school fees versus the public school fees.
Now, once you understand that, you have an element of surplus cash, and it’s that surplus cash that you’re able to invest because most of us who are investing are obviously borrowing money. We need to make sure that when we’re borrowing money that we can service that loan, not just in the near term, but also over that extended period of time.
Kevin:  I suppose as well as that, too, Ben, there are two areas in expenditure, aren’t there? There are the essential areas and those discretionary areas, as well?
Ben:  Correct. That’s a classic comment there. We need essential needs like shelter, food, clothing, heating, and those types of things. But when we get down into the personal living and the discretionary stuff, that’s the determination that we as individuals need to make about whether we’re going to enjoy that surplus money now, or are we going to put that money into investment?
That’s where the time element target comes into it in terms of how much time have we got to build out a portfolio. With the plans that we build here at Empower Wealth, we actually do a 40-year cash-flow projection.
Now in the accumulation phase, that’s when we can work out how many properties we can actually buy over that term. That’s all to do with once we’ve worked out the income and we’ve worked out expenditures, we know how long we have that income tap on, because when we get to retirement, of course, that income tap turns off, and then we have to live on what is left over in terms of the passive wealth that we’ve been able to build.
That’s the target question. That target question is about how much is enough? If I have more time in terms of the income coming in, then potentially, we have a greater possibility of getting the target higher.
Kevin:  I guess the other message, too, Ben, is that it’s never too early to start and never too late to start.
Brad:  Yes, it is. We’ve done plans for people in their early 20s and we’ve also done plans for people in their early 60s. The reality is that once people realize that they’re going to need to do more around building out general investment wealth and to build out a capital base or passive income, they’re going to have to do something.
Property is obviously an excellent vehicle for that. But it does require really good cash-flow management, and that’s why there are those four essential personal elements that people need to consider when they’re planning out there property portfolio.
Kevin:  Very good advice there, Ben. I appreciate you squeezing us into your very busy day, too.
If you want to contact Ben or any of his team, EmpowerWealth.com.au. Ben is also the chair of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia, the peak industry association for property investment professionals.
Ben, thank you so much for your time.
Ben:  Absolute pleasure, Kevin. Thanks for having me on.

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