Four rules for building your property dream team
Even if you're one of the fortunate few who seems innately talented at everything you attempt, there are many aspects of property investing that require a professional eye.
It takes years, sometimes decades, of professional practice to acquire the skills necessary to be the best.
Fortunately, we live in the era of outsourcing, where you can hire your own experts to take care of the heavy lifting.
Dream team experts work hard to bring about the best possible outcome for you when you are on your investing journey. They are beholden only to you - their client.
Selecting the best team early in your investment journey is paramount. It takes work to build the right team of mentors and paid advisers, but if you make the effort to surround yourself with the best possible posse now, it will pay off handsomely in the long run.
Now you're ready to build your dream team, there are four rules I believe you should follow.
1. Look for experience
When it comes to professionals in your dream team, such as your mortgage broker and conveyancer, you want to be able to draw on and benefit from their experience.
So look for professional advisers who can demonstrate they've not only faced the same hurdles you're likely to encounter, but they have also found solutions.
You should also be looking for an accountant who understands property inside and out, or a well-informed local town planner. Your buyer's agents should understand the markets they're buying in and your financial planner must understand insurances and protections specific to property.
One of the best five-word questions to ask any professional you're considering hiring is, 'Are you a property investor?' There's nothing like dealing with someone who has put their money where their mouth is.
2. Seek out communicators
It makes sense that you want the best possible people taking care of your business. Unfortunately, talent and communication skills don't always go hand in hand. I believe it is essential that your selected specialists can communicate with you and other members of your dream team simply and effectively.
The nature of the business is that you'll find yourself juggling a lot of balls and managing a gaggle of advisers whenever you look to secure a new property holding or manage your portfolio. It's in your best interests to be certain those specialists will be able to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
One of the biggest frustrations that can be befall an investor is to have a potentially profitable deal hit a wall because someone didn't make a phone call early enough.
I have fortunately had plenty of deals go through, both for myself and my clients, because the mortgage broker we use is so good at communicating. He's the sort of bloke who will get on the phone to the financier when it's time to check on KPIs in the process of securing a property.
A few simple questions for the bank at the right time, such as, 'Has the valuation been completed yet?' or, 'When will the approval come through?' or even, 'What else do you need from me to make this happen?' can make the difference between success and failure.
This broker is also on hand to respond to and assist our conveyancing solicitor, accountant or any other member of the team who needs him.
Just ask anyone who's had a deal fall over because a bank 'jockey' forgot to order a valuation in time and no one chased them up and you'll understand why good communicators are worth their weight in gold.
3. Avoid sharks
Here's another of the best short questions. Five of the most powerful words an investor can put to a potential adviser are, 'How do you get paid?'
There is often a risk of a potential conflict of interest for buyer's agents, selling agents, property investment advisers and even mortgage brokers, because whoever pays the adviser's fee usually has a stake in their advice.
That's fine if they're beholden only to you for their fee, but if others are also filling their bank accounts, you need to wonder who they're looking after first and foremost.
When you are considering a prospective property investment adviser, for example, think logically about where they're suggesting you buy and what sort of product they're directing you towards.
If they appear overly keen on you buying in a specific development in a particular location, then ask outright, 'How do you get paid?' I'd even suggest asking, 'Do you or your company receive any form of income from the developer/builder of this property?'
Ask questions to ensure your advisers are above board. In addition, seek out professionals who are members of industry bodies that require a code of conduct, such as PIPA.
4. Look for motivators
A great reason for building a dream team around you is that they can help break your investment paralysis and get you to step up, dive in and start paddling. Building the right team is a practical step towards making the big decisions.
I recently had a client who didn't build the right team and the result was costly in terms of lost opportunities.
This client originally approached me in early 2017 but still seemed unsure as to whether he and his wife wanted to invest in property. They were in their mid-thirties, earning very good incomes, had about half a million dollars in the bank in cash and were renting in Brisbane.
We ended up preparing a full plan for them, setting out a timeline for the strategy, and suggested they dip their toes in the water with a low buy-in property that was cashflow neutral, if not slightly positive.
Despite us proffering two separate options in Hobart they hit a wall in their decision-making process and, rather than bringing on a mortgage broker to help proceed with the program, asked us to hang fire so they could step back while they got comfortable with the decision.
It wasn't until June 2018 when they decided to join us once more. They'd saved another $40,000 in that time and were on even better incomes.
The downside is that by not taking that first step of bringing a mortgage broker onto their dream team, they'd missed out on breaking their paralysis.
I'd estimate the couple probably lost somewhere in the vicinity of $75,000 in capital growth that they would otherwise have achieved with the investment we initially suggested - and which was now at a positive cash flow.
The job of a supportive dream team is to mobilise, activate and get things moving, because it's rare in property to hear someone say, 'I shouldn't have bought five years ago.' Most of the time, the biggest regret is, 'I should have bought when I could.'
Edited extract from A Surfer's Guide to Property Investing (Major Street Publishing $29.95)