Buying property – The incompetent agent

Once again, the poor ability of the real estate agent strikes again. As I posted in Buying property – Lazy agents, I have been in the process of buying an investment property through a less then impressive realtor.

Not only had he posted out of date photos that reflected the property in a poor light but he accepted, without negotiation, an offer that I consider was a fair bit under market value. His actions so far have not been to the benefit of the vendor.

Settlement date was due in a few days, when I received a call from my solicitor advising that the vendor was requesting an extension. The reason being that the owner was still looking for a property to rent. As I had been informed that the property was occupied by a renter and the owner was an investor, I saw no reason why the owner needed an extension for that reason. From my experience, it is usually the buyer that is seeking an extension to finalise finances.

So, I asked the solicitor ‘What does the owner looking for a new rental have anything to do with me?’. To which she replied ‘She is still living in the property (the one I sought to buy)’. I reviewed the contract and yes, the owner address was listed as the property address.

I called the agent to enquire and he apologetically confirmed that he thought the resident was a tenant and not the owner. The owner was still living at the property.

Ok, my bad also for not noticing on the contract but the agent had confirmed more than once that the ‘tenant’ was living in the property.

I ended up agreeing to the extension and the property settled a week later than initial contract date. An inconvenience to me only but did result in postponing potential open home viewings for prospective tenants.

It is interesting to note that the realtor had advised me that he had been in the business for 25 years. I would normally expect that an agent of 25 years would have better negotiation skills, have a sound understanding of his stock in hand and probably doing better than selling very low-level property.

Needless to say, if I do need to sell the property I will be looking elsewhere. If I need to buy again, however, he will be my go to man!

Should I or shouldn’t I?

A higher opportunity has become available at work.

Positives:

  • I know I can do the job
  • It pays more than I receive now
  • It may open up other opportunities
  • I consider I would be competitive in winning the job

Negatives:

  • No variety to the role
  • A negative work culture
  • A fair percentage of lazy work colleagues
  • The work environment could be more pleasant

I’m enjoying the work at my current location and my colleagues overall are good to work with. Other than money, there is no reason why I would want to change.

However, I have a goal to retire early. The only way I can achieve that is to have more money. I have investment strategies in place but again, I need money to fund them.

I always recommend someone should do what they enjoy. At another time I would.

Decision made. Pain today to relax tomorrow.

I will apply today.

Sacrificing now for the long-term goal

My life at the moment:

  • Sleep
  • Work. Pick up overtime and extra shifts if possible
  • Eat
  • Shower/brush teeth
  • Train at gym
  • Feed cat (x several)
  • Shop for food. Buy sale options if possible
  • Renovate home to add value
  • Listen to podcasts
    • Property investing
    • Entrepreneurs
    • True crime
  • Review potential investment properties online
  • Watch TV
  • Blog
  • General home chores

What I’m not doing:

  • Socialising. I’m in a new city and haven’t made an effort to make friends outside of work to reduce obligation to socialise (I know, a bit sad)
  • Buying new clothes, except as a necessity. Work uniform supplied and live in t-shirts and tracksuit pants the rest of time
  • Drinking alcohol excessively (a couple of beers weekly now only)
  • Eating out. Very occasional pizza ordered with savings coupon
  • Spending money on entertainment. i.e. cinema

Sound boring? Yeah, it kind of is but I’m suffering for my goal at the moment. My main thought at the moment is money, with the goal of not having to worry about money in 5 years. My goal is so strong that my boring life doesn’t feel boring. I have a purpose and I feel motivated daily.

My lifestyle up to now has been less than financially effective. Though I have managed to accrue a little money through property capital gain, I really haven’t saved a considerable amount and definitely not enough to retire.

5 years is a fair time to go without but I’m putting it in perspective. If the next 5 years of sacrifice allows me to relax in retirement, the time is well worth it.

Embarrass the lazy with your work ethic

Quite a few years back (maybe decades in fact), a new member joined the team. He turned up first day professionally dressed with nicely pressed shirt and pants and wearing a tie. He was a friendly guy but other than on scheduled breaks, he didn’t join in with social banter. He kept his head down and worked hard.

A few days into his work, I advised him that he could ease up a bit on his work output and there was no need to wear a tie. He politely thanked me for my advice and got back to his work. He continued to wear a tie and work hard every day.

After a while, the new guy started to make me uncomfortable. Definitely, he had done nothing wrong. His work was of a high quality, he arrived punctually for work and didn’t leave until he completed his work for the day. He took the minimum break allowed and only occasionally took coffee breaks. Even then, he would take his coffee back to his desk and drink rather than chat in the lunchroom. What was really making me uncomfortable was that he was making me embarrassed about my own work ethic.

I did arrive early for work but for the first half hour (at least), I would sip on a coffee, catch up on gossip with colleagues and send a few social emails. I would then work for an hour or so then take another break to wander around the office and say hello to people. Oftentimes I would spend a substantial part of the day sending out emails with regard to social activity for the weekend. In all honesty, I probably spent 3-4 hours at most at constructive work.

The new starter was putting me to shame and I felt it. He looked professional and acted it. I turned up primarily for my social agenda and to pick up an undeserved pay cheque.

Not surprisingly, the new starter received a higher opportunity after only a few months at work. Initially, I was annoyed as I had been there longer and blamed politics. After reflection though, and thankfully before I said anything stupid, I realised he deserved it a great deal more than me.

Admittedly, it did take me a few more years to really learn the lesson. I had started a new job and I committed myself to start fresh with the right attitude. I presented myself professionally daily and worked hard. If the end of the day came and I still needed to complete something, I would stay back to finish. I would regularly contribute ideas to make work more productive for the customer, even if it would occasionally result in more work for me. Funny enough, one of my colleagues said exactly what I had said previously, take it easy with the work and a tie isn’t necessary.

Little surprise when only a few months into the job I received an opportunity at a higher level. And guess what, I enjoyed my work a great deal more when I actually felt like I was making a positive contribution.

I have continued to present myself as a professional and work hard through several more jobs. I have frequently received higher opportunities and praise from managers. I also receive many comments from colleagues to pace myself with my work and dress more casually. I wonder if they are as embarrassed as I was a couple of decades earlier.

Whatever you do, do it great!

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

Martin Luther King Jr

A great quote! Whatever the job is, do it to your best. Never consider a job too small or below you.

If an opportunity arises, don’t let your work ethic or attitude be the reasons you miss out.

Self-limiting beliefs – Not for Cathy Hughes!

One of the biggest obstacles to success is having self-limiting beliefs. I’m definitely a victim to self-limiting thinking. Often I’m caught myself in doubt due to my age, lack of education, my mental health issues, financial situation or whatever else I can find in the dark recesses of my mind.

I came across a wonderful podcast today on How I Built This. This episode featured Cathy Hughes . Cathy is the founder of Radio One. She is now 70 years old and has a net worth of over $500 million.

I won’t go into every detail of Cathy’s story and recommend you listen to the podcast and read Wikipedia. The major points that I took from Cathy’s story is that she had no self-limiting beliefs. She had a goal and had no doubt that she would achieve it.

However, Cathy had several potential obstacles that many would consider insurmountable to achieve even minor success:

  • Lived in housing projects as a child
  • Was a single mother at 17
  • Is an African American woman
  • Lived in middle America
  • She started her career in the 60’s and 70’s, which I understand was a less enlightened time in the US for African Americans (I’m from Australia, so I wasn’t there to experience it)

Cathy apparently faced discrimination in her early days but again, she maintained focus on her goal and never doubted she would succeed.

Again, I won’t go into her whole story but one story she recounted was approaching financial institutions for a $1 million loan with only $10,000 in the bank. She went to 32 banks before getting the loan. 90% of people would give up after 2 or 3 banks but not Cathy. She said that she believed in the law of averages that every ‘No’ is one step closer to a YES. It is not hard to believe that she would have gone to 100 banks if she had to.

What if we all had the same confidence as Cathy that we would succeed despite self-imposed limits? Very few will achieve the success that Cathy has. Without question though, the person that follows a passionate goal without thought of failure will be far more successful then the one that finds reasons they can’t.

Home project – Wall removal

Though I love my little house, I seem to be constantly looking for areas to change that firstly add to my enjoyment of the home and secondly, to add value. Creating equity is important to me for next steps in my financial journey.

I currently own a 60 year old weatherboard home. My best guess is that much of the internal layout is original. The Living area is separate to the living and dining.

One area that I thought would make an immediate improvement was the removal of a wall between the living and kitchen. An open-plan kitchen living area is more aligned to the preference of today and also creates the illusion of more space.

My first point of call was to call in a builder to discuss the wall removal. I was all excited about grabbing a sledgehammer and smashing down the wall but was fairly certain it would be load bearing. Sure enough, it was. That took the project out of my hands as I don’t have the construction knowledge to install of load bearing beam. I also didn’t want any issues with insurance or selling the property at a later date. I needed a professional.

Professionals cost money though. What I could negotiate on was the level of finish. If I was prepared to fill the gaps and paint, I would almost halve the cost of the job. I am not a total DIY incompetent, so I asked that the wall be removed and supporting framework installed. I would finish the job up to make it look pretty. The end quote was $4500.

Though I’m no expert, I assume it was a relatively minor job as it was complete in 2 days. based on how it looked after the first day, I can’t imagine it took more than a few hours the second day it knock it over.

As the photos demonstrate, removing the wall drastically increased the illusion of space. Actually, it’s not entirely an illusion as the kitchen cupboards and faux brick wall were several feet thick, so I have literally gained extra space.

  • There are now gaps in the floating floor. I’m not a huge fan of the colour of the flooring though, so I may end up replacing the lot. I can live with it for now though.
  • I have lost kitchen storage. I normally live with about 2 plates and a couple of cups, so I don’t need much room but as far as resale goes, I need to add more.
  • The now see the dated kitchen all the time. It was ‘out of sight, out of mind’ before. Now I can’t not see it. It’s functional but ugly. A kitchen renovation is now on the list of things to do.

The positives:

  • The sense of space. I have a small house and space is premium. Instead of walking in the front door into a small room, now I walk into a nice open space.
  • More layout options. I have more room to space out my furniture. For one, I can now place my TV against a wall so it’s not the first thing you see as you walk in the house.
  • Much more light in the kitchen/dining area. My kitchen is South facing. In Australia, that is the aspect that receives the least light. Now I gain the light from the North facing window into the kitchen area.
  • I have added value. If I haven’t at least added the value of the renovation, I would be amazed. I consider the change has vastly improved the saleability of the home.
  • I like it! That was the primary purpose of the reno. I wanted to enjoy it more than before. it makes me smile.

Maybe I half expected that the wall removal would do the job and I would be satisfied to leave it at that. I would be fooling myself also, I can’t sit stagnate without change. As indicated above though, now I want to change the kitchen and review the flooring.

More saving and more projects to come.