Buying property – Lazy agents

As I posted a few weeks ago with Buying property – Thank you messy tenants! I have been on the look-out for an investment property.

After some research, I decided on an area that provides a generous rental income and has plenty of room for capital growth. It was then down to finding a suitable property.

In this day and age, particularly at the lower cost end, the primary avenue for locating property is on the internet. After entering the parameters I required, I generated about half a dozen quite promising properties and set about making a time to see them.

What I found interesting was that some real estate agents today are so lazy in advertising the properties. Their written profile of the property can be down right pathetic. They make very little effort to sell the benefits of the property and location. The basics are not enough, the agent should be selling the dream of owning the property, whether it be for investment or to live in.

Property photos can also be appalling. Only 18 months ago, I was in a position of locating an agent to sell my home in Sydney. One agent had a high-profile in the area and she impressed me with her pitch but the photos she used were obviously taken from her mobile phone. I enlisted her services on the proviso that a professional photographer was used. I had to pay the $500 for the photos and it was very well spent. The traffic through the first open home was fantastic, which created urgency and resulted in a very impressive offer the same day.

From a purchasing point of view, I use agents poor ads as an opportunity for me to save money. An unattractive ad in terms of wording and photos can result in less buyers to opens and therefore more chance for me to negotiate down.

The day came to view some properties. Two identical properties were open and hour apart in the same complex. One agent had listed very nice pictures and had sold the property strongly in the word content. The other property had dark grainy pictures that made the place looked very tired and the wording in the ad was generic. You can imagine that I was more interested in seeing the property with the nice pictures and descriptive wording.

Well, I was disappointed. The first property was quite run down and needed some cosmetic work. In saying that, I still thought it represented pretty good value if I could negotiate it down around $10K. The point is though that I did attend the property and I may have had the property had a less appealing ad.

An hour later, I attended the second property with less enthusiasm. It was great! The existing tenant was obviously very house proud and the presentation was perfect. She even had subtle incense burning that provided a pleasant fragrance to the home.

Other than possibly adding some paint, there was basically nothing to do. Another interesting aspect was that the agent had not even used current photos. New blinds had been installed in several rooms to replace some very dated curtains. A small thing perhaps but an ad is a first impression and should feature the benefits of the property in its best light.

When it came to price, the agent suggested a price that was in the range of $20K less than equivalent (but less impressive) property that I had seen an hour early. I countered with a number expecting some effort to negotiate. I was called back less than an hour later to advise that the offer had been accepted. Not the slightest effort to press me for even a few thousand. The thing is, I was more than prepared to offer more!

From my perspective as a buyer, the agent was great. He posted poor ads with uninspired wording and out-of-date photos and he failed to negotiate. If I was the vendor though, I would feel that I lost out on money and was paying a commission for nothing. They should actually be paying the tenant as they had really presented the property to sell.

Once the property sale settles, the agent will obtain his commission from the vendor. I might even use him again if I am looking for somewhere to buy in the area. But would I use him to sell for me? No chance!

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Buying property – Thank you messy tenants!

I’ve been off-line for a few days as I have been spending the majority of my spare time looking at investment properties.

I’m currently looking at the lower-end of the market with positive returns on investment. Associated with the areas I’m looking, the demographic of renters are not high income earners. Though I’m stereotyping, this can often mean that the tenants can be untidy and have poor quality furnishings.

I’ve bought and sold a fair bit of property during my life. Both personally and during my time as a real estate agent. A common factor has been that the clean and nicely presented property will sell more quickly and for more money. The unkempt property will stay on the market for ages and generally will get weak offers. Vendors start to get desperate and a bad return.

To me, I love it when I walk in and see that the tenant is a grub. I look past the mess and work out the potential of the place and what money I need to put into it.

  • Dirty carpets. Do they need a clean or full replacement. Steam clean doesn’t cost much but replacement does. Adjust your offer accordingly but always double the value of your investment.
  • Messy kitchen. Look past the stale pizza and masses of plates. Are the cabinets in good order. Are the bench tops stained or chipped. The worse it looks without actual damage, the better. Even if damaged, have an idea of what the repairs will cost and calculate into your offer.
  • Bathroom. Dirty grout, filthy toilet. Awesome! My offer continues to drop $1000’s but in reality, it might only be a couple of hundred bucks to clean it up.
  • Horrible gardens. Depends on the property. A large block and it might be cost prohibitive to clean up. A townhouse, a mow and a weekend gardening will make a big difference.
  • Internal walls with dints, chips, murals or whatever. Unless there is structural damage, no big deal. Some areas might just need filling and paint. Other areas might need some plastering. A tradie might be required, which will be costly but a lot can be done with DIY. Double your estimate and deduct from your offer.
  • Cigarette smell. One of my favourites. The smell can be very off-putting to some buyers, which only makes it better for me to buy low. It may take a while to air out but it could save me thousands!


There are a heap of opportunities for discounting. In reality, getting rid of the tenants and investing $1000 in a professional clean and some garden clean up and the property will look massively better. Not everyone sees that though and are put off immediately by the appearance. I just see dollars I can save.

Once I clean up the property, I have it re-valued. I have always added value. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Use the extra equity to look into reinvesting to more property. I know zero about the stock market but have been fortunate with property. I prefer to stick with something I know then opportunities that I’m unsure about.

Anyway, I have a savagely low-ball offer in at the moment. If it doesn’t play out, I will move onto the next place that looks terrible and try again.