Nathan Sawtell is a successful investor who has purchased 27 properties in the last 13 years, many sight unseen.
Nathan currently has a package of high rental yield properties for sale – view property details
He is also selling a property in Deniliquin – view property details
Hey guys, Ryan here from onproperty.com.au, your daily dose of property education and inspiration. And today we’re doing an investor profile with Nathan Sawtell, who’s invested in a bunch of different properties and is now moving towards doing a big development in Brisbane which we will talk about.
Ryan: Hey Nathan, how is it going?
Nathan: Good, thanks. You?
Ryan: Yeah, very good. So people love hearing about other investors and how they’ve invested in their story and I think one of the things that happens with most investors is they invest one way and things change which seems what’s happened with you. So, let’s go back to the start, talk a little bit about who you are first and what you do. And then let’s talk about your first investment that you made.
Nathan: Sure. So, I’m a professional in the finance industry, in business development. Going back to where property all began for me, it was at the age of 22. I’m in my mid-thirties now. I invested at 22 years old into rural New South Wales properties which I still own quite a number of. Back then, I was just starting out with work, I wasn’t on a huge base salary so I invested my money to ensure that I could pay the mortgage using the rental income that I was receiving. That’s where my first strategy was in finding properties that were positively geared. It wasn’t going to take away from the income that I was receiving. Obviously rent coming in would obviously pay the mortgage that I needed to pay the bank back to.
Ryan: Okay, so the first property you invested in was a positive cash flow property?
Ryan: A lot of people who listen to my sort of stuff and follow me are very interested in positive cash flow because that’s what I’m interested in. Talk us through that first property investment, how much did that set you back? What was the cash flow like for that property?
Nathan: Sure. So the original, the very first property I ever bought was in Dubbo, central west New South Wales. I purchased it for $64,000. The rent at that time was $140, extra $140 a week..
Ryan: When was this? $64,000, how long ago was this?
Nathan: So, I’m 35…
Ryan: That’s 13 years ago..
Nathan: Yes, 13 years ago, 13-14 years ago. So, I invested in Dubbo, we had some family friends who lived out there, they just invested and so I was talking to my folks about it, saying obviously that the investment that they purchased, it was a good price and had a really fantastic rental income. I was new to it, not on a huge income so I needed to look at all opportunities in a way to afford to spend under a hundred grand and get a good income of it. And so I started out in Dubbo in New South Wales..
Ryan: And so when you were purchasing that property, did you go and drive out, inspect that property and look at a bunch of properties? What made you decide on Dubbo? Is it just because you had friends investing there? And then what made you decide on that property in particular?
Nathan: No, I didn’t go out. And of the 27 properties that I have, I would probably say, about only 12 of them that I’ve gone out prior to purchasing. I’ve doubled the usual checks of building inspections, pest inspections and did a bit of reviews online in what areas I was purchasing in at the time. In particular Dubbo, some family friends had purchased in the area had told me what their experiences were. So I didn’t actually go out for the first purchase. I did actually go out probably about 2 months after I purchased it and renovated the property – soft renovation, just to obviously bring it up to spic and spent about 5 grand doing carpet lines, paint, updated the kitchen and did a little bit of a different toss in the bathroom and things like that but overall it was a very soft renovation. But obviously it assisted in getting a tenant a lot quicker and increasing the rent over time.
Ryan: Okay, so you don’t really look at your properties before you purchase them? You’ve purchased a lot of properties sites unseen. Let’s talk about that because I know a lot of people, when you’re looking at Australia and you’re looking at where the cash flow properties are, it is true that a lot of them are in these regional centers and a lot of people looking to invest live in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane, because that’s where they’re from lives. Were you scared investing site unseen? And how did you manage the risks associated with that?
Nathan: Yeah. Look, I suppose that even now I still look at properties over time. I constantly look at properties every day. I’m looking to see what’s new, what’s coming up, keeping an eye on the market. The first find, it was a bit of an interesting thing because I was quite young. The thoughts I had back when I was 22, it’s a big mortgage, I’m getting some sort of a debt here and I haven’t actually seen the property. I was really obviously trusting what my parents’ friends had done and obviously their experiences and the income from it. Yeah, it was a bit daunting at the start. I suppose if I have a look at it now, I’m not afraid of actually purchasing property. I do all the due diligence around getting proper inspections done and so…
Ryan: So that’s just you doing building and pest inspections and obviously title checks and stuff like that as well?
Nathan: Correct, yeah. Just depends on the area that you’re purchasing in. Sometimes you might have a look at a few other things, you want to see if there are termites in the area, you want to make sure if you spend a little bit more money around actually getting that done. I have purchased termite prone areas in the past. So you have to spend a little bit more money to ensure that you’re always getting that security.
Ryan: What do you do? Do you get a more thorough inspection? Or do you actually get a preventative something?
Nathan: Yes. Generally a pest inspection – pre-property, can cost anywhere between $200 to $400 depending on the area but sometimes they can go a bit further around the termite thing and it’s going to cost you around a thousand dollars.
Ryan: Okay, so that’s how you mitigate your risks, you just do those inspections. Obviously you got the pictures online. I’ve done building inspections before; they supply you with pictures with anything that’s of issue. And then you simply move forward just because I guess as an investor, the numbers makes sense. Is that right?
Nathan: Correct, yeah. And sometimes it’s just a quick opportunity; the place sometimes go and they don’t last on the market too long sometimes. Some I’ve bought have been around for a while and I’ve been able to negotiate some great prices off them. But then some basically hit the market one day and they’re sold within an hour of hitting online.
Ryan: So you have 27 properties and 15 of them you purchased sites unseen?
Ryan: Any issues with any of those properties?
Nathan: No, not at all. One of the properties I did purchase had a tenant in it and when they moved out they decided to kick a few walls prior to moving out so there was obviously an added cost to what have been done but that’s when I have to do a quick poke around. I was going up to actually renovate it and so I ended up renovating it earlier than what I was anticipating to, which wasn’t an issue. I generally keep my renovations quite… I keep all the same paints, all the same blinds, all the same carpet brands. I have a stock of it in my folks’ garage so basically it just sits there ready to go for the next…
Ryan: So you’ve got a standard renovation that you do..
Ryan: The same way that you paint all the rooms with, the same carpet and everything. That’s smart if you’re doing lots of properties.
Nathan: That makes it easy and if there is an issue, if someone’s ripped the walls, you need to get back at, you don’t need to get it all, it’s all ready to go ..
Ryan: You just get the paint and just chuck in the car and you can go out and fix it. Well, this is really exciting because I didn’t realize that you’ve purchased so many properties. I didn’t realize that you purchased so many sites unseen and I think for a lot of people that just makes them so scared and so nervous to go and purchase some property site unseen. But I guess if you’re getting the building inspection done, if you’re getting the pest inspection done, you’re probably getting a rental appraisal as well from the real estate, one of those three people is going to tell you there’s something completely wrong with the property and that rental manager is going out and look and say, Yep, I can rent this property for just this much and you’ve had it all checked, it’s not an emotional decision. And I think it makes a whole bunch of sense not to waste your time doing over for inspections.
Nathan: Yeah. And the biggest thing is now, online available, you have Domain and RealEstate.com.au, and onhouse and all these other websites now that you can basically view, especially for an investor, you can see how many properties are around, you can see the quality of the properties that are being asked and the rent they ask. And so you can go on there and see if a 3-bedder and 1-bathroom in Cobar for instance and you can see how many properties are there. And you can see what sort of rental income they’re asking and how long they’ve been sitting on there. There’s so much information you can just do it yourself sitting in your home at night so if you’re just having a quick look, it doesn’t take too long to see. If there are agents selling you, saying it’s going to rent that straight away, you sort of look at the quality of what you’re buying and what else is around, you can pretty much make your decision by that way.
Ryan: Yeah. So do you use any paid research tools or do you just use the free ones on onthehouse.com.au and stuff?
Nathan: Yeah, I use all the free ones plus I actually have the RP data as well.
Ryan: Yeah. Okay, that’s pretty common for a serious investor to have access to RP data.
Nathan: I did look at it and my accountant did recommend, with the amount of properties that I have. Also I’m doing a few different building projects – residential, and I’m looking at the current multi-unit one that I’m sort of in the process of getting underway. So it’s just good to have a little bit extra data information that you need and sell price. And in the many times that I’ve talked to agents, they give me one sell price and I can look on RP data straight away and see the actual, honest, what’s been happening… You can pull them up on it as well.
Ryan: And so if you wouldn’t have had RP data in the early days would you when you’re investing in these properties?
Nathan: Give it 15 years ago, I don’t know if the name was really around back then, it probably even didn’t have in the last 10 years probably, the amount of detailed information, no, it was basically see a real estate website but the whole domain or realestate.com.au for instance, really wasn’t as up-to-date, the amount of detailed information you can get now from these sites is quite unbelievable.
Ryan: Okay, so let’s move through your investments, did you do a whole bunch of these low-end properties?
Ryan: How many?
Nathan: We have in Dubbo, Nyngan, Cobar, Deniliquin down south – down near the border of New South Wales and Victoria, Orange in New South Wales. I have some stuff in St Mary’s which is western Sydney, some apartments there. I did some stuff up in Mt. Isa, a couple blocks out there. And recently I’ve been doing some stuff in Rothbury, Hunter Valley.
Ryan: What was your goal when you were 22 and you were looking and you were purchasing all of these different cheap investment properties? Did you have an end goal in mind? Like I want to achieve a certain income and this is going to get me there? Or were you kind of nearly going out there and spend the money?
Nathan: At 22, you feel young and when you sort of look back on it now it feels like a long time ago. It’s not that long ago but it still feels a long time ago. But do you know what my goal was back then? My goal – nowadays, pretty much everyone can be a millionaire, my goal when I was 22 was to be a millionaire by the time I was 30. And so I looked at it and I wanted to do it by acquiring properties that were positively geared and in some properties I had to, by the time you paid the rights and the insurance on the property, there was sometimes a little bit of extra cost but my aim was to do it by property acquisition. So, that’s why I keep it off back by 22, I think it was only about 6 months after that I put the second property and pretty much as I renovate them, I get the bank to revalue them and go out and try to get any equity I have in it to go and see if I could find the next thing.
Ryan: Okay, so were you investing 5% deposits? 20% deposits?
Ryan: You’re putting down 10? And then after you did the renovations were you getting revaluations that were higher that you could draw equity out?
Ryan: So take us through an example. Like for example the first one in Dubbo, you spent $60,000 something on it, you did renovations that cost you how much and what was it revalued at?
Nathan: In Dubbo – all my renovations, I’m trying to stick to 5. Some of them stretch out a little bit more depending on how many split system air-conditioning are put in and cost of sparkies… And if I do any full bathroom renovations, sometimes I try to keep the bathroom to about $1500 – fully changed and renovated. So sometimes it’s a little bit more than 5. But generally I try to keep it at about 5 to 7 and a half grand at maximum. The first ever property was 5 grand. I’ve actually sold that one probably about 5 years ago and I sold it for $220,000.
Nathan: So, unfortunately I have a lot of capital gains tax to pay but it just shows – a lot of people say that a country property don’t always have much gain in them, but I’ve made fantastic money out of buying cheaper properties. And they pay great rent and you look at them like you’re looking at Sydney market – especially the Sydney and Melbourne markets, they’re going through like hotcakes. I live in an area right in the city and there was a 1-bedroom apartment in my building for sale about 18 months ago for $580,000. An identical apartment sold two weeks ago for $800,000.
Nathan: 1-bedroom and no car space and it’s about 50 sq. m.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s crazy down there. Like my aunt from Cronulla, originally, in Sydney, and down there, things are just going so quick and going for hundreds of thousands more than what the asking price is.
I was going to ask you about that. How’s the capital growth going in country regions because I have a positive cash flow service where I find positive cash flow properties and some people are so hesitant about positive cash flow because they’re saying it’s never going to grow, it’s never going to go up in value because it’s in a regional area. And then they’re going to invest in Sydney or Melbourne or whatever but that hasn’t been the case for you, has it?
Nathan: No, not at all. I mean my rental returns, on average, I’d say if you’d look at all of my properties, I’d be looking over 7% but some of them go as high as 10% returns. So I mean, you can get capital gain – I’m not sure how much more capital gain you are going to get in any of these capital cities at the moment because I have a very strong feeling something’s going to happen very soon around capital city prices because you look at peoples’ salaries, no one’s salary’s tripling, no one’s getting any other benefit and the property prices are going ballistic so something’s going to happen. I’m reading a lot of reports around property bubbles in – especially Sydney and Melbourne and it’s a matter of time. I mean, all the central west stuff that I’ve purchased, it’s steadily going up.
It hasn’t jumped up and tripled or anything in most cases but there’s a few scenarios, in some of the Dubbo properties that I have there and Orange, where I make really good money on them. I wasn’t purchasing them initially to quadruple my money or triple my money; I was actually buying them to pretty much pay the mortgage and to actually slowly pay down and reduce that. Over time things change, some of the properties had gone higher than what I was anticipating. Some have just continued to pay a fantastic return. I can’t fault that as long as long as they are not going down in value, they just continue to pay the mortgage off, yeah, happy days.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s one of the things I like about positive cash flow properties. It seems a lower risk investment because you’re investing for the cash flow which you can predict more in advance than you can capital growth. And so because you’re investing for that cash flow, you’ll be getting that cash flow, you’re getting your return on your money. And if it goes up in value, well as you said, it’s happy days.
Let’s talk about expanding your portfolio beyond just a few properties. Because for a lot of people lending gets really difficult once you go past a few properties, they run out of serviceability. How did you manage that, obviously I’m guessing you got all your deposits from equity in existing properties, but how did you manage serviceability and maintain that?
Nathan: Over time, my income obviously grew, over my career. That’s assisted using the equity in properties. Some of them have moved up quite a bit, I have some really great equity up in the Dubbo area and further in Nyngan. Some of the properties, for the purchase price that I had, so there was a lot of equity in some of the properties there which did allow me to have a little bit of buffer. I did have a portfolio set facility for 2 different banks so I sort of split properties up into 2 different banks just to keep it even and make sure I wasn’t putting it all in 1 pool. And a portfolio facility basically gave me a pool of funds and then I can draw down from it as purse, so they gave me equity that’s more in there so I could use that equity across multiple properties.
Ryan: So, what’s a portfolio pool? Because I haven’t actually heard of this before so this is new to me and I’m guessing it’s going to be new to a lot of different people. What is this because I’ve never heard of it?
Nathan: Okay, so portfolio facility basically, you can look at it like, let’s say, the bank said you could have a million dollars, basically as a debt. You might have 5 properties all worth $200,000 for instance. Some of the valuations may come in, you might stop paying the property off and there’s equity so you’ll be constantly paying for a million dollars. However, you might be paying the properties down or it might have been that the properties were worth $150,000 and there’s already equity in that million dollar facility so it enables you to use that as a deposit and then actually they can increase the portfolio facility. So over time my portfolio facility just kept increasing as I will take the credit out of what was there and then the bank would revalue and say now you’ve got 7 properties with us and constantly continue to increase it.
Ryan: So they increase it based on your needs or do they look at the rental income of the properties and say you can now afford an extra $200,000 or $500,000, how does that work?
Nathan: Yeah, so they look at all aspects. They look every time I would go out and purchase enough property. They look at the rents of the existing stuff. They look at – depending on when was the last time I’ve had a valuation done on it. They look at the valuations and they look at the new properties. And so they look at all of those as well as my income that I was constantly receiving from the organization that I was working for and then give me a portfolio facility and say, yes, you have this much equity. We’re happy to give you if you would go and purchase another house at $150,000 we’re happy to lend you that extra $120,000 and increase your portfolio facility to this certain number and just kept increasing it.
Ryan: And did they want loan devaluations to stay below 80% or?
Nathan: No. So I have a facility with NAB and ANZ. And NAB gave me a 10%, so I have a 90% facility there. ANZ gave me 85.
Ryan: Okay. This is really interesting. Sorry to hound you about this but how did you go about finding out about this and getting one? Was it through a mortgage broker or did your bank just say, Look, you’re investing in so many, let us hook you up.
Nathan: I’ve never had a private banker. So I’m not sure if you can actually get it from retails, just using NAB scenarios because that’s where my facility was at. NAB, I don’t believe in getting the retail branch but pretty much, a private banker can kick in anywhere if you have half a million dollars in equity generally or more than a mortgage of half a million dollars, pretty much you can get into the private banking arm of any of the big 4 domestic banks. I would probably suggest most of the big 4 domestic banks and feel the smaller ones probably have facilities like this. It’s probably needing to speak to someone – more of a specialist in a bank, to be able to get that. The ANZ one kicked in to my accountant, they have some relationships with some brokers in the ANZ world. The first one I didn’t really necessarily get along with but I moved to another guy and he was very good. And they have the same sort of product but it’s a question I have to ask because I have to see with my facility – the number of properties I have wasn’t working to have one loan for this and then it was getting so messy with so many properties and as I buy and as I sell, the bank would be going, Okay, which one are you selling now? It just became a total mess.
So that’s where it went down the portfolio facility. It was a lot easier that way because they can go, Okay, you’re selling a property. Number one’s mystery: You got to sell this, you got to use this amount of money, we can reduce your portfolio facility from this amount and it’s done. Thank you. And as a total pool of funds, and it seemed to work a lot easier when I would buy and sell properties and things like that.
Ryan: Okay. Because you hear this nightmare stories about investors who invested all their properties with one bank or a couple of banks and they’d sell their property and then the bank would just take the funds out of their account to pay down some debt or something like that. Has that ever happened to you?
Nathan: No, it hasn’t. I’ve had a nightmare with one of the other big 4 banks before I moved a lot of my stuff between the NAB and the ANZ, sort of dividing those up. I was with solely one bank and I did have a lot of problems with them because they just weren’t understanding where I was going and what I was doing. You do need to really research a good banker. It’s one of the most vital things because if they understand – probably a lot of people who read your site and listen to your radicals and your podcast, they’re going to be in the same sort of position where they already have 1 property or they might have 3 or 4, they’re looking for more, you’ve really have to find a good banker –that’s really important, to understand what you guys are trying to do as investors. It’s one of the very key component I had and as soon as I found the one, I wasn’t getting anywhere because it can be quite difficult to try and get them to understand where you are going or what you’re doing in order to give an investor a little more time if you’re buying multiple properties, you are going down the track of really becoming a professional at it.
Ryan: Yeah. And so okay, this is an avenue that I haven’t really seen. Because you hear about a lot of people getting stuck at 3 or 4 properties and they run out of serviceability and they really need to wait until they pay down the whole bunch of debt before they can go again. So obviously for people that are in that situation it’s worth exploring the private banking sector. And so you have your own personal banker, like a guy or a girl that you go to, you explain your goals, your situation and your strategy to them and so they have a more high level view of you. So rather than just punching your numbers into a computer and saying, Oh no! Our computer says you’re a bad match, they know where you’re going. I guess as a business, it’s gone to that point, so they can assess you to a more strategically or on a higher level.
Nathan: Correct, very, very true. It is because they have a bit more of a business mind more than I would say a retail branch manager like doing your home loan. Generally, a private banker does have a mix of personal and business clients so they generally have a better understanding and they look at a little bit more on a commercial scale more than just an owner/occupier or you’re buying a one-unit just as an investment a little bit differently.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, let’s talk about your strategy now. You’ve shifted away from the smaller positive cash flow properties. You said you have invested in a couple of units in Mt. Isa, like blocks of units. And now you’re doing this development in Brisbane. Why did your strategy of investment change? And take us through that.
Nathan: Okay. Look, I’ve still got 12 properties, what I call the cheapies that were great price, they paid the rent. So I still got 12 of them. Recently I have been doing a little bit of building; I have been building up in Rothbury, in the Hunter Valley which is in New South Wales. Surely, just from friends’ recommendations and myself just going up there, the main reasons for buying up there – as we were having discussions just before, the area has changed a lot. A lot of people have been going up there for wine weekends or weddings and the biggest ticket item up there now is concerts.
A lot of overseas concert acts instead of just coming to Sydney just go up there as well. Rental income is phenomenal over weekends, when people come in and see shows. I have 2 houses on the Great Norman golf course, in the Vintage. I built them. So I bought the land and built the houses and they’re beautiful. People go up there for golf weekends. I have $5,000 a weekend once before so it’s ridiculous. I’ve done that as well so I’ve got it in that track and I’ve kept it in to and I’m not going to go any more than that now. The big rise. The next step really that I want to go to is going down the development sites. So at the moment I’m not working – which is okay because I have enough time to actually do all of these, I’m working with a project manager up in Brizy at the moment, who’s a friend of my dad’s, around building a block of around 28 units.
It may come in just under depending on what we get through; we’re in council at the moment. But I really wanted to go down the track of trying my hand at some developments so I have sold a few of my properties and I’m selling just probably about 4 or 5 more just to make sure that I have funds sitting there for the development that I’m looking to do. But my main thing is where to find an area where I can afford that is close to the city or relatively close to the city and Brisbane just ticked a lot of those boxes as a capital city. I find Sydney and Melbourne, it’s too expensive and for what I was looking to do I would have to be at least an hour out of the city for this sort of thing. So I’ve managed to find a property 8 km from the city in Brizy, I still think there’s some great growth in Brisbane available, there’s still a lot of industry going up there even just from the industry that I’ve worked in, a lot of corporate officers are moving up there. So there’s still a great growth and I can see Brisbane’s going through a lot of changes. It’s becoming very cosmopolitan, a lot more cafes and restaurants, the whole thing. It’s what people want to be near as well. Sometimes people go on, You know, it might have been a little bit sleepy in the past but I think it really has had some big change in probably the last 2, 3 years which sort of encouraged me to go that way.
Ryan: Now I wonder if people would move out of Sydney and Melbourne and consider Brisbane because it’s the third biggest city and the price of houses is just so much less than Sydney and Melbourne at the moment. So you never know you might see a migration of people from Melbourne and Sydney out to Brisbane which could push that market as well.
Nathan: I was in New Sur probably about a month and a half ago, and the amount of people up there who used to live in Sydney or Melbourne, just around, is quite phenomenal. You got to look at affordability and where you want your life to be and the rest of it. So you can find a place where it’s ticking all the same boxes as what a larger city might provide and it’s a lot more affordable and there’s another lifestyle to it, then why not look at something like that and find the same work and everything else. So many offices now, you can work from wherever. So many people work from home, get online or they can work from Brisbane office and still have the head office in Melbourne for instance.
Ryan: I have my own business and work from home but we lived in Sydney and we ended up relocating to New Castle from a cost-of-living standpoint and a promotional opportunity for me. We then moved to the Gold Coast and I went into business for myself and that was a cost of living and lifestyle decision for us to move here. And our back up plan was Brisbane in case business didn’t pan out and I need to get a marketing job, I could get one in Brisbane. But yeah, we made that decision on a heap of people appear from Sydney, like you said, New Sur, the Sunshine Coast, a lot of people appear there from Sydney as well. So yeah, it is a common thing. If anyone wants to check out those cheapie properties that you are selling, we will link up to them in this episode which you can check out, go to onproperty.com.au/290, 2-9-0, which is this episode number. We would link up to those properties in there so you can see the listing and you can consider purchasing them if you want.
So this development you’re doing in Brisbane, you’re still funding, obviously you’re getting loans from the bank but are you going in with other investors or you’re just doing it yourself?
Nathan: Just myself.
Ryan: So is there a big level of risk for you taking a large portion of your portfolio and putting it into a big development like this?
Nathan: Yeah, it is.
Ryan: Why not start with just like a couple…?
Nathan: I’ve done a few. I’ve built duplexes before. I’ve built 4 duplexes before, it was over 2 blocks, I put them all together and I built the 2 properties in Rothbury. It is something very unusual and it’s a risk that I wanted to take now before I get too long down the track and before I go too much further down the track either. It’s one of those things where I thought about it – I’ve had some time off work. I finished off work in November last year and I had to think about it over the Christmas break about what to do next. It was a great opportunity to purchase this land that I did and with the availability of zoning on my side.
And so I looked into it and I talked to a few family friends, my dad’s got his own small business and so it managed to be that he knows a lot of people in the building industry so it was a good chance for me to have a chat with them and sort of say, look, what are your thoughts around this? What should I be doing? What are the risks am I taking? Is there a possibility, do I keep a few of them out of the sale process? What happens? So I’ve managed to gain architects to design it, it’s in council at the moment. I’m having a look at approvals. It is a big risk I’m taking but it is something I just felt in myself that I needed to do. I’ve had a really good run of properties and I really want to take the next step in my property development sort of life.
Ryan: And is the goal to make this a full-time gig for your property development? Or is it just to speed up your return on investment?
Nathan: Speed up return on investment.
Ryan: It’s more a long term play for you, is it?
Nathan: Look, I may change my mind. I may go down the track and go I love this. It’s not the easiest thing I can tell you now. It has been a good – the whole thing, dealing with architects, dealing with council, it is frustrating and I can tell you even from the houses that I’ve built in the Hunter and the houses that I’ve built here in Sydney – the duplexes, it isn’t an easy thing. It does make it a lot more easier if you have a project manager to do this because they are experienced in this sort of stuff. Obviously I’m going in with funding and with the mind of what I wanted to achieve but I need someone who actually knows the building industry more intimate than myself.
Ryan: Especially if it’s such a large project. Maybe if you’re just building your own home or something you could try a hand at it but if it’s not something big, otherwise get a project manager. It’s worth it in gold I think.
Nathan: Agree! And to be honest, it’s been a really good working relationship to date. We’re just trying to get a few tick boxes through the council. But I’m hoping we’re going to get an answer. In the next 2 months, I’m hoping to get a full approval then it might be right to get on the track but I’m just finalizing a few things with the bank at the moment around what I’m trying to do. Obviously, I would have to do it with a pre-sale on the properties.
Ryan: Is it to fund it? You need to pre-sell some in order to fund the development?
Nathan: Yeah. So at the moment, I’m aiming for 28. I think I have to go back to about 25, 26 apartments. But they’re wanting me to pre-sell at least 10 and they’re happy to fund. So, I’m confident it will. It’s a good area. There’s not many new apartments and it will be done very well. And all the big things people want up there, aircon and the rest of it, a lot of older apartments don’t have that sort of functions in a lot of them. We’ll see.
Ryan: You know what’s exciting, I’d love to have you back in a few months or in a year when it’s all done and revisit this and see how you win…
Nathan: I’ve lost then so..
Ryan: See how much here you’ve lost. How stressful it was for you. It’s all very exciting stuff, what’s the end goal for you? Do you have an end goal of I want to achieve a certain amount? Obviously, you want to be a millionaire before you’re 30, you’re past 30 now. You own a whole bunch of properties, when do you stop? Or do you stop? Or you just enjoy it?
Nathan: Look, I find this… actually it’s a hobby, more than now a career I suppose. It may turn into a career later. Who knows when I want to retire. I love doing this sort of stuff. I love being involved. I love renovating properties. It’s such a joy seeing a property that was really average looking and you can just freshen it up. And it’s a great feeling. And I’ve been going out to all the places that I’ve done like Nyngan, Cobar, Dubbo, Orange. I’ve been going out there and done it in just 2 or 3 days at least. You might get a few trade-ins on the side but I really enjoyed just doing that, just seeing how a place transforms. You see all these home shows now that transforms places into a show home but they’re nothing like a show home.
But they’re comfortable and it makes it clean and it really brings in good tenants because you see what else is around generally in these neighborhoods. And sometimes they’re really type properties. They ask even more than sometimes your property. But at least I get a tenant in and I keep the tenants and I very rarely have a house – very rarely, probably over the last 15 years that a house has been vacant for more than 2 or 3 weeks. So I generally, if someone’s moving out, I generally have someone the next day who says I want to move in through one of my agents. And because I keep the places and I keep my tenants happy and I try to do as much as I can to tick the boxes so if you keep your tenants happy, generally they’re going to stay. Or if they’re moving out, generally you have someone knocking on the door saying I want that place straight away.
Ryan: I think it does feel good and you feel that sense of accomplishment when you take something that was pretty drab and dull and you just make it more livable, you’re giving people a better life because you’re giving them a good house in the area they want to live for an affordable price which I think is very commendable. It’s exciting. And I think the last time I was changing and stuff, for our parents, they were going to work until this age and they’re going to retire and play golf or go to the beach every day whereas like, I don’t actually plan on retiring. I think I’d be a bit bored but I want to do things that engage me. Do things that I feel will make the world a better place.
Ryan: And I think for a lot of people now, because I talked to a few different investors and say what is the end goal? And more and more people now, there is no end goal in mind. They do it because it’s fun, builds wealth, helps people get access to housing and why not keep doing it as long as you can.
Nathan: Exactly. And look, I have friends that are at a time where they are now. Over time and age, a lot of them are saying I don’t want to finish work. I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I’m enjoying it. So for anyone at any age, getting into property and even just becoming a landlord, changing a property or doing that, it’s really an enjoyable experience. You just got to obviously do your research. You do sometimes have to take a bit of a risk but you obviously look for the reward in it as well. You do a bit of research but sometimes you can’t get out to the middle of Queensland or something like that but it would be a good opportunity. So you obviously have to realize the incident, talk to other real estate agents other than the agent that you’re buying through. Talk to them about the street that you’re buying on or things like that. And generally most, especially in country areas, they’re very friendly.
Ryan: Sometimes you get stuck on the phone for like half an hour.
Nathan: Well you know, over the years the amount of agents I’ve spoken to – it’s an easy way to do it. You might be buying it off from agent A, talk to agent B and C if they’re in the area as well and say, Hey! What’s the street like in the suburb and blah blah blah… Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s near a school. Or there’s crime there, whatever else. They’re pretty good with that, they all know the streets. It’s not like you’re asking a suburb in Sydney or Brizy or an agent in Asheville, what’s in Fortitude Valley, I have no idea, I wouldn’t know the streets. But generally in these areas, they’re smaller towns they understand what’s going on. They can talk to you about what’s going on in employment, what’s coming because generally it’s the gossip of town. Yeah, you just got to do a little bit of research, that’s probably that would be one of the biggest suggestions.
Ryan: I think this interview can close out there. I think people are going to be super excited to listen to this interview. I think the biggest take away for me and I think for a lot of other people will be the fact that you’ve invested in so many properties sites unseen and it’s going pretty well for you. But the fact that you can do due diligence, that you can do your building and pest inspections, you can get a more expensive pest inspection and if you’re worried, obviously you can your rental appraisal as well. And in terms of an investment standpoint, you might not want to do that if you’re going to live in the property but if you’re going to invest in there and all the numbers line up, you know everything checks then why not, why do you need to inspect it, a big revelation for me and for a lot of people.
Well, I just want to thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring and I would love to hear back from you once you finish your development, see how that process goes. Because I do get people asking me about development and truthfully I know nothing about it so I just say, Sorry, I’m not the right guy. But if I could have an interview that I can direct people to, people would love that.
So thank you so much for your time and hopefully we can be back soon.
Nathan: No worries, thanks Ryan.
Ryan: And lastly, where can people check you out if they want to get in contact with you?
Nathan: Yes, so the link that you’re going to put on this particular sort of podcast thing that you’re going to be putting on, it does have my email address on the link of the properties. So there are a few properties in Cobar and Nyngan that I’m looking to sell and possibly 1 or 2 in Dubbo that I’m thinking about selling shortly as well but it has my details on there. So if they ever want to get in contact, they can click me an email. It’s probably the best way and then at least I can come back to them and if they have any questions I’ll try and answer to the best that I can.
Ryan: Yeah and if anyone’s interested in your properties, again just go to onproperties.com.au/290 and we’ll put the full list out there, we’ll put all the links for people so they can check them out, you know the purchase price, the rental income, they can check out the property, do their research and see.
Ryan: Alright, thank you Nathan! Bye!
Nathan: Thanks! Bye!