Matt is the founder and Director of Sharp Property Buyers. Raised on the NSW Central Coast, he has been passionate about the property market from a young age. After purchasing his first property ten years ago, Matt has continued to build a robust property portfolio both locally and across Australia. Matt’s experience and local market knowledge sets him apart from the rest, he knows every inch, corner and crevice of the Central Coast. Matt is a proud member of PIPA, and a QPIA.
In this episode we hear about his passion for the Central Coast and how no matter where he roams, the waves bring him right back home. He shares his idyllic childhood and the NRL dreams he entertained before landing in the corporate world, which opened his eyes to an entirely different way of life. We’ll also hear how rugby league influenced the way he runs his business now, and the family investment
he spearheaded from a young age, catapulting him into the career of his dreams.Timestamps:
01:48 | Sneaky Surfs
06:40 | A Passionate Sportsman
09:55 | But Then...
13:23 | Rugby and Real Estate Aren’t So Different
16:59 | Make It Hard For Yourself
20:01 | Quiet Saturday Nights In
23:38 | Divide and Conquer
28:12 | Locals Always Know What’s Up
00:24 | Property Power
02:36 | The Personalised Approach
04:39 | It’s the Flexibility For Me
10:12 | The Impact is Real
11:50 | What Came First— The Property Market, or The Egg?
14:08 | Silver Linings
15:37 | Be Careful You Don’t Surf With Sharks
18:24 | Diversify Your Sources
22:31 | Looking To The Future
Resources and Links:
[00:21:04] And that first property was bought in Wamberal, I still live in it now. We now own this property, which we're really proud of. But even looking back, buying this really set us up for our next purchase and our next purchase, and then going from there.
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors to find out more about their stories, mindset and strategies.
I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode, we’re speaking with Matt Sharp, Buyer’s Agent and founder of Sharp Property Buyers. He shares how he dove into his property mindset early, taking heed from a well-known name and enlisting his brothers to save for their first home. But just like learning to surf, that’s not to say he didn’t have any wipeouts along the way.
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Sharp has a strong connection to the New South Wales Central Coast, where he was born and bred. He still lives there now, running his company Sharp Property Buyers.
[00:00:47] I have a very small team of three. Predominantly, we operate here on the Central Coast, but we help people purchase all over the country as well. I grew up here on the Central Coast, played rugby league as a kid, surfed a lot as a kid, and just did everything that most kids do here to be honest.
[00:01:13] I live at Wamberal. So I grew up at Wamberal, moved around a little bit as a kid, but predominantly just moved around the Central Coast. Then also lived in Newcastle for a little bit and overseas for a short stint as well. But yeah, I grew up at Wamberal. Now I reside here at Wamberal with my young family. Love it.
He takes us for a deep dive of a typical day in his life, where he’s usually up before the birds.
[00:01:48] I usually get up quite early, I'm up at about 4:30 in the morning, I will train either in the gym, or at one of the outdoor parks here on the coast, there's a really good area down at Terrigal where a lot of people train. So I'll try and first thing in the morning, come back home, play with my daughter for about an hour just to get her up and running for the day and try and help my wife out, and then basically get stuck into work.
[00:02:13] I guess work for me will look like researching areas and also obviously inspecting properties as well, making sure that our team is ready to go. Prioritising clients, speaking with clients, speaking with agents, sourcing properties, and then obviously presenting properties to clients too. And then if I can sneak in a trip down the beach, or a surf, I will do so but just depending on how busy we are.
[00:02:43] Nice. How long have you been surfing for?
[00:02:47] Pretty well since I was as young as I can remember, probably around the age of seven or eight. I don't surf as much as I would like to these days, just because of the family and the business and whatnot. But still such a great hobby to have, just to get out into the ocean. Even if you're not a surfer, even if you want to just jump in the water or whatever. It's very therapeutic.
[00:03:30] I'm lucky with lockdown, the beach is less than a kilometre from my place. So even if they made that radius one kilometre, I think I'd still sneak in. So it's good.
The Central Coast and its scenery, people, and vibes holds a special place in his heart.
[00:03:54] I grew up on the Central Coast. It's about an hour and a half north of Sydney. Pretty quiet sort of a beach town, I guess, or beach region. I went to Terrigal High School, Terrigal Primary School. And we just had a really tight knit community here. I played rugby league growing up as a kid, did the footy through the winter and then surf through the summer. I had the same group of mates since a very young age.
[00:04:23] I guess here on the Central Coast, it's just very much a community vibe. Everyone sort of knows everyone, everyone sort of helps each other out. And it's interesting, because it's really helped me with my business today. Relationships that I have professionally now, I've actually had those relationships, personally, in some instances for over 20 years. So it definitely helps now. Obviously, there's some very successful people up here that I've known for a very long time. Both personally and professionally. But yeah, great childhood, it was awesome growing up here on the Central Coast. I think it was fantastic.
[00:05:14] Growing up as a kid, I had a brother and then two stepbrothers. So a bit of a blended family, if you like. So it's been a good opportunity to have different perspective on multiple things, too. We moved around a little bit as well, but always around the Central Coast.
[00:05:33] So I think from a young age, I understood the difference in properties and what different properties offered. Because one, I lived in so many different places growing up, and two, sometimes I was heavily involved in, 'Okay, we need to find somewhere else to live.' Because we were renting a lot, we'd need to find somewhere else to live. 'Okay, why is this one good? Why is this one bad? What do we like about this? What don't we like about that?' So, I think honestly, from a very young age, I was analysing and looking at property through a different lens. And I think it put me in good stead to what I do today, and what I've done, personally, as well, away from the business with my own investing.
A Passionate Sportsman
Like most kids, Sharp applied most of his energy to the things he was passionate about. Those passions followed him up the coast after he finished school.
[00:06:40] School was good. I've got to say, I'm someone that will only really apply myself to things that I'm heavily interested in. So as a kid, I wasn't interested in a lot of the schoolwork all the time. But it was great. Like, honestly, playing rugby league, team sport with great friends that were childhood friends that are now adult friends was fantastic. Surfing before and after school, pretty relaxed, sort of a vibe there at Terrigal High School. Uniform was sometimes optional. So it was good, mate. It was really, really good.
[00:07:26] I finished high school and moved straight to Newcastle to pursue a rugby league career if you like, or to try and play rugby league professionally. I moved to Newcastle, played in the junior reps in the lower grades at the Newcastle Knights, but wasn't good enough to go on and play NRL. But I also probably didn't apply myself to the level that I know is now necessary to do well at that level now that I'm a little bit older. But loved Rugby League, and all I wanted to do was obviously was to play NRL, but never got there.
[00:08:04] And once that didn't work out, I moved back to the Central Coast and picked up a job that I thought I was going to stay in for a long period of time. So I got into a corporate role. I was in that corporate role for 12 years prior to starting the business. But in that corporate space, it exposed me to a new world, a very professional world. You know, what the corporate world's like. It's a good eye opener, right. And it was in a position that I thought I would have been in for a very, very long time and probably my whole life, but things change and ambition takes over and perspective changes and experience changes. So I obviously resigned from that role a few years ago.
His early job in the telecommunications industry taught him a lot about the corporate world, and how to communicate with people from all walks of life.
[00:09:22] I guess it gave me two perspectives. So it gave me a perspective of what to do and probably what not to do.
[00:09:28] So early on in that corporate world, things were fantastic. The business, or the company, was very family orientated. It was always making sure that its employees were very happy and there was a really strong team camaraderie. And everyone went above and beyond to fulfill the cause of what we needed to do, or to make sure that we execute on that particular project.
[00:09:55] But I guess as the years went on, things started to deteriorate a lot. And there were redundancies and people lost their jobs. And then different management came in and it was more focused on the dollar productive tasks. And I guess it became more focused on profits and losses and less focused on how the employees were feeling and what the culture was like.
[00:10:23] And I think with that, it starts to really create a really negative environment. People are worried about their own jobs, and then people start to hide... not hide, but they're not as open to share some of their knowledge, and everyone fights over projects, and no one wants someone else to get better of them. So that environment started to become a little bit toxic.
[00:10:49] And it was one of the reasons why I started to look elsewhere, for better opportunities. But the other thing that the corporate space did for me was it exposed me to a lot of high net individuals and some people that are in very high pressure roles. And one thing it did was it desensitised me a little bit, just to know that those guys are human as well. And I used to be able to hold conversations with high level managers within that corporate space. And then I could also hold really good conversations with some of our laborers or even cleaners within the company, as well. So, it gave me that really broad perspective and gave me a good opportunity to be able to learn how to communicate to different people at different levels.
It was here he learnt the importance of happy employees, a principle he now applies to his own business.
[00:12:08] There are just countless roadblocks, and the attitudes just aren't always there. One thing that I learnt from the corporate space, and as well from my rugby league background, is you really need to keep your employees happy. And it's something that I have a really high focus on. Now, we only have a small team, but I'm always checking in, making sure everyone's happy, making sure everyone feels valued, making sure everyone feels a part of the common goal. And in big corporations that can just be lost. And then people become miserable. And the incentives aren't always around dollar value. It's far beyond that. And sometimes in those corporate spaces, if you don't have the right leaders in place, they can really, really deteriorate.
Rugby and Real Estate Aren’t So Different
Sharp takes a step back to fill us in on his Rugby League days. Although he doesn’t play anymore, it’s still a big part of his life.
[00:13:23] So, left school, had ambitions to play NRL. Played juniors at Newcastle Knights and then lower grades as well there, but never good enough to play first grade. Once that dream was over, I came back and just played semi professional here on the Central Coast.
[00:13:41] Also had some time overseas as well. Played in New York in 2016, as well. But rugby league, and I think just sport in general, it teaches you so much and it's helped me a lot as well, my background there in running the business now. The determination, the commitment, the grit, working for a common goal, staying neutral through the highs and the lows, appreciating the little wins, working on the negatives, being able to receive feedback, both positive and negative. All of those things play a role when you run a business, and I think it's now starting to become more prevalent with big industries and big companies and big businesses employing ex players, whether they be soccer players, rugby league, rugby, whatever ex professional athletes. And certainly coaches becoming more ingrained into that corporate space and sharing their knowledge. Because the similarities are there, they're absolutely there.
[00:14:51] But it was great. I created some fantastic memories, got friends for life from both playing at that semi professional level. It's just good times. I don't play rugby league anymore. But I still coach, I'm still heavily involved with the Sydney Roosters with their junior development program here on the Central Coast.
[00:15:14] So I haven't quite given it away yet, in terms of the rugby league stuff. But absolutely love coaching, and it's just a good opportunity for me to give back and to get away from the business as well and just have some hobbies outside of the real estate world.
There’s so much great discipline and so many skills that kids can learn from Rugby League, with football skills being just one of them.
[00:15:59] With the kids, obviously we want to make them better footballers. But a lot of the coaches within that program ultimately just want the kids to be better adults. That's what we're after. And hopefully some of the disciplines that we can implement into them right now with their rugby careers may put them in good stead going forward in life. Making sure that they commit to getting up and going to work every day, for example, that's just not common for some people. And then rolling your sleeves up, doing the tough things throughout the day, as opposed to just doing the easy things all the time. So we're always looking to improve the kids holistically away from just rugby league too.
Make It Hard For Yourself
We take a step back in time to remember how difficult it used to be to access our money— and how that wasn’t such a bad thing at all.
[00:16:59] I love winding back the clock and thinking about this. I'm going to go right back here because I think it's important. So I mentioned my brother and two step brothers, we grew up, we were all around the same age. And at a very young age, we actually decided to start saving for our first property. Okay, now when we first decided we were going to save for a first property, we decided that all four of us were going to buy something. That was the plan when we were really young.
[00:17:26] So what we did, once my youngest brother was old enough, and he was working full time, we all committed to saving $100 a week into a joint bank account. That was a combined $400 per week going into one bank account. And I mean, I think things are a little bit different now with phones and apps and everything like that. But back then when I was like 18, so it's like 15 years ago. I feel old!
[00:17:56] Anyway, you'd have a joint bank account, but what we did was in order to access that bank account, all four of us had to go into the bank, sign to be able to withdraw money from. So it was difficult. I guess the key message is: make that savings account difficult for you to access. It was hard for all four of us to go into the bank.
[00:18:26] So we committed to saving, at least, to buy our first house. Now, we did that, something I'm very proud of, and something that really put me in obviously good stead going forward. So we ended up saving for around six or seven years. But as things happen, we all ended up going in our different directions and I was the only one that actually took that money out. And then bought a house. Bought my first property, which I’m obviously very proud of.
It sounds like a great idea in theory, but how did it play out in reality?
[00:19:08] So my step dad's an accountant, and from the get go, he was the one that sort of said to us, 'Look, this is what you should do.' And I guess early on, everyone was committed to buying a house together, all four of us. And, look, along the way, you know, each brother... it wasn't all rosy. Don't get me wrong. There were times when someone was going overseas and they wanted to access the money. But there was three of us saying no, you're not touching it and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
[00:19:39] But we did get to the point where it'd passed its use by date, and everyone sort of agreed to take the money out and go their separate ways. I think one brother was overseas, another was about to travel, another one was starting a family and I obviously wanted to buy property. So we all agree to extract the money and do whatever we wanted with it.
Quiet Saturday Nights In
[00:20:01] So we were saving for some time, I think it was around six or seven years. And during that time, I just did everything I could to get educated around the property space. And I mentioned that I played rugby league. We used to play on a Sunday. And while all my mates were out drinking and going out and partying or whatever, I wasn't able to do that, because I was preparing for a game on a Sunday. So I used to sit at home.
[00:20:26] And I'd watch Margaret Lomas' show on Fox, I just stumbled across it one night. Mate, I've been a big fan, and she's a mentor of mine. And I used to watch her show on a Saturday night, they were, like, reruns. And that really gave me good knowledge of how to identify what a good asset was, what a bad asset was, and the different variables with different properties. Does it have development potential? Is it fundamentally in a good area? What's the economy like? How appealing is it? So that gave me so much good fundamental knowledge that really put me in good stead to buy that first property.
[00:21:04] And that first property was bought in Wamberal, I still live in it now. We now own this property, which we're really proud of. But even looking back, buying this really set us up for our next purchase and our next purchase, and then going from there. There's obviously always an element of luck in it. But we did really well by just buying that first asset well, and buying that right asset as well, to start with.
With his portfolio humming along nicely, Sharp’s next steps are to add a unit block for some diversification.
[00:22:33] I haven't tried to reinvent the wheel or anything like that. I'm a low risk investor. So I do a lot of research on making sure that the areas are fundamentally strong. We have a diverse portfolio across multiple states in multiple areas with different dwelling types as well.
[00:22:50] But I guess ultimately for us right now, we have a pretty well neutrally geared investment portfolio with different properties doing what they need to do for our investment needs. So, one property might be high yielding and other one might be targeted for capital growth, and obviously have a lower yield. So still building the portfolio and very close to buying something now which I haven't done before, which is a unit block. So we're going to see what that looks like. And I'm very excited about it to be honest. Anyone that works in this industry, especially if they're passionate about it, never get more excited about a search, which I don't, and especially when it's your own search. It's very, very exciting.
Divide and Conquer
[00:23:38] That's awesome. So when you say unit block, how many units are you guys looking at at the moment?
[00:23:43] We're looking at somewhere between three and five. So nothing major, I'm not in the position to do any major developments. But somewhere between three, so maybe a triplex, or four or five properties. So just about getting that balance, right. Getting it in a good area at an affordable price that we can afford that isn't going to obviously overextend us, and isn't also going to handcuff us going forward.
[00:24:06] So the purpose for the unit block is literally just for diversification. Our portfolio at the moment is made up of freestanding homes. So we just want to mix things up a little bit. And just make sure that we have that diversification and some options going forward. There's certainly no plans in place at the moment to do any flips or anything. We just really want to... it's a long term strategy for us. It's a set and forget and a long term hold.
He doesn’t have any regrets due to his belief that everything is a learning opportunity, and got started on his journey with one main idea driving him.
[00:25:10] If you scare yourself too much and do nothing, you're gonna get nothing. But probably the two decisions that we've made that have probably put roadblocks in our journey, one would be how we structured our loans early on. And I won't go into too much detail because I'm not a licensed mortgage broker. But loan structuring is very, very important.
[00:25:34] I'm sure a lot of people that listen to your podcast understand that now. I didn't understand that as a 25 year old. I didn't know that. And it put us in a little bit of a holding phase when we were absolutely ready to buy again. So the loan structuring was one, I just didn't ask enough questions, and probably just didn't have the right mortgage broker at the time.
[00:26:09] One of our investment property's security was tied in with our principal place of residence, and for a long period of time. I think it was five years. So because they were cross securitised for a long period of time, it didn't allow us to be flexible, it didn't really allow us to investigate other lenders without huge costs. So that was just a lesson that we've learnt along the way. And again, if I hadn't made that mistake, I'm aware of it now. But I probably wouldn't have learnt from it. So it's definitely not a regret.
[00:26:49] And the other thing, the other mistake that I've probably made was one of the properties that we bought... We haven't had any issues there yet. But it's heavily impacted by some government housing. And in my younger years, I didn't know how to properly do all of the due diligence that I now do today, and obviously do for my clients. But there is a higher presence of government housing in and around the area.
[00:27:23] Now, I haven't had any issues there at all, the house has been tenanted, it actually has gone up substantially in value as well. But looking back now and the standards that I have now for myself, and obviously for the clients, especially, that property wouldn't meet our checks. I can't say it's lost us any money. But yeah, it's something that I am mindful of going forward, thinking, 'Oh maybe that wasn't as good as I first thought.' There are no bargains.
Locals Always Know What’s Up
The government housing factor wasn’t so much a factor as it was the lack of owner occupiers in the area.
[00:28:12] Obviously, owner occupiers are the ones that increase value for properties, right? They're the ones. So whenever you invest, I think that you should really be targeting areas that have high owner occupied presence within those areas, because they're the ones that are house proud. They're the ones that want to live in that suburb, in that street, in that area. And they're going to pay a premium to live there. So I guess, for me just thinking about it, how I do, it's like, 'Okay, if I'm a local living in that area, how desirable is that street or is that little pocket of that neighborhood?' The locals know the areas to go to or not to go to.
[00:28:51] Fortunately, I've been lucky that the property's never been vacant, because obviously I knew enough to look at low vacancy rates, and all that sort of stuff, and double check yields and whatnot. So the property's never been vacant. It's never really cost us a major amount of money. But the concern is there when I go to sell it in the next 30 years or whatever, how many locals are going to be interested to live in that little pocket? We will see.
[00:29:49] I know what's happening all over Australia now. The government's obviously selling off a lot of their government houses. My dad grew up in government housing. So I know the majority of the people that occupy those homes are fine. They're working class, some of them have just come upon hard times. So I'm definitely not painting everyone with the same brush. But there is a level of risk there that I try to avoid today, that's probably one of the lessons.
[00:30:17] But do I regret buying that place? Not really. It was really cheap at the time. It's got a great yield, and it's never been vacant for two and a half, three and a half years. So yeah, it's just one of those things, one of those learning things. But fortunately for me, we haven't had any huge mistakes yet, but hopefully, hopefully, there's nothing major coming my way. But I'd like to thank Margaret for that. Margaret Lomas. I think she really did put me in good stead to understand what those due diligence checks are and how to minimise your risk as best you can.
Sharp has two aha moments where he realised the power of property investment.
[00:00:24] I think the aha moment with property for me, there was probably two. I think there were two things. One is the power of leverage. So for people that don't understand leverage, if I have $50,000 cash savings— I'll just keep it as round numbers here— I can buy an asset worth $500,000. Now, if that asset increases in value, let's just say it increases 10%, over two years, you've basically doubled your cash investment. So that property's gone up to $550,000, your initial input was only $50,000. So that to me was very, very powerful. There aren't too many investments out there that you can double your cash in two years now. Look, I'm excluding costs and fees and everything that goes in with that, but just for argument's sake, the power of leverage was a massive aha moment for me.
[00:01:18] And the other one was understanding that rental income can pay down your debt. Okay, so that rental income is absolutely an addition to your salary. So if someone's paying you $30,000 a year in rental income, that is an addition to your salary, but it's basically for savings. Or at least that's the way I look at it. So those were the two things for me, and how you want to take advantage of one, leverage and two, rental income, is entirely up to you. But those are the two things for me where I'm like, 'Okay, this makes a lot of sense to me.'
The Personalised Approach
His strategy is different for every client, tailored to their unique wants and needs.
[00:02:36] Sometimes someone's really young, like our age, and they've got a really long time for investing. Other people will come to us, they're nearing retirement, they might need something with a shorter term, or with a shorter view.
[00:02:48] But the basics of our strategy is we always buy in really low risk suburbs. Like, high performing, but low risk. And when I say low risk, I mean the areas that we're buying in are well established. We don't speculate on new developments or greenfields or anything like that. The inventory levels are very low. So there is a scarcity factor. We try and buy in areas that have very, very diverse economies. Population growth is obviously very important.
[00:03:20] Affordability and lifestyle are other things that we take into consideration as well, because that's human behavior. What can humans afford? We want to think about that, and how many humans within the population can afford to buy at a certain price point? It's a big factor.
[00:03:34] And then I think lifestyle is a big one as well. I guess it's a side angle that not everyone considers. And maybe it's something that I've been exposed to because of where I live here on the Central Coast. Now, I'm not saying that you should buy in a coastal suburb, but I just think lifestyle is really important. And I think there's been a huge example of that over the last sort of 12 to 18 months with COVID, or 12 months with COVID, that people are very focused on their lifestyles. Whether it be for a tree change or a sea change, we're just more aware of it.
[00:04:13] So, I think there's those things that we take into consideration of course. We're always looking for areas that have healthy yields, good growth prospects, and also really low vacancy rates. So I guess that's all about risk management type of stuff. But in terms of price point, and where we buy, it starts anywhere between $300,000 and up to $1 million, just depending on your budget and your strategy.
[00:04:39] And then diving down on the actual asset. I think it's always important to buy something that people want to live in within those areas. Okay, so does someone want a three bed one bath, or they always need four bed, two bath, two car? Like, what does it look like within that area is something that we also check.
It’s The Flexibility For Me
He reveals the number one thing he looks for when searching for homes for younger people, including himself.
[00:04:39] For me personally, and I think for young people, I always look for sites that have development potential, like long term development potential. Can you put a duplex on the block? Can you put a triplex on the block? Can you maybe put a granny flat? Is it dual street access? All of these types of things are things that I think about when we're really starting to get to the pointy end of the search. And when we're working out what property is going to be suitable.
[00:05:26] And I also always think that value add's a good little kicker, as well. And something to be mindful of whenever you're buying property. Because, look, you can manufacture your own growth in most markets. You're not always reliant on how that market's performing. And look, if you're savvy and you've got some skills, or maybe your friends have some skills, and they can go and add some value at your property or in your property at a discounted costs, or even at trade costs, that can add substantial value to your property's value, regardless of what's happening in that local market.
[00:06:04] So I think it's just about being flexible with the asset that you buy in a really, really good area, because it just gives you more options down the track. That's why we don't buy any apartments or any units or anything like that. And I think the reason for that is because I just don't see a huge amount of flexibility in those types of dwellings. You don't have the opportunity to add substantial value, you can't extend it, you can't develop it, you can't divide the block, you can't really do anything. I'm not saying that strategy doesn't work, because I know a lot of people have done very well, but for me, I'm just trying to buy the most amount of land in the best possible location we can afford and that stacks up for us.
[00:07:51] Do you also look out for potential where you can do subdivisions, where you can actually subdivide the block off and sell off the back or keep the front as granny flats and so forth? Do you find any of those type of opportunities?
[00:08:02] Absolutely. And I think it's important just for flexibility, for me as an investor and also for clients that we look at. If we're considering two properties, for example, one has flexibility with maybe long term development, or maybe you can hammerhead the block and, and the other one doesn't, and they're around a similar price point. You're obviously going to go towards the one that has that development potential.
[00:08:26] And even in some cases, the one that has development potential might be a little bit more in cost. So it might be an extra $20,000 [or] $50,000 [or] $100,000. But it's just understanding the value and the opportunity to be able to do that development on that site compared to the other property.
[00:08:43] And look, it comes down to the individual as well. I think younger people tend to be a little bit more hungry and have the foresight for different opportunities down the track, whereas I feel like someone a little bit older probably just doesn't want the headache, and they might edge towards something that doesn't really have that development potential. It's not necessary for them, and they're prepared to save a little bit of money on the purchase price as well. So it's just really coming down to the individual. But for myself personally, absolutely, I look for that stuff. Absolutely. Because I just want more flexibility in my assets. I think that's gonna put you in a good position going forward.
The Impact is Real
COVID has changed so much for so many people, and so many places. The Central Coast, with its proximity to Sydney, is one of them.
[00:10:12] Mate, COVID has just accelerated the Central Coast market by 20%, nearly even 30% in some areas. The impact has been real. Look, where the Central Coast is located, we're about an hour and a half to Sydney, predominantly, a lot of the people here on the coast would commute to Sydney for office jobs and whatnot. And obviously, or probably most importantly, for those high paying roles, you'd have to commute to Sydney.
[00:10:45] The whole COVID impact, now everyone's on Zoom, everyone works from home, it's allowed everyone to be so much more flexible with their living arrangements. Now, what you can get for your money in Sydney— and I'm talking owner occupied stuff here— what you can get for your money in Sydney, compared to what you can get for your money here on the Central Coast, it's far more value for your money up here. It's incredible. So I think a lot of people have just decided that, 'Let's sell in Sydney, we don't need to have the two and a half million dollar property 10 minutes from work. I'm now working from home. Let's cash in and go and buy something on the coast, far more affordable. Live a more laid back life, a more enjoyable life.'
[00:11:26] They still have the ability to travel to Sydney. And in some cases, the clients are traveling to Sydney, one day a week, two, three days a week, but it's just not that full time grind that will wear you down over time. Now with that, obviously, again, with a higher owner occupier presence, prices are going up, which obviously is good for the investors in the area as well.
What Came First— The Property Market or The Egg?
The shift towards working from home has meant people no longer need to make that daily commute in a lot of cases, giving Sydneysiders the freedom to move.
[00:11:50] I'm not going to discriminate and just say those clients around the two, two and a half million dollar mark. I'm seeing people that are first home buyers that are renting in the eastern suburbs, or renting in Manly, in the Northern Beaches, that never even thought about living on the Central Coast because they needed to be close to their job. Now that's changed. Now they're like, 'You know what? For the same money, we can actually pay off our own property. Let's go and live somewhere that we can afford to buy, I'm only going to work from home a couple of days a week. I'm only going to be in the office a couple of days a week, work from home the others. Let's go and pay off our own property.' Like it makes total sense.
[00:12:28] So I think COVID just accelerated what was coming over the next 10 to 15 years with technology anyway. But I mean, it's been fantastic for us here. And I know it has been for a lot of the other regional markets as well, I think it's good. And I was listening to the Property Couch a couple of weeks ago, and I heard a really good analogy, I think Bryce Holdaway mentioned. It's like the fried egg. Picture the fried egg as basically a property market. So you've obviously got the yolk in the middle where everyone wants to be. That's where all the high paying jobs are. That's where all the money is. Then you have the egg whites around that. And that's obviously just scattered for your regional centres. But it's no longer a fried egg. It's now scrambled eggs. So it's consistent. It's more consistent everywhere, right across multiple areas. So I thought it was a pretty good analogy.
COVID has definitely been an unexpected storm for all of us, but sometimes great storms come out with colourful rainbows.
[00:14:08] I think it's a silver lining for what's happening here with COVID. I know it's awful. I know some people have gone through some terrible times. But I think relieving that stress of the commute and that big mortgage and whatever else and living a more chilled, relaxed life doing more things that you enjoy, spending more time with your loved ones— I think that's fantastic and obviously is going to have a really positive impact on your mental health as well as your well being.
[00:14:43] Yeah, you've got me thinking as well. I better have a chat with my wife.
[00:14:49] I know someone up here that can help you buy something!
[00:14:53] I'll be reaching out to him straight away! So, Matt, let's jump into mindset and talk a little bit about your why. What's been the biggest why driving you behind investing into property and also helping your clients through a buyer's agency?
[00:15:10] It's something that I'm probably just starting to understand more as I get a little bit older. Now I mentioned when we were growing up, we rented a lot. So I was very aware that— and look, this isn't a hard luck story, I had a fantastic childhood— but we did rent a lot. And I was very aware that friends and their families owned their property. And they'd lived in that one house for 10 years, and their whole lives and all of that. So I was very aware of that from a young age.
Be Careful You Don’t Surf With Sharks
[00:15:37] And I think that gave me the initial motivation and desire to buy a family home. Because when I first started, all I wanted to do was just buy the family home, and then that was it. But I think the motivation for me, one would be security. And the other one that I guess from a business perspective, and obviously professional perspective when I'm helping people is: the motivation for me is allowing people to understand that it is achievable to gain financial freedom, and it is achievable to set yourself up in retirement.
[00:16:17] I think in an industry that we're in, unfortunately, there are a lot of spruikers out there, and property sharks or investment sharks, whatever you want to call them. Even though I think they are diminishing, but they are out there. But there are some good people in this industry that do great things for their clients. And I think it's about just getting that message out there and getting people to understand that investing well, in the right assets can set you up for retirement and for your long term.
[00:16:52] So, for me, I guess that's probably the main motivation. It's a hard one. And I just think helping people set themselves up for retirement and having good outcomes within this industry is the main motivator for us.
Along with Margaret Lomas’ show, Sharp’s mentors include some other big names you may have heard before.
[00:17:28] There probably isn't a book that I haven't read that has property investing. But I reckon another book that had a major, major impact on me was A Surfer's Guide to Property Investing by Paul Glossop. I'm sure you're familiar with Paul and a lot of your listeners are as well. He has great information, his book's fantastic, it gives you a really good understanding of what a basic strategy would look like, I suppose, and where you would fit within that strategy. But he's been fantastic.
[00:18:02] Obviously, Ben Kingsley and Bryce Holdaway from The Property Couch have been great. They're some of the Australian people that I like, but obviously Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave me great perspective and a great understanding of how money works and how investing works as well. So I think there are multiple avenues out there at the moment. Obviously this podcast shares a lot of great knowledge, too.
Diversify Your Sources
[00:18:24] So there's loads of information out there. And it's just about aligning yourself with people that maybe you can relate to or that you can get some good synergy with. And maybe they speak your language, to get the most out of their insights that's going to help you along the way.
[00:18:43] Yeah, I totally agree. And there's just so much information in our day and age that I guess sometimes the question is which ones you turn to first, with our busy lifestyles.
[00:18:52] Exactly. And I think, just from my own personal experience, Margaret is fantastic. But she's very much about educating and making sure that you, the individual, are educated on your own property journey and what you want to get out of it. And for a few years there, I would always be like, 'No, everyone, get educated, don't worry about engaging a buyer's agent, just do it yourself, do it yourself.' But I realised that not everyone wants to do it themselves. Not everyone is passionate about property. They don't care, you know? Which is probably something that I learnt from Paul Glossep, which obviously shared the value of what a buyer's agent can do, or an independent advisor or whoever it is. Which then sparked my interest, obviously, in becoming a buyer's agent. But Margaret was great from an education standpoint. And then I think Paul, for me, has been great from a professional and value add standpoint as well, and what we can provide to potential clients and people out there.
With all the people he’s come across and wisdom he’s received, he shares what’s at the top of his advice list.
[00:20:08] The best advice I've received would probably be to get educated and take action. Like, you need to take some action, right? Otherwise, you can be the most educated guy in the library and not do anything. And then what? You really do only learn through doing in this game and in anything that you do. So I think taking action is the biggest one. Yeah, I would have to say taking action for sure.
[00:20:38] And the other thing is it's not a big, scary world out there. You don't buy a property and the world caves in, you lose all your money. It's not really like that. The sun still comes up the next day, and life goes on, right. So I just wouldn't be scared about taking action. And I would steer away from some of the horror stories as well, because a lot of those things can be ironed out whenever you're doing your own research or doing your own education or leveraging on a professional.
If he could do it all again, Sharp’s advice to his younger self echoes the general consensus.
[00:21:19] Get started earlier and buy more properties! That's probably it. Get started earlier and buy more properties. I hear that answer a lot. Not from me, but from others. And I think it's pretty consistent across different investors.
Looking To The Future
Other than his upcoming unit block purchase, he’s keen to learn as much as he can, grow his business, and his family.
[00:22:31] I just love learning from different people in different sectors, understanding their own journeys. You're very lucky that you can obviously have this role that you have with the podcast, you get to meet so many different people from different walks of life. But I think I'm looking forward to that and maybe leveraging off others' advice.
[00:22:50] I'm seriously considering buying a commercial space. I don't have any commercial property. So looking at engaging someone to help me with that, most likely Jay Anderson. So interested to learn some more about that stuff. I think professionally, that's what I'm excited about, and personally, looking forward to growing my family and creating some good holidays, maybe in a caravan or something up the east coast of New South Wales, surfing some more. And obviously coaching some more kids as well. I do the best I can to try and have a balanced life, if there's even such thing as a balanced life! But sometimes, obviously, I put too much into work and not enough into the family, but really looking forward to some good times ahead with a young family and obviously growing the business.
[00:23:40] I think I've heard about a few people who have mentioned that since I think maybe COVID, and so forth, is that the caravaning aspect is that we're spending a lot more time now with our family. We want to, instead of being in the house, we want to get out of the house, but move around!
[00:23:56] The overseas holidays are being traded in for a caravan! And now we're on the hunt for a caravan. But unfortunately, that's not an investment. As you know, it's probably more of a liability. We'll get the unit block first and then we'll get the caravan.
[00:24:19] How much of your success is due to your skill, intelligence and hard work? And how much of it is due to luck?
[00:24:30] There's always an element of luck. There just is. Whether it be buying a property for whatever reason, and there wasn't much competition or maybe you had a relationship with the agent or something like that. And even, I guess, smaller components of luck, like maybe you stumble across a show like I did, like Margaret Lomas and I just got hooked on it, and then that became part of my weekly routine.
[00:24:56] But yeah, look, I would probably say, I don't know, 10% is luck? 20% is luck? I don't know! And the rest is obviously education, intelligence, hard work. I wasn't given anything as a kid, other than obviously love and a lot of support. So haven't had any handouts from parents or relatives or anything like that. So I worked my ass off to save for a deposit and still work my ass off today and make sure I'm on managing my money well today as well. That then allows us to then go and buy other investment properties and give us some flexibility. So I think that's very, very important. So education and whatnot's important. But yeah, there's always an element of luck. Sure.
Thank you to Matt Sharp, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.