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Seven years into the real estate business, engineer and investor-turned-buyer's agent Scott O’Neill has determined the simple secrets to successful wealth creation—investing time and effort to consistently improve market intelligence and establish long-lasting professional relationships.
As an investor, Mr O'Neill has built an impressive 28-property portfolio by seeking properties with good yield and purchasing unit blocks, commercial properties, and duplexes in high-growth markets.
When he decided to become a buyer’s agent and help budding investors create wealth through real estate, he basically just followed the same principles that brought him success in the first place.
“I just help people buy the same types of properties I had a lot of success buying. They're basically properties with slightly better yield than others—things like unit blocks, commercials, duplexes. Just anything to get a better income than the average.”
“When you do that, you can actually acquire more properties and if you're still in a growth market, at the same time, you can get the best of both worlds—cash flow and growth,” he explained further.
An agent’s advantage
Based on Mr O'Neill's observation, most investors research for months, purchase a property, then take years before buying another asset. On the other hand, buyer’s agents quite literally spend their every day looking at properties in different markets.
He said the greatest benefit of his work now is buying properties every day of the week for people.
"I'm in the market every day, so I’ve got a live feed on the ground and I can start not relying on what the news is telling me.”
Mr O’Neill is constantly updated about growth corridors, tenant preferences, demographics, and other factors to consider when investing in properties. He also has access to off-market properties, which often prove to be better deals.
Just last year, 50 per cent of the properties that his company were able to sell were off-the-market properties.
The buyer’s agent shared: “[To get] access to stock, we randomly target lazy agents that want a quick sale. If they drop $30,000 to $40,000 and the vendor’s expectations are met, it's a win-win for them.
Mr O'Neill calls it a "no-frills" sale.
Purchasing off-market properties is also a faster way to grow an investor’s portfolio since you usually do away with the six-week campaign and other formalities, he said.
According to him, one of the reasons why his company has done well in the business is their ability help investors make decisions quickly. That way, both the buyer and the seller save more money—from marketing to other associated costs.
Mr O’Neill said: “It's going to be iPhone photos. It's no professional anything. There's no six-week campaign. It's just done on the day, that works for people if they're in financial stress and that's how we've been able to buy better, I guess.”
“As an individual, to find a good property, it would take me a month initially. Now, we find them every day because you've just got two, three, four hundred agents,” he added.
The buyer's agent said these opportunities don’t often come to investors unless they are well-connected with property professionals across the market.
Being able to provide better wealth-creation opportunities to his clients take tons of research and a penchant for crunching the numbers.
The time and effort that Mr O'Neill's clients save is the time and effort he spends on the market to make sure that he always improves his market intelligence so that he’s able to provide the best services.
"It just took thousands of hours of searching for these things. I once letterbox-dropped about 300 properties in Port Macquarie. I just kept writing, ‘I'd like to buy this off you. I'll pay above market rate’, just to try and get them excited. One came back out of the three hundred.”
While some markets are in better conditions than others, being a successful buyer’s agent is always more about hard work than luck, the buyer’s agent highlighted.
Mr O’Neill encourages all those who want to make a full transition into the real estate industry as a professional to be ready and willing to burn the shoe leather.
Ultimately though, the secret to being successful in the business is loving what you do.
Mr O’Neill said: “I don't mind looking up properties at 8:00 p.m. As an engineer, if I worked past 5:30 p.m., I'd be disgusted. I hated it.”
Tune in to Scott O’Neill’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about his journey to becoming a full-time property professional.