Sydney Real Estate Property Buyer's Agent Patrick Bright EPS Property Search

Sydney Real Estate Property Buyer's Agent Patrick Bright EPS Property Search

How to buy right – EPS property search

Patrick Bright - EPS Property Search – Buyers’ Agents

Lisa: Today's expert is Patrick Bright. Patrick is from EPS Property Search in Neutral Bay and Patrick is one of the leading buyers’ agents in Sydney. Patrick has also written three bestselling books on how to buy property, so what Patrick doesn’t know about buying property is not worth knowing. So thank you very much for joining us today Patrick - what are your top ten tips?

Patrick: The first thing I think people have trouble with is developing a “needs and wants list”.

So when people are searching for property, they go looking but they don't have a wish list and that is the most critical thing you can do - get a detailed list of everything you need and everything you want.

Another thing you can do is set yourself up with "buyer alerts" on the internet. The most important thing is to build a database of all the sales agencies of influence in the area.

So let's just say, for example, the Mosman/Cremorne/Neutral Bay area. There are roughly 60 agencies and over 300 sales agents.

You need to build a database of those people to know of any properties coming onto the market. You want to have access to what they call 'silent sales' or properties that are quietly listed.

Unless you are in touch with those agents, you won't know about them. Probably a third of the property we see is sold before it hits the public market. Some of that we buy, some of that we don't, but obviously if you want first choice, you have to be up with it.

The next thing is looking at "valuing properties"; assessing a price value - if you want to be as informed as the local real estate agents I think that the most important thing you could do is look at around 100 properties.

Now you may think 'Oh 100 properties, that's a lot of property' and it is a lot of properties but let's break that down. If you look at 8 to 10 properties a week, which is easy to do on a Saturday if you're organised (we see up to 20, but if you look at say 8 to 10 properties a week over about 8 to 10 weeks you’ll be looking at about 100) you are going be really well informed about the current market and what prices are.

With current market knowledge, you can treat every property as if it were going to auction. So many people get frustrated with auction, or 'offers above and ‘price ranges’. People just say, “Give me a price. What do you want for it?”. Don't get frustrated with that; if you get educated and become informed, you won’t be frustrated and you’ll be able to put a fair price on a property.

I’ve seen people look at asking prices and just take 10% or 20% off the asking price and think that might be what it’s worth. I have seen properties that have an asking price way over what they are worth, so taking a % off the asking price is not the answer.

For example, say I get $50,000 off a million dollar asking price, then that doesn’t mean you’re actually getting a good deal, because it actually could be only worth $900K. If you get $50k off a million you've paid $950k you’ve paid too much, so getting out there and doing the research is the only way you are going to know about that.

Another good tip - "building and pest inspections".

Do not buy properties without them. I speak to solicitors all the time; they say our clients don’t get them. I have been gazumped a number of times by buyers who weren't getting a building and pest inspection.

What you want to know with a building and pest inspection is whether the property is going to fall down or does it have termites or structural damage?

The rest of the report is going to tell you things that you can probably see visually yourself, but those things are not visual all the time, so spend $500 or $600 and get the report done. A strata search as well, if you are buying an apartment, that’s important.

"Keep your emotions in check" when you are looking at properties. Don't disclose too much to the sales agent about how much you like the property. Try to be fairly neutral, don’t walk in and if you fall in love with it, don't have that written all over your face, but don’t also at the same time be really negative about the property. Because if you show negativity towards it, the sales agent is going to assume you’re not interested and they are not going to follow you up. But if you say to them “Look, I am interested, I do like it”, just don’t be too gushing over it because that won't help when it comes to negotiation time.

"Researching on the internet". Now this one I’m finding more and more frustrating. I’m finding more and more people are buying properties “sight unseen”; they are relying on the photos on the internet.

Now, let's be clear, there is a bit of poetic license with marketing of property and marketing any product that you’re buying. Photos with artificial lighting make the property look its best; they’re taking it from wide angles to make it look good and that’s the job of the sales agent so let’s not bash them up about it - they’re there to make the property look fantastic and show it in its best possible light. So, understand that. They are not going to have the property looking at its most average.

So "do not buy a property sight unseen"; it is critical that you go and look at the property. It does happen and it is madness. You can go and get someone to look at it for you if you can't go and look at it yourself. Often I get asked by people who are interstate or overseas to buy them a property.

They send me a link, this one looks fantastic – I go, take my photos, send them the photos and they often say, “Did you go to the same property?”

"Buying at auction". A lot of property in the Lower North Shore is auctioned. If it’s going to auction and if you have never bid at an auction before, I suggest you go to probably a dozen auctions, even if you have bid at an auction before, go to about a dozen auctions to get the vibe, see what it’s like so you understand what goes on and what can happen.

You probably won’t see the same thing happen at all of the auctions, because they have different parties’ involved and different auctioneers, different sales agents, different personalities. So you don’t get bullied at the auction, understand the rules of the auction; it is easy for you to be bullied and pushed around by the sales agents and the auctioneer, if you don’t understand what’s happening. It can be quite an intimidating process. Be very careful.

You can buy fantastically well at auction. I’m very happy to go to auctions and buy properties there, because you know you can really get good prices with people being put under pressure to sell on the day. It doesn’t necessarily always mean you get the best price. Sometimes they do get a great price, sometimes they don’t. So if you do your research, and you set a realistic limit, you will know whether you are buying well or not.

"Value isn’t just based on location". Just because you buy in a suburb, say I pick Mosman for a suburb, there is good and not so great parts to Mosman. Every suburb has A, B, C and D grade properties if you like in different locations and positions.

When you are researching be very careful that you’re not paying an A grade price in a C grade position - that's very easy to do. Different sides of the street, for example, can be different.

Pick Cowles Road for instance, that’s got a high and a low side to it and it’s got a south and a northern side of Military Rd to it. The prices vary 10% or 15 % on that street, just by which side of Military Rd you’re on and whether you’re on the high or the low side.

That's a big price difference when you are talking a couple million dollars for the average home in the area. You’re talking a couple hundred thousand dollars difference.

If you look at a "property inspection report" (which you can buy off the internet for $50), they are going to give you a very rough guide. Just because other properties in the street sold for $2m it doesn't mean this one is worth that. It could be worth $200,000 or $300,000 less very easily.

The other thing that really influences price that people overlook when they are getting property inspection reports is the floor plan. Those reports don't give you the floor plan - they do not give you the position the house is situated on the block.

Things to consider - If you have a block 400m2 or 500m2 in size, is the house situated at the front or the back of the block? This is important because we don’t use our front yard, we use our backyard and if the house is situated at the back of the block and there is a lot of front yard, that’s a lot of wasted land - you could be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for 100sqm of dirt that you’re not even going to use.

The other thing these property inspection reports don't tell you - is the property renovated or un-renovated? Layout and flow is also very important. These reports also don't tell you about the privacy. Is the backyard looked upon by two or three neighbours? Or is it a private tree lined street? Does it have a view? These are the things that these property reports don’t have. Google Earth is helpful, but once again it won’t tell you the aspect.

Google Earth doesn’t put you in that physical position where you can look out of the bedroom window or look off the back deck. So a physical inspection is critical. When buying these reports be very careful about comparable sales reports that you buy for $50. That's why I recommend you look at 100 properties, because you will have seen some of the properties that have recently sold so you will know what value and weight to put on them. This is where I see people getting misled or hoodwinked on price very easily and overpaying a lot of money.

Another thing people get worried about is - "what is the street like?" Is it going to be busy in the mornings, is there going to be ease of parking? If some of the areas don't have a lot of parking on the street, I suggest that you go to the property at peak hour and check it out, and also, sit there between 5pm and 7pm when everyone is coming home from work and see how quickly the spaces fill up. Then you will know if you’ve got off street parking or not. This is a good way to check that out.

If you’ve got several properties on your inspection list that you’re looking at, there might be 3-4 properties all open between 10am and 11am and obviously you can’t get to all of them at once. Get up at 8am in the morning and go for a drive past them; that usually rules a few out.