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Ben Coulter Transcript

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Ben Coulter:
Purchasing the place and renovating and getting the refinance and sort of having that moment where I realized that this could be something that I wanted pursue further.

Tyrone Shum:
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors, find out more about their stories, mindset and strategy.

I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode, we chat with Ben Coulter, a plumber turned property investor. Having his own successful property portfolio, he reveals how his passion for learning led him into property investment, the current state of his property portfolio and how he overcame his past problems with rental payments.

In addition to working on growing his personal property portfolio, Coulter works as a buyers agent at Foxpoint Buyers Advocates.

Ben Coulter:
I’m a buyer’s agent at Foxpoints Buyers Advocates. We’re based down in southern Sydney in the Sutherland Shire and essentially we help people find their dream home or add to their existing property portfolio or even start a portfolio.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter keeps his busy life organised by dividing his tasks into days throughout the week.

Ben Coulter:
So sort of varying tasks throughout the week but usually like to split my weeks up to say Monday and Tuesday mostly admin work so I’ll be making time to chat with new clients or agents that we’ve dealt with over the weekend, any open inspections that we might have carried out.

Then move on probably to Wednesday and Thursday which would be attending midway homes, chatting with potential new clients, that leaves Friday which would be sort of any referral or new client meetings that have come along throughout the week and then the weekend go back to open homes again and that pretty much rounds the week out for us.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter grew up in the Southern part of Sydney and has stayed there ever since.

Ben Coulter:
I grew up in that Sutherland Shire in Sydney South. I went to school for a local high school Kirrawee High down here. And yeah so I spent all my life in the area, haven’t left.

I did I went to primary school and high school there, I went to play a little public school called Gomi Bay and then went to a high school in Kirrawee which was just up the road, so yeah all in that same area.

Tyrone Shum:
After leaving high school, Coulter dove straight into the workforce as a plumber, before eventually finding his way into property investment.

Ben Coulter:
When I left school I went and got a plumbing apprenticeship, worked as a plumber for five or six years, got my apprenticeship and ended up leaving that company to pursue a career as a project manager in a renewable energy and recycling industry and did that for a number of years before transitioning across into property.

Tyrone Shum:
His skills as a project manager has also transitioned well into his current field of work.

Ben Coulter:
It’s definitely helped with sort of structuring and the routine of setting up hour weeks as well. So that’s been, it’s been beneficial on that side of it too.

Tyrone Shum:
So plumbing tell me a little bit about that. How did you get into that?

Ben Coulter:
To be honest I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do when I left school and my parents had always told me that I should have someone to hire me so I thought I’d go and get a trade of some description and I had a couple of mates at the time and they were a little bit older and they were working as plumbers and I was young and I just thought I’d get to work with my mates every day outside and then muck around so it could be fun.

So that’s what I went and did. I got a job with the company that they were working at and we went through our apprenticeships together essentially and it was enjoyable at the time actually when I was young. Out on the road outside traveling around with our mates every day so it wasn’t so bad but it got old in the end when sort of more responsibilities came along and started to think a little bit more long term and realised that it wasn’t what I saw myself doing in the future.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter’s passion for property grew while he worked as a project manager, and he entered the industry as soon as he was given the opportunity to.

Ben Coulter:
Just to transition across into a project management role. So I worked for a company initially managing their installations I suppose and then sort of worked my way up in the company into top of your project management role where you’re handling teams of people. And did for a number of years and that company ended up actually getting bought out and at that same time that my sort of passion I suppose with property had started to grow and I was looking around for potentially transitioning careers so it all kind of lined up well for me in the end.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter’s interest in property manifested after he bought his first property which he intended to be his home.

Ben Coulter:
Initially I just bought my first place I suppose and then going through the process of that, purchasing the place and renovating and getting the refinance and sort of having that moment where I realized that this could be something that I wanted pursue further.

I started to take more interest in the property side of it and the more I sort of studied and learnt about it, the more interest and more passion and so to grow and realise that it could be something that I’d like to do every day I guess and it sort of grew that way so the best thing my personal investing journey started first and then out of that I suppose the interesting property as a career grew as well.

Tyrone Shum:
With some encouragement from his father, Coulter began to grow more and more interested in property after his first purchase.

Ben Coulter:
Ever since I left school my dad always pushed me to purchase a property, he really liked the idea of not so much as for an investment more as sort of to buy and pay off over time and then have that asset to hold. He just liked the security of it I suppose. And then the investing side of it came later for me after I had bought my first property which is an apartment down again in Sydney South in the Shire in Cronulla and we bought that moved straight in and I lived in there for probably 12 to 18 months before I decided to do a renovation.

And throughout that time I’d sort of just been getting more and more interested in property investing and now was more so from just reading and watching YouTube and things like that.

Tyrone Shum:
After realising that he didn’t want to work as a plumber for the rest of his life, Coulter decided to venture into the property industry as a different and rewarding line of work.

Ben Coulter:
As I began to work longer and like I said before that realisation that I didn’t want to be doing the plumbing side of things forever, I got more and more motivated and a bit of a desire for self-improvement and especially financial freedom and that sort of led me down the path of began to learn and read and research on different paths, different avenues that we might be able to achieve that. And throughout that as I guess combined with my motivation for my dad to purchase property so it all came into line that way.

And so to become more and more interested in it and that sort of prompted me to grow my own personal portfolio and throughout the process of growing my own personal portfolio, I just grew a lot more passion along the way as well for sharing that information with people and discussing it, discussing different options, different opportunities and realized I guess that it could be something that I see myself doing day to day. So I decided at the time that I would go out and get my real estate license as well.

So in doing that by correspondent was still working in the project managing space and went out and got that and just all the while educating myself I suppose again through podcasts, YouTube, books, things like that. They’re just trying to learn as much as they could along the way.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter does accredit some of his motivation to invest in property to his parents, although it has mostly come from his passion to learn.

Ben Coulter:
I didn’t really sort of put two and two together at a time as to why, when my parents were sort of pushing me towards buying property. I didn’t really put two and two together in terms of an investment perspective or anything like that, it was more just thought they wanted me to have a home. So I suppose subconsciously they could have influenced me but potentially most of it just came from my own sort thirst for learning and knowledge and coming across it that way.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter has been able to leverage off the success of his first property purchase to fuel his next investments.

Ben Coulter:
We’ve been lucky enough to be able to leverage off that initial property for the purchases on all the subsequent properties.

Tyrone Shum:
Coming up after the break, we will delve further into Ben Coulter’s property investment journey where he reveals his worst investing moment…

Ben Coulter:
So that was a little bit stressful at the time especially as one of the earlier properties in the portfolio. So it was sort of I wasn’t used to that vacancy – extended vacancy period.

Tyrone Shum:
His take on rental yields…

Ben Coulter:
So going from our first property that was probably costing us a little bit of money every week to realising that there’s another way forward that puts a lot less strain on the budget so we now try to buy properties with higher rental yields.

Tyrone Shum:
And that’s next. I’m Tyrone Shum and you’re listening to Property Investory.

However, with the ups always comes the downs, as Coulter shares with us his worst investing moment.

Ben Coulter:
Two things that springs to mind. The first was a six week vacancy period on one of our properties that we ended up having. The main reason for that I suppose it was a bit of a softer market at the time but combined with that, the tenant decided that they would vacate the property down in mid December. And obviously with Christmas and New Year’s period and then the combination of the soft rental market obviously no one wants to move in over that timeframe. So it ended up being fairly vacant for a little while. So that was a little bit stressful at the time especially as one of the earlier properties in the portfolio. So it was sort of I wasn’t used to that vacancy – extended vacancy period.

Tyrone Shum:
That obviously wasn’t a good thing to initially experience but how did you overcome that over that time.

Ben Coulter:
Thankfully so throughout my research and things I’ve learnt have buffers in place to accommodate unforeseen circumstances that pop up like this.

I just guess I sort of hadn’t thought that I would have to use it especially so soon. So it wasn’t a huge issue but it was stressful at the time. But looking back now it seems it’s just sort of part and passing of it and obviously it’s been a good lesson then, we’ll learn now that we won’t let any leases expire in that December timeframe so that we don’t have that issue again.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter’s aha moment came when he realised how much money he could make while just renovating his home.

Ben Coulter:
That was probably after the first renovation that I did on the on the first home that I bought. We did the renovation and got our property valued and then got our evaluation back and the renovation probably coupled with a fairly bland Sydney market at the time showed a pretty significant capital gain and when I saw that re-evaluation I sorted looked and weighed up how long I would have to work at my day to day job to make that same sort of money. And that was I guess that was my biggest aha moment and that’s what motivated me to push ahead with building a portfolio.

Tyrone Shum:
While comparing his property earnings to his day to day job, Coulter’s eagerness to work in property only grew.

Ben Coulter:
It was only about a three week renovation and it probably wasn’t all contributed to the renovation as I said it was a pretty sort of weak Sydney market and there’d been about six months since our last valuation but in that timeframe, exactly as you say you have a look and you realise exactly how hard you have to work for the same outcome in your day to day job.

Tyrone Shum:
Another one of his a-ha moments has been his realisation to buy properties with higher rental yields.

Ben Coulter:
Just more so from the learning perspective and knowing the right type of properties to buy just to balance the cash flow for us as well. So going from our first property that was probably costing us a little bit of money every week to realising that there’s another way forward that puts a lot less strain on the budget so we now try to buy properties with higher rental yields. They essentially look after themselves and when we had bought a couple of properties that did that and held them for a period of time and realize they’re actually putting money in our pocket every week and had the potential to grow in value. That was another sort of moment where we felt like we were on the right track.

Tyrone Shum:
Yeah that’s so true. So having a balance of both capital growth and also rental income definitely makes it worthwhile to build this portfolio because otherwise if it’s just capital growth it’s very challenging to into in it both right.

Ben Coulter:
That’s definitely what we aim to achieve yes we like to have a balance between cash flow which is going to allow us to hold on to the property long term which then in turn hopefully we can see that capital growth that we all want.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter’s current property portfolio has a mix of properties in NSW and Queensland due to issues with affordability.

Ben Coulter:
We’ve got a mixture between New South Wales or Sydney and south east Queensland. And again that comes back to the affordability play for us that we bought in Sydney while we could and it got to the point where the yields weren’t stacking up for us in the areas that we wanted to purchase in. So that is what prompted us to look interstate. We thought there were some good opportunities for future growth. And at the same time strong yields so that we could balance the cash flow.

Ben Coulter:
Just try and remember those are the three things. Effort, hard work and persistence and put in practice every day.

Tyrone Shum:
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors, find out more about their stories, mindset and strategy.

I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode, we continue our conversation with Ben Coulter, a buyers consultant and investor whose building a substantial property portfolio. He shares with us the habits that have contributed to his success, the resources which have guided him through property and more on his investment strategy.

Coulter was initially a little hesitant to invest in property due to his fear of debt.

Ben Coulter:
When I first started I didn’t really think about it as I’ve gone through… There’s been moments where I sort of have had a bit of a fear of debt potentially and trying to balance the debt or at least just be conscious of not overleveraging or taking on more than I can handle especially in a changing and lending interest rate environment. That’s probably the only the only fear or the only sort of concern that I’ve had along the way.

Tyrone Shum:
However, he quickly got over this fear when he realised that he would simply gain nothing if he were to do nothing.

Ben Coulter:
Essentially I just decided that I knew that if I did nothing there was a guaranteed result of nothing and that I knew if I took the steps to move forward, if I could do it in a calculated way where I try and cover my downside as best as possible with buffers and as I say not over leveraging and trying to work within my means so to speak that there was a big opportunity and lots of potential for me to move forward and sort of closer to my goals.

Tyrone Shum:
While Coulter believes that luck does contribute to one’s success in property investment, it is ultimately up to the individual to take advantage of that.

Ben Coulter:
I think luck to be honest plays a role for everybody. For example I think I bought my first property at a really opportunistic time in the Sydney market right and started a big growth cycle. So I suppose that was lucky but at the same time I took a risk to move forward. And keep progressing after that. So I think a combination to be honest I think as I say luck definitely plays a role. But then you have to take advantage of that as well.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter never forgets the reason why he continues to invest in property, which is to allow for more options for him in the future.

Ben Coulter:
So essentially, we’re really building our portfolio just to have choices in life. We want to get that financial freedom so that we can choose what we’re going to do day to day and it doesn’t essentially mean nothing, it’s not like we want to retire on the beach or anything like that. We just want to have options and just get to decide what we get to do day to day and not have to do something. That’s the main driver for it.

Tyrone Shum:
Excellent and also to combine that with running your own business as a buyer’s agent that will also add to the cash flow is that the reason why?

Ben Coulter:
This would be really nice to have the buyers agency business as a bit of a passion project for us and not have to rely on it for any certain income level and just do it because we just love helping people out and for the love of property I suppose.

Tyrone Shum:
When looking for an investment property, Coulter is always eyeing a balance in cash flow and capital growth. In the case that he doesn’t find a property that incorporates this balance, he would look to buy properties that offset either one of these factors.

Ben Coulter:
There is a bit of a balance between cashflow and capital growth and incorporated in that would be purchasing properties with the potential to manufacture growth as well. And with my trade background I suppose, it potentially make it easier for us to go down that road. I think capital growth is the secret to long term wealth especially with the ability to manufacture growth but there needs to have a strong cash flow to help us hold on to the properties for long enough to realise that capita growth. So we tried to incorporate a balance of the two and whether that be sort of a single property having both the potential of capital growth and a strong cash flow or sometimes we’ll even look to buy a property with I guess a poorer yield but more capital growth potential as long as we’re going to offset that with a property that might offer stronger cash flow.

Tyrone Shum:
He also believes that it is important to be prepared to hold the property for at least 10 years.

Ben Coulter:
I think sometimes people get they get caught up in thinking that what’s happened in Sydney over the last five years is going to be the norm and I think if you can’t take an approach where you can foresee yourself holding a property for at least 10 years then I would recommend probably not buying that property. Anything less than that any sort of gains or anything you get from that is probably a bonus. I think you have to to be able to hold onto the property for at least that sort of time frame.

Tyrone Shum:
For his own portfolio, Coulter is looking to develop and add value to his properties as well.

Ben Coulter:
We definitely look to buy properties that you can manufacture some capital growth and whether that just be in the form of a simple sort of cosmetic renovation or even something sort of slightly more structural I suppose, adding a bedroom, adding a bathroom or something like that but that’s sort of been our strategy to date. However we do have a couple of properties in the portfolio that have the potential for some subdivision down the track and whether that be to just cut the land off and sell the land or whether we build something on the back of that property, that will be something that we’ll explore in the future as well.

Tyrone Shum:
Coming up after the break, Coulter shares some of his favourite mindset related books which have helped him on his property journey…

Ben Coulter:
I suppose more recently was something slightly different some more mindset related books The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, I really enjoyed.

Tyrone Shum:
The three principles he keeps in mind

Ben Coulter:
Probably just effort and hard work to be honest and persistence. I don’t think that the smartest person but just consistent and put the structured effort over a period of time hopefully leads to success. I try and do all of those habits.

Tyrone Shum:
His plans for the future…

Ben Coulter:
To keep going down a path I’m going in terms of my own portfolio, just to keep progressing and growing it and also help our clients realise their goals as well.

Tyrone Shum:
And that’s next. I’m Tyrone Shum and you’re listening to Property Investory.

Coulter has never really had a property investment mentor, relying solely on books and YouTube to teach him what he needs to know.

Ben Coulter:
I haven’t thought of the podcasts on the books and YouTube and things like that. I haven’t actively gone and looked for mentors or coaching or anything like that.

There is prominent people in the industry that I suppose that I’ve followed pretty closely and really like their content but yeah apart from that sort of virtual mentor I suppose you could call them that’s sort of it to be honest.

Tyrone Shum:
Coulter recommends the classics by Robert Kiyosaki but also a few mindset related books.

Ben Coulter:
I know it’s been said over and over but at least initially probably the book that mainly got me into all of this was Robert Kiyosaki’s books so Rich Dad Poor Dad and even The Cashflow Quadrant. I know they’ve sort of been done to death but I think for good reason. I suppose more recently was something slightly different some more mindset related books The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, I really enjoyed. A book called Life in Half A Second by I think it was Matthew Michalewicz, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing that right. And I actually just finished a book called 12 rules for life by Jordan Peterson and that’s probably been one of the best books I’ve ever read. Actually I can highly recommend that – not property related, none of those three are as such but I found plenty of value in them.

Tyrone Shum:
Oh okay well can you elaborate a little bit more on that particular book because I’ve never heard of it. I’m curious now for myself to actually want to look into it.

Ben Coulter:
That Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life book is essentially just from years of his study and research he’s a psychiatrist and he essentially just lays out as the title suggests 12 different rules to have a balance between order and chaos in your life I suppose. And just some ground rules to follow and he gives sort of real life examples of of each different rule along the way and it’s just super interesting and the rules I suppose more like they’re more so guidelines and are super practical and the way he explains it, it makes a lot of sense. Yeah I highly recommend it.

Tyrone Shum:
Especially with his tendency to get carried away, the best advice Coulter has ever received is…

Ben Coulter:
Patience patience patience patience and you don’t have to have it all figured out now. I think that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever received. Yes sometimes I get carried away and I want everything to happen yesterday so when I hear that sort of helps to settle me down.

Tyrone Shum:
As for the most contributing habit to his success, Coulter has three principles he keeps in mind.

Ben Coulter:
Effort and hard work to be honest and persistence. I don’t think that the smartest person but just consistent and put the structured effort over a period of time hopefully leads to success. I try and do all of those habits. Just try and remember those are the three things. Effort, hard work and persistence and put in practice every day.

And that comes back to the patience piece as well. I suppose if you consistently do it over a long enough period of time then hopefully you should get the results.

Tyrone Shum:
Where do you think you are most excited about your property journey over the next five years?

Ben Coulter:
To keep going down a path I’m going in terms of my own portfolio, just to keep progressing and growing it and also help our clients realise their goals as well. It’s a nice feeling to help someone get into their first property or add to their portfolio or buy their dream home. So being out and being able to keep going down that path and and help our clients as much as possible. I’m pretty excited to continue on with that.

Tyrone Shum:
Absolutely. And tell us a little bit about your property buyers agency that you’ve been working together with at the moment. Just share with us that so that we can put it in context exactly where you’re going.

Ben Coulter:
So we offer a full end to end service in terms of dealing with potential customers, potential clients we can source the properties we negotiate. And this is for homes in the Sydney area or we also do investment properties in Sydney and southeast Queensland as well.

Tyrone Shum:
For our listeners who would like to learn more about Ben Coulter or seek his advice, you can contact him via…

Ben Coulter:
I’m probably the most active on Instagram to be honest so if they just jump on Instagram and my name is Ben Coulter at Fox Point, just type that into the search bar, it’ll pop up straight away. Yeah, definitely be most active there.

Tyrone Shum:
Thank you to Ben Coulter, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.

If you want to hear more about his journey, then visit our website at www.propertyinvestory.com.

Also, if you haven’t subscribed to receive your free property case studies that I only send out exclusively via email. You can text me your email address to 0499 88 10 40 to subscribe. These real case studies are from experienced property investors where they share specific numbers of their portfolio, the strategies and much more. Simply text me your email address to 0499 88 10 40 to get your free case studies. As always, thanks for listening!

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