Real estate agent and property investor/developer, Peter Diamantidis, will divulge his journey into his chosen path fresh from school and tell all about how he saved and purchased his first property, readily by the age of 18!
One of the top 52 agents in Australia, discover what he had to do to get where he is today; how it was love at first sight when he fell into real estate in the aftermath of school; why he has chosen to stay in the business for such a long period; and what his current vision is for his property portfolio.
Starting out in the real estate sector at an early age, Diamantidis’ knowledge has been extended over the years to get to where he is today.
My name's Peter Diamantidis, I've currently been a real estate agent for the last 15 years, got into property - well into real estate - 15 years ago at the age of 15. Now 31, my everyday job is to basically list and sell property, we also manage the property.
So every day, I get up at 4:30 in the morning, 5:00 at the gym, at work by 8:00. My job revolves around listing properties, selling properties, talking to clients, developers, investors, first-time buyers or anything basically to do with the property. I'm doing that every day, basically seven days a week.
When I look at it, when I was 15 years of age I applied for an administration job basically just doing paperwork, filing, cleaning bins, anything that I could do just to get my foot in the door and then gradually improved - got into property management, showing rental property, going to get a car licence, did a little bit of strata management and now in the last say seven years, close to eight years, I've been in sales.
Growing up in Western Sydney, Diamantidis discovered his calling through work experience at school.
I was brought up in an area called Tregear - Tregear is a suburb in Mt Druitt and Mt Druitt is in Western Sydney. So primary school went to a public school called Tregear Public and high school, I went to Whalan High School.
Basically I left in Year 10. Well in Year 10 I had to do actual work experience, so I did work experience as a plumber, I wanted to become a plumber; I nearly had an apprenticeship with Garden Island but I left school then I had to do experience in a work office. So I said, ‘Let's try real estate.’ I had no intention to work in real estate, but I had to do something for a week. I worked there for a week and then got offered a part-time job - my first ever job, never worked and never worked at McDonald's, KFC, nowhere else, just straight from Year 10 to real estate.
Oh wow, and the rest is history! You've been in real estate since then, am I right?
Correct - so one job went to Year 10. To be honest, I never studied, I wasn't good at school, I'm still not good at reading and writing and everything else but it was more that I just used my hands and move forward, get committed.
After 16 years in the same company, Diamantidis has made the top 52 agents in the country and has no plans of slowing down.
In my time now in 16 years, more lately in the last three or four years, I've been approached by a lot of franchises opening up their own businesses, I've been headhunted. It's all changed in the last couple of years. Last year actually I’ve been in the top 52 agents, Australia-wide for just the number of sales and things like that. With the network I work with now, I’ve been consistently number one or number two in the past so many years. So it's a stable job, I love what I do like I don't look at my phone and say, ‘Well, it's 5:00, it’s time to knock off,’ you know I come in when I want to, leave when I want to. It's a very easy job.
Yeah and that's the thing, once you've built that up you know it's a bit hard to go. It's like any type of job if you're well known you're successful in it.
If I change, it's like saying I'm a doctor in the same area and say I'm going to go to work in North Sydney. Your clients aren’t going to follow you there and you’ve got to start new. But of course, I could be still here where I work in an area, court some areas and say I'll open up across the road, but I don't have that motivation to have my own office.
It's a lot easier anyway to be honest because you don’t have to worry about paperwork or the business stuff as well behind the scenes.
Yeah, well I look at it and go, ‘Well my investment properties or my investment journey, is a full-time job pretty much.’ So that's how I look at it - that's my own business and where I work is somebody else's business, but I look after it like it's my own.
His interest in property also stemmed solely from his career in real estate, as his family circumstances didn’t allow for a parental influence when he was younger.
At 15 I had no interest, at 16 years I was looking into it. In my background, I had a mother, didn’t have a father and I had two grandparents. That's all I had growing up, no brothers or sisters. So because we lived in an area which I would say - and no disrespect to the area - it's a poorer area of Sydney. My mother only had one home which she paying off, my grandfather had a home where he is paid off many years ago; but they were always in the belief to buy a house, pay it off and then buy the next home.
I started realising at a very young age, 17, before 18 you know to do that it's going to take a long period of time to basically buy your second or third or fourth home, which I wasn't willing to wait. So with influences, I would say it was not in a negative way, they weren't for buying multiple properties. They bought one property, paid it off and then go again.
Through learning more about property investments in his line of work, Diamantidis started investing himself as soon as he was legally able to do so.
So basically carrying on, starting in real estate at the age of 15, I then started looking into property more around when I was probably 17 years of age because the area that I lived in, there was a lot of investors, a lot of landlords. So I'm actually watching and seeing what are they doing, learning from them. Before I turned 18, I was very committed and I wanted to buy a property so I went down to the Commonwealth Bank before I got to the age of 18. Basically they said, ‘We can't process the loan, you're not 18, but we can look at the figures and then work it out from there.’ So I wasn't happy by the way I was treated from the Commonwealth Bank, so I went to a mortgage broker, sat down and we decided that when I reached the age of 18 he’d process the loan and buy a property.
I found a property before I was 18, a week before - basically, a two-bedroom apartment in Mt Druitt and I actually put an offer in, got it accepted. On my 18th birthday at 9:00 am, I went into the agent's office and signed that contract on the cooling-off period. So that was my first purchase, a two-bedroom unit; I think it was at the time around $157,000 and was in an area in Mt Druitt. So that was my first purchase and my first property under my belt.
That's great and I have to say at 18 years old is still very young, compared to I guess the other generation as well and people usually don't start investing that early. And was there anything that sort of holding you back from buying into property, or did you just say, ‘Look, I'm going to go in and buy it’?
Well, I was very nervous because you know at the time and I'm going, to be honest here, when I started at the age of 15 workings, I was earning $198 a week. I wasn't earning big money, so even at the age of 18, I would have been earning probably less than maybe $450-$500 a week. Back then it was a lot harder, so I saved every dollar and every dollar made a difference. So there was a couple of things before I was 18 that I had to sacrifice you know I probably couldn’t go to the movies as often or did things where maybe other teenagers did because I really wanted to get into the property.
So it was hard, I was scared. But I said to myself, what put me basically through that period where it was made or break is looking at the rental return - the rental return, making sure that I had a tenant in there, making sure the property was clean and tidy. If I had a tenant in there I believed that was paying the rent even if they didn't pay for how many weeks, I could cover the repayments and it would be fine. That got me over the line.
So what made Diamantidis choose property as a wealth creation vehicle over other types of investments?
At the time I didn't know anything else. I had no idea about shares, I had no idea about even people are telling me now about buying vending machines and ATMs and getting rent back on things at holiday homes - I had no idea. Under the age of 18, I just had no idea at all.
And because I worked in real estate, in that period of time I didn't know much but I knew that buying the property, eventually, something might increase, or in the worst case the way I looked at it was in 20 years or 25 years that loan is paid off. I thought of that to be as like my super; when it’s paid off I'll be getting a rent return on it and that's the way I looked at the property at an early age. I looked at it as my retirement fund - maybe retire at the age of 40 or 45 or 50. I say 50 now, but back then I said, ‘Maybe at 40 I’ll retire.’ But so far I’m still going. But yeah, that was the main reason why I wanted to get a property at a very early age.
His journey has evolved over the years from simply purchasing bread and butter properties to building developments. Initially, he bought 22 properties and now has a stable portfolio to work with.
I'm now down to 15 properties, actually existing properties, and I'm currently building 10 as we speak. So I've now moved a little bit from you know buying your bread and butter stuff, your apartments, your houses, your townhouses, to more developing my own land, building duplexes, building single-story homes, doing townhouses... I'm doing one of my biggest projects at the moment which is seven townhouses, which is 250 metres to the beach, which is my biggest ever project.
So I’m more moving on to that stage but in saying that, I've still kept a lot of my properties which I bought at my early 20s. Of course, I don’t own the property that I bought on my 18th birthday, but I have bought other properties in that time which I've kept, which I look at it as my bread and butter stuff you know when I retire, I'm hoping to still own these, own them outright and it’ll be just passive income.
Although Diamantidis hasn’t had a terrible investing moment, he has had bad experiences at the beginning of his journey where unruly tenants have caused damage to his property.
I could say what my bad moments are in investing is not proceeding with certain properties where I should have. And if I look back and say why I didn't proceed with those properties is more to say, ‘Well I'm not going to pay that extra $3,000-$4,000 when I didn't want to at the time,’ because I knew that there were more properties potentially out there. It’s not more of a negative, but if you move to the other side and say, ‘Well with the property what's been the most negative thing that's happened?’ I could say listening to friends, putting them into a rental property that you own could be a mistake.
It would have been my may have been second or third property, bought a two-bedroom townhouse and at the time somebody approached me and said, ‘You know I've got a tenant, she's doing it pretty hard but she is working and everything else,’ and ‘Well OK, I'll give it a go.’ I’ve got the landlord’s insurance of course, but it was a complete nightmare. From the moment she moved in, causing a nuisance of neighbours and everything else, it got me a lot off guard with a lot of my other neighbours in the area because they knew who I was. Basically trashed the property, cost probably nearly $20,000-$25,000 in insurance claims. And you’ve got to remember, if that happened to me now I’d say it's okay, fair enough, but that happened to me when I was under the age of 20 when I wasn't earning a lot of money and I was relying on that rent.
So that was stressful, so now I've learned a lesson. You've got a real estate agent for a certain reason. Of course, you know, when you've got the good experience you don't have to double-check the application and things like that - but be careful on who you put in a property. Doesn't matter how bad your property is, doesn't matter how good your property is, because it's a nightmare in trying to get them out, repairing it and it will just cost you a lot of money.
Well, that's a good story come on, you could say that’s one of your bad investing moments!
Well you know, like it wasn’t bad - at the time it was bad but it wasn't like I bought a property and I’ve lost $200,000 overnight, or I bought the wrong property. Out of all my property purchases, not one of them has gone down in value. And most of them have probably gone up over $100,000 each and some of them have probably doubled or tripled in that time, probably quadrupled.
The moment which he considers his most shining a-ha moment throughout his journey as a young investor is not so much about a property he has invested in or something he has learnt, but meeting someone special through property...
It's basically me working as a real estate agent, where I've actually met my wife. At the time, working where I am, I had a property on the market which I sold to a young lady and later fell in love with her and married and now she's actually my wife, she actually runs my portfolio - our portfolio. She manages all the repairs, manages all the paperwork. So it's not really like something that I've bought, but I've met her, we're married, we've got children and she's now looking after our portfolio full time. So it's a bit like if I didn't sell her that property if she didn't view that property, I would have never met her and never went past that stage. And I can say comfortably since I have met her, our portfolio has more than doubled within a five year period.
Another moment where everything clicked into place came with one of his more recent development ventures with a corner block.
Probably less than three years ago I bought a block of land in an area called Riverstone. Now it was a corner block, my intentions were to basically just build a single-story home with a granny flat at the back. That was the idea because really that's all you could fit on the block of land so, at the time, I went through all the motions, got all the approvals. At the time I had a good friend that also bought a block similar probably two years before under advisement and goes, ‘Peter, you could actually build two houses on there, not one.’ And I said to him, ‘No, I've checked with different architects and everything else,’ and he said, ‘I've got an architect, he's promised me that we can get two on there.’
So you know those that are the alarm bells that are ringing saying, ‘Hey these people are about to pour the slab for a property and they’ve got it all approved and this guy’s telling me that I can have two houses on there!’ So I put the brakes on, spoke to this architect - basically six months later had approval for two homes and now I’m building two houses rather than one.
That is definitely an a-ha moment! Gosh, imagine what could have happened if you’d just only did one.
Yeah, I worked out the sums and it came out to be a profit of an extra $320,000. And again, this is another lesson, I was looking at the website and I was speaking to architects in the area which were very busy at the time, but somebody that was very eager, wanted business said, ‘You know I can test this, I can speak to council, I can run this.’ Like we've got different stories which we can actually go and we can get this approved. And since then, I've made a precedent in that area and a lot of other people have followed on.
Diamantidis met this architect through his mortgage broker, who he now has a steady friendship with.
The architect that got it approved was through a friend, a very close friend which I actually met and he was actually my mortgage broker - and now he's one of my best mates for the last 10 years. So he basically said to me - and it was just timing you know like I've bought it, I've gone for it, I've got the approval, I’d even paid the builder who was doing the house and granny flat, the deposit, and he was ordering everything. It was just very good that he cancelled doing that and it actually gave him more work because now he's not just building a house and a granny flat, he’s actually building two different homes.
Now with two Torrens title two-story homes on the cards, he is in the process of completing the build within the next five months with the plan to keep them as investment properties.
You know the way I look at it, if you're selling a property you're going to be paying tax - why not keep that property? In the future, three years, five years, ten years, it'll be worth more and especially that property where I actually purchased it just to have the house and granny flat and give me dual income; I'm now going to get dual-income plus a little bit more out of it so it's going to be actually positive geared. Why would you sell a property brand new, a brand new estate, you’ve got good depreciation - why would you sell it just to pay some capital gains? Keep it.
Faster Property Development Processes And More Profit with Peter Diamantidis
In order to invest in 22 properties initially and then advance towards property development, Diamantidis consulted the right people to help him.
You're going to laugh and people may not believe me, but I've never read a book in my life. It's just I always used to subscribe to API Property magazine I used to like magazines, not books. It's just that because of the job I've been in, I've learnt a lot of things just by watching and observing other people and the way they've done things and I think in my journey I've been very fortunate that I've met the right mortgage broker, the right accountant, the right people around me to create a backbone. The backbone is very very important moving forward, it's not about just buying the right property but if you don't have that mortgage broker that's going to look after you, that's going to put the hours in and basically manage your portfolio like the way you're managing it, you're never going to move forward to create a bigger portfolio.
I've seen so many people over the years who have used the wrong broker, or the wrong accountant got the wrong advice. So from early on, I wanted the structure to be correct before moving on. So never read a book, have read magazines, but I haven't really had somebody that I've listened to and learned from.
Relying heavily on a good broker throughout his journey, he stresses the importance of working with a reliable and trustworthy team.
With the broker, if you're getting into property investing you've got to remember some brokers are just going to be looking after their own pocket. So they'll put you through a bank which is maybe a higher commission for their back pocket; they'll move around, they'll go from bank to bank, you get that in every industry.
But this person, he basically looked after me at a very early age, looked at my portfolio, told me which bank to go with, who not to go with. He rang me when there were good deals on fixed rates, he told me to move from one bank to the other. And like now in the last five years or four years when I've been building property, he put me through to the right people. So going through a bank, for example, say let's make it CBA bank and then realising, ‘Oh wait, we can't get a construction loan there.’ So looking through from step one to the last step, step ten and following it right through.
He also aided him with creating a solid structure with the banks.
The way I've got it with the banks, so of course with investment property, a lot of people believe in just doing interest only. I believe at a very early onset that I want principle and interest because I want to basically pay these properties off. And at the time my mortgage broker said, ‘Oh it may not be a good idea, you might tap yourself out,’ and I said, ‘Well if I get to that stage, then I'll revert back to interest only.’ But it was very important that my goal at the time was to own the properties outright. I don't want a debt over them, so he helped me in between there to structure it, put it in my name, put it in my wife's name, put in the company name. Just certain property go to certain people; at the end of the day when you're married it doesn't really make a big difference, you’re going to pay tax anyway. But he just helped me move forward from owning one property to 21 or 22 properties at the end.
Some other resources which Diamantidis finds useful to hone his mindset include property forums.
I used to look at a forum - Somersoft or McKnight, one of those - and I used to always read on that. Back when I was researching in other states; I’ll do a search for Gold Coast properties or something and people would show me your best property managers and staff. Those websites and forums are actually gold. The reason is no one is getting paid to write anything on there, nobody is advertising on there. It's basically other investors, like yourself for like anybody looking at buying property, talking about their experiences. And that is very important because you can learn a lot more from that rather than just reading a book about one person, you can actually read a book or read a forum about 30 or 40 people in one night because they're actually telling you about their experience.
The best advice he has ever received is to always trust your first instinct and don’t prevent yourself from spending a few extra thousand.
Probably the best advice that I've received is somebody told me and I try to remember who it was, I think it was an investor, probably many years ago. At the time, it was probably around seven or eight years ago, I had somebody who thought about a property that I should have bought, a couple of thousand dollars. He turned around to something quick and he said, ‘What’s $3,000-$4,000 in 10 or 15 years?’
And it just clicked to me, like it was one of those moments where I go, ‘You know it’s right, what would I pay for $3,000-$4,000 over a 10-year term.’ So what he meant by that is that I didn't want to pay any more for that property because the one next door sold for you know $500,000, I'm not going to pay $505,000. But technically the way I should have looked at it was, why wouldn't I? Because in 5, 10, 15 years, I'm not buying to make a profit immediately, I'm playing the long game. So that's one bit of advice which is always kept in my mind. You could always haggle to get the best deal, but don't lose the deal over a couple of thousand dollars, $5,000 or even $10,000, because if you really think it's a good deal just buy it on your first instinct, not your second instinct.
He has some experience where this has happened and has missed out on great opportunities to invest.
It is funny that some of the properties are in the area where I service and I will look past them and go, ‘Yep, $130,000.’ Some of the moments that stick into your mind when actually - I'll give you a quick story. I went to an auction of a two-bedroom apartment, I was bidding, I was the highest bidder. The auctioneer comes over to me and goes, ‘Look, I'm going to pass it in. But it was very close.’ And it was $4,000 and I even remember the agent's name, Ben. As I said he came to me, shook my hand, said ‘Congratulations’ - and I said, ‘No, I'm not saying that. This is my final offer.’ And he goes, ‘Peter, I can't do anything, the banks won't reduce it, it was a mortgagee sale.’ And I didn’t buy the property.
Within two or three years, it doubled. Imagine doing that two or three times! Again, after this person, I can't even remember who it was, told me that little bit of a story, you know what's a couple of thousand dollars now, looking into the future? Trust me, it makes a big difference to purchase that property - the first instinct is to buy it, second instinct doesn’t think about it.
In building his portfolio, Diamantidis purchased his properties when the time was right.
I reckon it was growth spurts like I’d say in one year I would have purchased eight properties, but then a year later I didn’t purchase anything. So it was just I believe in not rushing to buy investment property - investment property, in my world, means that it is a good buy, it needs to be under market value, it needs to have something saying, ‘Hi, I'm an investment property, buy me!’ and I'm not going to buy a property for no reason. So sometimes you can get lucky and you might get three in a row and then other times where it might take you two or three years to find the second or third property in your property portfolio journey. So it can be busy, one year, seven or eight properties, next year nothing for a couple of years.
When he was first starting out, his strategy was to plant the property seeds and watch them grow.
Basically starting it began back from my first property, in my mind it was at that time I'd say between 18 to maybe 22-23 was to buy property which nearly pays for themselves. Because my mindset was if the rent is really paying for the mortgage right now, I would only have to pay for the outgoing for the property. And in 25 years or 20 years, I will own this property outright.
So I tried to collect as many properties which were nearly positive or neutral, or at the end of it, all buy properties where I could create dual income to make them positive. That was my mindset originally when I started property investing I believed that if I can own eight properties, properties to me were like trees or like seeds - you plant the seed, the tree grows. Eventually, you might cut the tree down and then replant it, or you just keep it.
As his strategy evolved and Diamantidis ventured to begin property development, he sold some of his properties to make way for newer ones with positive or neutral gear and higher depreciation.
Well, I wanted to get into development so that's what motivates me right now, is just development, learning the process. I'll explain quickly how I actually started. My first ever property that I built was a single-story home, it was a block of land and moving back to my mortgage broker, he actually said to me to buy this block, he found it for me so I didn't actually find it. He said to me, ‘Peter it’s a corner block, you can actually build a house, there's a garage at the back and you can build a granny flat on the top and you'll get dual income.
So I bought that property, that was my first ever you know I can call it like a house and land package that I actually did. And I didn't believe in it, I believed in buying old rundown units, old rundown houses, keeping them, renting them out and I never believed in building it. So my mind then changed in looking at these new estates which are getting built-in south-west Sydney, north-west Sydney, anywhere where I could basically buy property, turn it into a dual income or actually buy a house and get a good return on it.
So the reason why I had to sell some of the properties that I bought at a very young age is that they didn't cost me anything, but with the bank changing the goalposts, I did see that it's going to be harder to gain loans. So reducing maybe, or disposing of, say three existing properties which might have been 30 or 40 years old I've now brought in maybe four or five which are near positively geared or neutral and their brand new, which is now giving me a higher depreciation.
So that's the main reason why I had to sell a couple of properties - and I don't like selling my properties, I get very emotional. I tell people don't get emotional in property, so don't buy your first property and try to make it into a palace or overcapitalise. But yeah I don't like selling property. I sell it every day to other people, but not my own properties.
Now his plans are to build and develop more dwellings on larger blocks of land and alter his strategy to sell them off.
What I'm looking at doing, so after starting to build a couple of those single-story homes, house and granny flats, I have now moved into buying a block of land and building two on there, or three on there. My latest project which I'm actually doing is I bought a block of land with around 1,200 square metres, I'm building seven as we speak, I’m building seven townhouses. Those seven townhouses I'm not keeping, so this is my first project which I'm actually selling completely and not keeping. So I basically bought the land, got it approved, pre-sold seven townhouses; with those funds I’ll then again look at buying another development similarly, but then potentially keeping a couple of new properties.
His reasoning behind building these seven dwellings is to accelerate his portfolio, using the same process.
At the time I looked at it and I saw the process was nearly the same - so same thing, you buy the land, you pay stamp duty, you get your DA - it’s the same process. The difference in the time frame and the only difference I worked out was probably an extra six to eight months, which will take you maybe on construction time, rather than building a single-story home. So I was lucky enough where, because I sold a couple of properties, I had more funds in my back pocket to actually put toward the bigger development. I went for something bigger, I thought, ‘Why would I make say 100% profit when I can make 500% profit?’ I’m doing the same process but I'm speeding it up so rather than doing it once, I'm doing it seven times in that same period of time.
Yeah definitely. And I guess once you understand a process and you know the process pretty well, which it sounds like you do, you pretty much just replicate and keep doing that process over and over again. It just takes time.
Yeah like I've got a system, it's like a cookie-cutter. So when I buy my properties, you get your feasibility, you work out are you keeping them, are you selling them? Even to the detail on picking inclusions - it’s a cookie-cutter. Same colours, everything's all basically the same to match what suits in that area so you can create a complete product.
So how much is Diamantidis’ current portfolio worth in the market?
Basically at the moment, I've got 15 existing properties and I've got 10 being built. Now out of the 10 being built, seven, of course, have been pre-sold so I will not own them but the rest of them I'm keeping. So at the moment, I think the portfolio, not including anything that is being built, is just under $12 million.
His vision for this sizable portfolio is to sell 80% of this and keep 20%.
Originally I wanted to buy as many properties as I could, keep them, principle and interest, pay them off and that was my first step and what I really wanted to do. If you said to me now what I'm looking at doing is still keeping the bread and butter stuff, but moving forward to bigger developments - the block of seven - and maybe even moving into land subdivisions which are at a scale of maybe doing 20 or 30 lot subdivisions.
Basically not keep half, but maybe sell 80%, keep 20% in that ratio. So if you buy right, if you buy under market value which you think is a very good deal, you can profit at the end in a way where you’ve made your profit in selling but then you're also keeping some property to your portfolio. So you're adding on, like if you've got a table and imagine you're up to say 21 and you're just doing a big project and now you're already up to 24-25. So that's my goal. Of course, if I see a really good bargain, I'm not going to say no to it. So it’s a little bit different.
Diamantidis also believes in spreading his risk slightly.
The only states that I've ever purchased in have been in NSW and Queensland. Now there's nothing wrong with those other states, I just think that because I live in Sydney I believe in buying in Sydney. You know my project, one of the projects that I'm doing, is down in Kiama. I don't live next door to it, so I don't go down there that often but yeah, Queensland and NSW are where I'm focused on the most.
In the last say two years, I've only purchased in NSW. Again, when we go back to how many properties, in one year I bought I think four properties in Queensland within five months. So I went on a big splurge and I haven't bought anything else in Queensland now for a number of years.
He also shares some insight into how he searches to locate the right property - and it all starts with researching the area.
With me, because I love property so much, the one secret that I do, firstly you need to target an area, you're going to know an area, you've got to target an area where you may not know it but you have to start to know it. Got to start looking at properties, what they’re selling for. But every night I actually use realestate.com, I focus on certain areas which I'm interested in and I look every night at what property is sold or what properties have come onto the market. That educates me. I know I work in real estate, but these areas I'm nowhere near so I know nothing about them.
But I would probably continue that on for maybe three months, four months, maybe a year until I'm happy to buy in that area. And it basically fills my mind up on what is selling, what's on the market, how long are they taking on the market? And it's like I'm being a little bit of a researcher and then I commit myself to that area.
It sounds very much like prospecting in real estate, doesn’t it?
Probably that’s what it is - I live and breathe real estate but it is coming down to you don't want to just buy a property and not know anything about the area. Get time, go there, have a look at it, speak to other agents. So even if you're buying the property from Ray White and you've got Raine and Horne across the road, give Raine and Horne a call, speak to somebody, then you might meet somebody nice and they might give you some advice about the area or about that actual property.
Because a lot of investors which I've met in my journey when they've come to me and said, ‘I've got this and this, I wish I'd never bought it,’ it's because somebody told them to buy something and they've just bought it and they've relied on somebody else. Go out and spend an hour, two hours, a year, no matter how long it takes, go out there and know the area before you buy in that area.
The habit which Diamantidis feels has contributed most to his success is keeping up-to-date on real estate websites, in the specific locations he is considering to invest in.
The habit that I do every night is research on realestate.com and Domain. Look at it every night; so certain areas which I focus on is a habit I basically have to do every day, every night. Doesn't matter if I'm overseas in Europe, or when I was in Fiji I was doing it, on my honeymoon I was doing it, it doesn't matter - every night I have to be on realestate.com and Domain. I like to focus on certain areas or even sometimes regions, but that's my biggest habit.
On previous episodes in this podcast, some guests have challenged that realestate.com.au and other similar websites are irrelevant if you’re looking to find a property under market value. So how does Diamantidis find such good opportunities?
Two words: social butterfly. What it is is when you buy property, or if you're viewing property; now because I'm a real estate agent I know how to get under somebody’s skin. So I’ll try to get under somebody’s skin, I try to keep relationship doors open, always. Whoever I meet, whether it’s a real estate agent, whether it’s a mortgage broker, I try to keep the doors open because I believe one day something will come back in return. And I'm looking on my screen right now and my portfolio and I'm going through them thinking, ‘How did I buy each of those properties?’ and not all of them were on realestate.com, the majority were but some of them were off-market purchases where I subscribed to a property, I missed out on it, the agent called me, I bought it.
Because I basically said, ‘Here's my 10% deposit, I'm not mucking around.’ You’ve got to remember, with real estate agents in any type of market the thing that they are worried about is the property, if it went up for auction and it's a private treaty that the property will not proceed. You know, in the cooling-off period you will receive it, you'll pull out of the deal. You’ve got to give them confidence, so if you're really certain with a property and you're financially backed, you've got your loan approved, waive the cooling-off period, a sign that contract, give them the 5% or 10% deposit and they’ll know that you're serious. So you're not mucking them around, they'll always have the next property that comes up which they think fits your criteria, they will let you know first before they let the public know.
That's the proof of the pudding really. And once you've actually purchased something from them, I'm sure that they’d go, ‘OK, this guy is a serious investor. I can definitely send him more deals along the way because if it suits them they'll buy more for me.’ So it is about those relationships and I know exactly what you mean. It's kind of funny because real estate agents want to keep going back to the people who want to keep buying because that's really your database - your clients - and they will look after them.
If I look at it from my point of view as a real estate agent, wanting to sell real estate, around three years ago I created my own website at the time it was peterdiamantidis.com and at the time I had a VIP database. So what I did was I got people that actually if you bought a property from me, you'd go on it automatically. If you sold a property, you’d go on automatically unless you don't want to be on it. But people started subscribing on that because when I was selling properties in the area, I'd have sold stickers saying sold off-market, sold off-market.
So I thought, ‘How do I get into that database?’ Got into the database, now I've got thousands of people on there and they'll be notified first before they actually come onto the market. So you've got a 48-hour window to actually know about that property, potentially make an offer on that property and potentially buy it. And me wearing two hats, I'm looking at it from a real estate point of view as an agent and I'm looking at it from an investor’s point of view.
If he were to meet his past self from ten years ago, what would he say to him?
Ten years ago, ‘When you see a property that you want to buy, don't let somebody talk you out of it.’ That would be probably one thing that I would say to him or her as somebody you know starting off now at the age of 18-19, looking at property which have done all their research and say their mother turned around and said, ‘I don't like the area,’ or made negative comments - precede in your first instinct rather than listen to other people.
For the future, he is most excited about continuing his property developing journey.
In the next five years, I'm excited to build more property, purchase more blocks of land and just continue on in the building. I've learnt a lot in a short period time in building I mean, but in the next five years I just wanted to buy more land, develop and stick to doing that.
If you would like to contact him and learn more about his strategy or how he can help you as a real estate agent, you can email him or check out his Facebook page.
Probably the best way to connect is probably by email - my best email address would be [email protected]. That’s probably the best method. Or on Facebook I do have a business page, if you just type in Peter Diamantidis and that spelled D I A M A N T I D I S. But yeah, contractible either way.
This episode was produced by Andrew Faleafaga with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.