Shane Hiscock

Kicking The Business Cycle of Property Development With Shane Hiscock

Working as both a buyer’s agent for Cohen Handler and as a personal property developer, Shane Hiscock is well versed in the business cycle of the property. Juggling an active lifestyle, a small family and hectic work schedule, Hiscock showcases that anything can be done with the right approach and mindset.

Join us in this episode as we talk to Shane Hiscock and discover how landing a job at IBM straight after University led to him taking on an unlikely job role as a buyer’s agent, how he fell in love with the property inspection process, and the self-seeking ways he entered the property world. We’ll also learn the importance of double-checking calculations prior to committing to investments and how his own property experiences has lead Hiscock to realise that his true passion lies in helping others find the perfect property.

“That’s really the exciting part, when you’ve done a really good job and bought your client a great property and they are excited by it and really value what you’ve done.”
-Shane Hiscock

Talking to Shane Hiscock, we’ll be talking about his interesting profession and how he came to find a career in property.

I’m a buyer’s agent with Cohen Handler and I’ve also been developing a property quite a bit over the last 10 years.

With a busy schedule, Hiscock is usually found keeping active and dealing with clients on a daily basis.

I get up at 4:30 am, hit snooze, wake up at 4:40 am. I’m on a bike by five o’clock in the morning. I did a 50K ride this morning then.

Wow, 50K on a bike? For me that’s from here to Wollongong.

Yeah, 50K and back. I got home, obviously, shower, have breakfast or usually a second breakfast then, help get ready with the kids you know for school, etc. And then I’m heading into the office and typically I’m on the phone you know this morning as well we’ve just secured a property for a client. So I was on the phone with him on the way to the office just ironing out a few of the next steps for him. We had a team meeting at 9 am. So that went for about an hour and a half. Eleven o’clock I had a meeting with a new client looking to gain some assistance to help them with an investment property. That went for about an hour. Then went to the next meeting in the car. Typically I’m in the car making calls, calling people or calling real estate agents and organising things. Then arrive at the next meeting at twelve-thirty. Met with a husband and wife who were looking to buy a family home, but they’re just having trouble with their time and trying to get across our property and that is the timeframe we’ve got to meet. So had a chat with them about how we might be able to help. And then from then – that was around about an hour – from then until now all these calls that we’re having right now I’m on the phone and also researching new properties for my current clients. After we finish this I’ll be doing more of that for the afternoon. So a lot of my days is.

On the telephone, as you can imagine and also doing research doing, analysis on different properties that we’re looking to purchase for clients or negotiating to put offers in. That kind of thing.

And then at six-thirty, I’ll leave the office then I’ll go to do a lot of personal development. So I’ve got something on tonight from seven till ten o’clock and then I’ll be home by 10:30 pm and then into bed.

So that’s my day.

It’s pretty busy. But I like it that way. I like to fit a lot in and try to maximize the time that we have in the day.

Growing up in the country, Hiscock spent his childhood in a close-knit community and small-town…

I grew up in a little country town called Cootamundra in New South Wales. It’s around,  it’s near a town called Wagga Wagga which is the more known to people around about an hour from Wagga Wagga. And another way to kind of look at where we are is we are about four hours inland from Sydney halfway to Melbourne or thereabouts. So it was yeah a very small country town about five and a half thousand people in the population.

Wow.

So yeah it was small!

But yeah it was good! A good place to grow up in. You had a lot of freedom as a kid because it was very safe and you know a good area for the family. You could be out on your bike, ride your bike to school and you know kind of do what you want until the sun comes down there.

He attended the local primary and high school, before completing his Bachelor’s degree in Wagga Wagga.

The local public school and the local high school.

I went to school there and then when I finished year 12 I went to Wagga to attend university so I was at Charles Sturt University and I did a bachelor of business there.

After finishing his studies and not having a clear idea of where to go career-wise, Hiscock went straight into the workforce, landing a job at one of the biggest companies in IT.

I went straight into the workforce.

I admit I didn’t really have a lot a clear direction on what I wanted to do at the time and I think like many people you know I was sort of brought up to look for a good solid company that was secure, that could provide me with a good job and a career for a long period of time. And so I naively just picked the field with the biggest companies I could find and applied for jobs with those companies. One of them was IBM at the time and so straight out of Uni, I applied for a job at IBM. That was a five day interview process, that was very interesting and you kind of had to make the rounds each day and there were a lot of you know personality profiling and group exercises and a lot of different things there but I was lucky enough to secure a role there myself with one other person at the end of that process. So yes straight out of Uni obviously just a short break and sort of finished in November and started work in like February or something like that. I had a few months off and then started with IBM the following year.

It was at IBM that Hiscock gained experience working for their telesales team, undergoing a long period of training before finally being able to handle clients himself…

I started off in their telesales team so I was selling maintenance services so for their larger business computing systems. And back then they wouldn’t let you out on the phone for six months.

Wow.

Yeah you had to train and sit next to other people, move your way around the team and learn how different people conducted themselves on the phone and you had to attend certain training modules etc before you could I guess you can call it to let loose on the phone and actually call others and get your own clients in your own territory to look after. But yeah that was my first role at IBM.

Six months is quite a long time to sit behind someone listen in and all that. I mean how long were you with IBM.

I was with IBM for around 10. About 10 years ago.

So that’s quite a reasonable amount of time, did you? Did you get different roles inside IBM?

Yeah, I definitely did.

What sort of was the reason for the pause before I left for about a year and a bit about I think in year six or seven and worked with another computer company but then came back to IBM but definitely changed roles within That sort of telesales role for a little while and then changed roles in that arena a couple of times. And then I had the opportunity to at the time [move into what they] called a face to face role. So we were actually allowed out of the office then and off the phones to actually go and have clients that you would work with. You get to see them in their offices or meet them somewhere and they would be your clients and to move into that role.

The only options that were available at the time was to make the move to either in Queensland or Canberra. And so you know having lived and grown up not far from Canberra in Cootamundra, I knew how cold it could get.

And also primarily in Canberra, it was the government territory. So you were dealing with government accounts primarily and then obviously Queensland has a lot of the sunshine and being a great area to be in and then fortunately for me IBM was happy to fly me up here and put me up for a few days so I could come and see what Brisbane was like and that really sealed the deal for me, I loved it.

Like I used to call it Wagga on steroids. Kind of a big country town at the time there was no Sunday trading.

And so it sort of was very much like where I grew up and Cootamundra everything shut at lunchtime on a Saturday and that sort of was one of the reasons that I moved here, it felt just like a bigger version of where I’d grown up.

Yeah just like home.

Yeah just like home yeah.

Living in Brisbane and still working for IBM, Hiscock explains the role he undertook at the time…

I was in sales in what was called IBM Global Services. And we worked with companies like Queensland Rail and Suncorp and Malco and provided networking solutions to them. So that was like networking hardware and networking integration services etc. for those larger type enterprises. So that was what my role was.

It was after working at IBM that his property journey really began, Hiscock finding an interest in the property when he combined resources to buy his own house…

I jumped into property after that and how I really got started is I just started to get interested in buying a property and sort of investing and I kind of always had this feeling like I wanted to do more than just, not just work but I wanted to expand and do other things outside of a day to day job. And I started looking into the property as an idea and I remember speaking to a guy in the office who is still a very good friend today.

He said to me right you want to know about property? Let’s go into this meeting room and we got the whiteboard out and he spent about an hour and a half explaining how a lot of things are in property to me and that kinda got me kicked off and thinking about it. And then it wasn’t really until, oh when I met my wife she worked there as well. I remember when I first met her I was considering buying a house and land package and I was talking to her about it.

And then you know as soon as we got to know each other a little bit more and started to go out together. That’s when we got serious about why don’t we, you know and we decided to combine our resources and then buy a house. That’s really when I started to get really interested in it.

Despite not influencing Hiscock to invest in property, his parents were pivotal in imparting the importance of having a hard work ethic seeking out opportunities…

I think with my parents like Mum and Dad are both very hard workers. Dad had his own business. He always was doing things differently and trying and expanding and investing as well.

However there wasn’t a real property influence from Dad and I can understand why that’s the case because in Cootamundra we didn’t achieve a lot of capital growth in property and there weren’t a lot of you know – it didn’t sort of it wasn’t as good as an investment in that small regional town as well as what it would be in terms of the larger cities and Dad wasn’t exposed to any of that.

So he didn’t invest really in the property. We had a couple of small investments but he was more invested in the share market. So he was always looking at ways to invest funds. But no there’s no real interest or knowledge gained from Mum and Dad out property itself. So it’s probably just the hard work ethic and the seeking out further opportunity type of mentality that comes from Mum and Dad.

Hiscock shares how purchasing a property as a first time home buyer marked the starting point of his property investing career…

It was the approach to buying our first property that was really my initial exposure. And what that entailed was my wife and I picking out you know three to four suburbs that we really liked, making a list of must-haves vs nice to have. And then really when we spend all our time then on the weekends going out and inspecting properties and I actually really enjoyed that. I loved that process. And I really liked finding out the background information and how much something might have sold for five or ten years ago and it was in that investigation analysis process that.

I guess the light bulb went off and I went wow, you know, someone paid $150 000 for this and now it’s selling for $350 000 or whatever it might have been at the time.

And I went this is, this is pretty cool. It’s like you know more money than I’m going to save up in the next five years.

Deciding to seek out ways he could turn his interest in property investing into a profession, Hiscock began to read into property investing…

It started to tweak my interest then and so I started to seek out resources around property and tried to learn a little bit about it and I found Steve McKnight’s book which I think has been the go-to for a lot of people getting into the property. So thanks, Steve.

For that book. So yeah, I started reading Steve’s book, I loved it and then I found that he was running a program called the result mentoring program. It was sort of the second result, number two I think it was when I discovered it was already six months into the program that

I applied and said “Can I get into this program? I know it’s already been running for six months but I really want to get into this, I really want to start and learn.” And then I joined that program and started to receive obviously all the mentoring materials, the folders that teach you about all the different strategies around property and and then from there I just I started to go out every weekend looking for renovators and started to go out looking for you know different types of properties and from the first purchase that I made from them, which was now for a couple of years after purchasing that first home I’d built from equity in that home and I could see how I could leverage off that equity goes and do something.

It was after attending these programs that Hiscock ended up buying the block of land that would facilitate the making of his very first property development

I was looking for renovators because I just thought that was a good entry point. Couldn’t find anything that quite suited. I ended up buying a block of land in a smaller state but in an established suburb.

So there were I think 12 lots in that small subdivision and I bought the one with the problem. Steve always taught, you know, that there’s profits in problems like that.

So this block had a large gum tree on it that no one really liked. Obviously, because it was one of the last ones left. I liked it because I remember back in Cootamundra there was a big gum tree near the library between the library the police station and it had this massive floodlight in it and it made it look amazing. And I said, well I could you something like that. And I, we made an offer, we bought a block of land and we built our first house and that was the process of you know me learning how development works I guess. I thought that the best way to get in was to just do a single home and learn that process and that’s how it all got kicked off.

While buying and building on this block of land marked the beginning of his property development career, Hiscock shares that not everything was smooth sailing after the property was built…

So the intention was always with that house, was to build it and sell it and make a profit and utilise those funds to keep moving forward.

However, what happened was there are a couple of things that happened. The house.

Ended up costing a whole lot more than we initially thought. We read these flyers in the newspaper saying you can build this house for $250 000, this double story home. Not realising that that didn’t include a lot of things often and thought on my initial numbers that that’s what I could do and it ended up costing $379 000 to build that house.

But it turned out to be a really nice house. It was quite a big home. It was custom designed because of the building envelope on the block. But what happened was that we had the worst building experience I think I’ve had. It took 14 months to build a single house. We had seven changes of foreman on the job.

Wow

Shand Hiscock:

I’m sure you know, every time the foreman changes they’re going to reschedule everything and change everything and typically bring a different crew along that they’re used to working with.

So that took a really long time and then the GFC came around.

So it was all going swimmingly well, and we were at that point realising that if we sold it straight away we wouldn’t have made the profit that we wanted to so we decide to move into it. So we moved in and then we finished off the landscaping then and then yards and everything over the next 12 months and then it was then that we were able to revalue the house and drill $95 000 of equity out of it which is a pretty good result results still at the end of the day.

And we went on later to sell out and make a good profit!

With a delayed yet positive end result, Hiscock states that this experience was actually an exciting moment in his property development journey…

I didn’t really know too much better at the time because I hadn’t built before. And so whilst it was really frustrating and we were pushing them through it was really exciting as well.

I was just like a kid, I was out there every day seeing what had been done and what hadn’t been done.

Often. So I was just watching and I was probably immersed more and learning the process.

Looking back on his past projects, Hiscock explains that the worst developing moment he experienced came from an unexpected program calculating error that brought with it a hefty fee…

If I was to think of the worst moment, that would be a project I secured for a client and I was running the project for them. And we thought – and we would work together each week, we’d run through the numbers and have a look at everything and keep them up to date and we would look at the feasibility and everything okay it’s all running well. And then towards the end of the project, the client is saying to me we’re running out of funds. This is not – something’s up and we’re running out of funds. And I kept looking at the feasibility, because in each feasibility there was a template I’d gotten from a program I’d done, and in there it would tally up how much funds you needed to put in from an equity point of view and how much you borrow from the bank. So I kept looking at it going well you told me you had x amount of money. And then from the feasibility we’re not over that yet, it all looks to be lining up. And then what happened though was we discovered a cell wasn’t tallying up and that cell was worth $50 000. And that was probably the worst I’ve ever felt around doing anything around the property. That was just a really bad feeling to think that it had been missed.

So yeah that’s probably the worst one. And look what happened was I covered that $50 000 and paid that to the client to make sure that they were protected and very happy to say that we’re still friends and I’ve helped them with that.

They’re doing projects themselves now and I’m helping them with that as well. So yeah I think the result at the end of the day – being in my eight years later now – is that it was still a positive experience, although losing $50 000 at the time was very, very difficult.

Despite this unexpected cost, Hiscock highlights that the deal was still profitable and did little damage to the overall profit margin…

It was very, very minor you know, nothing like we expected. However, I wanted to make sure my client didn’t lose any money. So I paid all of that back, all that $50 000 to them obviously.

He adds that this experience taught him an important lesson when it comes to calculating the costs for development opportunities…

And learned to you know definitely to put measures in place and even do two versions and often a manual version. Get someone else to look at it early on. It’s very, very stringent processes now that I personally just put in place in doing anything like that where it’s you know, if it is a development type of opportunity, just making sure that it all gets checked.

Not letting a bad property developing experience end his property developing journey, Hiscock shares how many property developments he’s completed since then…

So including those two. Thirty-three.

Wow, that’s a lot of developments.

There’s a lot, there’s a lot yes. So everything from land, subdivision to units, houses, townhouses, a lot of different projects.

There’s still a couple running, three to four projects running now. One is winding up so it’s actually three to four. One’s just starting and a couple is in sales mode. So there is one or two properties in the projects that are still being sold and after that really, I’m just running one project now where the sites been cut and the foundations are being laid out I think next week.

But how did Hiscock end up in the property industry not only as a property developer but a buyer’s agent as well…

It’s probably not a very highly known fact it’s actually when I left I was in I.T. for 10 years with IBM, and when I left IBM the first thing that I did was a lady came to me from IBM and said to me hey I’m looking to buy a new property can you help me.

And I was like yeah sure I love, I love doing and I hadn’t had any business training set up at the time and she asked me to help her but – she was looking at a townhouse at the time. I did some analysis on it and asked her what her goals were around that townhouse. And she said it was around capital growth and I don’t really want it to cost me too much to hold onto. I suggested some better options out there and help to go and find something else that was more suitable. And then she paid me as a buyer’s agent. She said to me, ‘Well you’ve kind of done the role I looked it up, on the role of the buyer’s agent and so I’m going to have to pay you for that service as a.

Buyers agent because you’ve helped me and that was 2008 I think it was.

Yeah.

So I I’ve actually been helping people buy property since then. So that’s how I really first got into being a buyer’s agent.

Finding fulfillment in helping others attain property, Hiscock explains the process that persuaded him to focus on his career as a buyer’s agent…

Really I’ve moved my focus to find properties for other people. And that’s I guess, you know, when I started doing [this], as I mentioned back to the lady, you know first stop out of IT and how I found a property for her and put that together. In the start, I was spending 90 percent of my time doing that.

Then I’d spend been a little bit of time managing projects and as we secured more and more projects it swung the other way. And in the last few years I’ve really been spending no time looking for the next project, I just really didn’t have any bandwidth to do that.

I guess because of that I was not like I learned in the process along the way of running all of these different projects and in looking and reviewing things in the last year or two, considering what to say which part I enjoy? Which part am I most fulfilled by? I learned and thought that I’m really more fulfilled by buying property for people. I like that process. I enjoy it and I’ve not been doing that. So I started to be not so fulfilled with just running the projects. And yeah I guess, how the transition happened was last year, early last year, I was working with a few different clients who wanted to find their next project and I felt I wasn’t putting enough time into helping them do that. And a friend of mine mentioned Cohen Handler, the buyer’s agency as you know and so I went and met with Jordan from Cohen Handler and then we had a discussion around how do we help these current clients to find them a new project. And we got together like worked together to help find them and basically Jordan would help with the resourcing and taking on those clients. I would still be in contact and be reviewing the project with the clients as they went through. I just found in that experience, like I really liked how the guys operated. I really like the business cycle, I loved the branding in the model and what they stand for and I was finishing up a few more projects now and I was saying to Jordan I think I might look at really firing up my buyer’s agency side of the business again and he said why don’t we have a chat about you joining us.

It was after contemplating the vision he had for his buyer’s agency that Hiscock decided to join forces with Cohen Handler…

When I was considering firing up my buyer’s agency again I felt I needed to broaden the horizons and appeal to a wider audience, not just buying for developers.

And I sat down and considered the options and if really wanted to build a brand I thought what would I want it to look like. Then I thought I’d really like it to look like Cohen Handler and I decided these guys already have it. I’ve really had a really good experience and so I investigated that and decided to join the company.

So that’s how that transition happened.

It kind of was not a planned thing or expected and kind of all just happened as it happened and hey look I’m really enjoying it, so yeah!

With so much success in both his property development and buyer’s agent career, Hiscock takes us back to an out-of-the-box developing moment that led to amazing results…

We finished a project last year in a suburb called Clayfield in Brisbane. It was the sort of project where at the outset when we first secured this project, the type of building we wanted to put out or two buildings, in this case, were really small lots like 242 square metre blocks and the concept of just building two really luxury small homes to cater for a downsizer market was what I’d come up with because I’ve just seen a couple of other projects around Brisbane where that had been done and there weren’t a lot of examples but there’s was just one or two that I thought showed that there could be a market for this and I looked around and in Clayfield there are a lot of large family homes on big blocks of land that are Queenslander style homes so they require a fair bit of maintenance. And my view was that there would be a lot of people wanting to downsize out of those types of property. And so I secured this particular project and then worked with a new client and found a partner to partner with me on a JD style project and they were our two architects. They weren’t actually the designers of the properties but I wanted someone who could see the vision of what it was trying to do because often looking at projects, we’re looking for something similar that was sold in the same area for that price, you know a similar product and that would give us confidence and we’ll develop it. Whereas in this case, it was a little taking a bit of a chance to try and put something into a space in a market that we didn’t know existed so we weren’t confident. Not the we weren’t confident [at all], but it was sort of a little untested because there were only one or two examples of it.

But it turned out really well. The homes came out amazing.

Adding to this, Hiscock tells us how it was this moment as well as another that ultimately cemented his passion for property…

We made sure we hit what we thought people would want if they were downsizing, so you know huge walk-in robe areas, really big master suite, very large ensuite. We had to have some really amazing wow factors, we had a two-story void in the living area with a nice glass balustrade and a library section at the top and every room is ensuite. So they turned out really well and I guess it was a really good feeling when we put them on the market at Easter. Wasn’t initially a good feeling because that was the worst time but they both sold within a week for the full asking price. So we put a range on the price and they both sold for the top of the price.

So that was a really cool moment. And then I guess probably like recently more recently the other moments are really they’re more consistent now in terms of being a buyer’s agent. And that’s really the exciting part, when you’ve done a really good job and bought your client a great property and they are excited by it and really value what you’ve done. I recently bought a house for a couple in Orderly and I dropped back in a month later, and just to hear them say, “Look we’re so thankful for what you did for us…

We would never have found or bought this house without your help. We’re starting our family here and building our lives in his home and we just can’t thank you enough!” That was, that’s really cool. And yeah that’s what I’m enjoying about the role at the moment as well.

There’s another lesson in that is that what you don’t expect to happen, will happen. I’ve had banks change their lending situation with me twice on two fairly sizeable projects.

Hiscock’s share’s strategic approach to developing and the tips and tricks he’s learned along the way to get the most out of any project…

Not all projects to start with, end up being awesome by the way. There is a lot of mistakes that can be made and I’ll learn a lot out of those, probably more. But certainly, you know getting it right, getting the buyer price right obviously is a really key component. The rest of it I think really comes down to knowing your cost very well and understanding you know all of the components involved in projects so that you’re not missing anything out getting the locations right.

I sort of have learned and realised that sometimes the prime locations are obviously really good to get. If you buy something that’s not totally an A-grade location.

You just have to really buy that right and obviously make sure you position the product into the right price range because if you don’t then you’re trying to sort of compete with a similar product that’s maybe on a better street or in a better area then you will lose. So you need to make sure that there’s a good enough difference between those price points that you’re looking for. And then I think, probably the other thing that I’ve learned around it is – and the reason why I’m focusing back on the buyer’s agent part – I’ll still be doing development but probably a key thing I’ve learned is getting the best people in the best position in the project to help you maximize it. So at one point you know we were trying to do too many things for too many people and I think you lose speed and efficiency by trying to do that. So now I would say well Okay, I am very good and I understand how to pick these sites up and pull the feasibility together and negotiate it at the price that works. I would now know then to make that project successful, ‘Who is the best fit for an architect for this type of property?’ You know, ‘Who would be the best fit for a project manager? Who would be the best fit from a builder point of view?’ And knowing how to put the best team together is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned around it. Because you can buy a property and it can be a renovator, and you can find an architect for 100 000 dollars or you can find one for 25. You can go to the builders that advertise everywhere that have a lot of overheads and get them to quote your job and pay a million dollars, or you could sort of really going to that niche guy that focuses on exactly that sort of thing and understand how to tweak and engineer that sort of renovation to get it for $850 000. And it’s getting those little details and just getting the people that are really specialised in the areas, that relate to that project, getting that team together is where you can maximize the results out of the projects.

Highlighting the importance of networking and how he sources the right people for the right job, Hiscock adds that it often depends on the type of project his working on.

For me and a lot of it’s just been built up over time and networks and you know there’s a builder I recently purchased the site for a client.

He was looking for a builder. It’s a renovation. I’ve aligned him or referred him over to a builder that I know who does exactly that type of property, but you’d never find these guys because they don’t advertise, they don’t have a website, they’re not really on social media at all, but they’re very, very good at a particular type of reno. They have a small team, they don’t even have branding on their cars, you know. And that’s not to say if you have all those things you can’t be really awesome, you can’t be a really awesome fit. It’s just to say that there are still often really good people out there that can be a part of the team that you won’t find unless you are kind of in the business and networking a lot. But then you know it’s really a project by project thing as well. Sometimes you’ll want the architect that is brand is known and people are aware of and you’ll want the builder that people know or are aware of. Like there are homes that we built at pol street in Clayfield, the one I mentioned before where we had a plan build and their an award-winning build. So you know people walking into that think they were benefited or comforted in the fact that the builders won a number of awards.

So it’s a project-specific.

With multiple projects in his portfolio and numerous learning experiences, Hiscock also shares the valuable lessons he’s learned that has helped him grow to be a better developer and buyer’s agent.

Certainly, I think from a developing perspective one good mantra I run with is the first shot best shot. So when you’re listing something and putting it on the market, sometimes in the past we acknowledge there might be some concern for buyers on a certain property.

Say there’s a privacy issue or there’s some minor things in there that you think could be a concern to buyers and you think I’ll put them on the market and just see if anyone gets concerned about it and then we’ll fix it. I’ve found you know for a finished product in a high spec location, if you’re charging a lot of money, you’re better off to wait and address those issues and have everything ready so that when it’s presented you know for the first time it’s perfect and it’s ready to go. Rather than trying to sort of save a bit here and save a bit there and not address things because you want to see how it pans out. That’s definitely something I’ve been moaning. Steep sites is a big one.

Building on sloping sites adds a significant cost obviously to your project. And you really want to engage professionals and people who have done that before so you can get a really good feel for it, because those costs can really blow out and often they don’t really add a lot of value to a projects. It doesn’t make it any better. It just means you’ve got more work to do. If we can get it out of the ground and it often has a lot of cost. Yeah I mean the rest is probably fairly you know, but I steer clear of train lines. I’m not really interested in building along train lines, it’s always going to be the second choice if there are other products on the market and that comes from building a block of units on a train line.

So even though it was across the road from it and the train line was low and we had double windows and double doors.

So when you’re inside we couldn’t hear anything but you know just selling those last couple of those units took quite a long time.

Why do you think that was the case? Because you know a lot of people like to be close to public transport, but you know in that case why would do you think those ones took a little bit longer to sell?

I’ve got to say that I don’t think it was just that and the fact that lending started to really tighten and APRA started to knuckle down on lending to investors etc. really slowed the unit market here in Brisbane back when those measures first started being put in place. So you know what was looking like a strong market and things were moving and being sold, all of a sudden you know the numbers dropped significantly and it made things very hard to sell. So while yes the Trainline thing was a bit of an issue but then when things tightened then fewer investors are buying.

They can be more picky, they’re going to buy the one off the train. Because you know now the person of the train line now also has to potentially discount their product to get theirs sold, and if they are going well hang on I can now buy that one for $420 and yours is at $440 and it’s off the train line and then all of a sudden you’ve got it just chasing it down to number.

Drawing upon another project, Hiscock adds that another lesson he’s learned when it’s come to developing is to expect the unexpected…

That’s probably I guess there’s another lesson in that is that what you don’t expect to happen, will happen.

I’ve had banks change their lending situation with me twice on two fairly sizeable projects. Which was also a very tough moment from saying well from 80 percent to 60, or 50 percent two weeks before settlement. So we’re in an unconditional period.

Not far from settlement. Can’t really pull out. We’d lose deposits and that was really at half time. But you know I mean it’s all relative right. I’ve heard of much, much larger developers been putting that situation on multimillion-dollar properties so I guess I’m thankful I learned that lesson then. So I know now how to approach that and just to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

So there was a lot of little lessons like that that I’ve learned along the way.

However, despite the challenges that a fluctuating market has posed, it has also altered Hiscock’s perception of property development allowing him to assist clients in different ways.

I think there are a few different ways I guess from one angle I’m looking at at the moment is obviously helping a lot of developers buy sites. So I’m not necessarily developing those sites but what I’m noticing in this business cycle is that those developers that are in a strong cash position are now better poised to pick up those sites. So they know we can work with them on stronger terms with them and often no finance and very short due diligence period which allows us to be helping them buy the site through a far better price. So that’s an interesting thing that changed with the market.

They’re some of those guys when it might just stay out of the market for a while until it cools down. I also think now this is a bit of bit more care being taken about the types of projects and the type of product that people are looking to put into the marketplace. The mix is changing and the focus on who is the end buyer is obviously increasing. The team here in Brisbane especially I mean family homes,  they’re going reasonably well in the more established suburbs so still very strong.

He explains that by understanding the market and applying market-specific strategies, he can assist his clients in making smart decisions regarding a given project.

There’s always a difference in strategy. Sometimes we’ll notice you know they’ll be building units.

They’ll notice hey I think that’s going to slow so I’ll move to townhouses. They might be building townhouses and notice hang on there’s a lot more supply coming into an area. I’m going to change to something else and go to commercial now, and I’ll start doing some commercial projects. Others may decide to stick to the product type because of their branding or whatever it is that they might be focused on so they might be. We’re focused just on luxury apartments for the downsizer. That’s our core and that’s what we’re known for. So those guys might just be changing location a little bit more. And yeah okay maybe we’re saturated in this particular suburb area, so we’ll move to a different location. So they can see different types of developers out in the marketplace and that’s sort of covers where they’re buying and what they’re buying.

I mean the really big developers will have an avatar of here’s this perfect client for us and then everything revolves around that. All the marketing or the thought that goes into the design and the fixtures and fittings and the functionality of property all tend to go into that.

So we can bring that thinking back down and that’s played out in the Clayfield project for us, we just focused on the downsizer and that really hit the mark there.

Thinking back to the beginning of his property journey, Hiscock share’s that despite the excitement that his future property investing gave him, there were fears he had to overcome.

Buying the first property.

Not so much. I was probably more keen and eager and excited and just wanted to get in. But we were quite measured and took our time in purchasing.

After that when I started to learn about property and want to get into some of these more advanced strategies. Definitely like I still remember I had this goal to make a certain amount of money then I’m going to quit IBM and quit that corporate role. And that happened and I still remember the week after that.

You know in my home office then, looking at all different types of properties and different types of strategies and I came to the conclusion and I looked at a lot of properties and was coming up with I can’t make any of these work and these really stack up. And I looked at the strategies such as renovation or doing small developments like townhouses, building houses, just looking at lots of options and thinking well none of these stack up. And then I was looking around going well someone made renovation work at that this particular project and then someone made that work there and made that work there and I just figured the common denominator was me in that thing. Like other people are making these strategies work. So I figured that it’s my mindset that was obviously holding me back which I wasn’t really aware of. But I sort of went on to learn that it was really more of an over-analysis and a fear of getting it wrong that was holding me back and you know I guess it was then I went and got myself into some personal development programs and really started to try and overcome that.

But what exactly did he do to overcome his fear and eventually jump into the property game?

There’s obviously you know a lot of books and reading that you can do but I found that knowledge wasn’t really helping me.

And I listened to a guy speak at an event and he was really engaging. He didn’t sort of just reading off a powerpoint slide, he was very fluid in the way he spoke.  

And it really sort of seemed exciting to listen to. And he mentioned this program that he’d done that change his life called The Landmark Forum. So I looked into that and I attended that program. It was a three-day program and my wife went to that as well and that for us was a game-changer. So that was really a life-changing program for us and it is kind of deals with everything in your life, no real specific focus to it but it’s about if you want to take things to the next level when you’re feeling held back or things aren’t working, then that program, that’s what that’s about. So we attended that and I just found that that really freed me up and allowed me to really get back into things and sort of let go of all of the fears that I had.

And then from that, I just continue to do those programs.

Then I learned, and then I had a business coach who was helping me for a long period of time and [I] got into neuro-linguistic programming. You might have heard about that, NLP technology. So yeah I really, I actually it’s something I really enjoy and I continue all the time, I’m always doing something around mindset.  

Having read a wide range of books, Hiscock shares the resources that he believes are beneficial to read even if they’re not directly related to the property…

A good one I read recently on negotiation is Never Split the Difference by Chris Moss.

I read a book by a guy called Bob Burg called The Go-Giver and that’s really more about you know, the more you give in life the more you get.

I guess instead of being a go-getter chasing and chasing things, it’s more about giving and helping others and then you’ll be looked after as well. And yeah that was a really good book as well. Pretty quick read.

Fairly easy to digest. I’m just trying to look around the bookshelf. What’s another good one? Ah, this one is more of a mindset type of book and it’s sort of alternative thinking called Why Quantum Physicists Do Not Fail.

Oh, that’s a great title.

Yes, it’s pretty cool that book and again you can read that fairly fast.

I’ll give you one more here you go, and there’s a series of these, like fifty, the one I’ve got is called 50 Success Classics.

So to summarize version of 50 success books, so you can kind of go in and read a few pages about each of these books and you know there’s like Carnegie Dale Carnegie books. I think Think and Grow Rich is in there,  all of the classics that you would have heard of. And you can kind of get a little snippet out of them without having to read hundreds of pages.

But not all of the best advice and knowledge has been gained from books. Some have come from people he’s met as well.

I mentioned the guy before that I met at IBM who whiteboard a lot of things and taught me about the property, he always used to say to me, reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground.

I always liked that saying. It was a really good little mantra.

Not necessarily a piece of advice I guess but a mantra that I attempted to run by.

Another aspect of life that Hiscock believes has contributed to his success is his dedication to bike riding and the victory of beating the tempting snooze button.

I may say I ride, you know reasonably often. That fluctuate sometimes through the week like sometimes I can be riding five days a week, sometimes I’m really busy so maybe every one or two days a week. I find that’s kind of a good release for me and you know it helps me. Like I think if you ride, for me when I’m riding, you’ve got to start having a win early.

You know the first thing is the alarm. You know I mean your alarm is going off at 4:30 am and you just want to go back to sleep. You just want to keep hitting snooze, especially in winter, it’s cold.

I don’t want to get up you know, I just want to stay in bed. But that habit of having to get up, making yourself get up, kind of helps you start winning the moment, you know winning each little moment.

You’ve got to have a bit of a victory over the little voice in your head telling you to just hit the snooze button. So I found that habit of just riding and getting up early is good because it had me start having those wins, because then it’s like oh it’s too cold and then you’re like okay you’re going to get dressed and get out on a bike and it’s even colder and you’ve got to just keep going.

No, let’s go, let’s keep going, I’m going to keep going. Instead of sort of thinking, ‘Oh it’s too cold and I can’t be bothered,’ because if you just do that the whole ride you’ll be miserable. So yeah just that little habit of getting up and sort of having those little wins early on I think is a good one that really helps me.

He adds that another daily habit he’s found that motivates him to stick to schedule is to live by a daily mantra…

The only other habit I think is, I don’t know if you’d call it a habit but it’s just I typically tend to pick something, one or two things kind of like an approach to the day or a mantra, like a couple I do at the moment is, the more calls you make the luckier you get. So just kind of consistently keep that frame of mind and think the more calls I make the luckier I get. And it has me always in action and I find when I’m sort of stopped in a moment like I’m stopped and,

I can tell I’m avoiding trying to do something or making a particular call or taking a certain action. I just think, I kind of say, ‘Would I be concerned about this when I’m 80?’. It seems a bit strange but I just kind of go, is this gonna worry me when I’m 80? No. Then why let it bother me now? Just take the action. Make the call, take the step, do the thing you’re scared of because when you’re 80 you don’t care.

Highlighting the importance of focus, Hiscock delves into the advice he would give his younger self…

I look back and think about the last 10 years, I think I took a fairly broad approach, did a lot of different things, tried a lot of different things around property that’s also given me a lot of broad experiences. And now and I’m finding it I’m able to bring that to what I’m doing now and actually assist more people because I have that knowledge. But initially,

You know thinking about that, I thought you know specialise, focus, you know focus on being a master at something and don’t try to be all things to all people, and I guess the only other thing that came to mind is,

Don’t, don’t compare myself to other people. Don’t worry about what other people are doing so much. Just focus, stay focused and focus on delivering a great experience for the clients you’re working with and the rest will kind of look after itself.

Regardless of his previous broad approach to property, Hiscock explains that his future plans will involve mastering what he does now…

I’m most excited about writing down every little aspect of what I do now and becoming a master at it. So from the conversation I need to have, from the strategy in purchasing and buying property for people from you know how to have it kind of build momentum in this role in this type of business cycle. How to keep all the plates spinning. And not trying to be doing you know 10 different job roles, but just trying to really focus down and focus on that because what I found now is that if I focus on that, I’ll just keep the main thing the main thing. And now I’m excited that I can do that and continue to increase my ability to earn an income. And then I’m all excited now that I’ve done a lot of different developments that I know how to put the teams together so I can do one or two projects myself as a side thing and really accelerate things over the next 5 or 10 years.

That’s great.

I kind of feel like I sees the way now to do that.

Lastly, with so much experience up his sleeve and his ability to help clients with his knowledge, Hiscock shares that none of it would have occurred without hard work…

I wouldn’t say much due to luck. I think more is probably due to persistence and determination.

With personal experience in investing and developing, a wonderful team by his side at Cohen Handler, you can contact him in numerous ways:

All the social channels, they can connect with me on LinkedIn, on Facebook or Instagram, obviously just look up my name, or you can always email me at: [email protected] .

This episode was produced by Alex Cooper with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

We Took The Notes On Our Latest Episode For You!

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  • Wisdom Gained From Our Guest's Stories:
    We pick out the little gold nuggets of wisdom that our guest's share from their backstory and give you the most relevant details.
  • Explanations Of Strategies:
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