Meet Sam Gordon, the successful property investor, and owner of Australian Property Scout. With 18 properties now accumulated over the last 10 years, Gordon has been able to build a very impressive and successful property portfolio worth up to $5 million. At a young age, he was on the verge of achieving his dreams of becoming a successful soccer player. Then he was working on his family’s farm before becoming a buyer’s agent.
Join us as we delve into Sam Gordon’s property investing journey as we talk about his upbringing on his family’s farm, his passion for soccer and what hindered him from further pursuing that dream, the moment that changed his career path, the incredible story about his first property purchase and much more on another exciting instalment of Property Investory!
Sam Gordon is a property buyer’s agent and has been running his own agency for the past 12 months. We learn about what a typical day looks like for Gordon.
I’m a bit of an early riser. I used to be part of the 5:00 AM club. I beat that these days. So I get up at 4:59 every morning and I go and train every day. I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic. I love that. So I’ll kind of start my day that way. And then usually I’m home by about 7:00 and then I pretty much spend my entire day sourcing the exact properties that my clients need next in their portfolios. This kind of range from anything from your standard bread and butter, below-market, strong cash flow, high growth deals right through to high cash flow, like high cash flow plays and your manufactured equity deals. So I’m out there networking with all that sort of stuff, trying to get as many good deals as I can from my clients. And then obviously at the same time, talking to my clients, working out exactly what we want and strategising with them as well.
Gordon gets up early and is able to get so much done within that short period of time in the morning because of his ability to plan.
As soon as I get up I actually spend the first 15 minutes of the day kind of setting out my day. It’s kind of a weird ritual that I do. I kind of jot down everything. I wake up and I’m wired like straight away and I kind of just jot down everything that I want to do during the day. And then I literally go and train for at least about an hour and a half every day and during that time I can refine what I want to do during the day. So as soon as it kind of hits seven I’m back home, showered and I’m just firing like straight into the day. Then by the time it hits 9:00, anything I kind of needed to get set up before I can start calling people, I get that all set up.
So then as soon as it's 9:00, I'm networking, I'm hitting up different people. I'm chasing up different deals, building and pest inspectors, brokers, everything. Just trying to get on the ball all the way through. I pretty much just kind of run all day as long as I can and just get as much as I can.
What time do you normally finish up for the day?
Some days I go right through to literally at about 10 o’clock. I’m kind of crashing out, but it depends what I’m doing. I absolutely love what I do. I don’t see it as a job, really. It’s a passion for me, 18 properties in the past 10 years. It’s just something I love doing. And then the fact that I can go out and help other people do the same thing and build the same sort of portfolio. I love it. I’ll probably do it until I drop.
We delve into Gordon’s backstory and he shares with us about where he grew up.
I grew up about two-and-a-half hours south of Sydney in the Southern Highlands. It’s a bit of an agricultural hub down that sort of way. It’s actually quite a beautiful area. And I grew up on a farm with my family. Like we all kind of worked the farm from a pretty young age and my parents were very, very hardworking people. They worked seven days a week for as long as I can remember. It was a cool environment to kind of grow up there and be on the farm, not being city slickers. You grow up working on utes and working on motorbikes and doing all that sort of stuff. So it was a good upbringing.
Living and working on a farm at an early age takes up a lot of time and we learn about his interesting treks to school.
It was two-and-a-half hours each way. I used to catch two trains and a bus in Sydney. I went to a sports high school in Sydney called Westfield Sports. I was there for soccer and I was pretty keen on my soccer back in those days. And that was a pretty competitive school to be at. That’s the thing, I’m kind of used to the early mornings. I think I used to get up at 4:30 am and catch a 5:10 train from the Highlands to get me up there. It was different, but it kind of, I guess, bred something a little different to me as well.
He could have gone to his local high school but wanted to follow his dreams and was given the chance to attend a prestigious high school by his parents.
They gave me the opportunity to make the decision for myself. I was pretty keen on soccer. I think back then I was at that sort of age; I was always playing two or three age groups up. And the opportunity wasn’t going to be there to play it at the level I wanted to play down in the Highlands. So my brother and sister both went to quite good schools down here and I had the opportunity of going to a fairly good school down here or to kind of trek it up and go to the old Westfield’s. But it was good. I loved it. When you go up there, you train every day. I was playing in the New South Wales premier league at the time as well. So we used to train 3-4 times a week, game on the weekend. And then in school, we train four days a week as well. So it was pretty full-on, but I loved it.
The high school Gordon went to was a sports-focused high school, and we learn how it differed from a normal high school.
You still had all the subjects you kind of would normally go for, but it saw sport as an additional subject that we used to do outside of the standard curriculum. So the way our school was, it was quite big, about 2000 kids in the school and they had the juniors, that are year 7-9, we used to train in the mornings. I think we started at 7:30 and finish at 9:00 and start school after that. And then as seniors, I think we need to start school earlier but then finish earlier and train after school. So it was actually a really cool set-up the way they did it. It was a good experience. I did like it there.
You mentioned you also played in New South Wales premier league as well. And what, at what stage was those? That during high school or after high school?
I was playing it during high school as well. So they’ve got a junior level there and truth be told, the NSW Premier League, I think the only one that probably comes close is probably the Victorian as well, they’re pretty good down there too. There are a lot of really good players there. And I think I signed my first grade contract, I left school at 16. The travel was killing me when I went into those HSC years in year 11. So I left school at 16 and signed my first grade contract and it was an awesome experience to play for some really, really top clubs at the time.
We find out about what signing a contract for a junior soccer league means and how it works.
Once you turn 16, you can sign pro contracts and essentially start getting paid. What they normally do is they try to pick the cream of the youth coming through and if they get them on a pro contract, they typically will keep them at the club for a while. They typically gave us our first shot and so that’s where they try to sign guys up and try to keep them long-term. If you’re a little more in tune with I guess the NRL or something, they use systems where they pull the younger players through. And I guess this was a little before the time after The A League youth system.
I think they brought that in when I was maybe around 21 or 22 or something like that. Because it came in just after I would have been eligible to go for it. So it’s essentially the same thing. Now they’ve got like the national youth league, which is where they kind of pulled the players out of that to put into their first grade teams.
The contract that Gordon signed provided him with a platform to do what he loved.
I was still working full time, so it’s not as full-on as you think it would be. At that point, you just train three to four times a week and you play on the weekend but you train on the nights after work. Pretty much everyone had jobs. There are very few people that would’ve bothered or would’ve been able to live on what it was, especially people with families and staff. For me, to tell you the truth, coming from the Highlands, the contracts I signed back then they just used to cover my fuel pretty much. It wasn’t until I started getting a little older; I think around about 19 or 20, that’s when the pay started getting pretty decent. I started actually banking a bit rather than just covering my fuel costs.
Normally on average from your experience and seeing everyone around, how long do people usually stay on a club for?
It’s so dependent on the player and the club. Cause if a club has a good run, I remember I played for Sutherland Sharks. I had six seasons there and Sutherland Sharks were a great club, absolutely loved them and a lot of players stayed for a long, long time at that club. But then I left when I was maybe 19 or 20 and struggled to find a club that I really fit in. I had a hip operation back at that age. And it was a bit of a struggle for me breaking back into different first-grade teams. So I was in a bit of a struggle period there and I jumped around clubs a lot. So I’d gone from six years straight with Sutherland.
And, then I think I played at the Wolves. I think I went to Berry’s; I had a couple of different years around there. Still in the NSW premier league and then I went down to the Illawarra premier league where conversely, the money is actually pretty good and you don’t have to train quite so much, so you can focus a bit more on the career side of things as well.
He decided to leave high school and immediately began to help out the family business until he knew what he wanted to pursue.
I actually jumped into the family business. They were looking for someone at the time and because I left about a third of the way through year 11; it was a bit too late to jump into another school; it was a bit too late to try to find myself a trade. So my old boy just said to me, “Look, why don’t you just work here till the end of the year and then maybe jump on a trade or maybe go back into year 11 and 12.”
I’m reasonably smart, but I’m not like a huge academic. I don’t love studying. I never saw myself going to uni. So by the time that year kind of rolled out, I was looking at either doing the trade or staying with the family business, but I would have been taking a pay cut down to about a third of my wage if I had dropped back to a trade, which looking back, the trade-off at that age is massive. You may as well go and do the trade. And if I could have gone back and told my younger self, I definitely would have gone back and probably would have been a chippy. Would have been pretty handy in the real estate game. But no, I stayed in there and, and so the truth of the matter, I worked there the whole way through until I hung up the tools and started the buyer’s agency.
Working on his parent’s farm, it taught him about the value of hard work and how to be successful.
They pretty much produced the premium agricultural stock feed you could get in the country. It’s pretty much the best stuff, and that’s what we used to work really hard on. My dad’s like an absolute perfectionist and the stuff we used to produce, the results we used to get were crazy. So you get paid really well when you do something really well. So yeah, it was kind of cool learning curve doing that sort of thing as well, very different. I haven’t really met too many people that are in stock feed manufacturing. Certainly, it kind of got the hard work side of me down pat because it was a labour-intensive job.
Nothing was given to his parents and Gordon explains how they were able to build their farm from the ground up.
When he bought it it was originally a rabbit farm, like a dying rabbit farm, when he and my mum, they moved down from Sydney, they actually lived over in the Sutherland Shire and they did quite well. They bought their first house, and it was a kind of back in the boom days. And they bought their first house, and it doubled in three years and they sold it down and had enough to come in and buy this farm. And my dad’s a mechanic by trade. So he built this feed mill himself. He went and bought all the different parts. He didn’t have that much money. He went and bought all these different parts and built this mill up from scratch and was able to produce his own stock feed, his own pelletised feed for these rabbits and grew it into, I think at the time when he sold it, it was the biggest rabbit farm in the Southern hemisphere. It was pretty cool.
As with any other job, he had to start at the bottom but then eventually worked his way up in the business.
I started pretty much as a labourer when I first left. They kind of just needed an extra labourer there, and I was helping with the production side of food and I just worked my way up as different people kind of either left or they weren’t willing to step up to new positions when we were kind of going through a bit of growth. I kind of moved my way up into packaging and distribution and then the logistics side of the business. And then I kind of was going out and actually doing sales for the company as well, trying to source new clients to have different avenues to sell it down. So just kind of worked my way through it and it was a bit of a different experience.
The family business had an impact on Gordon but there was a moment that pushed him down the property investing road.
My parents, they've never had an actual investment. They own the farm and they've got a holiday home down the south coast, but they never really went out buying investments. They have a couple now that I've helped them with.
What got me into it was when I was about 18, 19, I saved up about $20,000 and I wanted to go out and buy a Toyota Supra; I was obsessed with Supras. And I came very close to buying a couple and my dad was a mechanic. He’d come along and he must pick these things apart just so I wouldn’t buy it. And then eventually he was like, look, I think you should look at buying yourself your first home instead. Put your money into it. And I’d always kind of thought about it. One of my big idols is Harry Triguboff. You always hear about how many he’s got.
Every year it goes up a few hundred units or something, that he’s accumulated. And I honestly love the guy. He’s an inspiration. And I remember from a very young age hearing about him and about other really successful investors that had accumulated all these properties. And I thought, well, how cool would it be to own all these properties now. So it was when he pushed me in that direction, I got a little obsessed with it and started doing all the research and I’ve always been a bit of a bargain hunter. So then I’m out there talking to people and trying to find the best deals. And that’s really how I got into it. Him giving me that little of a nudge and then my normal obsessive kind of nature, just getting in there to get the best thing I could.
We delve into Gordon’s first property purchase and what he learnt from that first experience.
I was 19 at the time when I did it and was just after I'd had my hip operation and it was funny cause all I could really afford in the immediate area was a unit where I was looking. So when I first looked, I looked down in Wollongong, which is about an hour and a half south of Sydney. It's a satellite city right on the coast and it's quite a nice spot. And all I could afford was a unit. So here I am with this bung hip, hobbling around after this surgery trying to walk up blocks like two and three-story, shuffling up these stairs.
I’ll tell you, it was a good experience. I don’t know if I got a good price because the agent felt sorry for me or that. But that was pretty cool. And so that was pretty much the nuts and bolts, but I just went out and talked to as many agents as I could. And it was funny, I kind of realised from a young age you had to try to ascertain what something was worth. In a broad sense in a market, what something was worth to be able to identify what’s cheap or what’s below-market or what you’re making money on your way in from. I did quite well at it and I reckon I bought, even on that first one, I think it was about 25,000-$30,000 below market when I bought that one. I’ve always had, not so much that ability but the want to buy something cheaper. I’ve always been a bargain hunter.
Gordon runs through some of the numbers on that first property and the inspiration behind what he decided to do with it.
Market value on this thing would've been around about $300,000 I reckon. And it was in original condition. It was a 1995 unit, it was a three-story walk up and I paid $275,000 for it. Pretty firmly believe it would've been worth about $300,000. And it was good because I was looking for my first thing. I wanted to do little renovation projects, I think it was back when the, I mean The Block's pretty big now, but it was back when The Block was huge. And I used to watch it and I wanted something to get my hands a little bit dirty on. So that was my first deal and then I renovated that.
All up, it cost me about $8000 to reno that. I didn’t rip the kitchen out; I put all new appliances in; I reconfigured the kitchen a bit, but the carcass of the actual kitchen was still pretty good. I looked into how I could tart it up a bit. And I used like high-gloss enamel paints and new door handles. It looked like a brand new kitchen and it was actually pretty cool. And I think in the end I lived in it for about a year with one of my good mates and then I ended up renting it out.
So, I paid $275,000. I put about an $8000 reno into it. And then I rented it out for $340 a week after that one. With the type of investor I am today, that definitely wouldn’t have cut the grade. But it wasn’t too bad for a first investment. I definitely didn’t stuff up at least.
With 18 properties now currently in his portfolio, we find out about where most of these properties are located.
All throughout Australia. I’ve got one in particular, I call it my patch, that for both myself and my clients, I do what I call manufactured equity deals. So duplexes, subdivisions, wholesale land and builds and stuff like that. I’ve been investing in that area for about seven or eight years now and I know all the agents, they know if they’ve got a good deal, I’ll buy it. So it’s the one area in New South Wales that I still invest in today. Sydney is pretty well-cooked, I guess. But it’s the one area I can still always make really good money in that market. And then outside of that, I’ve got a lot of investments in both Queensland and South Australia.
I’m looking at possibly diversifying a little more. But I’m pretty confident in both those markets or three markets, really. Because I still hold quite a lot of stock in New South Wales as well.
Gordon's Properties Now
Out of 18 properties, how long did it take you to accumulate to those properties?
I bought the first one at 19. I did the second one; I wish I knew then what I know now because if I’d known that I could have refinanced out my equity, I would’ve gotten cracking a lot sooner and kind of built up a lot more. But when I was 22, I did my next one. That was a wholesale.
I got the land for a really good price. I built on that. And that’s when I realised I could pull money back out of a deal and put it into the next one. And then I went on. I think I lived in that one for a little and then that’s when I found out about being able to do the refinancing. This is when I started kind of ramping up. I think at 25 I bought two more; I think at 26 I bought four. And then it was three or four every year and until now.
Gordon has been building his portfolio for the last 10 years and he shares a moment that he considers to be one of the lowest points throughout his property investing journey.
I've actually been really happy with every investment I've made. I'm a bit crazy when it comes to getting the deal right. It takes me, I wouldn't say ages to pull the trigger, but it takes me ages to learn the market back to front before I'll put my money or my client's money into a market, I need to know it back to front. So I haven't really made a mistake in terms of that. My probably worst moment, my lowest point would have been, I had an idol growing up that I used to read about. I used to read everything he was in and I think when I hit about seven or eight properties, he's a buyer's agent as well.
And I went and met with him and I just wanted him to review my portfolio and tell me what he thought. And he absolutely shredded me. He absolutely paid my portfolio out so badly. Said I was doing terribly and conned me into signing up with him as a buyer’s agent. His fee was a fully paid upfront fee. It was about $10,000. And you know, over the next three months he kept bringing me these properties, and I said, mate, what were you paying my portfolio out for? These are the worst deals I’ve ever seen. I ended up doing my dough on $10,000. I called him up one day, absolutely gave it to him. I told him not to call me back again because it was very, very disappointing, for a guy that I grew up absolutely idolising, to be completely honest, to kind of have that happen to me, that would be my lowest point I think.
But, you get lessons from everything you do in life, I honestly believe. And the lesson I took from it was that it made me want to become a buyer’s agent. So I would never do what he did to me, to anyone else. It’s quite simply, you look at the way I charge my clients. I charge a very, very small upfront fee because of that happening to me. If anyone wasn’t happy with what I did, I’ve always said to people, if you’re honestly unhappy with what I’ve done, I’ll give you your money back. Because I would not even present a property to my client that I wouldn’t buy myself. But that’s just the way I operate.
On the flip side, he talks about a moment in his career where he knew that he was on the right track and everything seemed to fall into place.
The biggest thing for me, and it’s something that I really focus on with clients as well, is having recycling equity. I think honestly that is the biggest game-changer we have as investors. The way I work with my investors, I have three different avenues I buy for them, but I always buy-in below market, as you said to me earlier, it’s all about making your money on the way into the deal. If you make your money on the way into the deal, you can force a bit of value on top of that and plus maybe have a bit of growth as well, which is what we’re always aiming for. Then you can recycle that equity back out, essentially recycling back out the deposit and all the money you put into the deal and then go and put that into more.
It’s essentially a very repeatable and scalable process. And that’s what we’re always going for. The first time I ever did that, probably not the first, the first time was Wollongong. I wasn’t able to pull too much money out of it. I think I’d put about $35,000 into it and I think I pulled about $15,000 out. But when I did the buy and build, I didn’t have heaps of cash. I think I may be put about $45,000 into it, but then I was able to refinance it. I think when I refinanced; I think I pulled out about $80,000. But I was just like, I just pulled out so much capital that I didn’t even really have and it was then what I did was I went and put that into positive cash flow deals. I was like, wow, you’ve got to be making your money on the way in. So, you can pull it back out and keep going. And that for me is the big aha moment. And that’s what I do with every deal.
Sam Gordon’s Expert Advice On How To Build A $5 Million Portfolio Before The Age of 30
Gordon dives right in and tells us about the strategy that he has found most useful when he has bought properties for himself and his clients.
A strategy I use quite often is something that I’ve called the trident formula and essentially what it is, there are three different types of deals that I love to work with. It’s those bread and butter sort of properties we were just talking about. Buying in below market with strong cash flows in solid growth markets with value add potential. They’re what I call like a base foundation property. And I add a bunch of them into the portfolio, but then it’s doing the small developments, doing the little buy and builds or duplexes, a small subdivision, stuff like that. Even strata titling, I’ve done strata titling twice on unit blocks and it’s honestly such a great way to be able to pull that cash out and keep going.
I think when you combine those two with really high cash flow deals, I’m talking about stuff like dual occupancies, unit blocks, commercial properties, when you are kind of combining the three of those that is essentially my trident. It’s three different prongs going at any one time. When you’re combining those three things, it’s almost unstoppable because you’re getting the cash flow, you’re getting the equity and you’re buying in below. You can pull that back out and it’s a continual process, and that’s what I do. That’s what I’ve done for myself and it works so well that I was able to kind of model it into this formula, this strategy. And that’s the same thing I use for my clients and it’s showing some really, really good results and I’m pumped.
After explaining what his strategy is, Gordon shares a story where he has put his strategy to the test.
An easy one to think about in terms of all three strategies. My first one was a kind of bread and butter typical sort of one. I bought in. The property was really worth about $210,000-$215,000. It needed a little work. And I bought it for $185,000. I went in there and I smashed out the reno myself, did all the work. I did it in eight days. Each day was about 18 hours, I think it was. This was up in Brisbane and I drove all the way up after work one day on a Friday, smashed it out for a whole eight days straight, just back to back.
For example, when I travelled all the way back to work, and started the following day. The thing was, I saved so much time in labour when doing this reno. I budgeted it; it came in at about $6500. So all up, I think on this property I spent $191,500, and it got revalued at $260,000. And it was renting for $300 a week. And this was in a growth corridor in Brisbane and adding properties like that into the portfolio, they’re your foundation properties. You can just add them in all day long because you can pull that equity out and go again. So what I did at the same time I did that, I also had a buy and build on the go.
It was a dual lock, buy and build. In that area I was telling you about where I have some really, really strong contacts, I got brought an off-market deal before it was even advertised. The agent rang me and said; I have a developer; he needs to shift a block like right now. And he said, what can you do for me? And this thing probably would’ve been worth at the time, probably mid to high $300,000, around maybe 360,000-$380,000. I said all I’ve got is $250,000 to buy this thing. And he said my $250,000 is not gonna get it. We did a bit of bargaining and in the end I picked it up for it was $283,000. I did a build on it, a dual lock build. All up it came in at about $680,000. A combined rent on it is $980 a week. And it got valued recently at $950,000. And it took me about 12 months. So I think about $270,000 in equity and it’s positive cash flow. That thing is about $12,000 a year of positive cash flow. This is my bread and butter. I love doing that stuff and getting out there and doing those sorts of deals.
It is important to build relationships with the people working in the property industry because you never know when a deal can just fall into your lap.
A lot of these deals, with what I buy, probably exceed 40%, I think I've worked it out at some point. It was around about 40% of what I buy is off-market through agents that I have been dealing with. I think I started buying in Brisbane and Adelaide four going on five years ago. So I'm always in touch with them and whenever I go up there I've got some of these agents that I’m good mates with now. Like I go up there and I go out with him on the weekends and stuff and go out for drinks and for a feed. And they've actually become good mates. And it's the same as the agents I've got in my local area that I invest in down south of Sydney and it's the same thing, they know I'm a serious buyer.
They know when I call them I’m not stuffing them around and a lot of agents for the sake of an extra $1000, they’re just like, if it’s done, I’ll call Sam, he’ll be able to flick it onto a client, will do it himself if it’s a good deal. It’s building those sorts of relationships, these sorts of connections that brings you the deals before they hit the market. Or they’ll call you when something’s been sitting there for ages and the vendor is like it’s been on there for 3-4 months. It was overpriced at the start and the vendor has become really sick of it. He’s like, I just want to sell it. And they’ll drop $50,000 off what they were originally wanting. And they’re like, well, if I call Sam, he’s got someone that’ll buy it today. It’s building those relationships and keeping in front of those people all the time. And to be honest with you, like they’re actually mates of mine now, like I get on really well with these people. So they love being able to call me with a good deal. So it’s kind of win-win.
Gordon prides himself on being able to talk and get along with anyone and he shares a story where that ability came in handy.
I’ve done a few renovations down there and I’ve done renovations everywhere, everywhere that I bought. And when you do renos, it’s good in a way being a buyer’s agent. Because when I go do renos, I’ll go and speak to the agents and chat with them and go and see a lot of different properties while I’m they’re doing different stuff. Honestly, it’s the same thing. You just build those relationships and I’ll tell you, I don’t know how I do it. I’ve got these weird connections with people. There’s this one place where I did a unit block, a strata subdivision, and I renovated four units and I got on really well with the building and pest inspector.
We were there for like four hours, chatting and carrying on and stuff. And it was like a 40-degree day. It was that hot. And he's like, mate, just come back to the house for an ice tea. I go back. His wife's like, who the hell is this guy? Like they apparently never brought anyone home and from a bloody job site and I’ve gone in there and had an iced tea, had lunch with them. Then before I knew it, they were offering me whenever I was coming back down to do the renovations that I could stay in their granny flat out the back. So I went down and smashed out a three-week reno on this place and I was staying in the back of this guy's house.
Gordon was able to develop his own strategy, but with an abundance of investors in the market, his seen similar approaches…
There’s definitely people out there doing developments. I don’t know if they’re kind of doing it in the same way because a lot of people that I know they do one or the other. And I think what helps enable me to do kind of everything is I’ve got these industry contacts now where people are calling me. I don’t have to keep my finger on the pulse. Like I do keep my finger on the pulse everywhere, but I don’t have to keep my eyes on every location all the time because a lot of people will bring me really good deals. And to be honest, I only really focus on five markets. So I’ve got my normal developing location in New South Wales. And then I have two locations in Brisbane that I buy and two locations in South Australia that I buy. And it works really well for me because I only need to worry about those areas because they’re the areas that I really believe are going to grow.
I just focus on those areas and once the growth has come to those areas and they no longer are the right places to invest, I’ll move on to another, I’ll do my research again, find the area I think truly is going to grow next and go and move into that next area. So I’m still only really spreading myself across five locations, so to speak. It’s building those connections, building those networks and just having people being like, well, I’d prefer to call Sam than call anyone else and if I can bring it to him and he’s going to buy it and that vendor doesn’t have to pay $2500 in marketing, then that’s a win-win for everyone. Especially if they need to sell it quickly.
With such an impressive portfolio at such a young age, Gordon runs through how much it is worth.
I haven’t run the numbers on the portfolio exactly for a little. I think, in terms of value, I think it’s around about $5 million in gross worth. I think I’ve got about $2 million in equity last time I checked. And the positive cash flow that made, that’s what allowed me to leave the job and start the buyer’s agency. The positive cash flow is up around about $60,000 a year. I think it’s a tad under $60,000 a year at the moment.
After following his dreams of playing soccer at a young age and then moving into the family business on the farm. Eventually, he achieved his goals within the property industry and talks more about what is keeping him motivated.
I really just want to set myself up for when I meet the right lady and build myself a family. I just want to be set up. I don’t want to be - I wouldn’t say as hard working. I think I’ll always be hardworking, but not so dependent on needing to work really hard as my parents were. I think that’s probably the biggest motivating factor for me. I saw how hard they worked all the way through to their mid-sixties until I was able to give him a hand as well with some stuff and they were able to kind of step back a little from work. And I think growing up with that looming over me, I definitely didn’t want that. So I think the biggest motivator would be wanting to be able to set up my family going forward in a good way. For us to be comfortable.
Gordon has a successful portfolio of 18 properties but it is not quite enough for him.
In terms of the accumulation phase, I wouldn't say I might be done because I had a goal. I wanted to have 20 properties while I was still 29. I didn't want to turn 30 with under 20 properties. I still kind of want to pick up two more. But I think once I've picked up those two, to tell the truth, most of this year I've just been focusing on my clients. That's what I'm really excited about it. I get these people who come on board and if they've been burnt the way I was burnt back in the day and they don't trust people and then I can kind of flip that on its head and show them, for one that I'm an honest guy, but that I really actually want to help them achieve what it is they want.
I'm a little more excited about that side of things. And in terms of that, rather than looking at growing my portfolio much more at the moment, I'm pretty happy with where it is. I wouldn't mind getting a commercial deal. I've been doing a lot of research into commercial lately and I think those last two that I pick up before I call it a day, for now, I think I probably wouldn't mind doing a commercial deal.
He started accumulating properties at a young age and we learn about whether he had any help along the way.
I've always been someone to kind of go it alone a little bit, looking back now, I probably could've done a lot better than what I have done and I have done pretty well. But I think I probably could've done a little bit better if I had maybe looked to a mentor or someone to help me. But I spent a lot of time, especially through to about 25, I spent a lot of time reading. You'd probably know that the three big property magazines that came out every month, it's down to only one magazine these days. I just used to pour over those. I read them religiously, had this subscription to all three and literally when they came out I read them back to front and learned everything I could. That was where I picked up almost everything that I learned, would have been through that stuff. Just digesting as much as I could and then applying it as I saw fit.
I guess different people are different, but as I love listening to podcasts. I listen to most of the stuff you do as well. I mean, that’s what I do every time I drive somewhere. I’ve got the podcasts on, listening to different stuff. But it’s the magazines. I’m definitely with you there, being able to read it and looking at the numbers.
We delve into any book recommendations that Gordon has for us.
I was always a big reader when I was a kid, in terms of fictional stuff, but I can’t really put my finger on any books I’ve ever read that they gave me too much. Back in the day I probably read Steve McKnight’s, he was probably one of the idols of mine, ‘From 0 To 130 In 3.5 Years’. Which isn’t actually possible anymore with the way lending is done these days? Even if you were able to find deals that could, you actually couldn’t, you couldn’t do it in that manner anymore. But that was a cool book to read. It was all the magazines that were as good as a book to me. There are so many stories, so many perspectives in them, and that for me was the big thing.
Most of the time the best advice you can receive comes from the people closest to you.
The old boy, don't buy the Supra. Honestly, that would be the best advice I've ever received. That was easily the best investment I never made.
Some of the most successful people in the world are creatures of habit, Gordon shares with us what routine he likes to do on a daily basis.
I've got two kinds of things that come to mind as soon as you say that. The morning routine that I was kind of talking to you about before, getting up at 4:59 and then just training every morning. Most people would probably think you'd get tired from doing it, but I get such a massive boost of energy from doing it and literally I'll run all the way through until I crash every night and get up and do it again. In terms of habits, that's probably the biggest one towards my success. The other one that sprung to mind that I kind of mentioned was I think I can read people, judge people very quickly. I didn't do that so much when I was younger. I think I got an inkling about what someone was like or I've got a gut feeling and I didn't back myself in trusting it. Whereas these days. I'm very quick to back my gut on my take of someone and apply that I guess accordingly. That's more of a mental thing for me, backing myself in that regard and trusting myself.
He shares with us what advice would he give himself if he met himself 10 years ago at the beginning?
I would've gone harder. I probably would've said to him buy more in Sydney, pull out the equity and go again. Look to accumulate some different development sites or even dual occupancy sites and stuff like that. I just would've said go harder and back yourself.
At such a young age to have built an incredible portfolio as he has, there is plenty to look forward to in the future.
My journey for the next five years is probably going to be pretty much for my clients. I’d love to see who I could retire in a five-year window. Property is a long-term game, but if someone came to me with the right borrowing capacity and deposit level, I probably could retire them in five years. A lot of my clients though, what I have for them is a five-year game plan of accumulation and it pretty well goes close enough to achieve what they want. They’ve just got to let the portfolio mature. And then probably throw in a few different little manufactured equity deals along the way as well. The next five years, personally maybe try to pick up a commercial deal or two, but then I just want to go all-in for my clients and just see how well I can do for as many of them as I can, help out as many people as I can.
The perks of using a property buyer’s agent is that they are able to show you things that you didn’t even realise are possible.
There's a lot of people that come to me and they think they can maybe only buy one or two and I think it's flipping that on its head. Also, a lot of people don't realise the volume of properties you need to be able to retire. Definitely in my strategy, it's not one or two or three properties that are worth $1 million to get through.
It's building a foundation portfolio. Maybe three to six really high quality, below-market, strong cash flow, growth sort of properties. You're building them and then it's doing the other accelerator strategies alongside that and then throwing in a foundation property every year or so. When I actually put that on pay for people or talk about and explain it to them as to what we need to do, that's the way I show them how they can do it and how I can help them do that. When I've done that for people, just seeing in their eyes and they get their 'aha' moments at that moment when they're sitting across from me.
That's powerful stuff when you see that, honestly. When I see that sort of stuff, I buzz, like I get so much energy from showing people what is possible. And it's cool because like I'm not saying that as someone who hasn't done anything or maybe only bought a property or two, I've been doing this for a long time and I'm confident in what I can do for them. When they can kind of feel that and thrive off of me, that's really the most powerful thing I think I get to experience.
Gordon talks to us about whether luck or skill has shown to be the dominant factor throughout his young career.
There are a lot of people that say you make your own luck and stuff like that and you do. You have to position yourself in a market to experience growth. But I think I got a little of luck in terms of where I am based geographically. If I was based in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide or something like that, I definitely wouldn’t have seen as much growth as I had in the first few properties that I bought that were in the Sydney region base. I got a lot of growth from them as well. But I also didn’t sit on the sidelines and just buy them and pray. It’s everything I’ve done in every deal I do, I’m always forcing value.
I have probably at least had 20% luck, but there is a lot of skill involved in navigating the market and buying the right properties and the strategy. That Trident formula that I use, implementing that, it’s all well and good to have it on paper. It’s implementing it, buying the right properties, doing the deals and having them going all the time, picking up the high cash flow deals, all that sort of stuff. That’s a skill and I may have been working on the farm for 13 years, but I’ll tell you for the last 10 years that’s been my second job. My primary focus all along has always been real estate. In my mind, I’m a professional, a professional investor and I love it.
If you want to contact Sam Gordon, this how to reach out to him.
You can find me online australianpropertyscout.com.au. If you go on there, you can fill in this little info box there. We can book in a call and have a chat. You can have a look at us from different client deals and stuff that's been on there.
I'm on the socials as well. On Facebook just search Australian property scout, Instagram as well. But feel free if there's anyone out there who want to reach out to me and have a chat, I'm always willing to have a chat with people and see what they're hoping to achieve and how I can possibly help them with little portfolio reviews and stuff like that. I'm more than happy to do that.
This episode was produced by Andrew Faleafaga with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.