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Hosted By Tyrone Shum

From Kicking Goals to Landing Real Estate in Gold Coast Market

Matt Srama is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played for the Gold Coast Titans and is now a property investor. He prioritised becoming an athlete straight out of high school, but at the ripe age of 26 he decided to throw in the towel due to many injuries, and delved into the world of property. Currently Srama is aiming to be an entrepreneur and start his buyer's agency business.

When They Started

2020

Properties in Portfolio

5

Main Strategy

Buy and hold

How to Build a Portfolio of $2.5 million with Matt Srama

From looking up videos on YouTube on how to understand property to now having five properties that are sitting around $2.5 million with a 60% LVR, the young investor proves it's important to trust your gut.

In this episode of Property Investory we will learn exactly how Srama has managed to land deals using a variation of strategies when it comes to investing and how he incorporated renovation. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear how he has started to learn how the market works, the kinds of resources that have inspired him along his journey and the kind of mentality he has adopted throughout his journey and much much more!

Matt Srama in Property Investory

Video Interview

Resources and Links Mentioned

Note: Some of the resources may be affiliate links meaning I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

Want to contact Matt Srama?

The Srama Group, a professional Gold Coast based buyers agency company that solely focused on partnering with Gold Coast property buyers to save them time, pain, and frustration during the sourcing, buying, and post sale process, whilst also potentially saving them tens of thousands of dollars during the negotiation process.
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"Hard work and consistency will always beat natural, hands down."

MATT SRAMA

Podcast Transcript

We find out a bit more about Matt Srama and what he currently does.

Matt Srama: I’m 29 years old from the Gold Coast, originally from Brisbane in Queensland. So, Queensland born and bred and I guess my identity, so to speak; I was a former NRL athlete. Professional athlete, then turned to a real estate agent and a high performance coach for younger athletes. And whilst doing all of this, I've been a property investor on the side. Really enjoy that. And also I’m about to become an entrepreneur and start my buyer's agency business as well. So, that's in a nutshell.

The multitasking investor delves into what a typical day in his life looks like.

Matt Srama: At the moment I coach basically aspiring athletes in the Gold Coast, the Titans, on the NRL side. So, literally from 12 years old all the way up to sort of 22 years old, basically a high performance environment where we look after the kids who are aspiring to be up-and-coming athletes. We mentor them, post them and lead them on the right path, and do that on a day-to-day basis—yeah, with all the property stuff as well.

Growing Up Athletically Inclined

Before delving into the property side of things, Srama shares a bit about his upbringing.

Matt Srama: I grew up in Brisbane in a suburb called Forest Lake, sort of South West of Brisbane. It's sort of coming a long way. It’s like one of those larger estates back in the day where, you know, families built their ‘forever homes’ type thing. So, it's actually quite a nice suburb. I enjoyed it. Went to school there, from literally preschool all the way to high school. And yeah, the only reason I'm down at the Gold Coast now is because I signed a contract with the Titans. I made the move down to the Gold Coast and haven't left since.

Tyrone Shum: I guess you can say it's for work reasons.

Matt Srama: Yes, for work reasons. But then, once I finished that chapter, I realised, oh man, the beach is a bit better than the lake up here in Brisbane. It’s beautiful down here.

He goes on to share at what stage in his life he delved into rugby.

Matt Srama: My mindset was always to become a professional athlete. So you'll see a lot of guys, literally from graduation, they'll go straight into basically a full-time professional athlete. So, mine was a little bit different. That was my goal, but I didn't quite get there at 18. I was sort of hustling and working hard to try and get a contract. So, on the side, I was working in, you know, doing anything—warehousing, labouring, it's all different sorts of jobs to facilitate, you know, my passion for chasing to be a professional athlete.

So, yeah, it was pretty long hours where I would train and then go to the warehouse, do some work there, unpack containers and stuff, and then train again in the afternoon. So, it was a good slog. But yeah, I ended up getting there in the end by basically 20, oh sorry, 19 years of age. I ended up signing with the Gold Coast Titans.

The former rugby player explains how many hours he needed to commit to training whilst managing his heavy workload.

Matt Srama: Well, training was always generally in the morning in the junior grades. So, when I was coming through the ranks around that 17- to 19-year-old age, I’d go to work in the mornings and work all day. And then I was lucky enough. I had a job where they would let me out at sort of 3:00 p.m. So, I'd leave the warehouse at around 3:00 p.m. and had a good solid seven-hour day there. Then I'd drive down to the Gold Coast from Brisbane and then I'd spend the next two to three hours doing gym and field fitness down there.

And that was sort of the route there. And then I’d drive home and get home pretty late. I was really fortunate. I was living at home at that stage. So, mum had the food on the table ready for me, which was lucky.

That was the process for a few years. So, it was tough, but it definitely builds resilience. And when you've got a goal, it's just like property investing as well. We always think of that—you hear that word, your ‘why’. My ‘why’ was to become a professional athlete; no one in my family had done it. And my brother and my dad got close, and I really wanted...I was the baby of the family, so I saw that as sort of the last hope of getting there. So, I really wanted to become a professional athlete.

Srama shares whether he did a lot of training to become an athlete before moving to the Gold Coast.

Matt Srama: I guess in primary school, you play for the fun of it and you enjoy it and you make rep teams and stuff like that. But once you get into sort of high school and late high school, the training starts picking up, obviously. I've always loved my training, so to speak.

Again, I always had that common goal of the ‘why’. There were times where I’d be tired after a big day of work, but I knew if I put the work in, you know, it's all going to be worth it in the end and just staying consistent with that. So, I guess like anything in life. I know it sounds cliché, but I've seen it firsthand in the athlete world: Hard work and consistency will always beat natural, hands down.

He looks back on the time in his life when he realised he could actually become a rugby player, as the career requires a lot of strength and fitness.

Matt Srama: It's a funny one. Like there was a point probably when I was 17 [or] 18, and I actually got cut from the Titans. I was in the junior squads. So, as a 17 [or] 18 year old in the junior squad and I actually missed out on the final cut, to make the under 20s side and then I basically stopped travelling to the Gold Coast. I obviously just stayed at home and played for a local team in Ipswich and in the Southeast Queensland competition.

And yeah, at that point it really hurt obviously to be cut. But that was sort of the time in my life where I sort of thought, well, maybe this isn't for me, you know, professional sport and stuff like that. But then again, I know it sounds cliché, but when your ‘why’ is strong enough, you'll push through that.

I just stayed with that. I didn't really care that they cut me. I just kept working hard and worked long hours, and then I was doing my training with the Ipswich football team there. And I had two really good years there and won some awards. And then a few clubs came knocking, and then I decided to go back to the Titans. So, they actually let me go and then they wanted me back, and I sort of felt that was my calling for the Gold Coast. I really wanted to become like a NRL player for the Titans.

He goes on to explain what it’s like to be a full-time professional rugby league player.

Matt Srama: I guess from a macro level, you're paid to be the best athlete you can be. I guess, it's like you're an entertainer, so to speak, you know what I mean? So, everything is geared towards making sure your body's right and making sure you're fast. You're strong, making sure your knowledge base is strong. So, video and analysis constantly, you know; improving self-growth, doing all the extra sort of things.

And then I guess from a micro point of view that some people might not see: You do a lot of community stuff, like outside of the club, we'll be supporting our local community and school. So, you do a lot of those sorts of visits and visit kids in hospital. And, you know, you might go to school and run a session there and just promote the brand and yourself around that sort of stuff as well.

There's a lot of positives. I really enjoy it, but I guess what people don't see is the hardships and the roller coaster of emotions and stuff like that, because, you know, you're so invested in and it is a bit like a bubble. Your whole world revolves around you basically making that side. And if you're not on that side, you could be injured, might not make the side. You know, you're playing good one week, you're cut the next week, and then they’ll cut your salary. Like, it's pretty cutthroat. You always got to be at the top of your game. And there's always someone above you that you're chasing. And there's always someone younger than you hunting for your spot as well. So, you always gotta be on your game.

Reflecting on his time with the Titans, he shares with us the hardships and challenges he experienced.

Matt Srama: It's something that doesn't get spoken about and that's why I respect, I respect a lot of industries of course. But I know obviously the athlete space really well and what athletes go through—not just rugby league—like all athletes in general and even the toll it takes on families and stuff like that. Like for instance, I have teammates who you know, they sign a deal—just say, on the Gold Coast—and then they're cut. And then, they're told they're not wanted here. And then, they have to literally shift their whole family, move the kids out of school, where they just made friends with, and then travel to go to England or somewhere, you know, that they didn't want to really go.

And change happens literally in 24 hours. You might be signed with the Gold Coast, next minute you're getting told you're not wanted and you got to pack up and leave for Sydney if you want to keep the dream alive.

There's a lot of that sort of stuff. For me, personally, I was really lucky. I was a one-club man. I stayed at the Gold Coast the whole time. I signed a long-term deal there, which was really good. But for me, my biggest struggle was definitely with injuries and stuff like that. So, you know, my first three years as a 19 year old coming in the first grade and debuting at 20 years old, basically like living the dream, you know what I mean? I'm winning matches, starting as a hooker, you know what I mean: TV and media, all that sort of stuff. And then probably two years in, I get one injury and then I'm out for a few months. I basically had about six to seven injuries back-to-back all up.

I had sort of nine surgeries throughout my short career. And that was really tough to sort of be on the spotlight. And then, basically, no one even knows where you are. You're basically on your own training and rehab and getting your body ready. And then, I'm back in there again, worked hard and then, you know, I'll get a dislocated shoulder. So, yeah it was a really tough track with injuries—just mentally staying focused. Because I see a lot of guys, you know, they might even have just one or two injuries and it really knocks them around because they obviously didn't plan to have that. But for me, it built a lot of resilience. I really enjoyed that process as funny as it sounds, it made me who I am today. But it was tough.

There's plenty of tough moments; it’s an emotional roller coaster. For any athlete, it's definitely an emotional roller coaster.

Srama shares how his injuries have had a long term impact on him, allowing him to focus on other things outside of being an athlete.

Matt Srama: I'm sure we will delve more into the property stuff and how that all started because I had extra time. But yeah, to this day, I always believe things happen for a reason. And with every sort of setback, there's less things that come out of it. And it's funny how it sounds, but, yeah, I had a heap of injuries. I had to work really hard to maintain them. But funnily enough, like now post-career, I still really enjoy my fitness and looking after my body.

My body is probably in the best shape it's ever been because I've worked so hard at trying to get it to a level where I'm not in pain. So, it's beyond that now; it's more like I've improved actually where I was as a young kid. But yeah, you’re right, that's why I ended up retiring after the doctor’s advice. At 26, I had nine surgeries and I started saying, ‘Well, you know footy’s not everything in life’. You've got to be able to run with your children one day and stuff like that. So, that's where I weighed things up and realised there is more to life than just being an athlete.

Tyrone Shum: It's really fascinating to hear that—like 26 is still extremely young. Most people are just finishing either university, and you've just retired.

Matt Srama: I know, it's funny. And I look at it now, and I still have to tell myself I'm still young. It's just funny as an athlete, because it's such a small window. You're literally thrust into the scene at like 19 with big grown men. So, you know what I mean, like you sort of grow up pretty quick.

But I have to keep reminding myself, like looking back now, man, I was just a baby. Like even my maturity level and just life, where you know now that I'm 29 I'm still like, man, I was such a baby. And then, it's funny me talking about this now at 29. Probably, when I get to 30, 40, I'll be like, ‘Man, I had no idea what I was talking about. But you are so young, you don't know any different’.

Srama goes on to talk about how his family’s background in sport influenced him to pursue a career in rugby.

Matt Srama: Pretty standard story: Dad played, he didn't play professionally. He was always a hard worker, he nearly got there, and then obviously, that transitioned to my older brother. He played, he nearly got there. He played semi-professional, you know; he was still working and stuff like that. Never got to the NRL, but he was sort of close and stuff like that. So, yeah, it just got passed down really. And I always laugh about it.

Like—me and my brother used to compete on everything; he is six years older than me. And yeah, just always getting beaten throughout my whole childhood. And it's funny I look back now and probably that's the reason why I think I ended up getting there in the end. I was so used to losing, you know, and always wanting to beat him with everything. And I think, anything in life, especially sport, but saying that you can relate it to investing as well.

You have got to have that hunger and that competitive edge when you want something.

You got to go out and get it—like, it's not going to come to you sort of thing. I think it's just been passed down from my family.

Matt Srama: From Being a Professional Athlete to Becoming a Property Investor

He goes on to share the stage in which he finally took the plunge into property.

Matt Srama: It’s an interesting one because looking back now and knowing what I know and you hear it with a lot of investors: What's the one thing you wished you had changed? And they would say, ‘I wish I had gotten into it earlier’. And for me, that's definitely the case as well. Like, knowing what I know now, you know. I was on a contract to play professional sport at 19 [or] 20. Now that I know about servicing and all that sort of, I should have taken advantage of the banks and stuff like that. But I just had no idea about property at all.

So, actually, I got into property pretty much when I retired; it's a funny story. I was sitting in a waiting room. I had an injury, and it was one of my last injuries before I retired. And I'm just sitting in the waiting room and they had the magazines, you know like New Idea.

Or, you know, like the Women Weekly or whatever it is—and that was, there was a random Australian property one, API I think it was, one of the older style ones. And yeah I just picked that up and started reading. And then I don’t know, it sort of hooked me straight away.

It sounds weird. It was a lot of just stories of people doing property and then a lot of graphs and numbers, and I love all that sort of stuff as well. And, yeah, it really interested me that people were actually buying property not to live in—like, people were using it as an investment vehicle. So, yeah, that's a good laugh to this day. Like, I actually took the magazine; it's still got the sticker on it. I will give it back to them one day. I'll promise that.

That's how much I loved it. And I've never seen that magazine before. I just didn't even know they made magazines about property. Now, I really had to find this magazine, and I didn’t know where I'd find it. And then, I ended up seeing them in like news agencies. So, yeah, I just used to flood my brain with that sort of content and used YouTube and stuff. And that's how I got into it. But, yeah, to answer your question, that was pretty much the back end of my career.

Tyrone Shum: What year was that roughly where you started looking at your first property?

Matt Srama: I retired in 2016. I got my first property in 2014 and then my first investment property in 2015. Basically, just had an owner-of and one investment. Yeah, pretty much when I retired. But yeah, I could have definitely capitalised a lot more if I knew what I knew now and stuff. But as I said, I'm happy with what happened. You win and you learn, don't you.

He looks back on the first property he purchased and shares how he found it.

Matt Srama: For me, my journey was a bit different. Like, I went investment after that. But for me, I look back, like I probably would have gone into investment first, to be honest, now knowing what I know and things like that. I didn't know too much about investing, so to speak. I knew a little bit about property, so yeah.

I guess, in 2014 I've got like an owner-of. I still actually live here now, and it's got land content. It's close to the beach and thinking about negotiation at that stage...so looking back again, I probably could have saved a lot more money if I knew what I was doing. And I didn't even know what ‘building a test site’ was, and I had nobody to lean on, like with the process.

Obviously, the agents who were working for the seller, and they would help you to a degree. But I genuinely felt like I had no one to lean on to because no one in my family was into property or anything like that. So, yeah, I just sort of went on YouTube and typed in things like ‘what's a broker’ and ‘what's a solicitor’ and all that sort of stuff. And, yeah, just learnt as I went.

I got this first property that's done really well now. Pure coincidence, as they say location does a lot of heavy lifting. It's just really close to the ocean, and it obviously experienced some good growth down here on the Gold Coast at that 2014 mark.

He delves more into how he was inspired to get into property after picking up that first Australian Property Investor magazine.

Matt Srama: It was meant to be a moment because, you know, after I bought that owner-occupier, the first one, for some people that's the dream, isn't it? Just to buy it and pay it off in 40 years or whatever, but still earning money. And, you know, I was a single guy—not too many expenses other than that mortgage. I just loved education. So, the more you start reading and learning, your mindset changes.

So, I guess my mindset started shifting after, you know, the usual like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And you know, you just see other people and learn about leverage and all that sort of stuff. That's when I started thinking...like I just used to put my savings in a bank and then I'd be like, oh yeah, and get a return. But obviously, you can get a way better return. That's when I got really into like, ‘Okay, how can I invest all these properties, not to live in but to actually generate some wealth cashflow and capital capital growth?’ So, yeah, that's when I got in the rabbit hole. And as you know, once you’re in the rabbit hole it’s hard to get out.

It's a really interesting world: property investment. And there's always something to learn. No one knows everything, you know what I mean? I think there's so much to learn on that side.

Matt Smara starts by revealing how many properties he currently holds in his portfolio.

Matt Srama: At the moment, there's five in the portfolio, sitting around $2.5 million with a 60% LVR. So, they have all done pretty well. But I'm at the point now where—and this is, I guess another real big lesson I've learnt as well—is the power of servicing and stuff like that and how you can boost your case to the bank, so to speak. Because, you know, I do what I love. I coach and do that. But, to be honest, it's a really low and minimum-wage job. And being a single income earner on my own as well, you know, there's a feeling basically.

And I'm nearly at that feeling around the two and a half, three-year mark. Once you get to that you sort of validate, and I'm at a point now where I've got to sort of think of different ways to boost cash flow and look at different things like that, which I've got in place at the moment. But, yeah, to answer your question: There's five in there at the moment.

Going Deeper Into Details

He reveals one of the worst investing moments he has had throughout his journey.

Matt Srama: I've got a quick little story where I dodged a bullet, and I'm glad I did. Basically, I was looking at—and this is a good one for investors because they might not realise this as well, but you know—I got to around my third, fourth one and I started, no I was looking for my third property. And I really was interested in, in the dual, not dual income, not the brand new stuff, like the top upstairs, downstairs, like the low, you know what I mean, like the dual living? Like an establishment, not brand new. So, an old style property had the upstairs and the downstairs. I found this one and the ROI, like the rental year, was nearly like 8½% sort of thing.

There was room to manufacture equity and stuff like that. And I just sort of looked and thought, ‘Oh yeah for sure’. And then something happened; the building failed on it. And so, it just needed a bit more, like structural sort of stuff. So, I walked away from the deal. But then, I did a bit more research and spoke to the solicitor and property managers and stuff, and then realised, you know, you just got to be careful with upstairs and downstairs.

So, the guy was renting it, but it wasn't by the books or anything. It was all sort of cash-in-hand. And you know, for insurance, like if something happened to the tenant downstairs there, all these sorts of things. And it sort of made me really...because I was so interested in the yield. I didn't even think about the risk-type play if that makes sense. So, I felt I was a better educated investor after that to really look at each property and assess risk first before diving into it.

If the numbers look attractive, do your due diligence, is what I'm trying to say. I probably didn't do enough on that purchase. I didn't end up getting it, which worked out. So, that was something that was a big sort of lesson for me. And in terms of biggest mistake, I'd say, they were all pretty good.

I guess the only thing would be...well one of my favorite sayings now is ‘You make your money the way in on property’. And probably my first property, as I said, like the agent, listed it at a price. And then I just sort of looked at it and said, ‘I'll offer a little bit below that’. And then we come to an agreement, whatever. But knowing what I know now, I think negotiation is such a cool part of the process. I think it's such a big one where you can make money on the way and just through a little bit of research and dialogue and stuff like that. So, just little things like: find out what the reason for sale is, you know. I don't get why people don't ask like, hey, do you mind me asking what the reason for sale is?

Obviously, I ask in a kind way, you know what I mean? Most of the time they'll tell you, and then do your research. You should know what's selling in the area in terms of a four-bedroom, one-bath. You already know roughly what that is, and then as soon as the property comes on the market around that price and you sort of do your research and there is a bit of motivation, well then, you can sort of judge your offers off that. And even thinking about terms, like sometimes if the motivation is high, you don’t always have to negotiate on the price and can actually negotiate on the terms of the building and the finance and stuff like that.

So, I always say to people who, whenever I chat to friends or when I'm helping people like get all your ducks lined up, like your finance, have your solicitor ready, make sure everything's ready to go. So, when the right property does come, you’re a strong buyer and you can negotiate on different things like terms and the motivation for sale and settlement even. Settlements always act like, is there a settlement term that would suit the seller? You know, make it feel like you're helping them so to speak. I found a lot of those things helped me when I was negotiating after property one that really, I felt I got most of them well under market value.

Tyrone Shum: That's really true because it's like trying to negotiate a win-win situation. You know, the vendors are looking to sell them. They actually don't mind having a longer term because they're probably looking for another place to move or they need to sell—because they're having a divorce or whatever the reason is. Negotiating the terms is probably also a key point, not necessarily in price, but majority of the time, if there's an urgency, then price would obviously be a factor that plays.

But yeah, all these things that you've mentioned are so important and simple questions. But I think people just tend to overlook them. Because if you're not an investor, it's quite easy to look at the property and fall in love with it emotionally and then, you know, offering whatever price. And then if you start seeing a lot of buyers come in and you go, ‘Oh, hold on, there's a buying frenzy here. I better offer’, and then that's where it just takes it out of the picture.

Matt Srama: A hundred percent! And you nailed it on the head. That's one of my favorite sayings. Think of negotiation as a win-win, not you against the agent and the sellers. How can I respectfully manipulate this scenario, so it's a win for me? But also, I’ve got to come across as if I'm trying to help the sellers as well and communicate that with the agent.

So, to even get along with the agent. So many people are so cold to the agent. They want to get paid, so work with them. And I always use the same dialogue, like: ‘They want to get paid man. Let’s get it done today.’ And then they all laugh, and then we will work together. That’s how you get good deals I reckon.

Srama reflects on the moment where everything just clicked for him.

Matt Srama: At the start and end, during...it's like when you get the rental income coming into your bank account and then you know, your payment. If you bought well, and you bought at the right price and you got your loan structured properly and, you know, with all that side of things you sort of look at your balance sheet and you’re like, ‘Whoa far out’. It's just like another little income, like it's another little job—like you’re getting paid X amount into your bank account from one property. Imagine if you had three properties or four properties or five or 10, you know what I mean? It's like these little side jobs in a way. That's how I see the whole portfolio as a business as a whole, you know what I mean?

The aha moment is like a business. There's expenses and there's things you need to manage and control, but there's also income coming in. So, this is why you should take it seriously. This is setting you up for your future. So, yeah, the aha moment, I guess, it's just realising that this is bigger than just buying a property and putting a tenant in. It’s, you know, providing shelter for people and getting a return on that. And you're the CEO of this company.

It’s kind of related in that sort of sense. And I like to treat my portfolio at the same time. I look at my spreadsheet and make sure everything's running smooth and property managers are doing what they need to do and make sure the tenants are happy, all that sort of stuff. So, the aha moment is well, yeah, it's bringing in money. I’m going to bed each night and there's money coming in. So, yeah, just keep doing that. But yeah, that’s probably the risk factor thing as well. Like, I never like to over-leverage on anything. So, that always helps as well.

‘Slow and Steady’ Grows the Income

The successful investor shares at what stage he began to formulate his property strategy.

Matt Srama: It was more, ‘Okay, let me try and get some property with all the fundamentals’. You know what I mean? All the basic stuff, like no high-body corporate land content. How is this possible? Depending on the area, obviously. All the usual bread-and-butter stuff that all educated investors know. But as I went probably on the third and fourth one, and even where I'm at now, I'm still continually learning.

I'm at a stage now where I've got some really good base assets that have done really well capital-growth wise, and they're paying for themselves. But maybe, I can shift the strategy a little bit to look at how I can improve cash flow. Because cash flow is king really. Capital growth is where the real wealth is that, I still believe that. But there's no point having a heap of capital growth properties if you can't hold them either and you can't sleep at night. So, for me, it's like I want to balance them.

I want to balance the portfolio. It's pretty much positive at the moment. I'd like to invest into like one of the big majors, like Melbourne or Sydney—something for capital growth and also something with cash flow. But, I guess, in terms of strategy, something to balance each other out, is what I'm trying to say. I'm looking at it as a macro, as a portfolio, rather than ‘the next one asset is my strategy’, if that sort of makes sense. And I think a lot of the best investors from what I've learnt are sort of doing that, I guess—balancing their portfolio.

He reveals some of his tips that he is currently implementing to increase his cashflow on his properties.

Matt Srama: I’ve spent the last two days—I've got a renovation coming up. Unfortunately, due to COVID and all of that, it's unfortunate times, one of the tenants in one of my properties has moved out. He’s been there since Day 1, and you know, really good area, great little unit with the two-bed units. So, this was the very first investment property that I got: the only unit in my portfolio. But, yeah, they're leaving, which is fine.

And then obviously, I got that unit back then on the basis of the land component. So, it's a block of eight. So, I’m the owner of a solid corner block, close to the water, and fundamentally, you know everything—low-body corporate, old brick, and it is really original. Like, it’s putrid; I don't like it. Location wise, beautiful. But the interior, I don't like going in there. And, you know, I'm okay with that. I left it as it is. It's just getting its rent, paying itself off.

But now seeing where it's at and the tenants moved out, and I've looked at how fast the rental market has moved—it's got some good capital growth—but now, it's like, ‘Okay, I can take advantage of this rental growth now. How can I manufacture that?’ So yeah, just a simple renovation. You know, you hear it all the time: manufacturing your own equity through renovation. So, I'm just going to really do a basic, not overcapitalising on anything, just kitchen, bathroom, flooring, paint and lights and fans, and literally that's it.

So, hoping to spend the max 5% of what it's worth, you know, somewhere around that. Around the 10-mark max, and then, yeah, the rent will go up. It should go up around $50, $60 a week—oh sorry, $40 to $50 a week. Basically where it was at in its original condition. To improve the capital value a bit. But yeah, to answer your question, renovation is probably a big one.

If you’re buying good on the way in, you know, you've got equity there. And then, I guess, if you can do a simple reno, you can also add equity there. So, I always liked the second-hand stuff, you know; that's just my preference. Some people like brand new. But personally, I like the second-hand stuff where the land component is the breadwinner finding where that's going to grow. And then, if I can improve the inside of it with a little reno, I will. That’s a win in my books. But everyone's got different strategies, I guess.

He discusses his strategy for the future and if he will continue to buy and renovate or whether he will branch out on other kinds of strategies.

Matt Srama: At this stage, probably in terms of my knowledge base, as I said, I’m a young guy and I by no means know much more than most people on this, you know what I mean? I'm forever learning in my capacity at the moment.

I believe I like development and stuff like that. But to be honest, I just don't know enough about it. And you know, I'm not one to sort of have a risk until I understand the process more than anything. And for me, I've just seen what's been working at the moment, just with the buy-and-hold long-term, getting that fundamental base, especially while I'm in my 20s. I really just want those good bread-and-butter assets that I can keep adding value and growing.

But as you said, now that I’ve sort of got a good little foundation, I have looked into, you know, whether it's JVs or you know, maybe like a dual, looking at a legalised dual. I've looked at everything, looked at all the different sorts of sales, and there's nothing that I'm fully educated and aware of the process just yet. And that's why I love reaching out to people. So, the more I keep learning and understanding, the more I'll look into it. But yeah, at the moment, I'm just looking to get rich very slow, not sort of in the get-rich-quick scheme, but I do also believe in paying down debt as well.

So, that's the process, you know. Once I get into my 30s or 40s, maybe I will do a JV or a capital play where I can pay down some debt on some of the properties. You know, to really extract some even more equity and put it somewhere else. So, I just guess at this stage, it's just accumulation.

Srama goes on to talk about when he was a real estate agent and what it was like.

Matt Srama: I spent one year as a real estate sales agent. I did that as I was retiring. It was literally...I’d done my course while I was still playing. So, I finished training and did my course and then, yeah, I became a sales agent. And yes, I enjoyed it.

I loved the process, but then yeah, it sounds funny. It is not really anything to do with buying. It's more of a people game, which I enjoy, and I love sales. But yeah, I really wanted to get into, hence why I've started buying. I got out of real estate, got back into the sport sector. And basically, I've been in that while I'm sort of just building my buyers agency now.

But yeah, real estate, it was awesome. I learnt obviously the other side of the negotiation and how they market property. And, yeah, some of the dialogue agencies, it's really cool to know as a property investor. I always have that up my sleeve.

Tyrone Shum: Totally, and at least now you know how to deal with agents because you know how they play the game as well, too.

Matt Srama: Exactly, right. And that's why I can't stress enough like they're doing their job. So, give them the respect. I know there are some out there, there are some egos in the game. But at the end of the day, just through dialogue and simple tactics, you can actually really extract a lot out of the agent in that scenario. But it's cool to know both sides of the coin, I guess.

Educating Yourself With Books, Videos and Podcasts

He shares with us the kinds of resources that have helped him along his journey.

Matt Srama: Shout out to YouTube—so great. YouTube just has everything and anything doesn't it? You see everything don’t you? Like the dude in front of a Lamborghini and saying you can get rich and retire in 24 hours. It's like, ‘No, I'm not doing that’. So, yeah, you got to be careful on what's out there as well.

There's a bit of everything everywhere, but you got to be educated in what you do. But my go-to are podcasts, honestly, like Property Investory and the Property Couch have been really good, with Bryce and Ben. I've been on their podcast a few times. They're really good. They're changing the game in a positive sense and also the Smart Property Investment podcast. They’re really good as a podcast. There's a few out there.

And then also just books, and not even so much about finance, the finance books are great. Rich Dad, Poor Dad and all those sorts of ones. But I think mindset's a big one, like understanding yourself, being self-aware and personal growth, like understanding how you react to things, and like human behaviour and mindset.

I think mindset is huge, because if you're not confident in anything, you know what I mean? If you're not confident as an investor, you'll make a rash decision. You got to be clear-headed. So, I love stuff where it's like, how can I be the best version of Matt Srama? Just as a person, not even as an investor. Because if I'm better as a person and I wake up each day healthier, happier, sharper and fitter, then I'll be a better investor. And that stuff will come. But I don't think you can be a great investor or anything, great athlete, anything, if you are not looking after you and your brain and your health.

So, yeah, I love personal development books, podcasts and YouTube.

Tyrone Shum: Is there any one particular book that you'd recommend that people could read about mindset or personal development that you've really enjoyed?

Matt Srama: We could go on for days on this section. I love those books. I’m such a personal growth junkie. Just a quick one to add value: There's a really cool app called Blinkist. It’s not on my page or anything, don't worry about that. But Blinkist is quite cool, it's like shortened audio books in like 15 minutes of all the best personal development, finance, negotiation, and all those personal development books. You can digest them in 15 minutes.

So, I listen to basically a new book every day when I make my smoothie. So, it's been unreal in terms of that sense. But some just off the top of my head without looking into my list, a really cool basic one is more just for relationships and people is How to Win Friends and Influence People. I really like that. I think you need to have interpersonal communication skills in any form of life. I think it helps with investing as well, like when you're talking to agents and stuff like that and negotiating.

What's another one? The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a really cool oldie, just a nice basic one. There's heaps out there, there’s one called Out of the Maze, that one really stuck with me. And that one is about like when things don't go to plan in life and resilience and stuff like that. So, those sort of things I think are good, because as an investor and as a human, you know, not everything goes to plan. I think it's important to know how to deal with things like that, so you are still sharp.

Srama reflects on the best advice he has ever received throughout his journey.

Matt Srama: I’ve always had plenty of advice, like I love quotes and stuff like that. Probably one that just sticks out just as you said it, was I think when I was on the Property Couch and the boys mentioned that little saying, it's like ‘Location does 80% of the heavy lifting’, really basic ones.

So, basic, and I know there's a lot of variables to that. But if you have that in mind, like it's pretty true. Like yeah, it does do most of the lifting with location. It could be the best property in the world, but if it's in a poor location, It doesn't matter. So, I think location does most of the lifting and yeah, the one I said before is like ‘You can make your money on the way in’.

If he had some time to reflect on his past self 10 years ago, we find out what he would have said to himself.

Matt Srama: I would say, ‘Be patient’. It’s a big one. Be patient and play the long game. Just play the long game with consistency. So, keep doing the little things that make a big difference. But keep doing them everyday. If you don't see results in the first two weeks, six months, whatever, if you're slow and you're getting little results, keep going and keep staying consistent.

Anything worth having in life, I think—whether it's property, whether it's sport, whether it's life—anything worth having won't happen overnight. It's going to take persistence and hard work regardless. So, keep being persistent with it, and keep refining your strategies as you go. And don't ever think you know it all because once you think you know it all, that's when you're in danger.

Srama looks forward to the future, where he shares what is happening for him in the upcoming five years.

Matt Srama: I'm really excited for 2020 and beyond obviously. I'm at a place now, you know, within my portfolio where I feel, you know, I understand a little bit more than what I did then the last one—which obviously with each one, I keep learning more. I've got a lot more clarity with what I want within the portfolio. And I understand the game of finance a lot more now, which has obviously led me to wanting to become an entrepreneur now.

I don’t want a ceiling on my borrowing capacity so I can keep going. And the next five years for me is about accumulation and building a business and becoming an entrepreneur and really delving into that space. It's something I've always wanted to do. So, yeah, become an entrepreneur and also just with the coaching: I want to keep coaching kids and stuff like that. I get a little fulfillment out of that and, yeah, just on a personal level. Keep working hard and staying consistent as you said with everything and keep learning.

Tyrone Shum: And so, Matt, how much of your success is due to your skill, intelligence and hard work? Or how much of it is luck?

Matt Srama: Good question. I would say we create our own luck, to be honest. Nothing annoys me more...because it used to happen in sport a lot when people would say, ‘Oh, he's so lucky’. You know what I mean? Like, people don't see behind the scenes. And to a degree, yeah, sometimes it's the right place, right time. But I think we have to prepare for when those opportunities come.

So, for instance, if you’re lucky an opportunity does come where somehow the universe is aligned and in property terms, like a deal just comes to play, like you’ve got a unicorn deal. And if you're not prepared, if you don't know the process, if you don't know how to negotiate, you'll miss that opportunity. Same in sport: Like, if you've got called into the NRL for next week and you haven't been doing all your little things—like you haven't been sleeping well, you've been going out drinking and stuff like that—you're going to go into that opportunity and not take it with both hands.

So, I think a lot of it is hard work and as we said, staying consistent—boring as it sounds—, being disciplined around your ‘why’ and why you're doing it. And then when that luck does come, because I believe everyone’s got luck, you know, everyone's got little points of life where the universe meets. But yet some of us don't take advantage of it, and some of us are prepared and we nail it when it comes. But I think that the most important thing is perspective as well. Like some people can't see the luck in their life. They're just looking at all the negatives, so perspective is a big one.

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