Veronica Morgan went from studying visual design to completing a Masters in Commerce and Marketing from which she then dove into the recruitment industry. For a change in pace, she took on real estate which then lead her to co-host Location Location Location Australia. Through her rollercoaster of work experience, she settled in the world of property investment and went on to become one of Sydney's Property Market expert.
Join us in this episode of Property Investory to find out about her property investment journey including the peak and fall of it all.
With a wealth of experience under her belt, Morgan is still looking at expanding her professional expertise.
I'm the principal of Good Deeds Property Buyers which is a Sydney based buyers agency. I also co-host of Location Location Location Australia and Relocation Relocation Australia with Bryce Holloway on Fox 12 and this year I actually launch my own podcast as well with a co-host Chris Bates and we it's called The Elephant in the Room Property Podcast where we talk about all the things that nobody wants to talk about regarding property.
With all these different professional roles we asked Morgan what any given day in her life looks like.
In any given day because predominately my business is being the principal of a buyer's agency in Sydney. Obviously what we do is help people who want to buy property within a 10-kilometer radius in Sydney's CBD so that’s lower North Shore, Eastern suburbs Inner West. And we understand really how stressful the whole buying process is particularly in such a, even in a flat market it’s still competitive and challenging let me tell you. So we understand the stresses involved in that. We also understand how devastating it can be when you get it wrong and how easy it is to get it wrong. So my role is to develop products and systems and processes and research and get the message out to as many people as possible so that my team can help them buy the right property.
Morgan never felt a connection to her childhood suburb, ultimately enforcing a habit of being on the lookout for new places to settle into.
I grew up in drum roll I'm always a bit awkward about admitting this. I grew up in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney and for anyone who knows “The Shire” in inverted commas, they realise that most people believe they think it's God’s country and it is to them.
I'm not disparaging it. It's just simply that I am one of the five percent. So I left there a long long long time ago. I actually turned 50 this year I can't quite believe I am quite that old. But anyway I am and I'm thankful that I've made it in one piece. So I've been out of the Shire now for 30 years. I could not imagine going back and I live in the inner city, in the inner west of Sydney.
Wow, you're the first that’s told me that to be honest because a lot of people don't like to say that about The Shire as well.
Well, I will caveat it by saying I never felt like I belonged there. A big reason why I would never belong there is that it's very much a beach culture and I have very white skin.
In that area after you finished high school did you go to university or did you go out and start any work?
I went to university when I saw him. Yeah. I didn't go to schoolies. I mean I remember the day after I finished the HSC I was back to my part-time job at Grace Brothers back at the day. I went straight to university and did a four-year degree in visual communications. Believe it or not and in the first year of that four year degree I realised I was going to be a really crap designer and which is really what I was doing was graphic design and I went along to talk to the dean of the department and he said just to get a bit of advice and he said Well do you like uni? And you know I liked it. I just knew I wasn't very good at what I was doing and he said well since you haven't got any other plans you might as well stick it out. Well the postgrad which is what I did so I finished that degree I went and worked in a design role for a short period of time and within two years I was back at uni doing a Masters in commerce and marketing and I did marketing for some time. I also when I was at university I made sure I did accounting modules as well. I remember learning negotiation in an accounting module which is a bit odd now that I come to think of it but I did that because I in the businesses that I worked with other people I could see that marketers and finance people seem to be always at loggerheads so I wanted to understand why. And in my very first lecture I did understand why it was because of the word control and accountants love using that word and I was like wow that's why marketers and accountants really struggle to get on because of this whole idea of control.
And anyway I learned a lot. Quite a lot I got that under my belt and from there I had me actually into recruitment where I learnt the art of selling and shortcuts cutting short a long story short after a couple of years in recruitment I did really well but I hated it absolutely hated it and I really wanted to get into hospitality. So that's where I went out and bought a café blew all the money that I was making. And that's what led me to the property because after two years in hospitality I really felt that my love of that industry was well and truly exhausted. I realised I had to go and earn some money. I was always interested in the property. I liked the sales side of recruitment. I also looked at the sales process of finding a property finding a buyer putting it together. Very similar to the recruitment process. Finding a job and finding candidates and putting them together. Except I didn't have to get my buyer to like my vendor. That was really good and very different in recruitment and I did that for six years and after six years and I did very well in real estate sales and I really enjoyed it for most of that time but after the six years I really got to the point where I needed a bigger challenge and that is really how I ended up getting to buying side of things.
Back then, being a buyers agent wasn’t a common profession. Morgan reveals how she ended up in the never-before-seen role.
In 2006 I was starting to look at other ideas and projects and I toyed with the idea of actually going to business with my bosses and opening up another agency with them and I also at the same time was thinking I might try and have a baby and I did. So my daughter is now 12 and at that point, I thought to look I'm going to take a year off and really just re-evaluate things and I know an opportunity will come up.
I don't know why that but I just felt that and I really enjoyed that time off in about the second six months of that I started really starting to investigate other things that I could do because I'd really by that stage realised I did not want to get back into sales. I'd really done what I wanted to do there I had enough and so I did start to look into the buyer's agent thing but I was still dabbling in a number of different things and outside at one point I thought I was going to go and sell cars so I really was looking at a wide variety of options there and I actually was contacted by somebody that I'd done an appraiser for some years earlier. They’d moved to London and they wanted to buy back into Balmain which is where I was selling had been selling and I want to buy back into Balmain and they asked me if I’d represent them and I believe that's where it started. I just thought Oh well I can help you and you know they didn't even end up going to that property. But in the process I went through it thinking okay how can I represent them? I thought this really interests me and that's where it started.
Reflecting on the beginnings of her property investment journey, Morgan recalls whether her parents had any influence in her jump into real-estate.
I couldn't even tell you where it came from I think it really came from for a while there I lived in Manly and I think in fact my cafe was in Manly and while I was there I just became interested in property generally. I think I had quite a few real estate agents as my client as my customers and I think maybe that's where it started. I was having conversations with them. I was looking through Daily Mail all the time. You know and I started looking at properties to bit hard when you have a cafe that you've at all day Saturday. But I was yeah that’s where the interest to peak. And that's really I guess where it started.
With such a great amount of professional experience in the property investment industry, Morgan tells us the story of how she scored the role of co-host on Location, Location, Location Australia.
When I started off as a buyer's agent so my business actually started look I was contracted for someone else for a while and I actually started my business in 2009 and I really started researching overseas buyers agents because there just was not a lot here. Some here but some and obviously I was watching the show you know relocation location location location etc. so the English version with Kirstie and Phil and you know I think in a way that was a bit of training just watching that. And I remember researching and just looking into their website just seeing what resources they had for instance and there was something there about Phil coming out to film in Australia and I was really confused. Are you kidding me? Can't find an Australian you know presenter this is ridiculous and I didn't go hunting any of this. I honestly tell you this came to me. But the idea was like Oh if ever there's going to be a show in Australia I want to be the host.
So that's sort of just it just was it led dormant who did nothing about it I can't claim to have made this happen one little bit. And I was actually in holidays in Thailand and I got contacted by the producers of the Australian version of the show and they were just contacting I think every single person they could find online. Well you know there was nothing special in terms of how they found me and I just sort of I don't know I just sort of had this sense of entitlement I don't be cheeky I guess but I really felt it was mine. I just didn't want anyone to get it I really wanted it and I just felt it was mine. This is this is me. I can do this. So it's a bit odd because I'm not always that confidence believe it or not on in life and I'm not that certain always. But I was about that and I managed to somehow get chosen. So there you go. That's the end of that story.
Morgan’s first investment happened in her mid-20s, where she was unsure of what she was getting herself involved in.
I have made mistakes even though I'm a professional and in fact a lot of the mistakes that I prevent my clients from making are rooted in learning from my mistakes. My first ever property I bought when I was 26 or 27 trying to remember how it was at the suggestion of a boyfriend. And it was while I was in recruitment and I think I was 27 and yeah I was in recruitments I was earning good money and he suggested well you know I've got a friend who's got this development in Chippendale or wherever it was and you know you can buy one bedroom property for X amount of dollars you should do that.
I went off to look at this brand new development and the apartments that I could afford or I thought I could afford and I was mortified. They were horrible and to this day I’m glad I didn't buy one. But what it did do it got me started. I went right that's it. And so I started looking and I actually did buy a brand new property as it turns out. And I think it was back in the days in the late 90s or mid-90s where you could actually buy at a reduced price, not like today. And I think I did alright you know I actually lucked it. I bought I actually bought a studio. It was a very well designed studio. Back in the day, I could borrow 95 per cent of it I think stamp duty was like three thousand dollars you know. It was a great investment.
I lived in it for a year and then I kept it as an investment for a number of years and ended up selling that in order to buy my first house. So the capital growth of that property gave me the deposit on a house meant I couldn't have saved it as fast as it made it in terms of property growth. There was a hell of a lot of luck in that. Some of the mistakes were that really I didn't actually I didn't push myself. I was very safe in terms of what I bought. I could have afforded more. I didn't have anyone to guide me really. Other than the boyfriend suggesting that I buy something that was eaten. So I didn't know where to go to get advice. I didn't know you could get advice but you couldn't. I don't know my parents were no help. They've owned their own home but that's it. So I didn't have the network around me or the support structure to make the best decision I could have made but I made an ok decision.
Morgan recalls a high-pressure experience of one of her worse property investing moments.
When I sold that property I bought a house with my then-husband and we used it. Obviously the fact that I had that property with the equity I had that property as the effectively the deposit but because the bank because it was less than 50 square metres, in fact, it was less than 40 square metres it was 36 square metres. The bank had changes all their rules and they would even it was actually positive cash flow properties well and it was really frustrating to me that the bank forced me to sell it because it was under their threshold in terms of size and that was really infuriating and it actually put me under quite a lot of pressure because once again I didn't have good advice or good access to advice.
I was under the impression shall we say that I could buy without having to sell. Then I realised I had to sell all and then all of a sudden I was under absolute pressure to get that sold. Prior to my settling on the house. So that was scary because I really felt I really really felt quite exposed at that point in time and I'd be panicked anyway managed to get it sold and got to solve a fair price and the rest is history. So that was sticky and that was back to not getting good advice and not knowing what I didn't know so if I didn't ask the right questions.
I mean from that experience I would say you've probably definitely mentioned many times getting good advice and getting the right guidance really makes a difference. If there was that kind of thing how would you have looked at it differently to go into buying property back then. And this is all hindsight stuff but will be interesting to know.
Well in hindsight. Okay so before buying that property, first of all, I would have gone to a broker and understood my full borrowing capacity first because what I did I just looked for pretty much cheap property because I didn't like the idea of carrying debt so I could easily service that property that loan and so I could have borrowed more and service more. So that is the first thing that I did wrong because of course when you're young and you've got good earning capacity you don't have any responsibilities such as children or the rest of it unless you peak accumulation phase. Now I know it's got a name you know I didn't know that back then and so I've missed an opportunity cost I guess buying a smaller asset and as it turns out in hindsight back then I didn't know that 50 square metres schools become was going to become a magic number and that was going to change things. So that's the sort of the future of it. So that's the first thing that's really about understanding how to push yourself when you don't have any other responsibilities. And I think that's pretty important. I will say though it was an excellent location and that is really what did the heavy lifting with it. So I made a mistake on the actual asset but the location meant it sort of covered off that mistake. Now you can do so much better if you have a location and you make sure you get an excellent asset. You can absolutely supercharge capital growth. So that was a mistake and that's something I know trips through learning through that. Obviously I didn't pass that knowledge onto my clients. And then, of course, exchanging contracts on a house thinking that you know I had this luxury of time as to when and where I chose to sell the apartment that was a massive risk I took and I didn't even realise I'm taking it. So that's another thing. You know if you have to sell before you buy you need to absolutely know that before you actually commit to a new purchase.
In contrast to this experience, Morgan shares one of her countless success stories with property investment.
I bought a property an investment property actually in Alexandria house back in October 2012.
And that you know that's the sort of timing if you like. I can go on and on because how I got that in just before the Sydney boom which meant I got all of the growth in a particular property but not only that I actually it was one of the properties that as soon as I saw it online I was went oh that's a great property and to give you an example I was actually looking for a client at the time and there was another house which was exactly 50 houses up that street and I liked the look of that for a client and the client was overseas and they weren't quite ready to make a claim without seeing the property and I'd started a preliminary research in the price and looking into the sales history around the area and the rest of it and I came up with this other one the one I ultimately bought which had failed to sell a year earlier and it came up in the recent sales which is a bit of an odd thing in some of these databases that I did.
All were like that and what I loved about it was that it had blue shape carpet and blue stripy wallpaper but I could see just from the photos I knew the location was excellent. I discovered from the photos online that this was a really well-maintained property and I can pick this stuff upright. So when I looked at the property it stacked up with everything that I thought I would never recommend anybody choose it properly based on what they see online you know there's a caveat there but we have this bit of a joke on a Nanna’s property and a Nanna’s property is basically something really dated but in immaculate condition and that is exactly what this property was in immaculate condition but dated and so blue shape old carpet blue stripy wallpaper just turned people off but I could see underneath that a lot of the original features was still there. You know it was as I said it was a very well maintained very well-loved home and I managed to pick it up because funnily enough, it happened to be about to be placed back on the market. I picked it up at the same price that the best offer had been a year earlier. And I was I just still sort of turn around and pinch myself because it was just that was one example of where all the ducks lined up all my knowledge as to what to look for what constitutes a good property how I found it was a little bit left of centre the timing was absolutely perfect. They had missed out on an opportunity. It's the owner's expectation was a little bit too high a year earlier and as a consequence, I got to a whole year later it's a bit less than I would have had to pay had it hit the market-fresh.
A chit chat on Capital Growth with Veronica Morgan
To start off, Morgan shares what held her back in the beginnings of discovering her passion for property investment.
I had friends that had had interest rates up 17 18 19 per cent and taken second jobs to pay for their home loans. So that was what was happening in the late 80s early 90s. So it wasn't that long before that. So that wasn't that distant a memory. So for me, I had that experience of my friends being trapped under enormous financial pressure because of those high-interest rates so it was just something that was very much in my mind at that time. I think moving into buying the house once again I was nervous about extending myself. And you know I think people need to be nervous about extending themselves.
But I knew enough because by that time I was actually in real estate and I knew enough to know that I was buying a good asset and I think that's what is hard for a lot of people to get around. They fear the debt and debt needs to be treated with respect don't get me wrong on this but really the risk is not so much in debt but in the asset. If you buy a garbage asset you know the debt is going to be a real problem obviously but if you've got an excellent asset the debt is much less of a problem because you've got an excellent asset you've always got options.
Morgan shares a very unique way that she’s been able to tap in to great mentors.
I wouldn’t say I’ve got any official mentors but the whole podcast vehicle for me has been amazing. Right? So it started when I was actually on The Property Couch, Brice's podcast and this was God nearly two years ago I think it was now and until then I actually never listened to a podcast. Now I'm an absolute avid podcast listener and so The Property Couch is very useful because there's a lot of really good solid information that comes through not just Brice and Ben but also a lot of their guests. And through that, though some of the people that I've really really enjoyed listening to and learning from like John Lindemann for instance you know he's been around a long time and I find his approach just a little bit different. I wouldn’t say he's a mentor but I certainly you know I now seek out some of his commentary and his opinion because it's a little bit different in terms of its perspective. You know I read up and listen to Dr Andrew Wilson a fair bit and he's quite foolish in many ways but I like the way he slices and dices his data the way things that you know he thinks about what really is going on. And I find that interesting and refreshing as well. So I guess what I would say is that I'm seeking out thinkers in the industry and I really respond to that so I will go through phases where I find someone I really respond to everything they do and say and then I'll move on to someone else.
She recalls the best piece of advice she has received and how it has shaped her mindset when it comes to making a property investment decision.
The best advice I ever received is to check your biases. We can be so blinkered I guess in a way this goes back to actually the first episode of The Elephant in the Room podcast. We actually interview a behavioural scientist who focuses on the, he specializes in the financial markets and he went to his first auction and came back went right well there are all these biases these behavioural biases that are being appealed to by the auction process by the auctioneer you know scarcity this is mental accounting there's a whole bunch of stuff in there right. But one of the things that that really hit home with me was this idea of sunk cost and this is something that I've actually applied since instant decisions I've been making about some properties I've got. And that is just because I've spent money on you know evaluating or maybe doing a bit of renovating or whatever it is that I've actually spent money on. I have to draw a line in the sand not include that money that I spent in my decision making for whatever I'm doing moving forward.
In terms of strategy, Morgan reveals to us why capital growth is what guides most of her property investment purchases.
That strategy is capital growth and I know that it doesn't suit everybody. And I know that I've been able to because I do have good earning capacity to my own endeavours in other areas then I haven't had to worry about yield in order to support my portfolio. My big concern with anyone to really focus solely on yields is that yield comes at a cost and it generally comes at the capital growth piece. And if ever you look back 10 years and go I have a problem with doubling value or I had probably gone up 25 per cent you know the yield will never fill the gap between you know that 25 per cent and I've seen growth ever. And so and I know I'm a buyer's agent who will encourage people not to buy property if I think that they cannot buy a good asset if they really really really need the yield in order to be able to afford it. I'm very different from a lot of other buyers agents. I will suggest they go and talk to a financial planner and look at other assets, other asset classes. And the reason for that is because there are risks and the in and out costs the lumpiness of property as an asset the very fact you can't sell off a bedroom if you need to get a little access to some cash. All of those reasons combined to me for my own strategy for me is that I don't want those types of properties in my portfolio. I'd rather the flexibility of different types of assets.
Morgan is adamant about ensuring her buyer's financial safety when it comes to buying into investment properties through their assets.
What that means though is that is so I have a very low-risk property investment strategy and that means that I invest only in the world at this stage barring one property I have I have four properties within 10k radius of the CBD of Sydney. I have an apartment in Bondi, I have a house in Alexandria, I have a house in Leichhardt and I have a house in Newtown and I also have another property but I'm not going to talk about it. Because that’s another story. It's actually a weekender that I bought with my ex 10 years ago before I knew what I know now about weekenders. So the next property I’m going to buy is going to be either an apartment, an older apartment or a house in Melbourne within the 10K radius.
Because it fits the same criteria of a low-risk location and that is where there is always a demand for the quality property regardless of market conditions. And so even in the current downturn in Sydney where their headlines are screaming crosses flying over where we see you on an on the ground level. We see certain properties get competition and certain properties will sell for more than that same property would have sold for a year ago and that's the sort of property that I want to buy. Because there is always there is that scarcity so the location does you know I've seen the bulk of work and the scarcity for that type of property and the demand for that type of property does the rest of the work for you. So you get a performer as a consequence.
Morgan has a unique approach to life and she shares how this habit has influenced her every day.
I drive everyone nuts right because I have this approach to life - It's continual improvement and so I'll never ever attain 100% of anything because the minute I get to somewhere where I think I'm really happy with that I think that could be improved and that's just my personal nature and you know it's taken me a while to be comfortable with that, to be honest, and not frustrated with myself. And I'm okay with that now. I see it as a good thing at by I do know that it drives everyone else nuts. So I would say that's a personal habit.
- Veronica Morgan
She shares the best resources she’s come across, including her own, for listeners to deepen their knowledge about property investing.
Well, of course, I'm going to say you've got to listen to The Elephant in the Room property podcast because that's the one that I'm the co-host of. One property podcast that I think is absolutely essential listening and that is Your Strata property. If you are going to buy or you already own strata property. That is one that I just love. Amanda Farmer, she's a strata lawyer. It's a bit dry once again all of the boring stuff but it is actually really packed full of very very practical stuff for people owning strata and I think is important if you own strata that you try to know about it. I think you do need to know about it. So that is something that I listen to quite regularly. I am sure you know Joney Laxmi some of the podcast some time ago called Your Property Success and look she only had one series but I have to say if you went back and listened to every single episode of that she has interviewed a number of absolute heavy hitters. Fabulous content in that series. I haven't listened to it for a while but I wish she did more. I definitely recommend people go back and look at that one. And obviously Kevin Turner's Real Estate Talk I mean he you know I probably don't. I definitely don't agree with a lot of people that he has on there but what he does have a wide variety of property specialists and that's just interesting I guess to get a more general understanding and also I guess exposure to areas in which certainly I don't delve into but I find that quite educational in other areas for instance. That's very useful as well.
To wrap things up we take a look at what Morgan is excited about for her future projects.
I’m very excited because I'm changing my debt structure a bit and I'm actually about to renovate another property which is my home again. I've done it before and it was a thoroughly exhausting experience and I swore I'd never do it again and here I am about to do it again next year hopefully by this time next year I'll be coming close to completion. So it's a big renovation I'm very very excited about that. And I'm going to sell the weekender by the way and reinvest and that’s why I’ve targeted Melbourne to invest in. So that's quite exciting.
As well as cleaning up her property portfolio, Morgan reveals potential plans for her business.
I'm developing quite a few different offerings in the business. I'm really excited about one that I've been developing which is a portfolio review service and it's it's a very robust way of helping people understand the quality of assets that they hold in the property when it comes probably as I mentioned before the location is 80 per cent of it. And so I’ve developed the methodology we look at four key areas of the location we look at the history of current situations short term and long term foundations and then we look at the actual asset itself. Five key things that we look at to really work out whether somebody should hold on to the property or not. And the psychology behind this is that it's easier for people to sell the wrong property than it is for them to sell the right one. So they hold the bad eggs hoping that they're going to make money at some point and they sell the good assets and I'm on a mission to stop people doing that. So I'm really excited about that. And underpinning that is my decision to sell the weekender because that's the lemon I should be selling.
If you wish to connect with Morgan and find out more about her successful property investment journey, you can reach out to her through the following.
First of all you can find me at good deeds dot com dot au.
That's G double O double D double E D S dot com dot au. I've got a number of free resources on there and I've got a very extensive blog which has got loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of info plus videos on how to use lots of the programs. I've got these books in there you know. Auction tactics, low-risk investments, the checklist is on something they that you can have no free access to. On The Elephant in the Room property podcast. You can find on iTunes or you can go to the Elephant in the room dot come. You can subscribe. You can also download this show summary notes, the transcripts from every episode and there's various checklists and other resources in there as well. So two great ways to get hold of me or whatever I'm talking about or writing about.
Frequently Asked Questions
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This episode was produced by Raquelle Amine with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.