Nicole Jacobs

From buying her first investment property on a whim to becoming the directing officer of her own buyer advocate business, Jacobs has come almost 20 years into the business and has found success in both her own property investment portfolio and advising her clients on their purchases as well.

Listen to this episode to discover how Jacobs first cultivated her passion for property investment, why she always renovates and develops her properties with the consumer market’s demand in mind and how she has many lessons learned from missed investment opportunities.

“It’s looking at what’s on the market, what is selling well and why it’s selling well and it doing a lot of research with agents.”
-Nicole Jacobs

My name is Nicole Jacobs. I am the directing officer and effective control of Nicole Jacobs Property and we are buyer advocates in both Melbourne and Sydney. We’ve been buying for… or in the real estate industry for the best part of 18 years so I’ve been around for a while. Many people may know me from my profile on the block on Channel 9 but predominantly I am normally, my normal job is actually dealing with clients every day, not buying on a high profile show.

Jacobs keeps herself grounded by interacting with clients on a regular basis and consistently learning more about the lessons in property field to better herself as both a business owner and a person.

One of my key strengths I think is keeping it real. It’s very much about relating to the people that you’re looking after in the market and also relating to the people you’re dealing with when you’re negotiating.

So I think it’s a huge factor that you need to have when you’re in the industry. I think everyone in customer service but I think that you can speak to people on a really normal level and you know what, you learned lessons every day don’t you. So I don’t know everything and I’m always open to you know finding out more information and making myself better as a person and as a business owner.

Jacobs’ daily routine varies according to her clients and their requests.

Any given day, I could be doing anything so it could be interviewing new clients, and when I say interviewing, they interview me and I interview them to work out if we’re a good match or not. I could be sitting down having coffee with a local agent to an area where I am actually looking to buy a property for a client, sending out emails, on the phone. I have an amazing assistant, Taylor, who does a lot of my background work so I don’t have to get bogged down in getting contracts ready and what have you. So I am very much focused on the clients and that relationship with them so it could be researching the market, it could be going out and looking at properties, shortlisting properties for clients and then letting them know what I think is a property for them.

Despite the stress that comes with the responsibility of buying profitable properties for her clients, Jacobs believes she is extremely fortunate to be able to work in her current profession.

We do specialize in the 3 million plus market.

So we’re in some beautiful homes and I really think, I generally walk into most homes and just think wow so fortunate to do what I do. Yes I spend other people’s money and I buy beautiful homes and lifestyle properties but I really do have that opportunity to make sure that we’re buying well and it’s the right home, property or investment for them because if it’s the wrong one then it’s going to be a very very expensive mistake.

So in that market I mean of course that’s my everyday job is jumping into that market for clients and that was very focused. It was put yourself in the right spot and that’s where you’ll be. If you know, obviously I started it very you know 400000 dollar apartments and worked my way up into the three million dollar market. Obviously the market has grown in that time too so that shifted everybody, you know the old one mill to the old two to now 3 etc. but getting into the buying cycle of it, I was selling agent prior so that’s probably where my love of real estate came from initially anyway to invest myself.

Jacobs began her career as a buyers agent after gaining an interest in what went on behind the buying and selling of property, having already starter her property investment portfolio on the side.

In fact I get people knocking on my door to work with me and they actually haven’t had any selling experience but I find that if you’ve had the selling experience you really do know what’s going on the other side of the transaction even if you’ve just bought and sold yourself, you’ve really never been on the vendor’s transaction side where the selling agent is primarily there just for the vendor to get the best possible price.

And the conversations that go on behind closed doors without the seller are phenomenal so it’s that psyche behind getting the right way of speaking to your vendor to make sure that they make a decision that you have almost, not manipulated, but you’ve made sure you haven’t given them their top offer straight away you’ve left it, you’ve got them to say yes we’ll sell it a lower figure then you’re come in with a higher figure, they feel good, you feel good, everybody feels good but you need to know what’s going on the other side.

So when I’m looking after clients and buying property I could give them a very good indication of what’s going on on the other side. So right now the selling agent probably talked to their vendor about X Y and Z and they’re getting them into the right headspace. So at the moment we’re playing a bit of a game, it’s going back and forth but eventually they’ll arrive at the right conclusion hopefully and if they don’t well we move on. But I think having the experience in the selling side and I sold off investment plans, I sold investment properties, I sold big homes a lot of the different areas of selling and then had that moment where I was asked to look after buyers and that’s when I went bang.

This is where I feel at home and that’s how I started being a buyer’s agent.

Jacobs believes that her current job as a buyers agent requires her to make sure everyone involved in selling and buying transactions are happy and on the same page.

I remember selling a girlfriend’s house. And we got a great price and I said to the agent that was you know, my boss and I said “right let’s go and give her this offer, this is amazing” and he goes “oh no no hold on straight there, we don’t give you that offer straight away, we get her to agree to a price much lower than that so when we come in with our offer she’s ready to sell but if we go in with that offer too early, she’s gonna say great, what else can you get me?”

It’s about making sure everyone is on the same page and very happy.

Having been brought up in the suburban areas of Melbourne, Jacobs’ childhood was extremely carefree.

I grew up in Glen Waverley in Victoria which is…

Well it is a lovely place it was very different when I grew up there was no cinema, there was no amazing cultural background. The Chinese that are there now who have brought in beautiful restaurants and lots of things you can do. We think we had target and a few other things to go and see and big blocks and it used to be an orchard where I grew up so it was a lot of space, an amazing childhood. Went to the local primary school and the local secondary school and really just had a very carefree childhood.

After graduating from high school, Jacobs moved on to teaching sports in England before pursuing a tertiary degree in education. However, due to her husband’s job transferral, Jacobs moved to the US where she discovered her love for property and the stock market.

After school I went to I actually took a gap year and taught sport in England. And that gave me the space to think about what I wanted to do but I’d already enrolled in a teaching degree. So a bachelor’s degree in secondary teaching. So I did that and that was phys ed. and science teaching. And then I finished that and during that time, I was the checkout operator at Safeway. So I did the hard yard of putting people’s groceries through the check out which I loved. They were an amazing company to work for and then I went on to be a pharmaceutical rep. So I didn’t go into teaching, I graduated and decided that there is no teaching for me. We had families of teachers and I’d just decided if I didn’t want to be there, the kids would know and I’m very passionate about the fact that you are very much a role model as a teacher and if you don’t want to be, the kids just know.

So I decided it’s not for me so I can’t give something 100 percent then I don’t want to do it. So I went on to pharmaceutical repping and during that time I did a marketing postgrad at Monash Uni as well. And then that led me through to a marketing position in Sydney with a large pharmaceutical company and then my boyfriend, now husband was transferred to San Francisco so we moved to San Francisco in the late 1990s and so that’s where I couldn’t work because the visa structures were different and from there I then started doing courses and one of those courses was learning how to buy foreclosed properties and also option trading.

So that started my complete obsession with both property and making money on the stock market.

Her stay in the US turned Jacobs’ life around, as she developed her interest in the property industry and decided to pursue it as a career when she moved back to Australia. Jacobs’ overwhelming passion for the field did not go unnoticed by her teachers and they were also quick to offer her professional opportunities.

I realized when we were in the states that previously I thought I wanted to be a marketing manager for a very large company but having the opportunity to really just sit back and go okay I can’t work in that industry here. What am I going to do? And that’s why I turned to those those two areas because it’s quite big back then it was the dotcom era. We were living in an amazing city where everybody encouraged everybody to do well and it was very unlike Australia where if you were doing well people sort of you know cut you down whereas in the States they would like wow what are you doing and how can I do that, how can you teach me. So it was a great time to be there. And then I just thought like coming back to Australia what do I want to do. And the simple questions well I love people and I love property. So as soon as we touch back down into Melbourne I went to a real estate course and did my agents representative. From there the lecturer actually offered me a job at the completion of that two week course. So as you know the entry level for real estate is really low but it was a great opportunity for me to get a job straight away in the industry. And he taught me a lot.

He taught me a lot about buying, selling homes in I started in Elwood which is a beachside suburb. And yeah he was probably at the end of his real estate journey and I was at the start so lessons I was incredibly enthusiastic. He had been in need for so long he could have a copy on the sidewalk and someone would come past and say hey I need to sell my house, can you sell it for me? That was what he expected which was a very different way to now, it’s a major business now.

Thanks to such opportunities, Jacobs was able to prove herself as a trustworthy and desirable buyers agent.

I was very good at what he did and then I went on to sell property off the plan with a very large overseas developer and that was an amazing experience. That was down at Docklands which is you know a beautiful location.

At the time it was yeah it was all very new and you know already had quite a few buildings up that it was yeah very interesting times. And then from there went back into traditional selling, back into Bayside again with some agents that really influenced my way of looking at real estate and putting me you know really into being a buyer’s advocate so I have some great mentors from that era and a lot of thank yous when I talk about what I do now to say thank you for making me look after buyers because I realized then and there that that was you know if you like an a-ha moment of this is what I meant to be doing.

In regards to her own property investment journey, Jacobs had impulsively bought her first property with her husband a little while before she moved to America.

I bought the first investment property before we moved to America but back to my parents days, no a very conservative, probably as teachers we had, you know, they had four daughters. Bringing them up, it wasn’t really something that we ever spoke about. My father was incredibly artistic and he was probably should have been an architect. He used to love drafting and had a dream home on a country block that we had and in Woodend and he was always wanting to build an amazing home there. And I think that you know he surrounded us with books on architecture, on photography and all of those sort of things so I was big. I was very big into drawing and dreaming back then as well. And so I think he was probably the most influential on being able to aspire to something else. Mum was always there grounding us and making sure that we were real. So we had a very good balance between the aspirational maybe yes, and the real world.

Jacobs first encounter with property would have to be during her working career as she had no exposure to financial management nor investment as a child.

But I think that you know we didn’t really talk finance at home and that was something that I had to learn from a later older age by the people that I associated with and being surrounded by people that were risk takers, were able to put in front of me ability to make more money using tangible assets that I really related to which is property. So I had a portfolio, a shared portfolio very early on from my working career but not as a child, a working career and from that it then became okay well I can touch and feel property and I feel safe with property so that’s why I moved into that area for investing because it just made sense to me.

Jacobs’ first investment property was a success, mostly due to luck where they purchased the property on a whim.

The first one that I bought with my husband, well boyfriend at the time, but obviously knew he was going to be my husband. We started off small with a two bedroom apartment in St Kilda East and that really was, it bizarrely was before I was an estate agent and so we had been looking around and then we just happened to drive past it so I wouldn’t recommend this to many people. We drove past saw the for sale sign went in and bought it. Didn’t even have the cheque book, had to go home get the cheque book come back and buy it. But I’ve always had a gut for property. I’ve always been able to whether it’s for clients or myself I can walk in and I can actually feel it and then I make it happen again. I probably wouldn’t recommend that to first timers out there but you know it was very much a spur of the moment. We knew what we wanted because we’d seen quite a few things so without really knowing, we’d done a little bit of market research.

Jacobs admits that her mental list of mandatory features for an investment property helped her focus on finding her first property investment deal.

That helps you focus than when you’ve got your list then you don’t waste your time on other properties that are not fitting that list. It’s almost like I learned lessons from the trading options online and unless it ticks all of the little symbols that you’ve got to get for that options trading to be a really good opportunity, you don’t look at it. You just go on to the next one. So it’s trying to take the emotion out of it as well and making sure that you make the right decision based on really good information because knowledge is power.

Jacobs’ property investment journey hasn’t been completely smooth-sailing either, as a missed investment opportunity still haunts her and her husband to this day.

One is a property in Brighton that is in on an incredibly good street and we pulled out midway because we were not on the same page and we still look back at it. I try to forget it. My husband brings it up quite frequently.

That we should have bought that property it would have. I mean it’s tripled in value since we looked at it so you know we can look at lots of things like the market going up but it did tick a lot of boxes and because I just didn’t have enough information behind me. I felt it was the next step in the property ladder from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom townhouse. Great street, good facing all those things and I just like I was in the middle of it going. No no. And we just pulled out. So I felt that you know so we learned lessons from that that you have to be, you have to have the knowledge behind you and you have to have that list.

After successfully making a profit off their first investment property, Jacobs began to climb the property ladder by buying, renovating and selling.

Well, as an investment hat but then to buy it under a principal place so that we could. Our property journey started with doing that although probably we didn’t need anything done to it. We just bought well. The next step was okay how can we get ahead in this market as is young you know late 20s. How can we get a foothold in this property market and so we did the property ladder thing of buying renovating and selling.

Along her property investment journey, Jacobs realised that in order to maximise her chances of making a profit on her investment properties, she would have to make decisions based on the desires of the market.

The strategy was to see an opportunity. So one of the key things in lessons that I learned very early on from mentors was that you make your money when you buy. So if we could buy well and if the market did turn down then if we could hold it then we’d made the right decision. If we were at the mercy of the market to sell at whatever time because we had to sell and then we would you know if we’d bought well then we would still probably break even and be able to exit from that property. So the strategy has always been to buy well and to make sure that we buy in a really good position, in a good postcode. Really to limit risk. And to make sure that when we’re renovating that while we might have been living in it to reduce capital gains or to negate capital gains on some of those properties it was make sure we renovate it for the marke, that we’ve never renovated until recently for us. We’ve always renovated for the market.

Jacobs advises her clients to do the same with their properties, especially if they intend to sell the property in the future.

We see that when we see it on the block many people that go in and they want to put their own touch on it. It’s like guys think about the market you’re selling to, you are renovating for profit here you must meet the market. I know you love this that and the other but does the market? If the market doesn’t and that you know a key part of my business as well at the moment is we can go in and buy an opportunity for a client but we’re always advising on okay, what’s the market, what are you buying it for. Majority of our clients have to live in. So it’s a different market but if they’re buying it to in the next five years flip which in today’s market you just can’t be sure whether you’re going to you know, you’ve got to do your sums and make sure that everything in the area is going to sell you know selling for something that you want to get out at but you’ve got to renovate for the market if you’re trying to sell it. Yeah absolutely crucial. You can’t put in your purple bath and you know whatever who would like the people by saying you know what I mean you know you’ve got to think about it. Yes you know look at cabinetry look at you the heights of the ceiling,look at your flooring, the things people can see, you need to make sure are amazing.

Jacobs’ “a-ha” moment in the industry was when she realised she was able to produce what the market wanted and could sell her properties more effectively and efficiently.

So an aha moment for us I guess word would probably be one of the first properties that we sold as a buy and renovate and flip and that was, that we met the market and I think that that was where we went okay, we actually are very good at reading the market. We’re very good at producing what the market wants and that’s where we went yep we could actually do this but we decided not to do it as a business but to do it on the side.

She was able to determine what the property market wanted based on her experience as a buyers agent as well as some simple conversations with her own social groups.

It’s looking at what’s on the market, what is selling well and why its selling well and it was doing a lot of research with agents and again prior to being an estate agent going out there and asking them okay what is it. What’s everyone looking for. But even looking at our own I guess social group saying okay what’s not being met in the market. You go out to dinner, you go out for lunch and everyone’s talking about property because in Melbourne it’s a national pastime and so people will talk about what they can’t get at the moment.

And if you can produce that then you’ve got a willing market that’s prepared to pay. And I think that you know that’s the journey that we’re now excited about moving forward with on a different level in our investment at the moment.

Based on her observations as a buyers agent, Jacobs believes that she can help create the missing supply of desired properties.

We’re at the moment we’re in an ageing population so at the moment there’s not enough and I can see this in that I’m looking for a property for clients that maybe you want to downsize but we call them upscalers is because they’re still not they they don’t wanna leave their big home and land they want to leave their land but still have a nice big home and they’re prepared to pay for it.

Yeah there’s not enough property for the people so that is you know to me exciting as an investor that I can go out there and maybe produce that for them.

Investing With Kids: Nicole Jacobs on Financial Education for Youths and Securing Profitable Investment Opportunities

But it’s not about that material things too. It’s very you know we try and teach our kids that it’s you know you can have all the possessions in the world but you still may not be happy. So if you can relieve yourself of those wants then you’re going to be a happy person.

This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors, find out more about their stories, mindset and strategy.

I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode of Property Investory, we continue our conversation with Nicole Jacobs, who was featured on “The Block” and also a buyers advocate with 20 years of experience in the field. Jacobs shares with us what she looks for when buying properties, how she involves her family with her property journey and the right mindset to property investing.

Like most investors, Jacobs’ fear of the unknown kept her from starting in property investment sooner.

Probably fear is just the biggest thing. Not traditionally. I mean I’m a risk taker but I’m probably not so risk averse as my well my husband probably because he came from parents that one was you know would love to take risks and the other said no. So we both came from a background where our parents were quite conservative. But together we were happy to make a calculated risk so probably holding us back this fear. Like a lot of young people these days we were also looking at our lifestyle and going or will we still be able to go out you know and entertain and you know spend money on entertainment and all those sort of things, so it was the fear of the unknown I think but that was brought by not understanding and not having as much information as we probably, you know buyer advocates were not around back then. You know I well they probably were but they were not in my league not at the 200,000.

With the lack of information available, Jacobs was not able to educate herself on the best property investment strategies. She claims that the misinformed judgement from her surrounding peers also held her back.

There’s so much information. You know the Internet has become an amazing source of information for people to do their initial research and background. So we just didn’t have that back then.

So you really had to rely on reading the newspaper and we know that the media can manipulate anything and if if we listened to the media and the gloom and doom and then we used to our parents and their friends and everybody would say don’t buy that and you know not buying the one bedroom apartment on Fitzroy Street for instance. Back in the day because nobody buys one bedrooms. Well statistics show now that people would rather be in a one bedroom then share with someone and those properties are very valuable now. So it was you know listening to other people’s opinions that were not necessarily as informed as they thought they were. It was definitely something that held us back.

However, after successfully buying her first property and making a good return out of it, Jacobs gained the confidence to invest in more properties and to build her property portfolio.

It stems from buying the first one and then knowing that it actually wasn’t that difficult. And we did make a good decision. And then moving forward on that and we really made a decision that we wouldn’t listen to parents, we wouldn’t listen to family and friends because they can often not see the same opportunity that we can see and that we really needed to make it something that was you know our thing and and rely on maybe speaking to the professionals so looking to the real estate agents, speaking with the bank, making sure they were still calculated risks but you know just trusting ourselves. And after the first one you can do that because you go wow we got the first run on the board. Fantastic.

Yeah yeah yeah. And if you gear it correctly and your life hasn’t changed that much but you know that’s one of those things where you go “we could have done more earlier on if we’d actually sacrificed a bit”.

Jacobs relied solely on herself during the beginnings of her property investment journey, as she has no mentors to speak to about her struggles. As a result, Jacobs now takes on the role of a mentor herself for her clients and even her children.

You know we were ravenous. We read books and we you know in in when we were in the States I went to lots of different seminars in and what have you but we always kept saying I wish they taught us about finance when I was at school. Like why was there a subject that taught us about investing. Because we see this as so valuable and unless you have parents that believe in it. So we do that with our kids, we’ve got three daughters and we just make sure that we talk about everything that we do with them. We’re really open with what we’re doing, really why we’re doing it and how it makes sense.

And when we look at properties we take them with us on some of the occasions and they’re great. They’re like “yep you could knock a wall down here”, “we could do that”. We’ve got twins that are twelve and one that’s nearly 10 and I think the twins who are 12 so back when one of them was eight you know we drive past one of our properties that we’ve built and go “we should have held that” and “why should we have held that darling?” “Well I think we’d be getting a good return on that now”. I mean that’s just music to my ears, hearing my kids say that. Because it just shows us that we’re you know we’re trying to lay down what we didn’t have as kids and that is some sort of financial education.

Jacobs believes that in order to live a comfortable lifestyle, investors need to educate themselves as much as they can and learn business acumen.

Get a good job earn a good salary and you’ll be okay. Well actually it’s not the way, you know I mean as a pharmaceutical rep I used to see doctors everyday that you know you think a doctor would be doing really well. Well if they don’t have the business skills, their practices run into the ground they might be amazing doctors but if they don’t have that business acumen then they’re not doing well at all.

So I think now it’s about being as educated as you can be but also seeking advice. So if you want to buy properties as your vehicle for investment then use people that have done it themselves. If you want to be in the stock market then use people that have you know actually invest in the stock market and know what they’re talking about and seek that advice so that you can feel confident that you’ve got someone with you holding your hand through that journey.

As for the investment lessons learned advice she’s ever received, Jacobs lives by the quote “you make your money when you buy”.

I touched on a very early on is that you make your money when you buy. So you need to buy well because you buy well it doesn’t really matter when you have to say oh you should make your money back if you bought well so and I am a firm believer of when it’s meant to be it’ll be. And that tends to be you know if it if it just all falls into place then it was meant to be. If it doesn’t and there were lots of hurdles then I always think is a better property around the corner.

Yeah well it could be that you know you looking for something very specific to you know balance out a portfolio, wait and especially in a market like at the moment it’s playing back a bit. And so you know my advice would be if it’s not right, wait.

While luck has been a huge factor in aiding Jacobs’ property investment journey, Jacobs’ due diligence in researching all her potential property investments has also played a huge role in her success.

We were really lucky. I mean as it was, the boundaries were incorrect which we found out afterward. So we were just lucky we were able to get those realigned so that we actually took more land. We were just very very lucky and we met some… And I truly believe that we were meant to buy it because we met lifelong friends.

We all started as you know that being our first journey into property and then that became our investment, our first investment and we were with like-minded people who we still know today. So it was sort of meant-to-be and I’m a big believer in the universe bring people together. So it’s just one of those things that you think look, we were very lucky that we bought well and that it just panned out for us but it could have been really bad I mean I know people who bought properties to find out later on because they didn’t get the contracts checked that it was heritage listed or an overlay of some sort and that completely changes the ball game. If you’re going to go down to where you thought you were going to knock it down to develop or you thought you were going to do a major renovation and you can’t or you thought you were going to be able to put a pool in but you can’t. All those sort of things it’s just you know do you do the homework beforehand because there are certain reasons why, also okay you know building pest inspections.

My gosh if you don’t do that and you want to put a second story on or you don’t do that and you think that it it all looks good because it’s been painted and it smells nice then you could be left with something that is sinking. Yeah yeah you know it could be something that you just need to run away from because or you know what it needs and then you can negotiate and it’s a lot more powerful and you’ve got that knowledge to be able to say hey we need a new roof or the body corporate has units of its latest minutes that we’re going to reroof the entire building, we’re not going to put that bill or we’re going to take that off what we’re prepared to offer. So it’s having that knowledge of what it needs. It may not turn you off but it certainly gives you that power to negotiate.

Jacobs is always renovating with the wants of the market in mind. She also takes into account exterior factors, such as growing hotspots in certain neighbourhoods and whether or not people are attracted to the homes in these local precincts.

So we only buy in markets that we feel really comfortable in. Mind you, we have missed out on opportunities by not going a bit further in our field but we can talk about that a bit later. So looking at new suburbs that are a coming of age and or you know could be hotspots next. I think that it is knowing that area. What, I mean is as we touch on before there’s so much on the Internet now to know what things sold for what you could potentially get and then what the market is crying out for and then knowing what is happening in the future. So you know we’ve always looked at the denitrification of a suburb.

So if you’re a suburb it’s actually you know everybody sort of in the suburbs a bit overheated but with the next front with the next copy shop or the next Woolworths or the next big you know they’ve done their research. So if you look at where Bunnings is going or where these major anchor tenants are going, then that’s a really good sign that there’s going to be following infrastructure if it’s not there already. For us we’ve known that you know people are tending to pull back from looking at the big shopping complexes as somewhere to go. They’re coming back to that family feeling of a local precinct. And so as soon as I start seeing a strip of shops that may be a great cafe has come into, I’m on the phone straight away to the agents in that area what have you got coming up. What is there that looks you know we could add value to what is there maybe we could knock over and put two townhouses on because that’s the next suburb coming up when there you can see it starting to really take shape you know a little bookshop, a homeware store. I mean it’s a classic. You know people flock to those areas.

Jacobs also recommends investors to always be expecting to buy and hold their property.

And that’s a really good point because you need to have a long term hold strategy with that because you could buy well buying in but you don’t have to hold it for a while.

You may not necessarily get the income so you’ve got to work out. Do I need the rental income to make this work or am I looking at capital gain down the track.

Jacobs encourages investors to make sure that all the figures add up before buying an investment property and to look for opportunities where people have to sell.

A big strategy at the moment is to look at opportunities where you know people have to sell not necessarily you know making sure that they don’t make their money but you know there are always opportunities out there where someone wants a quiet sale, someone has a property that just for some reason they can’t sell the market just doesn’t see why they would buy it. So I look at those opportunities and go “Okay I’m really good at looking at floor plans and how it could be restructured” or does it make more sense. So there’s a spreadsheet which everything goes into. If it meets the points on the financial side then we look at it. It’s very much like looking at the trading options. You just have to make sure. As I said earlier that it it fits the criteria and you’re building okay. I’d like to say we could sell that for X but is that really pie in the sky X or is that achievable x. So I will do the figures on everything that’s achievable and anything else is a bonus.

Jacobs’ future development goal is to find more investment opportunities with guaranteed profitable returns.

The development goal at the moment which is really exciting is any opportunity – we sound so fake – but it could be, which is why I’m excited about it because I don’t just go out and go “Okay, I want a house that I can renovate and hold and hold for the next five 10 years and then sell” it’s “Okay. What does that block offer. Where are we. Are we in a premium suburb like Tureck are we… What does that market command and what do they want”. So it’s being able to do those figures and go “Yep we can plough X into this and know that very safely we’ll be able to get you know a return on the other end”. Otherwise you won’t do it. So it’s very much about identifying any opportunities where it could be single level beautiful homes that are three on top of each other for the downsizer the market. It could be that we’re in a suburb for instance, I’ll just pull it out of the air” like Hyeres where we might go in and go okay people can’t afford Hampton anymore so if we go across the road Hyatt do we build two side by side.

What’s that going to cost us and who’s the market going to be that we’re attracting for that. Does it make sense, if it makes sense great. So we’re not stuck on just one thing. It’s very much, “Okay, what’s available out there and how can we make it work”. Being flexible I think, is the key but you have to feel very confident if you’re going to go and do large scale projects.

So you’ve got to factor all of that in when you’re looking at it and go okay we’re got to hold it for this amount of time, what’s that on interest what can we get as a rental opportunity in between bulldozing or in between getting planned permits approved by council.

What kind of things would you do to be able to help that market in terms of site development?

So I think there’s several opportunities which you know are maybe being missed or maybe people are doing it. I haven’t seen a lot of it happening yet but is you know being able to produce a high quality product that that market appeals, they want to lock up and go. They don’t want the maintenance of the big yard but they still want to have the grandkids come and stay.

So it’s very much about providing a property that is, they can still entertain in as well and in their own hood they like to stay where they’ve you know all of their friends. So the opportunities that are I think you know being able to maybe even buy a big old home in the area, give that person the opportunity to find you know get them a property that they can lease and then build something on their land and then be able to give them one of them and sell off to that sort of thing.

Jacobs believes that developers should be more attentive to their market and their wants.

At the end of the day, I think developers that are already out there they just need to look at the market. I mean we already we’ve seen that you know to get to good schools and what have you there are people prepared to leave in three-bedroom apartments as opposed to a house for instance. So we’ve got to look at overseas buyers as well and in more and more people are putting two apartments together when they’re off the plan, creating oversized apartments. But they’re like homes in the floor-print as far as the size.

So I think it’s being open to what people are asking for.

Yeah if you create something that is a very narrow market then you really rely on people being able to come along and falling in love with it whereas if you produce something that a larger section of the market will gravitate to then you’ve got competition and with competition we know you know you’re going to have you know a great opportunity to reap the rewards at the end.

If you were to meet yourself 10 years ago, what would you say to her?

Start earlier. Take the risk, sacrifice things don’t think about how many coffees you’ve got to stop having, just do it. You know we spoke to several investors you know back when we started to do it and who had amassed great portfolios and the key there was they pushed themselves. They really pushed they really stretched themselves. And obviously you’re going to be so stretched that it is stressful no one wants to be a slave to a mortgage but I think that if you can make your money work for you. And had I sort of taken more risks may be at the start but definitely getting in earlier would have been the way to go.

Jacobs also recommends young investors to surround themselves with like-minded investors as well.

Being able to as I said you know before, engage with people that are doing it and are successful because I know I will share anything I have if I can help one person buy better whether they’ve engaged me or not then I feel great. If you can surround yourself with people that are doing what you want to do and they’re truly mentors in that respect then you’re going to be you know in a sense I don’t know you just surround yourself with like-minded people and the world would be a better place for you.

And just put it out there, you’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve got to move forward in that direction and put yourself in that position so that it all comes to fruition.

What are you most excited about on your property journey over the next five years?

Our personal property journey I think is just being able to continue buying and I hate to say making money but that is what it’s all about. But being able to grab some great opportunities, maybe turn some buildings that may have been demolished by developers into beautiful homes again so that they can live on for generations. I think that’s a key. We’ve bought a 1956 amazing nuclear hand home and we feel an absolute duty to renovate this so that it stays in you know in the world because the only other one like what we bought was demolished in Q. So it’s you know it’s finding these rare gems where undiscovered architects or you know just amazing little homes that you could make sure they’re not demolished.

I have a huge huge passion for that and to make sure that they’re part of our portfolio as well because that way we’ve helped you know Australian architecture and we’ve also helped our kids have something that they’ll be proud of in the future as well.

By purchasing properties and renovating them with her own hands, Jacobs wants to retain the spirit of the home as well as certain architectural designs.

We can all build the Taj Mahal with the concrete you know whatever or the Mock Georgeann but really you know we need to look after properties that we already have in the stable of properties and renovate them with respect because it means less landfill or a big one for that, it means that we’re you know recycling as well. And we’re yeah were protecting some of the amazing designs and architecture that we have you know and that’s why I love property. It’s you know, it’s simple, property makes you feel something or it’s short if you can look into a ten million dollar home and feel nothing but I can walk into a you know a one million dollar home and go wow it just feels amazing and it’s the spirit of the home it’s the way that they’ve looked at it or it’s something about that. You just go wow this is beautiful.

Due to Jacobs’ success as a buyers advocate, popular reality TV show, The Block also reached out to seek her expertise.

So I was representing clients for a couple of the seasons and then the producers decided to change it up a bit and bring buyer advocates into the program I guess to be able to help the contestants along with their journey to make sure they’re meeting the market.

And that’s when I got a call from one of the executive producers Gillian Cress who said “Hey we’ve seen you on the show, we’d like to you know utilize you know would you like to come on the show” basically screaming in the background going oh yes I’m “sure I can make that work” trying to sound like I was really calm. But it’s an amazing show. It is a family those you know the producers and the contestants and the crew. They really do care about each other and so we’re just outsiders and we come in. But I do get to work with some amazing people like the designers as well like Shana blaze and Darren and Neil who are very good at what they do and it’s you know, yes I’m here to find products for clients and often their investors which is really interesting I think a lot of people wouldn’t know that investors are buying these but the depreciation schedules are usually amazing. So we have been very astute investors buying because they always make money when they sell them again. So I often represent very good, very astute investors on a. We also of course have homeowners. So yeah I just got into it really I guess by luck, I managed to stay there for a while so I’m hoping that that means I am adding value to the contestants and helping them in their journey.

Jacobs’ personal habit of researching thoroughly before buying a property is her most contributing personal investing habit.

I never buy anything without doing research now. It’s like a key. It’s major. You wouldn’t buy a car without getting it roadworthy on it. Why would you buy a house without doing due diligence on that. And we have quite an extensive due diligence for our clients so I just make sure that we do the same for our own personal things.

As for book recommendations, Jacobs prefers the classic by Robert Kiyosaki.

It’s an oldie but goodie Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Yeah I had it by my bedside for you know I’ve read it several times. We also have the board game and we play with our kids, it’s one of their favourite games and that’s all about getting out of the rat race and it’s all about giving back as well. So you know that book taught me so much about “it’s okay to rent it” you know it’s because you’ve got other property and someone else is paying off that property. So we have a big stigma in history that if you’re renting then you know you really haven’t made it. But and this is this goes out to any property manager out there. Sometimes your tenants actually have multi million dollar property portfolios and they’re not the low life of the property ladder. They are people that are very smart and they’re not living in their asset.

So while I do live in our home that we bought, so many years we’ve always lived in something that we were renting probably because we were renovating something else and you can’t have kids and when you’re trying to renovate an entire house but it’s one of those lessons learned…

Jacobs even encourages her kids to play monopoly as the game teaches financial management.

Even monopoly you know. It just teaches you. I love Rich Dad Poor Dad because you know they have to make decisions. Is that a good investment. Do I buy that. You know it’s everything from housing to shares you know, shows you what happens when you have kids and how much that cost and often the people who make the most money are not actually the most savvy or you know their expenses usually outweigh what they’re bringing in so you can actually do really well even if you’re earning a smaller salary.

Not only do her kids have fun playing the game, there is also an educational value to it.

We love the game and it’s just you know we just we love it because we are constantly trying to get out of that rat race and I think that if you can work because you want to work not because you have to, you’re going to have you know you’re gonna have a balance aren’t you?

But it’s not about that material things too. It’s very you know we try and teach our kids that it’s you know you can have all the possessions in the world but you still may not be happy. So if you can relieve yourself of those wants then you’re going to be a happy person.

For those interested in contacting Jacobs, please visit her on her website at

If they go to nicoldjacobs.com there they can actually download a free e-book which is “five mistakes buyers make when buying property”. So feel free to do that. And on the website of course that all of my details so they can either email me or they give me a call. So nicolejacobs.com.

This episode was produced by Richelle Lau with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.


Tyrone Shum
Tyrone Shum

Host of very popular podcast called "Property Investory". It is ranked #1 for Property Podcast on iTunes Australia with over 1.6 million downloads. The podcast shares the latest investor stories, strategies, and examples from Australia’s most innovative property experts. His been interviewed across 30 different podcasts from around the world, featured on numerous world-class blogs and invited to speak at numerous events with over 100 attendees.