Andrew Coronis

At Last, the Secret to Investing in Queensland Real Estate Market

As managing director of his family business Coronis Group, Andrew Coronis’ fundamentals for purchasing investment properties have provided him with the skills to succeed as a real estate investor and bring his father’s business to new heights.

Hear from him how to have faith in your property investments and play the waiting game in the markets, why providing for the mass market will always achieve good results and why purchasing an investment property in the top end market is never a good idea.

“A very wise man once said to me, ‘if you build or you buy for the mass market, you’ll always do well. ”
-Andrew Coronis

In any given day, Coronis manages and runs his family real estate business, the Coronis Group.

I’m the managing director of the Coronis Group, which is a south-east Queensland based property group.

My role here is to uphold the cultural values of the business, to make sure that there is accountability when it comes to production and vision. Where we’re going this year, next year and the next four to five years on a plan and make sure that my vision is being executed. My vision is being driven by the leaders in the business.

Coronis says he was more interested being on the sporting field rather than studying in the classroom that led him into real estate.

A little bit about myself is that I finished school when I was 18 and I enjoyed the sporting field much more than I enjoyed the academic classroom. I joined my father’s very small real estate office in Stafford, in the northside of Brisbane, where I became a salesperson. It was a fairly modest real estate agency at that point specialised in a couple of sales a month and we managed 40 properties.

I grew from 18 as a salesperson in the business, until about 2002 when I took the business over and my father was smart and willing enough to give me the keys to one of the offices which were a reasonably good and powerful agency, managing about 340 properties and doing about 30 sales a month. Fast forward from 2002 to 2017, now we have 23 locations in of the southeast. We manage 8 000 other properties and we transact with well over 200 properties a month.

Coronis shares his childhood stories and memorable moments and I find out where he grew up.

In a modest house in the north side of Brisbane, a place called Stafford Heights, with 2 siblings and me – both sisters. Funnily enough, all three of us have gone into businesses of our own, so to speak. One runs a successful landscaping business, one has a manufacturing business in Melbourne and I’ve taken the real estate business and grown on that. So maybe it’s come from the fact of Greek immigrants, who I’ve descended from. My grandparents came over here from Greece at a very young age and had to make it work; maybe that entrepreneurial spirit has come through our family line.

I went to school in Bald Hills, an all-boys Anglican school. And one thing that school taught me was mateship, I loved school for that. I still have a close group of friends, there are about 15-20 of us that get together every year and we’re very close mates, which is great. But that’s what I loved about the school to be honest, the ability to relate to other humans and have close mateship.

Through some work experience, Coronis learnt an invaluable life lesson.

I started at Coles supermarkets when I was 14 years old, I used to get a little yellow pay packet, about $6.45 an hour or something like that. But it taught me the value of money because I think Thursday night and Saturday morning, I got a little yellow pay packet with $30 in it and I had to budget on that. So it was really good for me to put some away.

Dad was instrumental in showing me how to put some away and spend some, so you feel good about your earnings and also creating a nest egg. That was excellent for me in those early years and I enjoyed it too. It was fun. In fact, my daughter just turned 15, she’s got a lot of commitments with her sport and her academics but she found time to fit a job in there as well because I do believe an early job is a great way of giving people an understanding of what to do when they actually start earning money. You can help guide them at that stage with their savings and lifelong habits.

After school, I went and repeated Year 12 because back then we had a university entrance score called a TE score and mine wasn’t that great. It’s kind of funny because I’m not very good at spelling and I hated reading, but I wanted to do journalism of all things which is really unusual. But I went back and did night school and I worked at Expo Radio in Brisbane back then in a pub.

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From there, he attended a game-changing conference with his father and became inspired to venture into real estate.

I think in life, there are certain things that fate gives you at the right time when you’re ready. But Dad was in a franchise of a Richardson real estate franchise and there was a conference in Singapore – because it’d been bought by some Singaporeans – and back in about 1988 I’d just finished high school and I didn’t know what I was doing and he bought me a ticket to go to the conference. We went as a family, he was doing the conference part of it. But what enabled me to do in one session, I went and sat in on one of the real estate speakers. I can’t remember who it was, I wish I did know who it was. And they inspired me – they talked about what we’re talking about today: mindset and goals and growth and how your thoughts lead you to where you’re going. They were all new things that I’d never heard before. So it was quite inspiring for me and I obviously had a value setting side of me that wanted to make me adhere to those values. So I loved it.

Dad saw me getting passionate about it and he said, ‘You want to get into real estate? And I said, ‘Yeah, why not? I haven’t got anything else to do,’ which is probably the way most people get into real estate. So I got into real estate, I didn’t have a car even, at that stage I was borrowing my mum’s car to drive people around houses, to give you an idea of what it was like. Because we had a fairly modest real estate office and offering, it was very mediocre – and I’m not being disrespectful to my Dad, I’m sure he will say the same thing – but we muddled along till about 1995 in what you’d call a standard real estate office.

So what changed for Coronis that went from mediocre to extremely well known in the industry?

In 1995 I remember there was a conversation between our sales director Craig Village, who’s a shareholder in the business, Dad and myself. We said to each other, ‘You know real estate sucks and you can’t make any money out of it. We’re not helping enough people and we can’t get to where we’re going.’ So we decided there and then to give it our all. And that was a really decisive moment for me to be honest because when you are honest with yourself in my opinion, you look in the mirror and you can tell yourself you’re actually giving it all, I guarantee you’ll be successful at whatever vocation you want to do. I think most people sit on the sideline and they use a cricketing analogy which I use a bit – they don’t bend their back when they’re bowling, they just roll the arm over. In my opinion, when you roll the arm over, you get average because that’s what you’re doing. Also, it doesn’t actually take much more to be excellent at something by bending your back and giving it your all.

So by 1995-96, around that time, it was a very decisive point. But we took a pretty modest real estate agency from being mediocre to being very good within two years. It was a very solid agency in those two years. We decided to work seven days a week. We decided to work from 8 o’clock to 7 o’clock at night and we decided to give it all. Was it hard? Most definitely. Was it rewarding? Absolutely. But has it paid dividends now? Yeah, absolutely. It was something that was a really big deal to firstly make the decision to be excellent at something, and secondly to do whatever it takes time-wise. Because I do believe you’ve got to pay the price at some stage in your lives and you can either pay the price being mediocre all your life, or you can work really hard for two to three years and become excellent at something and make it easier later on. That’s a choice people have.

Although Coronis and his father were very close, he didn’t want to follow in his footsteps – he wanted to aim higher.

Dad and I were always very close and we had a very good relationship. It was great that I was able to work with my Dad, it was really cool, not many people can say that they got to work with their dad and help build something with their dad. But when it came down to it, I didn’t want to follow my Dad. I love my Dad dearly but I didn’t want to be like my Dad with regard to the way the real estate agency was run back then, because it was a hard slog for him. Having bills, which one do you pay and which one you don’t, you’ve got three kids in a private school you’ve got a house, a family home. I wanted more out of life than that, if that makes sense.

So when I went overseas for that conference I was talking about, I listened and if you actually put the effort in and start believing in yourself – which I always had done, I always had self-confidence which my parents gave me, which enabled me to fly. As a person, that self-confidence was then brought to the fore. When somebody’s talking about, ‘Well if you have got self-confidence and you do believe in yourself, drive yourself to your own thoughts of where you want to go and write some goals down.’ And I think that confidence was that decisive moment that made you go, ‘Wow OK.’ Real estate is an opportunity and a vehicle to help you get to where you want to go. I love it as a vehicle and this business has been great for me by helping people who are very emotional and very stressed. So you might think you’ve got a very noble purpose by helping people and you can do well for yourself, as well as a byproduct of that. So that was actually outlined to me that that property sales give those two things and that’s when I took on with it.

Coronis began building his portfolio from a young age when an opportunity was presented to him via his real estate job.

When I first started, I remember many years ago, when Dad had about 40 properties originally. Back then everyone paid in cash on a Sunday morning, basically, you’d walk out of the real estate office and pay your rent in cash – I remember Dad had to bring the cash home because he didn’t want to leave it in the office somewhere (we’re talking 1988 or so). I remember Mum was saying, ‘Imagine if you owned all those 40 properties.’ At times it made me think about it a lot and Dad would say, ‘Don’t be silly you can’t afford all those properties.’

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What happened was property is obviously in my blood and then an opportunity came up when I was 18 years old. There was a young couple who came into the office one Saturday afternoon – and this is where I do believe in karma. They came into the office, they were buying a house close to the Stafford office and they said, ‘Can you do a contract for me?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ To be honest I don’t mind helping anybody, whether I can get something out of it or not. That’s a big thing for everybody in life, I believe.

They said, ‘We’re buying this house off this lady here and we need someone to do a contract. How much do we charge?’ I said, ‘No problem at all, happy to do a contract. You’re nice people, she’s a nice lady, I’m happy to do the deal.’ It’s interesting, they couldn’t get their finance so the lady came back into the office as I helped them out for free and said, ‘Do you want to sell my house?’ And I said, ’Yeah’. It was a very cheap house, it was a one-bedroom fibro house sitting on 400 square metres. Because it was like that, it was probably one of the cheaper houses around. At that stage most of the houses there were better weatherboard houses on bigger blocks of land for $60 000 and this one was $55 000 that she’d agree with the people. And you’ve got to think, $55 000 is not a lot of money but it’s nearly 10% of the value of the house, so it’s considerably cheaper. Anyway, she said ‘$55 000 is what I want, I’ve had a look at the market with another agency and I didn’t sell it and this was a problem.’ And I said, ‘I’ll buy it.’ So Dad lent me $7 000, which was nice of him but I had to pay him back, that was $100 dollars a week out of my wages and commissions, then I bought the house for $55 000 with the first home buyer’s grant and I moved into it for six months.

Since this initial venture into property investing, he hasn’t looked back, continuing to invest as his first property grew in value and he undertook various other projects.

Over a period of time, I got equity off that house, then I went and bought another one and then a mate of mine said, ‘You want to do some townhouse development?’ and I did some townhouse development. Then I bought another house and I just kept reinvesting into the property market. And that little house went up from $55 000 to $255 000 Now that’s five times the money and I think it was in 2002 or 2003, it is not that long when you think about it and it’s hard for people to get their heads around how values can climb.

Sydney and Melbourne’s markets have been doing very well, Brisbane has been fairly flat and gets a little bit of growth in the last eight years but not much at all. We’re probably back to where we were just a little bit above which I think is my plug for Brisbane is in southeast Queensland and it’s ready to go. You’ve got incredible affordability. It hasn’t had any growth and markets don’t sit dormant that long.

All through the 90s when I had that house, it went from $55 000 to maybe $60 000, maybe $65 000, maybe even $67-70 000. But by 2000, it was still worth about $70 000. I remember thinking, ‘This real estate sucks. Seriously, it’s not going up, it hasn’t gone anywhere.’ By 2003 – when the rush came, so to speak – and it went from $70 000 to $250 000, I was going, ‘Wow, real estate is really good isn’t it? I’m a genius!’

From this, Coronis has learned to trust that the property will increase in value over time and how to avoid issues in this way.

But the lesson to be learned there is just don’t sell. Have faith in the fact that it will go up – if something’s at $500 000, it will be worth $1 million at some stage. So the only reason people get into problems with properties is if they’ve geared themselves too highly and if interest rates go up, or they lose a job, they have to sell. If you don’t have to crystallize you hang on, you will make money at a profit. That’s what’s happened over history.

So I bought some houses, some developments, got heavily involved in growing the business from 2000 onwards; so I stopped doing that because it seemed to focus on one thing. Now generally I’ve got commercial properties. The other thing with a lot of those houses that I bought, I got into partnerships with people – I enjoy partnerships. I think they’re fun, I’ve never had any problem with partners. I always put my heart and soul into it and I’ve always picked the right partner will do the same thing and seeing people trying to get into the market might just be the first time I was not. We’ve got 330 people that work with us here and young people that are trying to get into the market.

I worked out from buying a house in Brisbane at the moment, so the north side of Brisbane in a good suburb which is called West Chermside, about 10 kilometres north of the town near Westfield and near a big hospital; great infrastructure and a good area. You can buy that in Brisbane now. There was just one sold for about $530 000 on 600 square metres. I worked out for the young guys here, currently on a 97% land, which you can get, with a locked-in interest rate at 3.99%. If you put $750 000 in with a partner each, it’s going to cost about $300 something a week to start paying that house off. A lot of people say, ‘I can’t afford it.’ Well as I say to everybody, it’s not my responsibility, or your parents’ responsibility to find a way, it’s your responsibility to find a way and get into the property market because you’re going to see growth. So I did a lot with partners because it makes it easier.

There was a time when the market took a turn for the worse and Coronis discovered an important lesson.

A very wise man once said to me, ‘If you build or you buy for the mass market, you’ll always do well. And if you build or buy for the top end of the market, offers will burn your dough.’

I learned a really good lesson when I built some townhouses with my brother-in-law at Noosa, which is a top-end market. And they were very flashy, very beautiful. There’s no doubt about it. But when the market turns the other way, top-end flash stuff, which is discretionary spend, really cops it. So I learned a really good lesson if you’re building townhouses and you’re building units, you’ve got to pick your market and your timing well or you’ve got to build something that becomes a housing stock rather than a holiday house stock if that makes sense.

When the GFC came, Noosa took an absolute dive like most discretionary spend markets and we dusted a lot of money on that project. It taught me a really valuable lesson to stay to my truths, which is if you build for the mass market generally someone’s going to live in it at some stage because houses are something that we all live in no matter what. And if you build for the top end, then people go up and down like a yo-yo – when things are good they go well and when they’re not going well, you’ll pay the price.

And the reason for investing in this development?

Probably ego. You become indestructible. Looking back on it there’s no real reason – my brother and I built four or five sets of townhouses up there and it picked the market a lot better and done really well and thought to do that once again I’d find that to be really good. But it was my ego, it was against my fundamentals and you’ve got to have some values and you should be true to those values. But in a lot of cases every time you go against those values, you’ll actually dust yourself.

On coming across a particular property, Coronis acted on a gut feeling which paid off immeasurably, where it felt just right.

There was a commercial property that I bought and it was taken. I took a risk on that but I just had a gut feeling of getting the fundamentals right, where it was in a good shopping precinct, close to a railway line and had a high visual location. I bought it vacant, obviously, there is more risk closely associated with it being vacant. A tenant came in and paid a lot more than what I thought they wanted, it was a perfect perfect position for them and increased the value incredibly, which I still own today.

It was a matter of taking a calculated risk based on those fundamentals of, is it in a great location? Is it highly visible? Has it got other development around it? And that due diligence I do now is based on that it must be in a growth corridor for property that I buy, it must have a current income that is positively geared, which is easier to do in commercial property and harder to do in residential. Also, it must be a development site so I can get developments up at some particular point in time and tick those three boxes. If it doesn’t, I don’t do it.

He found this property by chance and at a time when it was becoming increasingly challenging to purchase the property.

I drove past and saw a sign on it and I thought, ‘Wow what a really good position! That’s for sale, I can’t believe it.’ So it’s a Warren Buffet line, the line that ‘You should be greedy when others are cautious and cautious when others are greedy.’ And at the time it was hard to sell the property.

There was one property that I missed out on, unfortunately, that was bought in a multi-million dollars by an execution idea. Throughout the GFC it warned about 2010 where property commercial property is very hard to sell and if you had cash or the ability to borrow money then you did very very well. There was a guy who bought in 2010 when nobody else wanted to, he bought it well and he bought it for about $6 million and sold it four, five years later because the market changed. He had the ability and took the risk at the time. You know, the fundamentals work. This is a property that was being offered at $8-10 million before.

I believe the fundamentals can swing over the top and too high and they can swing the other way over the top too low. And the sheep race to each end all the time and believe that’s the way it’s going to be. You probably don’t go up all the time, every year. But over a longer-term horizon, they will go up. So the fact is, if you’re buying in a down market where the fundamentals are right, you probably get a bigger capital upside than the market that’s going really well.

Grow By 365% To Hit Goals in Queensland Real Estate Market by Age 40

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Confident in his knowledge that there would always be an avenue for real estate, nothing held Coronis back from investing in property.

I have blind faith in property – rightly or wrongly, it served me well to have that blind faith and just do things. I think too many people over analyse if you’re buying with, I think I mentioned in the last episode, about the fundamentals. If you have reasonable fundamentals about your thought process you don’t analyse too much. Everyone’s got to live in a house at some particular point or you everyone’s going to need accommodation and as our population grows, that means the value associated with our accommodation goes up. Again, as long as you get those fundamentals right.

These fundamentals which he uses to determine which property to invest in are centred on purchasing close to the CBD.

Generally infrastructure and spend it around an area. Early on, I just buy anything that was reasonable value close to town and even to this day, my biggest thing that I tell people is to buy the biggest block of land you can buy close to town. For capital growth, that’s where I see the real spend coming in because it lands on things you’re not making much of. In saying that, there are other advantages to buying some townhouses especially new ones with regard to the first home owners’ grant and with regard to low maintenance and tax effectiveness with incentives with depreciation.

So it depends what you want and you’ve got to assess if you want long term capital growth, or you want better tax effectiveness now and an income from the property, because I believe a new unit will give you better value than an older house, but an older house still has potential.

With his mindset aimed towards becoming successful, he achieved his long term goals by the age of 40.

I always wanted to be successful at what I did, I didn’t like being mediocre and that was something that I remember making a very clear distinction to myself. I always got disappointed if I was average at something and would work my way towards that. I don’t know why but I always wanted to be successful. Now, what success looked like in my head… I had five fairly clear goals that I wanted to achieve by the time I was 40, which I’m pleased to say that I have, and they were things that drove me and gave me a ‘why’ to do every day. They were very basic things but they’re things that meant a lot to me.

Coronis says he is constantly learning from and then emulating the mindsets and strategies of other successful people in the business, including his father.

I’m a good copier, I love following somebody who’s successful and a lot of the people who I actually follow, I research. They wouldn’t even know I’m following them but I learn a lot from them. I met one of my heroes once, who was quite a successful person on the Australian stage and the world stage as a business person and I was really disappointed. So in a lot of cases, I don’t even want to meet my heroes anymore – I want to hold them as my hero.

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My father’s a big influence in my life, there’s no doubt about that, [00:11:52] with how to manage money correctly and my family upbringing has all been around those values. I’ve joined business groups and over the time that I’ve elevated from group to group, searching for the right style of people that I can bounce ideas off and I think that’s very important.

Surrounding yourself with people who are better than you is really important because then you learn from them. I’m always eager to learn. The idea that most people go to school and learn and then after school stop learning is just a crock, but I am always pushing our guys here to learn and learn and learn because knowledge is the real power. Everything we’ve done in this world has been done before. Nothing’s new. It might be changed a bit with the way it’s done and how it’s facilitated with technology, but it’s certainly not new values and new principles. And the more people you can learn from and in my mind, I’m source out people who have been successful and just sit and have lunch with them, get inspired by them and put in play what they do.

However while it can benefit to emulate other successful people, it is important to always stay true to yourself, which is the most powerful advice Coronis has ever received.

Stop trying to please other people. Be the best you can be. And I love that, because sometimes especially with social media – I was just having this conversation one of the kids here – you can look at other people and you can try to emulate them and then you’ll get jealous of them, or you can feel undervalued in yourself. But the fact is if you can be the best you can be, that’s all you can do in this world and it sounds like a silly line but this is the fact. If you get 1% better every day, by the end of the year you’ll be 365% better.

It’s a compounding effect.

It’s a compounding effect and nobody realises that. That goes with exercise and weight loss, that goes with your business, that goes with the kids, that goes with your wife. Every day try and do something a little bit better. And some days you might be 3-4% better and sometimes you might be 3-4% worse. But if you have this growth mentality of getting better and offering more to the world every day, you will succeed.

To achieve his goals, Coronis implemented a simple strategy for success regarding both properties investing and taking his family business to the next level.

Try not to sell property, try to create a property.

When I was doing those townhouse developments – I think I mentioned that I did some townhouse developments – and keeping at least one of those townhouses, I learned fairly early that you don’t have to be paying taxes and capital gains and things like that. I’m not into quick turning over the property, that’s not my style. My style is buying and holding and waiting for the capital appreciation, then borrowing on those properties again and using the equity to go and do it again.

But he didn’t do it alone! Undertaking joint ventures and commissioning his mates with a carton of beer for some basic renovations played a significant part in his success.

There’s a little house in a back street of Paddington, close to town. I had a couple of properties and I couldn’t afford to buy by myself and a close mate of mine put our money in, we bought it – it sounds silly now – for $116 000 in 1993.

Anyone looking back now would love to buy 10 or 20 of these!

Yeah, we should have bought 20 of them. And the fact is, we’ll be saying that in another 15 years, we could buy a house in Paddington for $1 million and we’ll be thinking, ‘Wow, we should’ve bought 20 of them!’

But I didn’t have the facility, plus I wanted to do it and it needed renovation. It was a terrible house, it was a nice little cottage but it was very rundown. You have to make sacrifices and for a lot of the people who are listening to this, when you’re buying your first home or your first investment property you’ll probably need to sacrifice, you will need to do what Tim Gurner said a couple of months or so ago, to let go of the smashed avo. It’s not about the smashed avo, it’s about not spending the money on disposable or discretionary spends and putting it into property. What it gave us is a purpose, I remember he had to sell his car, sounds pretty ordinary to be honest but he did it to get the deposit together. But we got the deposit together and every night we worked together on this house, it gave us purpose to renovate the house. We had our friends come over, we’d buy them a carton of beer and they’d be painting the house for us. And we had a lot of fun, we were only young in those days.

So partnerships, in my opinion, work really well if you can’t afford to do it. And even if you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with going with partnerships because it de-risks that one purchase if you make the wrong decision. And you will make the wrong decision in investing at some point, don’t beat yourself up about that. We all do it, we’ve all done it and that’s how we’ve learned our lessons. But the fact is over a long period of time, your bad decision will become a good decision because the values will go up.

And if you do add to it like what you did with renovation, it should generate the right equity if it’s been done very well.

I think the first five or six houses – easily five – I renovated and that was my painting, me doing a lot of the tiling, I learned how to tile, I learned how to do a lot of things. Which again, as a young guy with his mates it’s pretty good fun. So if you look at it that way, adding value by renovating is a very easy thing to do, these days you can just about learn to do anything on YouTube. If you go to Bunnings, they’ll tell you everything you need to do it, it’s just a matter of you putting the labour in. You know we didn’t put any labour charge into it so we managed to renovate our houses cheaply and we ended up with a pretty good product.

Choosing the right person to enter into a partnership with, who has similar values and an understanding of their role, is crucial.

It’s just a matter of choosing the person. We had set outcomes at the beginning so it was, ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to work on this.’ There’d be no point if I was working on the house and my partner was out at the pub all the time, that wouldn’t work at all. So we had very clear understandings of what we were going to do and we had a clear understanding of when we were going to get there. So that’s how I would make sure – that you have that conversation well and truly with the person to make sure they’re aligned with the same values as you. If they’ve got the same values, partnerships work well. If you want the same outcome and you’re prepared to put the same work ethic in, everything works well. If it doesn’t, you’re in trouble.

I don’t think partnerships are for everybody. I would look at your own certain personality and say, ‘Have I been good enough at holding relationships with other friends or with a partner or being a boyfriend/girlfriend, or have I had long term friendships?’ And if you have, they’re the right people to have partnerships with. If you change friends around and had issues, don’t go into partnership because it’s just not your style. Acknowledge who you are and be true to your values.

Many people get into commercial property after investing into residential, but Coronis decided to enter into a commercial on looking at the potential returns on a corner shop in Brisbane.

We started expanding the offices and I thought to myself, ‘Why the hell are we paying other people to rent when we could pay ourselves rent?’ So we own about 50% of the side we are occupiers of Coronis Group now, which is great. So the first one was our office in Stafford which we expanded in 2000, Dad bought it and we paid ourselves a reasonable amount of rent in our partnership and many of our properties now. And they pay themselves off because we’ve got to pay rent to somebody and we’ve got other ones that we don’t have any tenancy in as well.

But how did I get into it? I looked at the returns that came from it, interest-only loans came in when I first started looking at commercial real estate in the good old days. When I was 20 something, I’d look at commercial real estate and go, ‘Wow!’ I remember I looked at a corner shop I wanted to buy, just a local corner shop in Brisbane, and I went, ’Wow this is really great. I love this.’ [00:09:14] It was returning a lot better than a house; if a house is rented for $100 a week, this was getting $500 a week. This makes a lot more sense than buying a house. It was a block of land, it was a shop and house attached, not many people wanted to buy it. I went to the bank and they said, ‘Yeah that’s great, we class that as commercial property. It’s principal and interest, you’ve got to pay it back in 10 years.’ So it was a really hard thing to get right, how do you pay the mortgage – $200 000 in 10 years, back then even if you were getting more rent? But then they brought in interest-only loans and I’m a big supporter of interest-only loans in the right positions, once you’ve got equity. And using the bank’s money, especially with commercial property, interest-only loans as the tenants are paying the interest component for you. Now that interest rates have dropped so cheap most of them are very positively geared, you can buy commercial property now and you’re going to be paying 5% interest rate on it and be returning 7-8%.

That’s fantastic and that’s the reason why a lot of people will like to get in commercial properties as part of their portfolio to balance the mix because you get a high return. Is that correct to say?

Very much. Now if you had it. The issue is, I’m not a big believer in strata title on commercial. If you can buy it in a position where you have development upside, being near a train line or a shopping centre or arterial road, all they’re doing is helping you hold the property and help you pay it off and eventually you’ve got a development site that you can sell for a lot more money.

With the growth of his business, having a habit of looking at things from the customer’s perspective has launched his success in the industry.

real estate business

The business has grown organically really well because I’ve got that growth mentality. We’ve not only got the sales and the Coronis Property Group, but we’ve integrated vertically and horizontally, to be honest. We’re about to go into another brand as well. But the vertical integration for us is now we’ve got two registered training organisations where we train people in the real estate industry. We’ve got a finance and financial planning arm, which is doing reasonably well with multi-millions a month and we just won a national award as a real estate agency for the Best Brokerage Under 10 Brokers in Australia, which is good. We’ve got a financial planning section which is going well off the back of that, we have a full maintenance division called APN which does smoke alarms and maintenance for all the properties to manage and we’ve now got a conveyancing section which is going gangbusters as well.

So every element of the business is starting to grow because I look at life as a customer, I try to make sure that I can make it as simple as possible to do business with us. And when you’re buying a property or selling a property there’s a lot of other activities that need to be done and real estate agencies, all they want to do is collect rent and sell property, then for the rest of it they say to their clients, ‘Go and sort your own stuff out.’ [00:16:01] Most of our clients – and I’m being you know being respectful to our old industry – don’t want that. They want someone to hold their hand through the whole process and we figured out a way of doing that.

So the things that have helped drive me with the business is the key while we’re all in business, which is offering the customers and the community the best service level and satisfaction. We’ve got to find better ways internally to do that and I think the only way the community can reward us is that they give us money. Money is just a scorecard for doing a really good job, in my opinion. Same as property developing and properly acquiring, it’s the same thing – if you offer properties and own properties that people want to be in or rent or be around in areas that are desirable, they will go up in value because people give you money to be there. That’s the only value they can show.

He also stands behind the importance of having engaged and passionate people servicing his customers.

You know it’s interesting, there’s a paradox there too where people say what’s the most important thing in your business and a lot of people talk about customers being the most important thing. I disagree with that totally, I think the people that work within the business are the most important because if they’re happy, engaged and passionate about their business and their vocation, they’ll look after their customers. There’s no doubt about that, they’ll do a good job with the customers. The customers are important, but if the people who are servicing the customers aren’t looking after the customers, the customers won’t come to you.

Coronis also shares some of the books and resources that he’d recommend to listeners to help them find their purpose in life.

I’m not a big reader, never have been. The idea somebody actually told to me is this: if you’re watching a movie and it gets to the boring part, you don’t sit there and watch the whole bloody movie just for the sake of saying, ‘I watched the movie.’ And when I was at school everyone told you to read from cover to cover – I don’t think you have to. I’ve got many books that I do read. The one that I’m getting some inspiration from at the moment is a great old one called Good to Great by James Collins and I love that.

I flick through every book – I was reading Kenneth Blanchard’s book the other day that I haven’t read for a long time called The One Minute Manager, great book. A lot of it is on YouTube now too, which is even better. Simon Sinek, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him at all, he has an excellent piece on It All Starts With The Why and I do believe that.

I have a purpose in my life and I don’t mind sharing that to you, is to grow a big business and leave a legacy for the community that’s going to add value. That’s what I love doing and that helps drive you when things get tough.

So if he were to meet himself as he was 10 years ago, what would he say?

I would have said to myself, ‘Stay true to your core values.’ I would not be distracted by the negative influences of other people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes in life we can go off tangents and make mistakes without direction, we’re not staying true to our vision and where we want to end up. So once I hit certain markers that I did, I would have done what I normally do which is reset my goals before I get to them. Sounds a bit silly, but I encourage people to do that – to get to about 70% of where they’re heading and then push it out again, which makes you keep driving.

So I would have said, ‘Be true to myself, don’t listen to people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.’ Only if I got runs on the board would I listen to you and I would reset my goals well before I got to them because then you don’t go into, ‘I’ve done this, this is cool and I’m happy with myself’ land because then you lose your purpose and that’s when you lose a lot of things.

Now, Coronis is most excited about his fresh plans for the business in the near future, providing a clear vision for the Coronis brand.

I’m excited about the new vision that we just created for the business for the next two years. We’re going to get to the vision of 50 offices, which I always said we would do and I’ve got a team under me who are driving me now, which is really cool. I love it and it’s given me a new vocation and passion because they’re running so hard and fast and they’re shareholders in the business as well.

So the goal is to list the distance in two years’ time, on growing it to a full-on the stock exchange, grow the business to a full service offering property services rather than just real estate sales, as I said. So we’ve got the exceptionally strong finance section in sales and property management, but also the conveyancing and law side of it. We’re also at a stage where we’re offering internally what we call every piece of the property puzzle, then listing the property on the stock exchange. That’s where we intend to go and it’s given me a real passion and drive, which I love.

If you wish to connect with Coronis, you can reach out to him via email.

I’m a very open book when it comes to that, email me is the best – and I’m more than happy to create an opportunity to have a talk to people.

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