Katherine Skinner is the State Manager of National Property Buyers South Australia and the recent recipient of the REISA 2018 Buyer Agent of the Year.
Katherine began her career in property over a decade ago in Melbourne working in Buyer’s Advocacy and Property Management. In 2009 Katherine returned to her hometown of Adelaide and quickly established a reputation as an exceptionally thorough and diligent practitioner, providing outstanding customer service coupled with a calm and positive attitude while working with some of Adelaide’s most highly regarded agencies.
Katherine joined National Property Buyers in 2015 with a unique combination of experience as a Buyer’s Agent and a Property Manager. Our South Australian branch has flourished under her steady hand, passion for real estate and her desire to provide her clients exceptional customer service.
We interviewed Katherine on her recent success and asked for some insider tips on buying in South Australia.
Firstly, congratulations Katherine. How did it feel winning the award?
Thank you. It was a great feeling to be recognised as a leader in my field within the Real Estate Industry in South Australia. I feel extremely lucky to be in a position to assist my clients with their property goals while doing what I love and am passionate for.
What are the top advantages of using your services?
As Buyers Agents, we have strong local networks across many industries – real estate, mortgage brokers, conveyancers and builders just to name a few. This means we are able to support our clients through their entire buying journey. It also provides us with access to off-market and pre-launch properties, which in a strong market is imperative, this ensures we do not miss out any potential opportunities for our clients. Our negotiations are always strategised after we complete our due diligence thus ensuring we can negotiate the absolute best price for our clients under the best contract conditions. We know what to ask and what information is important to make an offer desirable for a vendor.
In addition, we provide our clients with two further valuable services. We like to keep our clients for the duration of their investment journey, which is why our investor clients love the fact that we also manage their investment – this is a big selling point of our business and means we can provide them a complete service start to finish while ensuring their investments are working to their full potential.
We also provide a Vendor Advocacy service which is ideal for clients who are looking to sell and want us to deal with the Selling Agent process on their behalf – at no additional cost to them. This is becoming more and more popular as our clients have a sense of relief and comfort in what can be an otherwise stressful time knowing they have a professional managing the dealings with Sales Agents and negotiations on the vendors’ behalf.
What are the most common questions you get from a client?
The most common question I get is “where do we start negotiating the purchase of a property?” This is an aspect of the process many are most unsure of.
We thoroughly evaluate and assess each individual property and provide a market value range to our client before an offer is made. We know our backyard and what each individual market in the metro area is doing at any given time so we can confidently provide this figure. We also know the questions to ask an agent to get an understanding of the vendors current position and level of motivation to sell which can also dictate what negotiation strategy we employ.
It is also very common for clients to ask if they are missing something, or should be doing something else because the process is so streamlined when we manage it for them – we are always providing the reassurance everything is taken care of!
Who are your existing clients?
70% investors, both locals and interstate…..it is not uncommon to have an investor sign on to buy 2 properties at once due to our favourable property prices and excellent rental returns. We see this most in interstate investors who would prefer to split their finance capabilities across two strong investments rather than a single home in the Eastern States.
30% owner-occupiers, with a mix of local upgraders and interstate clients relocating for work – many with budgets in excess of $1 million. We use our trusted networks of selling agents to get access to desired stock and negotiate a great outcome. The beauty of owner-occupiers is they know exactly what they are after, meaning we can advise our network of contacts of specifics and be the first to know when and if something is going to be up for sale.
How do clients find you?
We get a lot of phone calls into our office from clients that have been referred to us by a previous happy client or have been searching the internet and found us online.
In addition, we have a great network of referral partners, including accountants, mortgage brokers, and financial planners, who understand the value we provide their clients and ultimately trust us to take great care of them.
What are your potential client’s biggest concerns about engaging your services?
Firstly it would definitely be an awareness that our service exists and secondly how do we justify our fee?
Whilst our Vendor Advocacy service is free, we do charge a fee for our Buyer Advocacy service and people what to understand the value proposition. This fee can either be percentage based or fixed. And it doesn’t matter if it takes a month or 12 months to find the perfect property the fee stays the same.
But the value is in our ability to source, negotiate and secure the best property for our client’s circumstances with limited time required from our client. An example is we recently assisted an owner-occupier couple who had been looking for 12 months to purchase a knockdown property to build their dream home on – they were frustrated by the whole process and were referred to us through their mortgage broker.
Within 2 months we had sourced a property and negotiated a purchase within their budget allowing them to move forward with building their dream home!
Typically, we are able to source and secure properties for our clients in 6 to 8 weeks.
What’s better to look for capital growth or rental yield?
For long-term wealth creation, I believe capital growth is more important than rental return because that is where clients are able to make the most money. However, it of course depends on your financial and investment strategy. Our goal is to find strong capital growth options with strong rental return attached – win/win.
What should buyers be aware of when looking to buy in Adelaide?
There are many interstate buyers going it alone and they are unaware of area demographics and lured by what appears to be strong returns. While there are potentially strong returns, in many of these areas there are issues with rent arrears, property damage and maintenance, along with lending restrictions due to flatline capital growth.
What suburbs are your owner-occupiers buying in and why?
The hills suburbs like Belair and Stirling are extremely popular with owner occupiers relocating from interstate. What you can get for your money in a beautiful setting is very attractive to families, along with good schooling options and easy access into the city.
With median house prices of $614,021 and $791,890 respectively, it provides great value for families and owner occupiers who can secure their forever homes in a stunning location and plenty of garden for the kids.
What suburbs are your investors buying in and why?
Areas in the West are generally where investors are purchasing at the moment. Suburbs like Warradale and Flinders Park offer great investment options with good schooling options, easy beach and city access, with a strong rental market due to the area’s desirability. Many of our clients are able to achieve in the vicinity of 5% rental yield on an immediate investment with strong growth projections, close to the CBD and beach. Where else can you achieve all of that in the one investment purchase under $550,000?
What feedback do you consistently get when clients use your services?
Our clients love the fact we work hard and efficiently to find them a suitable property. In many cases, I can have properties shortlisted for clients after the first meeting, before an engagement agreement has even been signed. This has resulted in very swift purchases for investors.
I know when I see a good investment option and always keep them bookmarked as soon as I get wind of them because you never know when a client looking for exactly that will pop up.
As the winner of the REISA Buyer Agent of the Year 2018 category, Katherine is now a finalist in the National REI Awards. We wish her all the best at the awards ceremony in 2019.
If you have any questions about South Australia or our services please email Katherine on [email protected]