Women Investing in Real Estate with Moneeka Sawyer

Moneeka: Are you excited, but nervous at the same time about investing in real estate? Are you confused about where to get started? Do you feel uncertain about your ability to invest in real estate because of finances, the market conditions, or not knowing enough? 

Moneeka: Hi. My name is Moneeka Sawyer and I’m the host of the Real Estate Investing for Women podcast. I work with professional women on how to get started in real estate investing or grow their current portfolios. In this podcast, I will share my own strategies, as well as those of many amazing experts so that you too can build wealth, the blissful way. That means building wealth on your own terms, part-time with very little stress.

Moneeka: To get started, download your free report on my personal favorite strategy at blissfulinvestor.com.

Moneeka: Hello and welcome to Real Estate Investing for Women, where we focus on all aspects of real estate investing, including strategies, mindset, emotional mastery, money smarts, and so much more to ensure your success. Today, I’d like to welcome to the show our guest, Denise Haynes.

Moneeka: Denise is the woman at the helm of the all-women real estate agency in Australia, R and R Property. They sell rural, residential, and commercial property. Denise is well-known within the real estate industry for being an exceptional marketer. Her award-winning team has been on television, featured in Selling Houses Australia, a home renovation and makeover show, and Denise is currently featured in two new books being released soon, and is also working on her own book, which would teach people how to present their properties for sale, along with some great hints and tips for selling.

Moneeka: Denise also has a podcast and blog called The Real Estate Girl, I love that title, and she has a personal real estate portfolio. She is also a mother and a wife. Along with her family, they live on a farm in rural Australia. 

Moneeka: So welcome to the show. How are you?

Denise: Thank you. I’m wonderful. Thank you so much for having me.

Moneeka: I have been so excited about this show. So, I actually found Denise on the internet and listened to some of her work and she has such a spirit about her. I was immediately attracted to her, so I invited her to the show and then we’ve been playing telephone, or not telephone, but email tag now for about three months, so this has been in the works for a while and I’m glad we’re finally getting to have a conversation. So welcome.

Denise: Yes, I’m excited too, so thank you.

Moneeka: So tell us, since you are the marketing expert, tell us why is marketing so important in real estate, especially for investors?

Denise: So I think it’s important for everybody. I mean, marketing is, to me, everything. We are such busy, busy people. Everyone’s got busy lives, so you’ve got this split second to capture people’s attention, so you want to be in front of them because you can’t sell a secret at the end of the day. So you want to be in front of them and you want to stand out from the crowd.

Moneeka: Nice. And how does that specifically apply for investors? Like talk a little bit about the specifics around that.

Denise: Yes, sure. Basically, the better your property looks, the less problems that your client thinks that the property might have as far as looking good, things that they have to repair, that sort of thing, the more money that you are going to actually get for your investment. And that works both for sale and for rental or leasing.

Moneeka: Right, because if someone walks into a house and they see, “Oh, this owner does not take care of the house or there are problems,” they’re not going to feel as comfortable paying a good amount of rent for it either, right? You want to be able to get rent that covers your mortgage and your cost also, right?

Denise: Yeah, that’s exactly right, so you don’t want to be deemed as a problem landlord, so they don’t want to rent with someone that’s not going to fix things, that you can clearly see they don’t spend any time or money on the property. You want the property to look amazing and not, have any issues as far as you can help.

Moneeka: Right. So, Denise, this is such a good point. I’m glad we’re talking about this because I think in a lot of real estate coursework, a lot of real estate books, people talk about the numbers a lot, right? And the thing that they don’t talk about is the experience of living in one of your investment properties. I think that, as landlords, a lot of times, we forget if we’re not reminded that people are moving into our investment property because they want a home and they’re likely to stay longer if it feels like a home rather than some transitional place or just a rental and it’s going to feel more like a transitional place or a rental if it’s not well taken care of. And I think a lot of landlords get frustrated because of the attrition and the turnover, but they would experience a lot less of that if they were willing to take good care of the property, so initially it shows well and we’re constantly marketing to our current tenants. 

Moneeka: It’s a constant … You know, they have to make a decision every single time that lease comes up to stay, every single time they pay the rent to stay. And so it’s this process of this sort of upkeep and treating them like people that we care about, all of those things that we pay attention to in marketing for selling a property, are also really important for managing the properties and keeping our tenants happy and putting good tenants into the property. Wouldn’t you agree?

Denise: Yes. Absolutely and, you know, I see that as landlords, we all want tenants that are going to treat the property like they own it and they love it, but it’s got to be a two-way street. So you actually, as the landlord, you’ve got to be able to treat your tenant as though you care about them, you care about the way that they live. You know, their house is nice to live in, the street’s a good street to live in, and what conveniences have they got as well. On the whole marketing thing as well, it doesn’t just stop at that. Just as an example, personally, I’ve had the most amazing tenants who I’ve sent gift cards to for Christmas, saying “Thank you for being such an amazing tenant and thank you for looking after my property like you actually own it.” It might be a 50 dollar gift card or a 100 dollars, and they just think that’s the best thing ever that you actually took the time to do that.

Moneeka: Yeah. I do the exact same thing and they brag, right? They’re like, “Oh, my landlord sends me Christmas gifts,” you know? Because nobody else does that.

Denise: Yes and even as an agency, we have a tenant of the month award, so each month we actually choose a tenant that we feel, you know, does all the right things, looks after the property really well, and we give them a gift certificate along with chocolates and flowers and we take their photo and we put them on our Facebook page and say, “Wow, look at our tenant of the month. They’re so amazing.” 

Denise: And you can see conversations underneath that in your social media. They’re telling all their friends and everyone’s going, “Oh, wow. We don’t get anything like that.” It’s just another marketing thing, really.

Moneeka: Yeah, I love that idea. I’m going to use that one. Thank you for that. I love that.

Denise: No worries.

Moneeka: Okay, so tell us what are some of the ways you market your properties, your rental properties.

Denise: Okay, so the most important thing of course is online. I mean, everything is online these days. Most of the inquiries that we do get come through the internet and, yeah, sure, we get the walk-ins. We get people phoning us, but more of them are email inquiries. Our most popular site, search engine sites are called realestate.com and domain.com. Now, I don’t know if you guys have that. I think your most popular one might be Zillow?

Moneeka: Yeah, we have Zillow. I don’t know if Zillow actually allows us to post properties for rent, but Trulia does, realtor.com, Craigslist, so we do have some of our own sites also.

Denise: Okay, yeah. So those ones. So you need to be on those and I always say we get professional photography done as much as we can for properties. Like I said, you’re competing against so many other properties on the internet. You want yours to stand out and look amazing so people go, “Wow, let’s go and check that one out.” Make sure your text, your ad copy has got no spelling mistakes, errors in it, because that just looks unprofessional. 

Denise: And, of course, social media. Social media is just everything these days. You’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all those sites. We use those extensively and we try to build a community around that and get people having conversations with us about the different properties. You know, feel free to ask us questions on this property, and they do. They get on there and they share and tag their friends that are looking for properties, so that’s incredibly important.

Moneeka: Yeah.

Denise: And, look, you know, that is something that you need to ask your agent if you’re running through an agent. Do they use social media and do they have a specific strategy around the social media? I don’t want to see funny cat videos, although I think they’re hilarious and I do like to watch them, not in my real estate area. And, you know, there’s a place. They’re all great, but you don’t want your agent just doing that on social media.

Moneeka: Interesting. Interesting. You know, all of that is really, really good information and I just want to add one other little thing, because you said several times, it needs to look professional. And I think that as landlords who might only own one to four properties, may not have a management company, they’re kind of doing it by the seat of their pants. There’s a sweet family feel that a tenant will get by working with that person. The other thing is that even though there’s a sweet family feel, it also tends to be turned around into something that can be negative because the tenants can feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and that therefore they can take advantage of you.

Moneeka: So the trick when you’re a small investor is to keep that sweet family feel, but to also show them that you know what you’re doing and the way that you do that is show up as a professional, so you don’t want typos. You want proper English. You want to look like you know what you’re doing and you’re a pro so that they can’t try to bulldoze you over because of whatever impression they may get by your marketing. So when you put an ad whether it’s on Craigslist or on realtor.com or Trulia or whatever – you know, in each country, you’ve got different sites and I actually do have clients in Canada and in England, so everybody’s got their different sites. But you want to make sure that you show up as somebody that is reliable and knows what you’re doing, whether you’ve got one door or you’ve got 1600 doors, you want to make sure that you look like you know what you’re doing.

Moneeka: So when we talk about professional pictures, I know that a lot of small timers don’t want to have to pay for that, right? And that’s okay. However, make sure that whatever you do actually post looks really, really good. So if you don’t want to pay for professional pictures, have a friend that’s a photographer come in and do it or, if you want to do it yourself, don’t do it with your phone. Use a nice camera at the very least. But you want to look like you’re somebody that people can rely on to take good care of the property, that you’re going to be a good landlord, but also that you’re not going to be a pushover, you know? And those are some of those things that you can do to make yourself look like a pro.

Denise: Yeah, exactly and even though you might be doing it yourself, you can still build a business around that, so you treat yourself like you are a business. So have all the professional things. And, you know, professional photography has come down a lot in price. I know in Australia it has. At one time, nobody could afford a professional photographer, but that has changed in the last few years, so you might actually be surprised as to how cheap it actually is. 

Denise: But, as you said, if not, use a professional beautiful camera. If you don’t have one of those and you really do have to use your phone, just make sure you take really great angles, the photo doesn’t include the tea towels for example, or the dirty laundry.

Moneeka: You’re right.

Denise: It looks professional, you’ve got good lighting, no shadows, just try your very best to make it look professional. And have your own release signs as well. You can have things printed so cheaply these days, so you really can. And have a business name as well, so the account that they are depositing their rent into is actually a business name.

Moneeka: I love that.

Denise: For example: My real estate company. Yeah, just little things. Make sure you treat yourself like you are a business.

Moneeka: Right. Right and that’s a big piece of our mindset too as investors. Some people think of it as a portfolio, which is all about numbers. Some people would think of it as the thing that I’m doing on the side, right? And some people think of it as a business and if you’re able to really get into that mindset of thinking of it as a business, there’s a whole lot of things that are a consequence of that mindset that change the level of success you can reach. And that’s why so many times in the podcast, I really have people come on to talk about mindset and really creating that business mindset and the success mindset because it makes such a big difference in the kind of success that we experience, right?

Denise: Yes, you’ve got to tell yourself that you’re a professional.

Moneeka: Right. Yay, right. Okay. Okay, so tell us a little bit, I know that you do so much of this on these television shows and stuff, so talk about presentation and styling. What are some tips and hints around that?

Denise: Okay, so once again, I come back to the same thing: presentation. First impressions are absolutely everything, so when your prospective tenant turns up at the property for example, the front gate works. The path into the house is actually attractive and they’re not going to trip over. The front door looks attractive. The whole process of that first impression is absolutely vital and that will tell the people whether they’re going to be looked after as a tenant. Inside, I always suggest that people paint, for example, with really nice light colors, neutral color palette, and that way it’s a blank canvas, so they can put their furniture in there and make it their own. They can put their pops of color in to brighten it up if they like bright colors, otherwise you’ve got that nice neutral tone. Lots of light as well, so make sure it’s not a dark, dingy house. If it is, add a skylight, for example. 

Denise: And, look, it’s always easier both in rental and in sales to rent or sell a property that’s not vacant. So sometimes a vacant property is harder to lease or rent or sell if it’s actually empty, it’s soulless. That will magnify any design faults as well, so I think key pieces of furniture at the very least are good.

Moneeka: Awesome. I have a question around paint because I know me and my other landlord friends, we have this conversation all the time.

Denise: Okay.

Moneeka: I never do white. I don’t even do a warm white. I do a neutral, but it’s usually like a cream or a sage or something a little bit warmer, while most of my other friends will say they always do white. And so what is your take on that? For the walls.

Denise: Well, it’s a personal thing, really. My take on that is I absolutely love white, so white on white and I always make the color just slightly warm so it’s not a cold white. I just think it’s really fresh and really light, but in saying that, I wouldn’t do sage. I wouldn’t do a green color, but you know, maybe a nice latte color for example. You know, coming into your caramels, that’s always nice and warm. Anything within that color palette is good. As long as it’s neutral, that’s the main thing, so if they do have a certain color in their furnishings, it will actually match in no matter what.

Moneeka: Nice, okay. Good, thank you for that. And then were there any other tips you wanted to add? I feel like I cut you off a little.

Denise: No, that’s okay. So, yeah, as I said, just nice and tidy. Make sure the yard’s tidy. The exterior of the property is clean as well, so you’ve given it a good wash down for example. Nothing worse than a dusty, dirty house. And the fence can they keep their pets or their children in. That’s really important. Lots of people have children or fur babies, so they want to know that their pets or children are going to be safe and they’re not thinking “Oh gosh, the first thing I’m going to have to do is ask for that to be fixed.” So that’s just another hassle for them.

Moneeka: Yeah. You know, in your notes that you sent me, you mentioned some stuff about the front door and the porch. Could you tell my audience about that? Sort of what your perspective is on that?

Denise: Again, does it open easily? Does the front door actually open easily? You know, it’s not creaking, it’s not broken, it looks attractive. Hey, that’s your very first impression into the house, so I like to have a nice pop of color on the front door. It might be red, for example, that’s my favorite. Or I’ve seen beautiful pink ones, blue ones, yeah, just something with some really nice hardware as well. Nice brass knocker or crystal door handle. That’s my taste, but you can use whatever you want, as long as it’s beautiful and looks clean and tidy.

Moneeka: Yeah. I love that.

Denise: Low maintenance gardens are best too.

Denise: Don’t have anything too fussy. They don’t want to spend all their time, like I said to you before, most people are busy these days, so they don’t have time for gardening. They like to have a garden because it looks good, it frames your house beautifully, but they don’t want to spend all their time in that garden, weeding it, trimming it, mowing the lawns too much, so if you do have gardens, have them nicely mulched and as low maintenance of plants as you can possibly find. Good structural plants.

Moneeka: Yeah. Perfect. And that’s actually a place where you can add a little bit more color to the garden too. You can still find some good structural plants that’ll give you some flowers, some pretty splashes of color in the front of the house and I think that’s really attractive too.

Denise: Exactly, yeah. And you can get some lovely hedging plants that you don’t have to hedge very often either, so they look really lovely and have pretty flowers that smell good too.

Moneeka: Yeah and, you know, for those of you listening, I am so tempted to ask Denise what she recommends and I know you’re tempted and, like, Moneeka, what do you recommend, but I’m in California and she’s in Australia and you’re somewhere, so the different kinds of plants that we have are going to be different. But just go to a nursery and, you know, the guys at the nurseries, they love to talk about this stuff and you can just tell them, you know, I want something super low maintenance, I want a splash of color, this is just going to go right by the front door, you know, what can I use? And they’ll help you out based on whether you got shade or sun, what you’re looking for. They know all that information.

Moneeka: You know, here in California, I do impatiens everywhere. Yeah, so that’s my thing.

Denise: Nice and colorful, but low maintenance. That’s what we’re talking about.

Moneeka: Right. Yeah, so but I know I have a client in Mexico and she did bougainvillea. Well, we can do bougainvillea here in California, but it grows crazy and blah blah blah and, you know, all this stuff. So based on your location, the plants, what’s popular, what people like to see, those are the sorts of things you’re going to want to consider and your local nursery will be able to help you out. It’s worth the one hour trip to the nursery to do that. It doesn’t take a lot.

Denise: Yeah, that’s right and I mean, you can buy your plants in what’s called tube stock, so small sizes and plant them. Within no time, they’ve grown into beautiful plants. That’s the cheapest way.

Moneeka: Yeah. Awesome. Okay, and then what other presentation items would you like to suggest to our listeners to take note of?

Denise: Look, that’s probably it in a nutshell. You know, just absolutely everything clean. It smells good, so you know, even if you have to have a nice candle burning while you’re doing your inspections, make sure the property’s aired really well. It smells good, it’s clean and tidy. So, you know, that’s basically it in a nutshell and then you’ll attract more people to your property.

Moneeka: Yeah and you mentioned also before, and I just want to highlight this, is a couple of key pieces of furniture if the property is empty because I know, you know, I don’t ever like walking into a completely empty home. Now, if the colors are nice and the flooring is nice, that’s great, but it’s like what Denise said, it still feels kind of empty and soulless, so give it a little heart. Put in a nice dinner table with some chairs and a bouquet of flowers on it, or a candle, and that’s also where you can put your fliers for people to take, you know? So just give it a little bit of somethin’, so that it feels like it’s liveable.

Denise: That’s right, so they can imagine how their furniture will look in the property. You know, a really nice sofa with some cushions on it, for example. Even if it’s just a single arm chair with a little foot stool or something, just setting the scene for them basically.

Moneeka: Yeah.

Denise: It feels warmer.

Moneeka: Yeah. Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, thank you for all of that really awesome information. I even picked up some stuff and I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so thank you, Denise.

Denise: That was wonderful!

Moneeka: So before we go into our three rapid fire questions, why don’t you tell my listeners how they can reach you?

Denise: Sure. So our website’s probably the easiest way for them to contact us and check out what we do. It’s www.randrproperty.com.au and we’ve got all sorts of information you need. All different tabs, they can download brochures, et cetera, on tips and hints. Our Facebook page is just R and R Property, so again we regularly post hints and tips on that and Instagram, again, @randrproperty. So, you know, they’re probably the best ways. And, as you mentioned before, we do the podcast, so you know, R and R Property Real Estate Girl, they can download that and listen to that and read our blogs as well. So there’s lots and lots of different information.

Moneeka: Nice. Perfect. And I know you wanted to offer my listeners a free gift. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Denise: Yeah, so as you said, I’m writing a book at the moment and what I’ve done, I’ve taken some information out of that book and created an e-book for our listeners, so it will be called How to Sell Your Property for More Money, so I’ve created that for them and it will be downloadable. I’m sure you’ll put the link in there for me, Moneeka.

Moneeka: Absolutely. It’ll be in the show notes, so no worries there. And thank you so much for that. All, you know, How to Sell Your House for More Money, all of that stuff is still going to be, or most of it, is still going to be relevant like we spoke today, whether you’re trying to sell a house to a buyer or to someone that’s going to live there, it is really all about the marketing. So definitely download that.

Denise: Yes, there’s lots of good information in it, so I’m sure the listeners will enjoy that.

Moneeka: Cool. Awesome. So are you ready for our three rapid fire questions?

Denise: Hit me with it.

Moneeka: Awesome, okay. Number one, Denise: tell us one super-tip on getting started investing in real estate.

Denise: Okay, super-tip would be “just to do it”. Don’t overthink it. Get in there and, you know, find a property that you love, that you think will be a good property for an investment, and just do it. I see lots and lots of people get held up by overthinking it.

Moneeka: I do too. That’s an awesome tip. Okay, number two: tell us one strategy on being successful in real estate investing.

Denise: Successful is to do all the things that we just talked about, so present everything beautifully, be a great landlord! Think to yourself, would I like to rent off me?

Moneeka: Yes, perfect.

Denise: And do your homework too, so of course you need to do your homework. You know, your pest and building reports on your property are really important before you buy. Do your homework on the suburb that you’re buying in. There’s lots of things. You just need to do your homework before you make that final decision; “I’m buying this one”.

Moneeka: Nice, thank you. And what is one daily practice that you do that you would say contributes to your success?

Denise: Okay, so a daily practice for me would be, as I’m putting on my makeup every morning, I listen to experts’ podcasts, so I actually like to listen to that and sometimes it will be real estate information, sometimes it’s personal development, so just something that I find interesting and uplifting, and it starts my day off really well.

Moneeka: Nice. That is something that I do also. I love that. So, yeah. 

Denise: Oh cool!

Moneeka: Yeah. Denise, thank you so much for all that amazing information. It was so informative. You’re so generous, so thank you for that.

Denise: No trouble, thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Moneeka: Yay, thanks. And for all of you who are listening in, thank you for joining us today on the show and I look forward to seeing you next time. And until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams, so get out there, take action, and create the life your heart most deeply desires. See you next time. Bye. 

Moneeka: Thank you again for joining on the Real Estate Investing for Women podcast. If you love this show, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes. As women, we need to support and empower each other to build wealth and live joyful lives. Your support of this podcast by subscribing, rating, and reviewing it will help other women just like you learn about building blissful wealth through investing. And remember to download your free report so you can get started on your investing journey at blissfulinvestor.com. See you next time.