Jim Malamatinas grew up in a family living paycheck to paycheck, and as such, learned the value of hard work from an early age. Now as CEO of A-Game property, Malamatinas helps clients buy and develop their dream homes as he did so himself, and applies that hard work and resilience every day. Find out how he went from taking the bins out at a fish and chips shop to running his own buyers advocacy and property development agency.
Ever dreamed of moving to the sunny side of town? Join us in this new episode of Property Investory
where we find out how Jim Malamatinas made this dream a reality. Tune in to find out the hard work and dedication it takes to make your dream work and how developments can benefit you in the long run.Timestamps:
01:04 | Family Man Malamatinas
06:55 | Saving From the Start
10:54 | Thriving Through Fear
17:04 | Jobs, Jobs and Jobs
20:34 | The Bayside Dream
01:06 | Starting the Bayside Journey
09:10 | Developer Delights
16:19 | Passion and Purpose
24:35 | Words of Wisdom
Resources and Links:
[6:06] I didn't realise it at the time, but I didn't realise what a great foundation would give me to life by being able to set goals, be clear on what you want in life.
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors to find out more about their stories, mindset and strategies.
I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode we’re speaking to A game property founder and buyers advocate Jim Malamatinas, who’s upbringing and hard work lead him to huge success. Learning how to start saving when he was just 13 years old earning $4 an hour setup the discipline needed to become a successful developer and achieve financial freedom.
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Family Man Malamatinas
Malamatinas is a buyers advocate and property developer from Melbourne. He gives us an overview of his day both professionally and personally.
[0:44] My typical day, I've gotta say, is so varied day by day, which is what I like. So part of my business is property development. So I run my own property development projects. And that takes 25% of my time. I'm liaising with builders, architects, land surveyors, depending on what stage the development’s at is who I'm dealing with. So that's sort of one part, but also coach and help other clients find development sites as part of the business side of things. And then the second part is pure buyer's advocacy. So I buy homes and investment properties for clients, with everything with an investment focus, if you like. So coming back to that property development site, to a home, to investment property.
[1:42] I've got two kids as well. So, I'm pretty active, hands on Dad. So I think ultimately, for me, I live the life of my dreams, my two passions in life of property and people. So I get to do that on a daily basis. And also have a life of freedom where I can choose the hours that I work, yes, they're long, but they're flexible. So, I can duck in and out and pick my kids up if I need to, from the office and just be present in their lives. Because [it’s] the fundamental years right, preteen and a teen I've got. And so just being available for them, and you know, serving people, living my passion is key.
Being a family man, he knows how important it is to spend time with your kids.
[2:20] So my daughter just turned 15. So we're definitely going through teenage years, but she's beautiful. I've got to say she still likes hanging out with her old dad for now. So we'll see how long that goes for. And my son's a preteen. So he's about to turn 11 in a couple of weeks. And yes, so I'm still this hero, at this point, again, once the next few years hit, and he hits puberty, who knows how long that will last? For me, it's about just being present in their lives as much as I can right now, and I can, having my own business, obviously, there's that flexibility to design your life around being there for them during school hours, after school hours. And then, having the flexibility of working more on the weekends and times when they're sleeping, like at five in the morning, or eight at night. So it's good from that point of view.
[3:15] That's great. Well, Jim, let's get to know you personally. Firstly, share with the listeners, where did you grow up?
[3:22] Good question. So I grew up in the lower socioeconomic part of Melbourne. So southeastern suburb, a Greek migrant family. So not your typical Greek migrant family, like you see in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where, you know, the dad buys everyone a house, before they get married. Definitely wasn't that kind of situation for me. Yeah, ultimately, it was around, you know, just getting there. My parents were quite sort of risk averse. And so, you know, it was just making what you could do and, and go from there.
Malamatinas explains to us how his upbringing shaped his approach to life today, giving him the attitude needed to save and succeed.
[4:11] I think for us, it was pretty tight. In terms of just having access to things, I remember all the things because I had quite a lot of Greek cousins who were really affluent, the parents own fish and chip shops, and they were doing really well. And my parents, we were living sort of week to week in terms of food that was available and that kind of thing. And I remember a pivotal moment, Ty, like as a young boy when you're 13 and you sort of can't buy the clothes that you like, and I had a cousin that was two years older than me. And he was really into basketball, which I personally am not. No offence to any basketball fans out there. I got into it with my kids, but it wasn't my thing when I was young. And his clothes fit me perfectly so I remember my mum handing down his clothes and going to school wearing these basketball clothes thinking ‘There's got to be a better way.’
[5:02] So I just got my first job when I was 13 years of age at a fish and chip shop. And it wasn't my parents' fish and chip shop, it was just some random family. But everyone assumed it was mine because I had that Greek background. And that just allowed me the freedom really to, at 13, be able to buy things I liked you know, and it was mainly around clothes, [but] it was around even silly things like food treats and stuff like that, chocolate biscuit or whatever it would be just stuff that you just don't get normally. So clothing [and] I really was into music. So I spent pretty much all my money on clothes, food and CDs, when it came to that sort of thing, and also personal development stuff. I remember one big moment, I saved up for a CD set for a personal development speaker at 13. It was a 250 buck CD set, with 14 CDs. And it took me a long time to save that $4 an hour to get to $250. But I did and I listened to all 13 CDs, and I still have them to this day. That was many, many years ago.
[6:06] I didn't realize it at the time, but I didn't realize what a great foundation would give me to life by being able to be you know, set goals, be clear on what you want in life. You know, have goal books, visualize them, feel them and create them. And for me, that's been fundamental in my life, ever since I was 13. I've been doing that. And that's really now that I look at those goal books and reflect on them. Pretty much everything in them in those early years has come true. And they weren't all money based. A lot of them were family based in terms of finding my beautiful wife and life partner and the family that I've created, along with the property journey that I've experienced through development. So yeah, property. The goalbooks do work and I still do it to this day, I figure don't stop something great. That's working.
That Tony Robbins CD set was a highlight of what was otherwise quite a challenging time growing up for Malamatinas.
Saving From the Start
[9:27] Look, I can't say there were a lot of fun memories. For me growing up, to be honest, just in a hole. I think it was pretty much a challenge. I went to Cleveland High which was, funnily enough ranked one of the worst performing schools in Australia since before it was knocked down. It was in quite a rough neighbourhood in Dandenong. So many people in Melbourne would be familiar with the Southeastern suburbs of Melbourne, not a really pleasant environment, a lot of gangs and it was just really rough. But you know, I'm really grateful for that experience because now I can look back and say, that made me the resilient person that I am now, that helped me get to where I am. But I gotta be honest with you, too. If you asked me that 10 years ago, I probably wouldn't have. I wouldn't have been as grateful as I am now. But yeah, ultimately, I think high school for me, and even primary school, I think, just, you know, childhood in general was a challenge, through a lot of different things.
[10:24] But, ultimately, it was what I was meant to live through to make me that resilient person, to achieve what I've achieved not only from my property portfolio and the monetary side of things, but more important to me right now is family, and the love and connection I have with my kids and my beautiful wife, and also some really amazing friends. I've got one best friend from high school. And, you know, we're still in touch to this day, we're best friends. And we've, my wife and I have christened both of their children. And that's probably the one takeout that I'll take from high school is that one friend that stuck by me through all those challenging times.
[11:56] I think there's a lot of gangs in my school in particular, so gang, sort of targeting groups of people. I wasn't a victim, to be honest, because I was able to be smart enough to avoid fighting, because that was never my thing. So I was always a good talker, which is why I do what I do. Now, I was able to talk my way out of a lot of things. But I think ultimately, it comes down to just having that parent sort of support and protection when you're younger. And where we grew up, and how we grew up was just that little bit different. And I look back at my parents, and they did a great job, they did the best job that they could do, the best job that they knew how to do, I think every parent has that wish and dream for their children, I want to do the best I can. And they did, they did the best they knew how to do. And they definitely were one of my best teachers in life, because they taught me exactly what I didn't want to be in life when I grew up as a parent.
[12:57] They were very risk averse, and very fear driven. And you know, they're beautiful loving people. But ultimately, for me, when I'm raising my children, I really want to, I didn't want to raise fear driven, risk averse kids, I wanted them to be resilient, and to be empowered to know that ultimately, anything that you want, if you're clear on what that is, you can have it. And so generationally, I wanted that to stop with my family. And I'm the eldest of four boys. So my brothers and I wanted that to stop. And by meeting a great and loving partner who had a lovely childhood, we're able to come together and really create that family unit, which is so important. I think, ultimately, the property stuff, and the money stuff is a great thing, too. Don't get me wrong, but there's more to life than money. For me. It's always been about passions and dreams. And the money has been a journey to help get to that. And it's great, right? Everyone loves the nice houses and the nice cars and investment property portfolios and all that kind of stuff. It's beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it. But it's not the only driver for me.
Malamatinas explains why his parents were so protective while he and his brothers were going up. He also gives us his takeaways from those experiences and transitioning into uni and the workforce.
Thriving Through Fear
[14:37] My parents were very, like I said, fear driven, risk averse. It was about getting a good job staying in that job. And so they'll be factory workers over the course of their lives until there were periods where they couldn't work for various reasons. So they instilled in us that you know, we should just get one good job and stay with that job for the rest of your life and even sometimes the smallest risks that I would take like going to uni, like it wasn't expected of me to go to uni, some migrant families really pushed for their children to go to uni. My parents didn't. So I went to uni out of my own accord. I was the first and only one in my family to do that, but it was just a drive for me, I really wanted to, just to get better and improve myself from a really young age, like I said, from 13 and started have my first foray into growing my mind and that personal development side with those CDs. And, you know, I never looked back.
[15:30] So ultimately, with my parents, everything that I did was, you know, they're almost trying to talk me out of it. So I remember buying my first investment property, they were like, ‘Well, why don't you just buy your first house so that you can live in that when you get married for the rest of your life.’ And I remember when I did my first property development project, my dad was almost there, and was so fearful for me, because of the amount I had to borrow to make it happen. He was actively trying to talk me out of it. Wow. And it's amazing that I was able to, because your parents are a big influence on your life. Yes. But I always took their opinion on board. And I listened to it, but I just never did what they wanted. I was able to take it on board as to maybe be very fearful, though, and made me overthink things because they're your parents at the end of the day, that's all you know. But I was able to sort of rise above that sort of thinking, and take those risks. And I think when I'm with my partner as well, my beautiful wife, she has that team dynamic together, we you know, we did a lot of the things that we've done together.
[17:29] I remember finishing uni, I finished my undergrad and I got from Monash University in management and marketing, because that was always what I wanted to be, you know, be I wanted to be a marketer. And property was always this dream of mine since I was a kid, I remember having an exercise book, I was really into floor plans. And I really loved that sort of thing. So I was 10 years old. And I'll never forget sitting at 10 years old, and just designing floor plans. And then I remember going into year nine and thinking I'll be an architect, that's what I want to do, started doing graphics and realized that I'm not really good at angles, CAD and all that kind of stuff. So maybe those dreams aren’t going to happen. But the first investment property and then the following properties that I developed after that, I hand drew those floor plans, and I gave them to the architect. And it was such a beautiful 360 moment for me, a full circle moment to say, you know, whilst I couldn't do that dream, I did it in another way where I could still handle it, just give it to the experts.
[18:33] I was 22 in my first job, I was a temp. And I remember I really wanted to get into the property market as soon as possible. I had this burning desire since I was just a young kid, I just knew that it was a way to build wealth. And I don't know how I knew that because my parents definitely weren't driving that in me. I think, you know, seeing other people do it, seeing relatives do it, having it as a dream, having a passion for property from a young child. I remember being a temp when I first started my job as a customer service operator at an international freight company and our NOC code. And I remember saying, ‘I really want to be permanent because I need to get a mortgage.’ And you know, and it took six months of me hounding them and doing my best absolute work. So they wouldn't want to lose me to make myself permanent, because obviously you can't get a mortgage until you're a permanent employee. Get a loan. Yeah. And so you know, 22 I was really pushing to get a loan, and there's not a lot of 22 year olds that want a mortgage early. They're still out there. A lot of my mates were still out there partying, and I'm sitting there paying off a mortgage, and I would still go out, but not to the extreme that they would.
Jobs, Jobs and Jobs
During his young adult life, Malamatinas had to work hard to get himself through his university years, juggling several jobs and studying simultaneously.
[20:07] I worked throughout the whole time I needed to support myself ultimately, I mean, my parents gave me shelter, which was amazing. But they really couldn't afford much more. And I had to contribute to help them as well, because at certain points they weren't working. So I always had a job, at one point, I had three jobs going through uni. So fish and chip shops were my thing, I ended up becoming a master at fish and chip shops. Not that it's a great job, especially, I've got to say in summer, it's probably one of the worst jobs, you're dealing with hungry people in a really hot environment, and especially on Good Friday, people would be waiting an hour and a half for their fish. And it wasn't one. But I had a few jobs working with different fish and chip shops, I became like the manager, the big manager of a fish and chip shop, and, you know, got through different gigs, which was good. And then I remembered that I was 19. So you're into uni, I thought, maybe there's some other jobs I can delve into. Because it was great. I was with the one family who you know, buying a lot of different shops, but then I moved into video ezy. And that was such a change. I'm so excited.
[21:10] I became the assistant manager immediately at a big video shop where I grew up. And it was such a different dynamic. And I was serving people that were happy, because they're looking for their entertainment for the night. So they were satisfied. And they were asking me for recommendations on what film we should watch tonight. And it was just the most fun job. And, you know, in addition to that, we could watch all the previews that would just come off cinema before anyone else could. Yeah, and it was a really great experience. But I think coming from a fish and chip shop, a really hard work kind of hard physical labor environment, to scanning videos and stocking shelves and cleaning some tapes occasionally, and obviously running the reports. And that's it as a manager, it was a very pleasant experience, I would say compared to where I started. But again, I think it's a good foundation to start sometimes at the bottom and work your way up. It just teaches you
[22:16] There's no going the other way around, definitely was the one, the one way back. I'll just never forget this moment, I think I was about 15 years old. And you know, I was at the front of the chip shop. So serving people, which was the promoted kind of job. But you'd have to peel potatoes occasionally too because that's how you make chips. So there was a machine that peels potatoes, but all the potato peels would become a froth, and they'd go into this box, you'd have to carry that into the dump master, and it would smell like a very putrid smell. And one day the box broke. And all this filling fell on the ground. And I was about two meters from the dump master. And I was on my hands and knees picking scraping it off and putting in thinking, this is a real coming to God, my man, if you don't get strong over this, you know, doesn't get any worse at this point in 15 years, all your mates around, they can see what you're doing. It was quite you know, when you're 15 it's so important what people think of you.
[23:06] And I was thinking, here I am. But you know what I think, you know, looking back now you think, well, it was a great experience. And I want my kids to have maybe not that severe an experience. But it's just so important for them to have, you know, experiences and may not just spoon feed them the success that I've had, I really want them to go through, you know, and my daughter just turned 15, which is a legal age to get a job. And she'll be getting a job. You know, she's applying out to a few jobs now. And she doesn't need to get a job. But it's important for her development, her learning and her resilience to earn money.
The Bayside Dream
To fulfil his dream, Malamatinas had to succeed in each job he took out of uni, developing properties while working hard in the corporate world.
[24:19] I climbed the corporate ladder in that first organisation. And then I had a passion for the pharmaceutical industry. And there were a lot of people, you know, a lot of friends of mine that were in the pharmaceutical industry. So I was lucky enough to get a job at one of the leading Australian pharmaceutical companies. And I joined that and I worked there for quite a long time. And I rose through the ranks into senior marketing management. I did my MBA with them as well. They funded that for me, which was a really great experience and a really great qualification to have a postgraduate and MBA in particular. So rose through the ranks and got into senior marketing management roles, which was a great achievement. But at the same time every night I would come home to my wife, who was also an accountant, and is now a leading accountant in our field. And we will talk about our property investment strategy every night. And that's when we both come alive, because that's what we just loved. It was a passion from childhood, right?
[25:14] So we're talking about, you know, the next investment property, and the next project that we would do as a property development project. But the one thing I think, having my wife, which was a great experience, was that I was really conscious of numbers. And so, you know, strategically being able to for us, the strategy was always I wanted to live by the bay, and have that dream house with, you know, the bay views and walking distance to the beach, that was always the end goal. And I literally developed my way here. So, there were multiple properties that started off with an asset base, quite a big one. And then I divested a few to be able to build this home at a really young age so that I could enjoy it while my kids were young, versus having it when I was in my 60s. And, really, the kids have gone by then. So what am I going to do with it? Right? So, so, yeah, so I built a really strong asset base early divested a few properties. And then we built this home about seven years ago now. So my kids got in here when they were really young. And it's just a great experience to be able to have this now while they're growing up so that they can use all the spaces. We live in an amazing Bayside location where like I said, you know, I walk on the beach every morning. That was always a dream from when I started writing those guidebooks when I was 13.
As soon as he could, Malamatinas began investing in property and kept working on his dream throughout his adult life.
[26:51] So we built up multiple properties in the early days. So in the 20s, we built up quite a few properties from 22, or buying properties probably every two years. And then we started in our 30s, we started early 30s was the first property development project. And that's when it all began. And I remember we had built a home, our first home when we got married in Rowville. So we bought land and we built this big 40 Square home in between both parents. It was the right thing to do, you know, you had built-in babysitters, if you like or they're close by, and there was this beautiful home that was ready to go. And the dream was always the bay. So it got to a point where the trade off was, we've had a trip to Hawaii, I remember my wife was 20 weeks pregnant with our second child and had a four year old with a wife that was 20 weeks pregnant, we had a trip to Hawaii. After living there for over seven years in that beautiful house, the baby's room was ready, because the four year old had her own big girl bed, went to Hawaii and came back.
[27:49] And we sold that house and we moved into a shack by the beach. But it was really, you know, renovator’s delight or renovator’s detonate, whichever you'd like to call it that had no heating and had no cooling. And I moved myself and my family into that at a time that probably was inopportune. You know, if we look back and you think opportunities don't come at the best time, they don't come in at an easy time. And that was probably one of the most challenging times of my life. I've gotta say, doing that. So moving my whole family from his perfect house that was really ready to go from our second child's room was all set, he would have just slid into there. And you know, the cup was done and everything was beautiful. But yeah, this house that we moved into was really, it was really a dive. And the fact that it had no heating and cooling and winter, it was just a massive challenge. But they had an amazing supportive wife who was on the journey with me. So it wasn't me just saying, ‘let's just do it.’ And it's the whole way we agreed to do it for the future. And we're, we're, you know, take us, but at the same time, you know, it was one of those big challenging crossroads in life, not only from a property perspective, but also from a personal perspective.
[28:58] Because there were moments where it wasn't going well, our builder at the time that we'd committed to went into liquidation. And I remember just thinking to myself, this is really up, I have two choices. I remember laying in bed, I was literally living with possums, I was possums above my head. I could hear them at night, I wasn't sleeping very well. And I really remember having a choice where this is a time when I can either just cave, you know, fall if you like and prove my parents right that taking risks is not a good thing. Or I could just stand up and fight and win. And it was a really tough lesson for me. We're just, you know, as a man relief for life kind of thing, not a life lesson as a husband. And also as a father, I had to really step up because I was responsible for driving that even though my wife was very supportive. I drove it. And so, you know, look back at that time now, and there's been many many times like that, but that was probably the first is the most pivotal time when you're thinking this could go one or two ways and you get to choose which way it goes. And I chose to fight and luckily, you know, we won and it became the best decision because it was really the foundation of a great asset base for us to continue to develop to get to this home now.
As we touched upon in our previous episode, Malamatinas’ dream was always to live on the bayside, but his foray into that area of the market was anything but easy.
[0:13] That was the start of the bayside journey. So the bayside journey. So from Roval in this beautiful 40 Square house that was ready to go, we moved, we literally traded it in for almost the same purchase price for two bedrooms knocked down, that was five minutes walk to one of the most beautiful Bayside beaches. So the beach walk was good. It was close to all the shops, the village, the cafes, and the train station, but the home itself wasn't great. So I did spend a lot of time at the beach, which is good. To get me through.
[1:07] And we had to divest one or two [properties] to get, to be able to set us up for that development side of things. Because we literally had to borrow at least a million dollars back then to develop that site. And that's a lot of money. So we needed to divest a couple of properties to be able to give us the equity that we needed to borrow more.
[1:29] So would you consider that moment that you just explained to me one of your worst moments in your whole journey? Or was there one that was even worse than that?
[1:36] Mate. Absolutely, I think that was, that was the time, when I was sitting in bed with the possums above my head when I thought you know, I've got a four year old in a room cold, I had panel heaters that were sort of doing the job a little bit, I had my wife that was pregnant, she was probably 30 weeks at that stage. And you know, we'd invested some money with a builder and lost it. And we're in no man's land, we just didn't know what the next step was. But the next step was to either lose everything. And like I said, concede and give up. Because I was thinking when you go through those times, this sort of thing. You go into victim victim mode at times, and you think, gee, this is so hard, I can't do this, all that negative mind talk that happens to all of us.
[2:20] But I think being a fighter from such a young age, and having that childhood that I had just told me that resilience that you know, life is not always easy. And it's through those tough times that great things happen. And if you can just hold on and just keep pushing through and choose to fight, like actively choose to fight as hard as it is, good things come. And, that's the choice that I made that night. And I've never looked back, because throughout the property development, there's been many property developments post that before we got to this one, and there's just in life in general, there's always something that will come up. That's maybe not as severe as that. But there's always challenges that come up through property development.
[3:00] I'm sure you're familiar with other guests that you've had on as well. You start digging those foundations and things come up with extra costs that you haven't budgeted for, and, you know, issues within the bank, subdivision issues with your name, the issue, I've experienced it. I mean, we're going through a development project right now. And there's another issue that I'm dealing with, I was dealing with it all morning today. But it's about trying to step back from the issue, you've got a good team around you being creative, and try and methodically work through all the different options, and just leveraging the experts to help you because I don't know all the answers, but I employ a great deal of really smart people that do. So by working together with everyone, we come up with a really great solution or multiple solutions, and we work through and then find the best one out of the lot.
[4:21] Tell us a little bit more about what happened with that particular deal, because you're at that crossroads. Curious. How did you come out at the end?
[4:30] Yeah, that's a really good question. Because it takes me back in time. That was 15 years ago. So it's when I first started developing. So it's been that long. So I remember the builder went into liquidation. We'd lost about $20,000 that we'd put down, we hadn't started building but it was one of those deals where they designed the townhouses and own the rights to them. And that was the $20,000 that we'd put down. So we were lucky that we were in that middle process or the early process, because there were a lot of people that were midway through the process. I said, either base or frame or even upstage that everything was frozen at that point. So I guess I'm grateful that we're really early. So we lost that $20,000. And we just lost time, because we really had to go through the design phase again.
[5:16] So really going back to basics, I found, screened a few different architects, I found one, and then we started the process to get on our own, without relying on this sort of packaged deal company that does the design and the build for you. So we just went through that company, we designed the townhouses that we wanted, again, I had the floor plans anyway, that I'd given to that building company, because I do them. And then the architect actually improved on them, which is obviously what they're paid to do. It's their area of expertise. And so then we went manually through the town planning process, and ourselves as the real developers, as opposed to going through this company that was going to facilitate it all. And we've got that all approved. And then we found a builder, got the finance, and started the build process. And it probably added, I think that whole journey added an extra year to the project than it needed to be so on his money, it cost a bit of money. It costs a lot of stress, a year's worth of time.
[6:19] But I must say Ty, I think that was one of the most profitable early projects. And that's what really helped to get us here to this, to this home that we're living in now and other properties that we have, because those two choices, really at that point was to sell and lose money and walk away and you know, buy another property, either, you know, further out and not in that great location that we're in, or to find the solution. And I didn't that night, when I made that decision. I didn't know what the solution was, I just started to ask questions, get curious, talk to different people, friends, architects, or different people. And that's how I figured out what the actual process was, because I had no idea. And that's the great thing with what I offer my clients now is that ultimately, when people don't know what they're doing the learnings that I've had over 15 years, if I can shorten people's property learning journey, and add value to them, so that they don't have to experience the kind of stress that I did. That really, you know, that really gives me satisfaction, and adds value to my life as well.
Malamatinas explains how his greatest challenge turned into his greatest success and teaching moment.
[8:50] It was still a massive stretch. And that's why we needed to divest things. And so the aha moment was really just tied back to the beginning. And like I said, the moments that keep happening throughout every development, whenever a problem arises, it's about yes, you have a panic attack. And you're stressing that moment when it's presented to you, but it's about taking some time walking away. And really thinking it through methodically around, what are the potential options? Who do I need to consult with to try and come up with a solution, and then come up with multiple solutions and work them through sometimes there's just no solution? I haven't encountered that yet. To every single property development project or property investment project. There's been so many, I can't tell you where you think, I don't know what we're going to do here. It's not going to work. But you just take it, you walk away, take some time and you work through it. And there's always a way there's always, always, always a way is probably the takeout.
[9:48] So I think it's just that persistence and the knowing that it's going to be okay, and then the consultation with the experts and pushing people because ultimately, you know, if you challenge people, they want to rise to the occasion and that It's, you know, from my corporate training, obviously, it was quite senior I worked with CEOs, I was always pushed. So I learned how to do the same, and always in a nice way, but it's about, you know, you've got a great team of really intelligent people. And they present you with one solution. But that doesn't work. It's about okay, well, we need other solutions, because this is not working. And we need to make this work. So that's the problem, come back to me with a couple of solutions.
[10:56] So just curious about the current property that you're living in, which is your home here. How long did something like that take you to develop and maybe share with us, you know, what happened along the journey be curious to know?
[11:11] It was an interesting one, it was only a year [long] build, which was great. We had a good builder, which was good. I mean, we put a pool in so the pool had to go in first, there were some issues with the pool where they started to build the shell. So the first issue was that as soon as we started the build the shell was a meter out from where it needed to go. So that was a disaster, they had to redo that. But that wasn't their cost, it was just literally me being on top of the building supervisor and figuring that out before anyone else found it. So there were so many different hurdles along the way found out because we're so close to the bay, those foundation issues, a lot of extra cost there. But I guess the key to that was that I was on top of it every single step of the way.
[11:50] I'm the project manager of everything that happens. And so I was doing that, you know, at the time, while I was working in a senior corporate role, which was extremely stressful, because ultimately, I have this great role and full time job that I needed to perform in. And we know, senior level corporate roles are pretty demanding. So coming home in the evening, and keeping on top of this build was probably one of the most stressful times in my life. But I think about what I've learned through it all. And now, I think, once we built it and moved in, it's about more than just the house and the wealth and the rest of it. For me, now, this is done, the dream has been achieved in terms of the home. And I'm living here while my children grow up. And if we need to downsize in the future, we can do that.
[12:41] But ultimately, I'm not looking at doing more high end developments, I'm looking at my future. My children. And so now you would think a typical, if you looked at the next five years, typical Greek dad or Greek family man would be thinking about the next 5 years, I really have to set my children up and buy them a house, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding that I referred to before, didn't happen to me, and it's not going to happen to my children. Because even though I can do that for them, I don't want to and I won't. And it's not because I'm being stingy or I don't want to do it, I want to help them and support them. But more than anything, I want to coach them on how they can achieve it themselves. And I want them to learn some of the lessons that I had to learn that when they get to those life moments where they're either going to fold, or they have to choose to fight, I want them to choose to fight every single time and to win. And look, they've been lucky enough to have an amazing kind of life that I never had. And so sometimes, when you have that it's not as easy to teach your children resilience.
[13:52] But I've been present as a parent with my wife and I, our children are our main focus, especially in these really critical years of 11 and 15. I've got a preteen and a teenager, as I said, so the next five years for me in property in general is coaching them through how to source their own property, what to do to buy their first time. And, you know, the beginning is my daughter having her first job. So doing that. And the second part is, you know, sharing my learnings with my clients because, you know, in the early days, I didn't realize how valuable my 15 years worth of property development experience and then 20 odd years of investment buying has generated so many learnings and hacks along the way that people can fast track by using an advocate. I mean, just yesterday, I signed up someone who’s in the military. He has no idea on where to buy and what to buy, the research and the numbers behind it. And I can offer him that; he can be hands off. So there's so much in that when you consult an expert that’s sort of been there done that versus someone that's just looking at a spreadsheet.
[15:02] It's really amazing what you have to share, then. So many lessons learned, just even just hearing what you've shared, then I think it's the same thing with, you know, if you give someone a fish, they'll only be able to eat for the day. But if you teach them how to fish, you know, they'll be able to do it for the rest of their life.
[15:16] I should have used that saying, but that was a really good one to use. It's so true. You know, and my kids, we joke about it at times that they're not going to get a house for me. And so ‘Dad, that's a really good one, that one,’ and they've, they've seen the whole journey. And, you know, I guess by seeing it happen, and obviously, you now have a lot of property as well, by seeing what their mum and I have been able to do, accomplish that goal, or that one would be so cool, I gotta look, possibly I'll let you live in it rent rent free for five years while you save up your own deposit. But there's no way you're just getting it, I'd rather done it. In all honesty, I'd rather donate it to charity, than to just spoon feed it to my children, I just, it's not my mentality what to do. And your quote, about, you know, the fish and eating for a day versus a lifetime is perfect, I'm giving them all the tools to set them up for a great life of them achieving things and that satisfaction of growing, and being that person that they want to be. And they won't get there if I spoon feed them.
Passion and Purpose
In his professional life, Malamatinas focuses on his clients’ personal motivations in order to make the best investments for them.
[17:23] I've gotta say, I'm getting goosebumps as I say this, but we bought a property, I bought a few properties this month. But the last property I bought was for a family. And we're looking for quite a while because they had quite a stringent list. But last night, I went into the photo taking ceremony and their children got to see the house for the first time and they hadn't seen it. And that moment, for me, was really profound, you know, I get my greatest satisfaction by sharing the learnings going through the process with clients that aren't really clear on what they want in their homes. And so I'll always look at things from an investment lens to say even if it's your primary place of residence, I want this doubled in 10-12 years. So let's buy strategically and get a really clear plan on obviously, your requirements in a home and suburb. And then I'll go ahead and source them. And I look mainly for pre market and off market opportunities. Because that's where there's less competition. And we consider properties that you know, at a more competitive price, then obviously having that negotiation expertise and being a licensed agent, we can negotiate with selling agents quite well, because we're both professionals at the end of the day. And we share information. So I think for my clients, the value add is just being able to share that knowledge that I've built up, which I didn't realize in the early days, what I was learning would lead me here. But now that it has, and even after Friday's experience, we're there for an hour, because we just stayed in to just relish the moment so much of putting the sticker on walking through the house and just seeing the looks on the kids faces and picking their rooms. That was the most rewarding part of my whole week.
[18:55] So you know, doing that for clients, and you know, even investment buyers. For them, it's all about building wealth. So there's not as much emotion as an emotional buyer, but it's still a strategic goodbye from an investment focus, that property will definitely double in 12 years. And I said to them, yeah, we'll be in touch. So, they’re in Mentone. So they are only three [kilometers] from me. So a lot of my clients become neighbors and I see them on the beach nearly every month. So it's very interesting. I've gotta say, but yeah, ultimately, it's that empathy investment buyers, that's another passion as well. Because, you know, just yesterday, as I was saying, I bought at a young guy who's only 25 and he's buying his second investment property, but just had no idea what to do, where to go or what to buy. So I can crunch it, look at all the suburbs and look at the data and you know, put forward some recommendations based on history. I mean, I'm not a financial advisor by any stretch, but I can look at information and look at what things have done property types of such and put forward recommendations and then ultimately it's up to the clients to make the decision. And then they buy great assets that will grow, and they'll come back again next year and buy another one.
[20:03] That's excellent. And is that the kind of strategy that you've been applying yourself that you also share with your clients? Or is it slightly different because you've had 15-20 years of experience in property development. And it's obviously led to where you are today to better buy a dream home and achieve the lifestyle that you want. Is that something similar to what I guess the clients are also learning from you as well?
[20:25] Ty, really good question. I think my service is always catered to what my client's needs are. So if I have a client that's about to retire, and it's cashflow, then you know, I put forward three different strategies, you can either go with capital growth, which is what I focused on, and how I built my wealth over time. But you need serviceability, for capital growth kind of focus strategies, you get more growth, but you need to sometimes contribute. So that serviceability element is key, and I've obviously had great incomes over the years in the early years with my wife's income and my income to be able to do that. And that's not for everybody. But if you're near retirement, so you're in your mid 50s, you look you need more cash flow positive properties, so that they give you that cash flow that you need in retirement, and still have a capital growth element. But there's not so much. And at the moment, what I'm doing is, in Melbourne in particular, we've identified five zones that have cash neutral or slightly cash positive aspects to them, but they're mainly capital growth focused, so they still can look after themselves. But they're going to grow almost as if you're just going through a complete capital growth strategy. So I guess the executive summary to everything else is that I put forward all the different strategies to my clients, I put forward what my recommendation is, but also take their needs and their situation on board. And they decide, you know, what's going to work best for them.
[21:59] I mean, just two weeks ago, we bought a property development site in Hampton. So our base is in the Bayside suburb, next to Brighton in Melbourne. Same sort of thing, you know, these are first time developers and they didn't know what to look for in a site. And so I was able to make some tree elements there that were quite risky. So I made sure that we explored the trees or worked with counsel to see, you know, what kind of houses we could get on site. But it was an amazing opportunity. It was a full house, five minutes walk to the beach, the train station, all the shops. And, you know, I bought it in 48 hours from an agent yesterday. No one even saw it before I did. So they were super happy clients from Sydney, wanting to invest in Melbourne. And ultimately, they don't just get the expertise of me finding them an off market property and buying it at a great price. But they'd get the expertise of buying something that they can build, you know, they wanted to build a duplex. So that was their objective. And that's what we'd go for. So every single client's needs are different. It's not about me telling you as a client what to do. It's about understanding what you want to do and how I can best help you get there.
[23:02] Yep, absolutely. That's great. Now let's jump over and talk a little bit about resources and say, mentors, as you said, you grew up when you first were 13, you had a fantastic mentor. That was through CDs, Tony Robbins. And so from there, it helped you set goals, but along your journey, how did you develop all those skills and learn from property development? Did you have any specific resources that you accessed or any particular mentors in that side of things?
[23:28] From a property development perspective? Hmm, I've worked with a really good bunch of architects along the way, land surveyors. Builders, I work with many builders, and now I've got a certain builder that I just exclusively work with, who doesn't take on any new clients. Now, he's just got a bank of developers that he works with. So I don't quit my jobs anymore. And I think a lot of my learning has come from surrounding myself with really talented people. As I said, I think numbers are a key thing that people miss out on. And I have a really talented wife, that helps me in that regard as well. Look, I gotta be honest with you, Ty, I was always the big picture man from the early days. And you know, she'd say, ‘Hey, that's a great idea.’ But when we look at the numbers that I really stack up, so now she's trained me to be really focused on the numbers over many, many years.
[24:19] And luckily, we had that because I've seen so many people sort of fail just because of the number side of things. So you can buy it because you get wrapped up in the emotion and the big picture of saying, ‘Oh, it's going to cost this much to do this, this man should do that.’ But you don't actually think about all the costs involved in the process. And that's what I understand is costing it all out for you. So you know, what the end game looks like, and what your actual ROI is. And so, you know, I'll give you an example. There's a recent project that I just supposed to start building a month ago, but we'll go through some issues again that we're working through, and apparently, today is the day that site's been scraped, it has been set out. Fence has been put up. It's all ready to go but we bought that site with plans for four units. And I just didn't think they were viable. So costed them out and they weren't viable. So we're back into council with three, and they're a lot more viable. So I think, you know, when you're borrowing $3 million to do a site, and you're only going to make $200,000, that ROI, and that's not very good. So, by redesigning then maximizing the block, and having three standalone street fronted units in a really great Bayside suburb, you know, it was gonna give us a great return. But it also fuels my passion, because it all goes down to that, for me, I'm passionate about the bay, I only develop by the bay. So for me, it's all around the water living here and developing by the water. And ultimately, I want to live here, and I want to make it more affordable for other people that want to live here.
Words of Wisdom
[26:31] Great. Well, let's jump into a bit of further mindset stuff, because I know we've talked a little bit about that side is, I guess, what, what do you think has been sort of the best advice that you've received over this journey that you know, somebody's passed on to you, or you've learned from someone?
[26:44] Oh, that's a good one. I remember in the early days, I was just so gung ho, and just always on the go really had something to prove. Because of my childhood. And where I've come from, I really wanted to prove to my parents that, you know, I could do this, and that you can take risks and get ahead. But I just was missing out on living because I was just so focused on the destination and not the present. And so the best advice I remember was from pharmaceuticals when I was a pharmaceutical rep, an ex pharmaceutical rep, who was a lot older than I was and had gone through different things in life and just said, ’Jim, you've really got to stop and smell the roses.’ And it links back to my favorite all time book by Eckhart Tolle, which is The Power of Now. And it's about this present moment, you know, like me and you right now we're here, and I'm just right here with you versus thinking about the next meeting that I've got. And you know, the agent that I've got to see later in the day is gonna go to eight o'clock tonight, but I'm not stressing and thinking about all that stuff. I'm just leaving right now, at this moment, and I'm not even stressing about it. Some things didn't go great yesterday, they're done. It's over. That's about when you can truly be present with your children, with your family and with business. Amazing things happen. You know, when you're in that flow of life, and you're truly there. That's where the gold is.
To cap off his wisdom, Malamatinas shares with us what he would’ve said to himself 10 years ago, and speculates about the road ahead.
[28:31] I think I would just say, you know, believe in yourself more, back yourself more, you know, you're on the right track. And just keep going.
[28:59] I think my big journey is: I'll continue with my development side of the business. I think for me, that's a passion project, if you like it's still profitable, but there's, you know, a lot of love in that. But a big part of his growing the advocacy arm of the business and just really sharing those learnings with people because seeing the outcomes that we can achieve for people in such a short period of time, and I've had people come to me after looking for a home for three years. And we found them something off market in four and a half weeks. And you know, that lady, I remember her it was three months ago, she was crying on the phone when she called me as a prospective customer. And then to achieve that outcome. I mean, she got me teary, you know, that's all heart. So I just, I really, you know, connect with people and empathize with them. And so when I go through that journey with people, it's just an amazing outcome. So really, that's what I want to keep doing because at this point in life, it's really about being present for my children and being there to support them and sharing for other learnings that I've had with customers to help them, but at the same time continuing with my development side of things.
[30:06]Well, Jim, you've achieved so much, especially in your lifetime, you know, those goals that you set when you're 13 years old, and you've done an amazing property journey and property development as well. How much do you think your success has been due to skill, hard work and intelligence? And how much of it do you think has been due to luck?
[30:27] It is an interesting question. Look, I personally think that, you know, the harder you work, the luckier you get. And the smarter you work, the luckier you get. So to be completely honest, I think, you know, luck is one of those things that comes when opportunity meets preparation. And so when you work really hard, and smart, then, you know, like, it's part of that, because opportunities there, and you're ready to leverage it.
Thank you to Jim Malamatinas, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.