Property Investory
Craig Malvern on Listening Well and Learning Lessons
April 2, 2023
Craig Malvern is the licensee at Linder Group, a family business started by his sister Kimberly and her husband Jason. Malvern’s background is in both real estate sales and hospitality, which have lent themselves well to the work he does today.
While he used to be a close relative of the Penrith Panther, he now shows his pride for his area in another fashion— but with the same qualities underpinning it. In this episode he shares what it’s like to be in property management, the importance of community and being outside, and the lessons he’s learnt along the way— both professional and personal.

00:26 | Passion in Penrith
03:59 | A Day in the Life
05:28 | Fresh Air and Fresh Sandwiches
10:39 | The Powerful Panthers
14:22 | What Can Go Right?
16:41 | Taking a Step Back
19:54 | Self-Management Struggles
29:59 | Emotions: Off


00:12 | Cold Feet
02:23 | Differing Perspectives
06:44 | Hold On
09:46 | Same Same But Different
12:04 | Perspective, Part Two
16:13 | Little Things
21:30 | Research is Key
26:00 | Travelling Forward

Resources and Links:


Craig Malvern:
[00:15:24] So we'd made a little bit of equity out of that one. So that gave us an opportunity then to move on to our next. So that time was a bit scary for us. And I think everyone has that sort of fear. It's the fear of the unknown, rather than what could go right. But once you sort of jump in and understand that property is the way forward, then you'll never look back. 


Tyrone Shum:
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 with Craig Malvern, a partner at Linder Group and a proud family man. He shares all there is to know about his transition from a customer service newbie through to his status as a legendary well-known Penrith name. Plus, he reveals why sometimes it pays to listen to your little sister!



Passion in Penrith

Tyrone Shum:   
Craig Malvern is the property real estate licensee and director of Linder Group, a real estate agency based in Sydney. With a varied career background before he made his way into property, he’s always followed his passions— and now he’s following in his younger sister’s footsteps! The Linder Group may be a family business, but it’s Malvern’s talent and dedication that has gotten him to where he is.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:00:26] Mainly my day involves a lot of property management and making sure the business is operating profitably day to day. Also [I] concentrate on doing a lot of the sales, open homes and pretty much running the whole business day to day. We've been Linder Group now for three years. And it's getting busier and busier. Which is fantastic.
[00:01:02] I've been in real estate now since about 2010. [I] started investing around 2008. And that sort of gave me my passion to get into real estate. I joined a local company in Penrith for years, I was the sales manager there for four or five years. And my sister has been a mortgage broker for years and years. 
[00:01:23] And we sort of put our heads together one day and thought, 'We can do all this ourselves'. We found there was a bit of a niche in the market where she's dealing with a lot of investor clients. And we're doing a lot of properties for them, building properties and [they] had no one really to manage their properties for them and help them look after it. 
[00:01:42] So we thought, 'Well, there's an opportunity there. How do we create a business that can be pretty much a one stop shop for all of our investors? From finance, through to real estate to managing their property and then helping them also grow their portfolio'. 

Tyrone Shum:
Malvern’s sister, Kimberly Linder, founded the company just as COVID-19 was also setting up shop. Between the handful of passionate property lovers at Linder Group and the way the market exploded soon after they set out, he hasn’t looked back once.

Craig Malvern:  
[00:02:12] But COVID seemed to help make our business get a lot of trust through that time. We've [got] a lot of our existing clients and now three years on, we manage 130 properties and it's going really, really well.
[00:02:39] And the beauty of it is, I guess, most of it's come from word of mouth and existing clients. So there's already that trust there with existing clients. Which makes the job a lot easier on my part.

A Day in the Life

Tyrone Shum:   
His typical day involves a lot of emails and phone calls along with what goes on in the background of a real estate agency. It can certainly get busy, but he definitely enjoys it.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:03:59] It's just a matter of making sure you manage it properly. From the business I was in before, I sat in an office with about 10 property managers, so I got to hear a lot of their conversations with tenants. So a lot of that, I think, not knowing at the time that it was actually feeding into my brain and hearing that. 
[00:04:19] But now that I get to deal with tenants, I've heard all those conversations before. And I think it just sort of gave me a really good perspective on what the property management side of the business was like. 
[00:04:31] And tenants, I've always thought tenants can become buyers, can become sellers and can become really, really good clients. And that's how I've always treated all my tenants and all of my clients. I just think that's the best way to continue to grow your business.

Fresh Air And Fresh Sandwiches

Tyrone Shum:   
He takes us on a trip down memory lane, venturing out to Penrith where his childhood was full of fun, games, and toasted sandwiches by the pool.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:05:28] I grew up in Emu Plains, which is just at the foothills of the Blue Mountains on [the] Nepean River. My dad still lives in the house we grew up in, [he's] been there for 40 odd years.

[00:07:11] We were always, always outdoors until the streetlights [came] on, then we had to go home for dinner. And I was very lucky, we grew up right behind the high school at Nepean High and so we could just walk out the back gate and onto all the fields, so [we were] forever with the local kids playing footy and hitting golf balls and all that sort of stuff, going swimming in the Nepean River. [Which] my dad didn't like at all! Riding BMX bikes, lots of storm drains and things to stack your bike in there and get around. So it was very, very outdoors sort of growing up. 
[00:07:49] [I had a] real[ly] great family upbringing. Mum and Dad loved having anyone over at any time. All the local kids were welcome at any time. We had a pool in our backyard, an old above ground pool, and at any time, there could be 20 or 30 kids [coming] over for a swim, and Mum and Dad didn't care, so it was great. And that sort of gave us a really good perspective on life and just family values and those sorts of things.

[00:08:55] There was always toasted sandwich[es] and things for kids so that's probably why they kept coming over, to get a feed, I guess.

[00:09:17] I went to Nepean High, which was great because I could just walk straight out the back door to school and come home for lunch every day. So that was good. [I] went through to year 12, did my HSC. [I] was never really sure what I wanted to do after that. 

Tyrone Shum:   
What he was sure of, however, was his desire to have a family. Now his kids are young adults making their way into the working world, much like he did when he was their age. But that’s not the only similarity!

Craig Malvern:  
[00:05:50] [I] got married in '93, so it's our 30 year anniversary this year.
[00:05:59] And [we've] got two kids. 
[00:06:23] Liam works in IT for a major bank. And my daughter is in hospitality. So she sort of followed my path. I started in Penrith Panthers in hospitality in '89. And worked there for 15 years, managing [and] looking after bars there, before I got into the real estate space.
[00:09:32] I got a job at Penrith Panthers, a casual job, and then that turned into [a] permanent [job] and [a] management [role] and 15 years later, I left there. So I've always loved the hospitality industry. That has always been my passion, helping people and customer service and just love that sort of [thing]. 
[00:09:53] I'm not a massive fan of the 9 to 5. I could never just sit in an office from nine to five and do the paperwork, I have to be out and about or have different hours and engaging with people and talking to people all the time. And I guess real estate gives you that opportunity as well. It's not a 9 to 5 office job. It's a 24/7 job sometimes. 
[00:10:15] But Panthers gave me an incredible grounding. I met some really, really good people there, some great managers, real forward thinkers, people like Roger Cowan, and they're just real visionaries. And to be able to spend time with some of those people, at that time gave me a real different perspective on life. 

The Powerful Panthers

Tyrone Shum:
After leaving the Penrith Panthers in 2004, he continued to work with some very well-known companies with household names.

Craig Malvern:  
[00:10:39] [I] went and worked with Coca Cola Amatil out at Northmead for five or six years. And that was more of a... I sort of had to give up the nights and that sort of thing, because the kids were getting to a point where [we] needed to run around for school and things like that. So that was more of a necessity than a want, but [I] really enjoyed that time. 

[00:11:28] I was in sales, I was a business development manager. So I'd pretty much go around and talk to all of our clients, a lot of takeaways and food courts. One of my major areas was the Westfield at Parramatta, so I spent a lot of time in there merchandising and selling and talking to clients there.
[00:11:48] And then I sort of had a territory where I looked after from Penrith through to Leichhardt. So it was quite a big territory. But that was a really, really enjoyable job as well for a long time. And once again, in those type of businesses, you get to meet some really good mentors and some great people. And if you can take a little bit from everyone you meet, it sort of gives you different perspectives on things.
[00:11:00] And then after five years, I'd sort of had enough of that sort of life and thought, 'Oh, what's next?' I just started investing, I knew a couple of local real estate agents in the Cranebrook area, really good mates, and got into real estate and haven't looked back since.

Tyrone Shum:   
The shift into business development required a completely different skillset, but it was one Malvern had prepared earlier.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:12:28] My last couple of years at Penrith Panthers, I was a manager of one of the satellite clubs at Glenbrook, Glenbrook Bowling Club. And I'd also done a business management degree through TAFE back in 2000. So I guess I'd already got into that business development side for a while. 
[00:12:49] [It was] more running the club than looking after staff and day to day chores. So looking at analysing budgets and things like that, so I'd already done all that. So to get into Coke into sort of a selling role and then a business development role where I'm going out and talking to clients and getting them to come on board, etc, seems to be a pretty easy change from [what I was doing before].
[00:13:31] They allowed that for me. And their training at that club at the time I was there, it was just amazing, they really, really wanted you to go out and learn as much as you could. And they had their own internal courses and, and things like that to do with business management and a lot of stuff like NLP and things like that, where [they] teach you to think a little bit different[ly] and yeah, it was a really good time.

What Can Go Right?

Tyrone Shum:   
Malvern had been on the fence about property investment for several years before taking the plunge. However, just like the Linder Group started at an uncertain time in the market, so did his investment journey.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:14:22] Our first investment was [in] about 2008, [that] was the first property we bought. My sister had been asking me for years and years to get into it, and knowing how successful she'd been, I was quite stubborn! She'd been going for five or six years before we took the plunge. 
[00:14:42] I guess for us the first one was more out of fear and what could go wrong rather than what can go right. When you've got a big mortgage, you've got kids going through school, there's not a lot of money there for that sort of thing. It's very hard to take that plunge. 
[00:15:01] But once we did and had a look at what Kimberly was doing and found the right type of property, being a cash positive property, positively geared, after 12 [to] 18 months, we thought, 'We're doing the right thing here'. And that's when we sort of said, 'What's the next step? Let's look at another property'. 
[00:15:24] So we'd made a little bit of equity out of that one. So that gave us an opportunity then to move on to our next. So that time was a bit scary for us. And I think everyone has that sort of fear. It's the fear of the unknown, rather than what could go right. 
[00:15:45] But once you sort of jump in and understand that property is the way forward, then you'll never look back. And I always say, now my worst decision is I didn't start five or six years earlier.

Taking a Step Back

Tyrone Shum:   
He walks us through the ins and outs of that first property he purchased.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:16:41] I'd been a local in the area. So I knew the areas pretty well, around [the] Penrith area, and it's a place called Cambridge Park. And we bought a property, it was an 800 square metre corner block. So I was thinking at the time that there could be a chance to at some stage knock down, do a duplex, or do something else with that block of land. 
[00:17:05] It was an older style three bedroom, brick veneer home, it did have an old garage that had been converted into a granny flat at the back. So  obviously, we had the two lots of income, so [a] tenant out the front [and a] tenant out the back, which made the place positively geared.
[00:17:27] And that was our idea. [It] was, 'Well, we don't have a lot of money to throw at investing. So how can we minimise what we have to put in to start to grow our portfolio?'.
[00:17:39] And in that time, there was a fair bit of capital growth in the area. So it's probably a bit of luck with the right timing. 2008, obviously, we had the GFC. And then 2009 [or] 2010, things started to kick again. So we had that equity, and Kimberly persuaded us to say, 'Hey, you've got this equity now. And what are you going to do next?' 
[00:18:02] Once again, we were a bit hesitant, but we then went and bought another property, very similar, an old three bedroom home over in Cranebrook, with a granny flat, positively geared as well. And that sort of kick started us on our journey.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:18:19] That is amazing. And since then, since 2008, how many properties have you purchased together, into your portfolio, with your wife?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:18:27] At the moment, we've got nine properties in our portfolio. We've got two on the go at the moment that we're building, [we're] building a dual key property up in Thornton, in the Hunter Valley, and also a four bedroom home in Cooranbong, which is [on] the central coast of New South Wales. So nine in total at the moment. 
[00:18:48] We have sold a couple over the years, so our first two, we have actually sold those. We sold the one in Cranebrook first, we sold that [in] I think about 2015. And that allowed us to pay off our full mortgage on our family home, which is fantastic, [it] just gives us a lot of freedom to do a lot of things. 
[00:19:10] And last year, we sold the one in Cambridge Park, finally. And that's going to allow us to do our new builds that we're doing at the moment. So buying property and selling the occasional property allows you to do some things that you thought you'd probably never be able to do.

Self-Management Struggles

Tyrone Shum:   
He finds that the biggest challenge is pushing through fear, especially the fear surrounding how choices can impact day to day living expenses.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:19:54] You talk about property and the end result, but it's not always very easy. You do have struggles throughout it. With our property at Cranebridge Park, we self managed for a while, which taught me a lot of lessons. And we actually had tenants that trashed a property. So that [became] a bit of a problem at that time. 
[00:20:17] But those things are really good lessons moving forward. And you get to learn from that, but it's not always easy. And there are times when you go, 'Okay, well, how do we afford the mortgage for next week?', but at the end of the day, property is usually appreciating. And you've got to really look at that end goal rather than think about exactly what's going on at the time.

Tyrone Shum:   
The second property they purchased was in Cranebrook, another house with a granny flat for that dual income potential. It was their third property that really sold investment for them.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:21:13] The third one we bought was we actually bought a block of land and built a home in Caddens, which is pretty exciting for us because it was in Orchard Hills, which was always a pretty exclusive suburb around Penrith. And to actually buy a block of land in Caddens or Orchard Hills, was like, 'We've made it', I guess. That's how we felt as local Penrith people anyway. But that's one of the best decisions I've made.
[00:21:44] We built that one. It's just a four bedroom home, we've still got really good tenants in there at the moment. And then we started to get some land tax bills, which is something every investor goes, 'Oh, no' [about]. 
[00:22:01] So I guess we had to have a look at where we were at with our strategy and then change. So we then started looking at Queensland.
[00:22:11] So once again, we looked at a couple of properties in Queensland. [We] built just some four bedroom homes to get some decent equity and decent rent yields out of, which by the time they were built and rented out, they were about neutral. [They] might [have] cost us a little bit a year but it wasn't costing us too much. 
[00:22:34] And then we ended up building a duplex up at Glenvale, which is out around [the] Toowoomba area. And we still own that, and it rents really well now. So that’s the dual income strategy again. 
[00:22:50] Once we'd sold a couple in New South Wales, and we thought, 'Oh, hang on, we can come back to New South Wales and invest a few'. So we built a dual key home, which is a four bedroom home with a two bedroom granny flat under the main roof. And we built that one out at North Richmond, in an estate called Red Bank. And that sort of got us back into New South Wales. Once again, a really well positively geared property.
[00:23:23] And I guess then after selling a couple, we then bought a property up [in] Forster, on the New South Wales North Coast. [It's] an investment property but it's also a lifestyle for us as well, we get to go and use that right on the beach when we need to. So some of our choices have allowed us to buy that. And to use that as an investment and also as a lifestyle choice as well.
[00:23:56] It's gorgeous, and we're up there every long weekend when we can. But also, it still returns a really good yield during the year as well.

Tyrone Shum:   
Thanks to his years of experience, he’s certainly experienced the rollercoaster of ups and downs that property investment can strap you in for. When it comes to his worst investing moment, it happened during the time where he was in between jobs.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:24:41] I'd just left Coca Cola and was thinking about getting into real estate so doing my license and all that sort of thing. So I probably had about six months off and thought, 'I'm going to buy a property and renovate it and on sell it', the old 'see how much we can make out of a property' [idea].
[00:24:56] So I bought a really, really rundown property in Kingswood, right across from the uni on a really, really big block of land. [I] spent probably about $30,000 doing it up, cleaning it up, tidying it up. It was a really, really bad property, they'd taken about eight skip loads of junk out of the property before they put it on the market. It smelt like dog urine. So it was probably a good property to buy because no one else wanted to buy it. So I picked it up at the right price. 
[00:25:27] But once I had done it all up [and] put it back on the market, we ended up selling it and probably made about $20,000. So not a massive profit. And I guess the biggest problem with that is that property is probably worth four times what I bought it for now. So if we would have held that, it's right across from the uni, it's an R3 site, which means you can knock it down and put townhouses on [it]. It's an 850 square metre block. So that was probably my worst decision. 
[00:26:02] But at the time, it was once again done out of necessity. [I was] not working and about to go into a new career. So we sort of couldn't afford to hold on to it at that stage. 
[00:26:13] If we would have sort of stuck it out for a year, put a tenant in there, then it probably would have been the best decision I've made. But on selling it to someone that quick, that sort of took me out of that space and [I] thought, 'No, I don't want to do this sort of thing for a living. I don't want to flip houses. That's for the experts'. [I] learnt a lot of lessons along the way.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:26:33] Oh, absolutely. I mean, especially doing a renovation. And you know you picked it up at a good price by the sounds of it. And walking away, how long did the renovation take roughly for you? For that time period of time?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:26:46] It's probably about six months, by the time we bought it and [had] done the renovation, then it just settled. So it wasn't a lot of time. But if you think it's $20,000 in six months, that's… you know, you can go and work at a pub and earn more money than that. And the amount of work that I was putting into it, 10 [to] 12 hours a day, it definitely wasn't worth the money or the effort.

Tyrone Shum:   
He sees that every worst investment moment cloud has a silver lining, which is that he’s faithful to the trusty method he’s been using ever since.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:27:19] Dual income strategies and holding on to properties. And that's probably the biggest lesson for anyone. I know we've sold a couple, but they were for lifestyle changes, [they] allowed us to do stuff in our life that we want to do. 
[00:27:33] But [my] advice to anyone that is buying [is] the longer you hold it, the better. Especially if you're a young person buying property these days. Historically, in Australia, property has doubled every 10 years. So if you can hold on to something for 20 [or] 30 years, you may be 20 and buying something now, and when you're 50, you're going to have an amazing asset that you can sell and probably retire at that time.

Tyrone Shum:   
His aha moment goes to show that even when somebody close to you has your best interests at heart, sometimes it’s best to trust your instincts.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:28:32] The one we bought in Cranebrook was my biggest aha moment. Because I'd just started working for a local real estate agent up there. And one of the agents, this property [came] on the market and I thought, 'Oh, yeah, this looks like the type of property that we're after'. But it was in a housing commission area. The area didn't have the greatest rep. And the agent's sort of saying, 'No, mate, don't buy in there, that's no good for you', etc, etc.
[00:29:04] And I thought, 'You know what? I think there's really good rental yield here. And I'm not not too fussed on areas and that sort of thing'. And, we ended up purchasing that property. And I think that was a really good property for us, [it] allowed us to, once we sold it, pay off our own home. And I think that's probably the moment we said, 'You know what? We're really confident in what we're doing here, and this is working'. 
[00:29:34] And that's probably that aha moment, you go, 'Well, I'm not listening to people now. I'm making my own decisions'. Obviously, you get as much advice and you do as much research as you can for yourself. But until you've sort of got that confidence to go, 'Yep, this is what I want to do. And this is why I want to do it', that's when you get that aha moment and go, 'Yeah, this is really going to work for us'.

Emotions: Off

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:29:59] You mentioned that the agent said to you it wasn't a good purchase, or was it the agent or someone else that said that. What was the reason behind that?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:30:07] I think the agent honestly knew us pretty well and had our best interests at heart and thought, 'I wouldn't really recommend my family to buy in that area', it was a pretty rough area. So he did have our best interests at heart. 
[00:30:22] But I guess one of the biggest lessons you learn is buying investment properties, you've got to take all emotion out of it. You're buying something that's going to be a business. And when you start bringing emotion into it, you make different decisions. If you look at investment properties purely on numbers, rent returns, and then potential growth. 
[00:30:44] And obviously, I've seen a few areas where they've been a bit rough and they've been tidied up and all of a sudden, they [became] really, really good areas that people want to buy in. So you tend to get a lot of capital growth in those areas.
[00:30:58] So that was the aha moment. And I know he's still a good mate today, and I know he had our best interests at heart when he was saying, 'No, don't buy in that area, mate'.

Tyrone Shum:   
He knows both the New South Wales and Queensland markets reasonably well, which meant he was able to make a wise investment choice in what was once a working class suburb near Brisbane.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:31:52] We've got a property up at Yarrabilba, which is just out of Logan. And it's had really good rental yield for about five years, really good rental yield up there. But you can just start seeing that now, like, the rents have gone up [by] $70 [or] $80 a week now, and they're started to get some really good capital growth in that area. 
[00:32:22] And that's what happens. People have to move to where they can afford. And they start to sprawl out. You look at Blacktown and people move out from Blacktown and then come to Penrith and then start looking [in the] lower mountains and those areas. 
[00:32:26] So the expansion [and] growth of population in Australia just means that people need somewhere to live. So those areas at some stage are going to become popular areas, and you're going to get a lot of capital growth in those areas.

Cold Feet

Tyrone Shum:   
After purchasing his second property, Malvern wondered what to do next. Thankfully he had his sister Kimberly to answer that question and many more! Together, they established how he could use his equity to push him further up the investment ladder— provided his icy feet didn’t slip on the rungs.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:00:12] After the second one, we got a bit of... not cold feet. But we thought, 'Oh, hang on, what's next? We're going to buy something a bit newer'. So we started looking at a couple of four bedroom homes, just established, and stuff we could build as well, and get some depreciation back through our tax. 
[00:00:34] And after sort of three or four, I was starting to think, 'We're carrying a fair bit of mortgage risk here', etc, etc. And to be honest, I sort of sat back and went, 'Oh, what do I do next?' And it was my wife that said, 'Let's just keep going. Just go for it'.
[00:00:57] Which was great. Because originally, she was the one who sort of was hesitant. I was hesitant as well, but then she said, 'No, let's just keep going', and she'd ring Kimberly and say, 'Yeah, we're just going to do this. [I] don't really care what Craig says. Let's just do it'. 
[00:01:11] So she sort of kickstarted us from that point again. And to be honest, since then, whenever an opportunity has come up, we've just gone, 'Yep, let's just jump on it'. And I guess one of the biggest regrets is not buying double of what we purchased over the last few years! Some great opportunities came up, and we went, 'Yeah, let's try something and build something there'. But if we would have done two or three in the same area, it just would have been so much better.

Differing Perspectives

Tyrone Shum:   
For Malvern and his sister, it goes to show how perspective shapes who you become. For two people that experienced the same upbringing, they walked away with two different understandings.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:02:23] I know this is where Kimberly's passion and [drive] is coming from. And it probably didn't resonate with me as much. But I remember my dad saying, 'I wish we would have bought this'. We used to go to Forster 25 years ago, and Dad would go, 'I could have bought that, I could have bought that unit for $90,000 years ago', and, 'We were going to buy this and we were going to and we were going to and we never did'. 
[00:02:45] And you think 'Well, if you did buy it it's now worth $900,000'. So, you know. And Kimberly, I think, always picked up on that. And I probably never did. Dad was going to buy a pub, 'We're going to do this, we're going to [do that]'. And I think Kimberly definitely picked up on all that. I didn't. But I've never heard anyone say, 'I wish I didn't I didn't do something'. Especially when it's real estate, it's, 'I wish I would have done this' or, 'I could have done this', or, 'I could have bought this in 1960. I could have done this. And look what it's worth now'. 
[00:03:22] And I think if you can have that perspective going forward, going, 'Okay, well, yes, I did do it. What's it going to be worth in 10 [or] 20 years?' If you look at it that way, rather than, 'If I don't do it', then you're always going to be okay.

Tyrone Shum:   
His perspective today is that if you buy in the right area, it’s never going to be a lemon, even if you buy at the wrong time. If you hold it long enough, there's going to be a right time.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:04:36] We've built a couple of dual key properties, so we looked at building doing house and land packages. So we could gain the depreciation on the fields for tax. So even though they'd build it as positively geared properties, there's quite a good return on depreciation on a newer home. 
[00:04:58] Having older properties too, there is a lot of maintenance with them, you have water heaters, you have air conditioners and those sorts of things, so there is that risk that any day that could be $2,000 or $3,000 costs to replace something. 
[00:05:13] So you don't have that with a brand new property. And brand new properties tend to get more rent. And being a brand new property, tenants tend to look after the property a lot better, too. So I guess that's why we went down that track. 
[00:05:37] And the two we've got on the go, one's a dual key, and one's just a good size four bedroom home, because the area we're building in is that sort of community. There's not a lot of investment properties in that area. And there's not a lot of that dual living. So it sort of fits in really well with that community.

Hold On

Tyrone Shum:   
One factor to consider with new properties is waiting for the build to be completed, as this can impact holding costs. However, if you can hold it, the end result can be well worth it. 

Craig Malvern:   
[00:06:44] The ones we're building at the moment, I think, October 2020 is when we were to sign the land contract for one of them. So that's been two years that we've had to hold the land. 
[00:06:57] With a lot of the builders, you can get rebates. So a lot of time, there's a rebate, which can go towards a lot of your holding costs at that time. But it does become a cost of doing business. And I guess you've just got to be in a position where you can hold it. 
[00:07:14] And the beauty of a few of these is that we have had quite good capital growth on the blocks of land in the time. And I guess what we've done beforehand has allowed us to be able to hold something and then be able to hold something until we get some income, knowing that it's going to have really good capital growth. And once it's built, it's going to pay itself back tenfold. So it is a different strategy. 
[00:07:43] And having a sister that's a mortgage broker, too, is a very, very good advantage. And being able to use different types of lenders, and not always just relying on the top four banks, but there are great lenders out there will allow you to do things a little bit differently.
[00:08:03] And that's one of the biggest learnings: Don't just always look at a bank. Talk to a broker. The brokers have so many better options than a bank. The bank thinks about them and that's it, whereas a broker is thinking about the client themselves. 
[00:08:16] So there are ways and means, especially with construction loans and things like that, to make sure you always, always, always make something work.

[00:08:53] The strategy that we employ is to use the equity to be able to go on and do the next property. If we had to come up with our own cash, we just wouldn't be able to do it. So it's the decisions you've made beforehand that really allow you to make the next decisions. And using the equity from one to move on to the other.

Same Same But Different

Tyrone Shum:   
When he was bitten by the real estate bug, it did a great job of latching on. From there, he became as emotionally invested as he was financially.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:09:46] I really started to look at real estate and [was] following what was happening in real estate and looking everywhere, et cetera, et cetera. And then having a few mates in real estate and talking to them at the time, I went, 'Well, this looks like the perfect opportunity. I can go to work and really enjoy what I do'.
[00:10:03] And also real estate, it's very similar to the hospitality industry. You're dealing with people and customers all the time. So you're not stuck in an office nine to five, you're out and about talking to people and meeting with people, going into their homes. I love going in and having a look at people's homes, what they've done to them. Some of the older homes as well, some big mansions and things like that. So I've just got a real passion for real estate. 
[00:10:30] And the biggest part of it, and something that I probably didn't look at when I moved in, is just every day you get a chance to change someone's life. You get the opportunity to sell them a dream home or make their dream their dream come true. 
[00:10:46] And when you do— and I think you mentioned it earlier— when you do have a sale, that is such a high that until you've done it, you can't explain it.
[00:10:55] There are a lot of lows in real estate and you do a lot of hours for no work. But when something does come off, and you just see someone handing someone some keys, and they're just so excited to move into a new home, that just resonates within just everything, everything comes back to you that at that point and you go, 'Yeah, this is why I'm doing this'.

Perspective, Part Two

Tyrone Shum:   
One of Malvern’s greatest passions is to help people, which real estate allows him to do. It also allows him to spot some gems for himself to add to his own portfolio, but he’s careful not to take advantage of his position.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:12:04] And being in that situation, if the right property came up then, I probably had other people or other buyers that I'd let know about those opportunities as well. So I think I didn't, sort of at that stage we were looking more to Queensland at that stage because of the land tax. And then different opportunities with building rather than buying established properties.
[00:12:30] But it gave me a really good perspective for a lot of my clients to go, 'Okay, well, this is what I've done. This is the sort of property you should look at'. And still I've got a lot of clients from those days that are really good clients of ours that have gone on and built dual key homes and newer homes. 
[00:12:45] And that just sort of gives you an advantage, I think, in that industry. Especially when you're talking to investors, you can talk on a different level on what they're actually looking for. And most people I've found really don't know what they want. But you can help them discover what they want. And when you let them know what opportunities are available and what's around, and when that perfect property comes on the books and you ring that person and say, 'Hey, you have to come around and see this property now, because he's exactly what you need', that's the best part of real estate.

Tyrone Shum:   
He was at his previous real estate agency for nine years, and leapt straight into sales.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:14:05] Before we started Linder Group, I'd never done any property management. So I learnt very quickly what property management was all about. And [I'm] still learning every day. Because it is different based to sales. But no, purely sales in the Penrith area.
[00:14:41] And to me, it doesn't matter if it's I'm leasing a house out or I'm selling a house, I still get the same buzz. And one of the things I really pride myself on in property management is I can see from an investor's perspective how important it is to get your tenants into your house and get them in as quick as you can. 
[00:15:04] And that's one of the things I really pride myself on, is getting— if someone's moving out of a house, well, how do we get a tenant in here as quick as we can? So there's no loss of income to the owner. You know all those little tips and tricks and those sort of things from dealing in sales and being in it for so long that, okay, well, we can we can make this work.
[00:15:28] So I guess I've come to property management with a completely different perspective. And not a lot of property management baggage, I guess.

Little Things

Tyrone Shum:   
With over 130 properties that he’s managing, he has no fewer than 130 stories to share.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:16:13] We've been very, very lucky. We haven't had too many challenges. During COVID [it] was pretty tough. We had a lot of tenants obviously that couldn't work and pay their rent every week. And that sort of thing. So they start to fall behind. But we've been lucky, we've had some really good owners that went, 'Okay, it's COVID, we understand'. 
[00:16:40] And if people are genuinely having problems, most people are quite [accepting] of that and they'll work with them. We had someone who fell quite far behind, about $6,000 behind in rent during COVID, and they've now caught all their rent up and they're one of our best tenants. Just someone that COVID just hit them that bad that they had no income etc etc. But yeah, haven't had too many dramas. 
[00:17:12] You get the day to day things, silly things to do with air conditioners and light switches and light bulbs and those sorts of things. You know, people ringing on a Sunday, saying, 'I need my light bulbs changed'. Just all those little things that, I guess, they can do your head in at some stage if you look at them the wrong way. Which I tend to do sometimes. But once again, it's like any job you do, it's managing people and being able to manage it the right way.

Tyrone Shum:   
When it comes to working with his sister, Malvern appreciates that it feels like it’s all come full circle.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:18:02] And I guess when we sat down three years ago, it was, 'Okay, well, how can we make this a full circle thing? How can we be a one stop shop for all of our existing clients?' Which Kimberly has thousands of over the years. So how can we be that one stop shop?
[00:18:21] I guess our tagline is Linder Group: Property made easy. And that's what we want to do for people, we want to make property easy. Because it's not a hard thing if you know what you're doing, and you've got the right tools, it is very easy. And it's not just for investors or landlords, it's for tenants as well. 
[00:18:39] So one of our biggest things is we love to educate people. And we've got so many young people now that are buying their first and second properties through an investment arm and that gives us the greatest pleasure. 
[00:18:58] My son bought his first investment property last year. Which is a dual key property up in Gillieston Heights in the Hunter area. And he's got enough equity now he's going to do his second one, which is over in Perth. 
[00:19:17] And so many of Kimberly's kids' friends have come on board and been able to buy a property. And I just think, 'Wow, look at the opportunities they've got at 22 [or] 23 years of age'. When they get to my age, which I'm 52 now, if I would have been able to do that at 22, oh my god, what position would I be in now? I just think it's absolutely fantastic. 
[00:19:43] And that gives me the greatest pleasure, seeing these young people [and] going, 'You know what? They're gonna have a great life'. They could stop at two or three properties, they could get to Kimberly's point and have 40 odd. But they've started that journey already. And they see the power of property and the power of where they're going to be in 10 [or] 15 [or] 20 years.

Tyrone Shum:   
Much of the younger generation says that it’s too hard to get into the market and they don’t know where to start. Thankfully, Malvern has a solution for all of them.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:20:35] And kids these days seem to have a lot of disposable income. They are earning good money, especially all the young tradies and plumbers and things like that. But they just don't know what to do. 
[00:20:46] They don't have the education. And that's all it is. It's knowing and trusting a process. And once you know and trust that process, it can be quite easy.

Research is Key

Tyrone Shum:   
Despite his connections, he isn’t one to take others’ knowledge without learning all he can himself.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:21:30] I've never been a massive reader, or a podcaster. Sorry about that. But I do look at magazines and things and read a lot. I now do a lot of research online. and read up property investment articles and things like that, but I never use that as a resource. I've always sort of done my own research and looked at areas and driven to areas and had a look at them and, and done that sort of thing, sort of got out and about rather than listening and reading what other people have done. 
[00:22:11] I guess I've had Kimberly there to guide me for a long way. And what she's done is inspirational, incredible. But I've also had a lot of support from other people in the family, too. That sort of support and just knowing and trusting a process, that's, I think, sometimes more valuable than actually doing podcasts and research and things like that.
[00:22:41] I used to go to a lot of seminars and things like that, when I was with my previous real estate agency, but those sort of things used to sort of get me excited for a week or so. [They] get you motivated, but then I never really did anything from that. So it's sort of like an addiction, I guess, it gave you a bit of a high for a week and motivation. And then, okay, when's the next seminar?

Tyrone Shum:   
Accountability and a support system are great things to have, as is a good pair of listening ears. 

Craig Malvern:   
[00:24:10] I guess one of the thing[s] I've always [done] in all my career is [I’ve] always listened to others, and look to the people that are the leaders in organisations and things like that, and go, 'Okay, well what can I gain from someone like that?' and take their advice rather than sort of just going and seeing someone at a seminar. People that have been there done that. 
[00:24:38] And I think that's one of the things I've always looked to try and find someone who's been there and had a chat to them about: ‘How did this work? What happened? Why did you get into it?’ And find out the how and the why, rather than sort of reading someone else's opinion or listening to someone else. I think face to face talking to people gets you so much more benefit than going to a seminar or something like that.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:25:04] If you met yourself, say, 10 years ago, what do you think you would have said to him?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:25:15] Probably the same thing I say to myself now, [which] is: Why didn't you start earlier? Go back and start in early 2000. Buy more property. And just enjoy the journey. It can be stressful, it can be hard. But always look at the end goal, where things are gonna go. It's an ends to a means where when I'm 60, where am I going to be? Is superannuation going to keep me in a lifestyle that I like? No, it's not. So how do we create a life for ourselves moving forward in the sort of 20 [to] 30 years?

Travelling Forward

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:26:00] And moving forward, into the future. What are you most excited about in your journey, in your property journey, in your life?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:26:08] Retirement and travel, which [has] nothing to do with property, but property will allow us to do that. I guess we're at the point now, where once the next two are built, we'll step back and say, 'Okay, exactly what position are we in at the moment? Can we consolidate some properties? What are we going to want and need to be able to take that next journey in life?' 
[00:26:35] We haven't traveled a lot. But we want to really start travelling the world. We've got a trip booked for America at the end of this year. So I'm sure I'm going to really get the travel bug from that. That was a trip I was supposed to do for my 50th, but COVID put an end to that. But that's alright, hopefully, we're going to be in a position where we can  really enjoy what we've created over the last 10 [to] 15 years and getting into property, that's what allows you to have that lifestyle that you're going to enjoy.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:27:11] What are some of the places that you'd love to go to as well, besides America?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:27:20] We want to go over to Italy [and] Greece. We do love cruising. Just  cruising anywhere, at any time. So mostly America, Hawaii, we've been to Hawaii. That's probably about it, I guess, at the start. I want to go and have a look at Canada. But I guess once I start doing some more travelling and doing a bit more research, there'll probably [be] other places to go yet. We have to go and see those areas.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:28:30] How much of your success do you think has been due to hard work, intelligence, [and] skill? And how much of it do you think has been due to luck?

Craig Malvern:   
[00:28:44] I'd say 100% to hard work, and skill. Because I've always said that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I guess that's a motto I've always lived by. And if you work hard, you will get lucky. So I think it all works into the one. 
[00:29:04] Yes, we have been lucky. Yes, we've had some periods where we bought at the right time and the market's exploded. But I think with property, it's always the right time to buy. And then wait. 
[00:29:20] So I guess there is a bit of luck. You may buy right now and all of a sudden the market crashes, who knows? But in 10 years' time, you're not going to be behind. The property market's going to bounce back at some stage. 
[00:29:37] One of the best pieces of advice I've ever got[ten] was: To predict the future, look back at the past. And if you have a look at the past and have a look at how property has performed in Australian history, that'll give you a really good idea on what's going to happen into the future. And if you just trust that it's a long process rather than a short term investment, then you're gonna be fine.

Tyrone Shum:   
History can say a lot about the present and the future, which Malvern knows all too well.

Craig Malvern:   
[00:30:26] The media drives a lot of the property market. And you look at the moment and it's not a great time for property. Record interest, or not record interest rates, but the highest interest rates we've had in 10 years. Banks are going broke over in America. 
[00:30:42] So there are scary things at the moment. But as you said, if you look back at 2008, the GFC, what happened and then look at what house prices were in 2008, then look in 2010. And just see how much they kicked. 
[00:30:57] And then they kicked again in 2013. And I remember being in the Penrith area where a three bedroom home was $350,000. And overnight, it was $500,000. So it [was] just crazy. And I was ringing clients and saying, 'Hey, I can get you $500,000 for your home, do you want to sell?' And they'd go, 'No, you couldn't', and I'd say, 'Well, yeah, come on the market, and we'll get your $500,000'. And they were upgrading. And yeah, it was a great time. But you just look at that and go, 'Okay, well, that is going to happen again, at some stage'.


Tyrone Shum: 
Thank you to Craig Malvern, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.