Property Investory
The Unstoppable Dragan Dimovski’s Pivot From Photography to Property
July 27, 2022
Dragan Dimovski has been investing for over 20 years, and now also helps others grow their property portfolios through his work as the founder of Buyer’s Agency Australia. As owner of a photography studio at just 21 years old, he’s no stranger to hard work, business ownership, or following his passions.
In this episode he shares all about his childhood growing up bouncing around Sydney’s west, where he picked up his first hobby-turned-career, photography. He divulges the other countries he’s lived in and what took him to them, gives an overview of what’s changed in the photography world since he was last lost in it, and the lessons he learnt the hard way when he first picked up property overseas.

00:53 | Siestas and La Familia
05:35 | A Canterbury Bankstown Boy
08:27 | Coming to Campsie
11:27 | Adjusting His Focus
15:33 | He Came, He Saw, He Captured
19:49 | Ready For Your Close-Up?
24:21 | Dubai Days
27:33 | Pivoting to Property


00:11 | From Liverpool to Leichhardt
04:26 | Diving into Dubai
07:16 | Lessons Learnt
10:16 | A Very Successful Strategy
17:36 | Building Trust
19:54 | The Cooldown
25:38 | From Dreams to Reality
28:43 | Do What You Love

Resources and Links:


Dragan Dimovski:
[00:26:10] The two employees within the studio decided, 'Hey, you know what? We'll take your business if you're moving overseas'. So I offered it to them, and they were happy with the offer. And then I moved over to Dubai with the family. And started over there. 


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 Dragan Dimovski, buyer’s agent and founder of Buyers Agency Australia. He takes us through his journey from shaky beginnings to a career in photography that led him to where he is today, proving that even when it feels like you made a misstep, you’ll always end up where you belong.



Siestas and La Familia

Tyrone Shum:   
Other than Sundays, Dimovski’s day to day life looks similar every day of the week. Whether he’s working as a buyer’s agent or working out at the gym, he fills his days with productivity. However, he’s a family man and a fan of balance, so he makes sure to fit in fun and family time wherever he can.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:00:53] My typical day is... it's pretty much very similar Monday to Saturday. So I wake up between five to six o'clock. I wake up [and] have have a strong coffee. And pretty much wait for the gym to open up at six o'clock and straight into it! 
[00:01:16] Luckily for me, my gym is only 200 metres away from me. So it's a nice quick walk there. I spend about an hour and a half [there]. So I'll do about a 45 minute cardio and then I hit the weights for another 45 minutes [or] thereabouts.
[00:01:31] I come home on your... average day would be a school day. I've got two kids aged 10 and 12. So I'm married. And I then help the wife with the breakfast and whatever is needed to prepare the kids for school. One of the boys goes to high school, the wife takes takes the little dog for a walk. Not a little dog, but a big dog!
[00:02:19] [At] roughly about 8:30 the wife takes the older one to to school and walks the dog together. And I'll take the younger one, which is about a 15 minute drive to the primary school. 
[00:02:32] After that, I come back, I jump on my laptop. Grab a cup of coffee, and I start my work, pretty much. Sometimes I work from home, sometimes from the office. So [it] really depends. I'm on calls, I'm on my emails. 
[00:02:52] If I'm at home, funny enough around after lunch, around 2:00 [to] 2:30 I have about a half an hour siesta. 
[00:03:07] That's my ‘me time’. And then by the time that 2:30 hits, close to 3:00 I go pick up my younger son and come back and then do the typical jujitsu or swimming or their Chinese lessons that they do. 
[00:03:23] Then I'll probably get back on to the laptop for roughly about five [or] six o'clock and just finish off there. And then it's pretty much family time, dinner, and with the kids and the wife.

Tyrone Shum:   
Growing up as a skinny kid, Dimovski took to the gym in his late teens. His original motivation was to look less like a wardrobe fixture. But after completing that goal, he’s kept up the gym habit for the last two decades.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:04:08] I started training since I was roughly about 17. I'm pretty tall. I'm about six foot four. So I was also a lanky kid. So it was it was recommended by a few friends that I pick up some weights and build some muscle, let's say that. So I was on a mission to get a little bit of size so I don't look like a walking coat hanger. 
[00:04:44] That's been over 20... close to 25 years now. So I mean, it hasn't been consistent all the time. 
[00:04:56] It's been on and off. But realistically, probably from the age of 25 is when it's been consistent. You know, of course, I have a month off here, a couple of weeks off there, especially if I'm going overseas on holidays or things like that. But yeah, it's been consistent since then. So nearly 20 years consistently.

A Canterbury Bankstown Boy

Tyrone Shum:   
He was originally born in Sydney’s inner west, but at a young age, he moved overseas with his family to a place close to both his parents’ hearts.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:05:35] I was born in Australia, in Camperdown. And roughly at the age of four to six months, I can't remember exactly, my parents actually went over to former Yugoslavia. So, [my] mother being Serbian [and my] father being Macedonian, we went over to North Macedonia, which is what it's called now, and spent roughly about five years over there. 
[00:06:01] And then obviously, my father said, 'You know what? Actually, Australia's a better place to be'. So [we] flew back, moved over to Marrickville. Lived in Marrickville for a short time. Redfern [for] a short time. Then went over to Campsie, which is [in the] Canterbury Bankstown area. I spent about seven years over there. 
[00:06:20] And then we went out to Wakeley, a place which is right near Wetherill Park, Fairfield, Liverpool area. So I grew up over there and then roughly about the age of 21— when I actually started my first business, which is photography— I moved over to Leichhardt to be close to the business. The business was in Ashfield. 
[00:06:45] And pretty much I've been in the inner west forever since then. So I float[ed] around Camperdown and Stanmore for a little, and Leichhardt. Then in between that time, the family moved over to to Dubai for about three years.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:07:05] Wow. Okay. It's all very interesting. It sounds like you've moved quite a lot. Do you know why your parents moved overseas for those five years? Do you have any memories of it as a childhood? 

Dragan Dimovski:  
[00:07:21] I have very, very [few] memories. I mean, there are little snippets here or there that I do [remember]. But the reason was Mum and Dad wanted to move back to be with family. Also, Dad had a restaurant. He was in the restaurant industry, well known. And he thought, 'Okay, I could just go over there and start up a restaurant, and have success over there', but he did notice the country wasn't going in the right direction. So he thought, 'Okay, it's probably better off to go back to Australia'.

Coming to Campsie

Tyrone Shum: 
The Dimovski family certainly moved around a lot, both within and outside of Australia. Their moves within Sydney, including the reason why they moved to Campsie, were for two reasons.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:08:27] What happened was, my parents, I remember the conversation, they actually had purchased a property. 
[00:08:35] So when we were living in Marrickville and Redfern that time, they were renting. And then an opportunity came in Campsie for a three bedroom house that was coming. The government was selling it, it was an ex [Housing] commission property. And they could get it for a reasonable, very reasonable price. So that was one of the reasons they moved to Campsie. 
[00:08:58] And [we lived] there for seven years. And that time in the '80s or late '80s, the interest rates were pretty high. So they thought, 'Okay, you know what? I could sell this property and buy something at Wakeley', which is Wetherill Park, paid off. So that's pretty much what they did. And of course, we've got a couple of cousins over there. 

Tyrone Shum:   
While living in Campsie, Dimovski found himself in a situation that may sound familiar to parents of teenagers, or anybody who’s ever been— or known— a teenager.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:09:38] When I was living in Campsie, I was actually... actually probably one of the reasons they moved [was because] I was going in a bit of a wrong direction with friends. Not being the most favourite students in schools [for] the teachers, hanging around a bad crowd also was probably one of the reasons they moved. 
[00:10:03] I wasn't too academically great at school. I mean, I had no problem. If the work needed to be done, I did it. But I didn't love it, let's just say that. I moved over to Wetherill Park [and] went to St. John's Park High School. And I was in Year 10, 11, and 12, so I started from year 10. 
[00:10:33] It wasn't a great experience for me, I didn't really enjoy it. I did the work, I put my head down. And for those last three years, I soldiered on and did what I needed to do to make the parents happy. 
[00:10:50] I was friendly, I wasn't really into sports, I was into my music. I was into my hard rock slash heavy metal music. So I had the longish hair, the ripped jeans type of a kid. And hung around that sort of a crowd. So, did I enjoy sports? Not really. Did I enjoy academia? Not really. As I said, I just did what I needed to do just to get by.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:11:22] It sounds like you're more of a creative type [of] person. You sound like you like music.

Adjusting His Focus

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:11:27] I forgot to mention, yes, I was doing photography. That was what was one enjoyable part of school. 
[00:11:34] I picked up a camera at the age of roughly about 13. And in year 10, the subject of photography became available at that school. So I picked that up and did three years of that at school. I actually became decent at it.
[00:11:58] And then after that, I got the marks I needed to get. [I] got into electrical engineering for a little while. Really did not like that! [It] was one of those things, you know, traditional parents, you've got to make them happy. I'm sure Tyrone, you know what that's like!

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:12:18] Yes, coming from [an] Asian background, [that’s] very common!

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:12:21] Exactly, exactly. And then, the shock they got when I told them, 'Actually guys, Mum, Dad, I'm not going to be doing engineering anymore, I'm pursuing photography'. Mum was supportive, Dad was... you know, got a bit of a shock on his face and walked away. And then came back and argued. 
[00:12:42] So I did that for a little while, I assisted some photographers and studied, got into an intense photography course. First at a private college and then TAFE, and then started my own studio at the age of 21 [or] 22. 
[00:13:03] Because I was working for a studio out in Penrith and I did that for a little while, and I thought, 'You know what? I can do this myself'. So I saved up the money, sold my car. My dad was like, 'Okay, well, if you're going to do this, I'll support you'. He gave me some money. He said, 'Whatever you save,  I'll double that'. And I went off and started off. And yes, [I] did that for about 13 years, it was pretty successful. [I] started off with about three employees and got up to about 15.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:13:40] Congrats, that's amazing. So pretty much straight out of school you went straight into running your own business, then, as a photographer.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:13:48] I was working for a little bit, studying and working. I remember the days where I was working full time, Monday to Friday, studying at nights and doing weddings. Weddings can go for 12 hours, each one on the weekend. 
[00:14:04] And I remember in that time in Chippendale in the darkroom when I was working in a lab, come Monday, I go into the darkroom where I had to do the work and I'm falling asleep in the darkroom. They were fun times! And luckily, I had someone that was working there that was a really good person, and she would knock on the door quite a few times, she'd be like, 'Come on', so I hung in there for a little while, which was good. 

Tyrone Shum:  
Although film photography is far less common than it used to be, some businesses have adapted with the times and altered their business models to fit. The photo lab Dimovski worked at while he was studying is a prime example.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:14:50] That time I was studying at night doing photography, I was working. That's after studying engineering. I was working for a lab. They're called Pixel Perfect. I'll give them a plug! They're in Chippendale. They're still around, because I drove past now and then. And at night I'd be doing the photography course. So it was pretty much photographic printing.

He Came, He Saw, He Captured

Tyrone Shum:
Dimovski offers an overview of the work he did at the photography lab in the ‘90s. For those not old enough to remember, you may be surprised to learn how involved the photography and printing processes were.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:15:33] This particular company did digital photography. So, look, that was almost 20 years ago. Well, actually it was over 20 years ago. Photographers, wedding photographers, [and] portrait photographers would actually send their file, either online... actually no, not online. Those days files were too big for online, it was actually for a CD ROM or a hard drive. 
[00:16:00] They'll drop it off or get it couriered over, we'll then plug it in, and then print them digitally. But the actual photographic paper was professional photographic paper. So it wasn't like your normal standard printer. So they were still sensitive to light meeting the darkroom. So you would actually pitch one large roll, and once it actually printed, you then needed to put [it] into the chemicals. And no other light can be exposed. So it needs to be pitch black. 

Tyrone Shum:  
Digital photography started to overtake film in the early 2000s, which meant that photographers with film cameras were in for a wild ride. However, Dimovski caught a lucky break at just the right time, and for just the right price.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:17:08] When I was setting up the business— it took me about three [or] four months to set up the business— I was in the stages of working with film. And then as I was setting up, I was doing my research and funny enough, a friend of mine, his father offered me a digital camera with the lenses that were extremely cheap. 
[00:17:34] You know those auctions from the airports that they take away your... now, I don't know where the camera was. But he actually said, 'Look, I picked up this particular camera with lens', at that time, it was actually from memory [valued at] about $4,000. He said, 'You can have it for about $1,000'. And I'm like, 'Give it to me'. 
[00:18:02] So it was just that timing that I picked up that digital camera. It was a good one, too. It was a Nikon and yeah, so then I sort of redirected to getting into digital. And thankfully, I did, thankfully. It just saved me so much money! 

Tyrone Shum:  
He thanks his lucky stars that he was able to have that training, especially for when it came to photographing weddings. While today you can take as many shots that will fit as many memory cards as you like, film photography ran the risk of running out of film.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:18:54] I did quite a few weddings where you can't make a mistake. And you have to be very, very careful on your settings on your camera. You've got 36 shots, 24 [or] 36 depending on the film. And you can't make a mistake. 
[00:19:13] But that was a benefit for even shooting digital. These days, people don't care. They pull out the camera, they'll take 1,000 shots just for one good shot.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:19:28] Just can't take your finger off the button.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:19:30] And of course, my 10 year old can do that, take 1,000 shots and pick up one or two good shots. 

Ready For Your Close-Up?

Tyrone Shum
While he shot a lot of weddings, they weren’t his bread and butter. Self timers and selfies hardly existed at the time, which gave his area of expertise the edge.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:19:49] I got into portrait [photography]. If you ever walked past the shopping centres and you see those little pop up stands for about a week back in the day, which they called casual leasing. We had a little pop up stand set up and people would walk past and would make offers, photographic offers. You'd get your hair and makeup done, get the family in. So chances are, if you walked past that, that was me. That was us.
[00:20:40] It's funny. It might sound expensive at the time, but when you look back 10 [to] 15 years down the track, it's always worth it. You'll be happy you got it done.

Tyrone Shum:  
The pop up stands he manned were mainly for promotional purposes, rather than the actual scene of the actual photoshoots.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:21:16] We would sign people up. We would get those leads every week to our bookers on the phone, and they would book them to come in for the photoshoot for their hair [and] makeup. 
[00:21:28] So they would spend roughly about an hour [to an] hour and a half prepping themselves and then an hour photoshoot. 
[00:21:35] And a week later, they would come in and view their shots. We were one of the first studios in Sydney— actually, in Australia— to actually do the airbrushing, the editing. So it was from the stages of, you know, there's glamour photos where you use that soft focus filter. And then take off the soft focus, and then use Photoshop to edit the shots.

Tyrone Shum:   
Since everybody and their mother got a smartphone with a camera, the photography world was turned on its head. It was good timing for Dimovski, as his first passion was slowly fading to make way for the next.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:22:23] I'm not too sure what it's like now, because the only thing I do is on the occasion I pick up the camera for the family photos once a year. That's pretty much it. And of course, if I travel, I'll have my camera with me. 
[00:22:39] But what it's like now? I have noticed a lot of the studios have disappeared. And it was one of those reasons I stopped doing it. The fact that people were coming in at the last two years of the business, and would have photos there for a couple of hundred dollars. 
[00:23:04] And they would say, 'Well, why would I spend a couple of hundred dollars when...?' Look at my phone. And they would say, 'I look pretty good here as well. Why would I pay you?' And look— they had a point. And once you start hearing that rhythm on and on, being told, you say, 'Okay, well, maybe it's time to change something or just move on'. 
[00:23:37] I wasn't a big fan of weddings, even though I did them and enjoyed them, but I couldn't do it every weekend. So yeah, I went to my next passion!

Dubai Days

Tyrone Shum:   
He ran his photography business for 13 years, before both his world and the photography world started to change. He received an exciting opportunity to delve into another industry overseas, which sounded nearly too good to be true.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:24:21] I went [and] took the family over to Dubai. And so there was an opportunity for starting a business over there. Within photography, I tried it out, I played around, [it] didn't work out. Totally different markets. 
[00:25:19] Before moving to Dubai, three years prior to that, the photography studio also had an extras agency. So part of the idea was people get their photos, but also we'll put them on a database and get them work as extras for Big W or catalogs or TV ads. And that went well for a couple of years. 
[00:25:45] The pitch was, 'Hey, you spent $1,000 on your photos, how would you like to make it back?' No one said no! So the photos were there. It didn't cost them anything extra. Five minutes extra to get all their details and their measurements, they go on a database and then we pitched it to the agents. 
[00:26:10] The two employees within the studio decided, 'Hey, you know what? We'll take your business if you're moving overseas'. So I offered it to them, and they were happy with the offer. And then I moved over to Dubai with the family. And started over there. 
[00:26:33] While I was over there, I also had a few friends from Sydney— actually, one was from Brisbane, the other one was [from] Sydney— who [were] in the property market over there. 
[00:26:47] They were purchasing off the plan villas, and making a hell of a lot of money. So I thought, 'I'll give that a go', while I tried my photography business over there. 
[00:27:08] Things didn't work out as I planned. The market shifted. And very quickly. Very quickly it worked against me. But anyway, you live and you learn.

Pivoting to Property

Tyrone Shum:   
While his Dubai property dreams didn’t work out as planned, it wasn’t his first— or last— foray into property.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:27:33] I was purchasing pretty much in my early... pretty much as soon as the photography studio was going well. The person who was leasing the building from, he was in front of me, [he] had his office, [a] security company. And he was driving around in lavish cars, Ferraris and Lambos and all that sort of stuff. I got to know him well. 
[00:27:57] And further on into talking with him, I asked him, 'Okay, so what else do you do besides a photography business?' And he pretty much came out and said, 'Property. I invest in property, I buy [and] renovate commercial properties and residential [properties]'. So I thought, 'Wow, fantastic'. 
[00:28:17] So I got a little bit of advice from him, but he also got me tickets down to Melbourne for a particular seminar. [I] went down, did the seminar, came back and I was all gung ho ready to start investing in property. And of course, I read a few books. 
[00:28:35] I bought my first property in Pymble, a two bedroom apartment on the Pacific Highway. It was an older apartment, it needed a bit of renovation. [I] did the reno, increased the equity with the reno and moved from there.

Tyrone Shum:  
The property course in Melbourne highlighted the buy, renovate, and hold strategy, before pulling out the equity to purchase the next property.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:29:10] It was a three day seminar. I can't remember the guy's name, and I did try to look for him prior to the show. But I couldn't find him anymore. So he was originally from Brisbane. And the course pretty much focused on purchasing apartments that are rundown. Getting in for a good price. Knowing your market, knowing your area, knowing that you're getting it at a discounted rate. And hopefully off market if you can. And going with that intention of renovating and then increasing the profit from there and then moving on to the next one. 

Tyrone Shum:  
When Dimovski first started purchasing property, his plan was to utilise the ‘buy, renovate, and hold’ strategy to invest into his first property and build up his portfolio. However, things changed, and he and his negatively geared portfolio took a new route.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:00:11] From there I purchased another one in Liverpool again, same strategy. [It] probably wasn't the best idea that time. [The] reason I did purchase in Liverpool was because... [I'm] not sure if you remember, Tyrone, they were meant to build a casino.
[00:01:46] Unfortunately, that did not get built. So I held that property for a little while with no real gain. And I kept it, I still kept it. 
[00:02:00] From there, I moved on. 
[00:02:01] I went with my heart on this one. And I purchased one in Leichhardt. Which was... it wasn't off the plan, but it was about a few months to completion. So at that time, I didn't really know the area too well, and it was more of a glossy catalogue and it looked good. I walked into the sample and I said, 'Okay, I love it'. And I purchased that. It was slightly overpriced from what I wanted. But anyway, you do what you do. 
[00:02:41] So three properties, three apartments, [negatively] geared. And now I'm in a stage where I'm actually forking out a bit of money every month. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have done everything totally different.
[00:03:05] Sorry, sorry, negatively geared. Negatively geared, my mistake. They were negatively geared. And I was paying paying every month and I was feeling the pinch. Even though you've got a successful business that time, you don't want to be spending money. 

Diving into Dubai

Tyrone Shum:   
His portfolio consists of 13 properties, not including the three villas that were purchased off the plan in Dubai. He’s experienced some great moments in these handfuls of transactions, but not all were quite so great.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:04:26] The one that sort of really sticks out was probably Liverpool, but then it didn't cost too much so it wasn't too painful. But no, the one that hurt the most was going into another country, in the UAE, in Dubai, purchasing going off a recommendation. 
[00:04:49] And look, they were genuine friends. They were making a lot of money in those 10 years. And the idea was buying three villas off the plan. Each six months to a year, these grow. So those villas were to be completed within three years. 
[00:05:13] And what happens is you sell one after a year. You've got the money to pay off the other two and then you sell off the other one, and you pay off that one, you pretty much have one unencumbered. That was the idea. But that didn't work.
[00:05:37] So how it works in Dubai over there, they build suburbs. They don't just build one building or a handful of villas or duplexes. Okay, so they build suburbs, and it's backed also by the government. 
[00:05:56] And what happens is, you have another suburb that was built five [to] 10 years prior to that. Okay, and that three bedroom, three bathroom, double lock up garage villa, cost $1 million, roughly. 
[00:06:12] The one that you're picking up off the plan, you'll pick it up for $550,000. I'm using now, US dollars, so to speak. It all has to be paid by cash. You've got every three months or something— depends on the on the agreement, [sometimes it's] six months— that you actually have to pay cash for these payments as they go. So it's divided over three years.  
[00:06:39] And each six months to a year, these properties rise [in value] because there's more demand for it. The less they have, the more demand. And this is how they attract people from overseas for the investment. To invest in Dubai.  
[00:06:55] But unfortunately, I came at the tail end of it all. Something happened over there economically. And yeah, from the value of the villas that were at one stage decreased quite a lot. And then I just sold out and walked away with my losses.

Lessons Learnt

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:07:16] So what do you think that was one of the learning lessons in that?

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:07:27] Know your market. I think [you should always] study the market that you're going to invest in. I've known this, but when the carrot is dangled in front of you from your friends, and they're making— let me tell you, to this day they are [making a lot of money]. Sometimes you just go, 'You know what? I've got this much that I'll invest. I'll just see what happens'. 
[00:08:00] You're always gung ho when you've got the money, but when you lose it, yeah, you you feel the pinch.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:08:04] And you're a lot more cautious as well, for the next few deals, too.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:08:08] Exactly, exactly. And thankfully for that, I'm much more careful what I do now.

Tyrone Shum:   
On the bright side, the pros in property investment far outweigh the cons. While most of his aha moments have been in small doses, the sheer amount of them more than make up for it.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:08:44] I guess that the switch from apartments to houses [was] my aha moment, [one of] my bigger aha moments. And the last, you know, 10 years that I'm doing the strategies. The strategy now that I do is buy the slightly rundown house that is positively geared that [is] on a much larger block that you have the option to add a granny flat at the back [or] subdivide it. Knock it down, put a duplex. Things like that. 
[00:09:26] And this is what I've been doing the last few... many years. So [I] purchase that land bank then or throw a granny flat [on it] to get that additional income. And that works very well. And I do a lot of that with the clients as well.

A Very Successful Strategy

Tyrone Shum:   
Dimovski’s latest deal features a strategy that’s simple to understand, and elaborates on it with a simple way to find out even more.

Dragan Dimovski:    
[00:10:16] I'll give you an example. And I can even actually give you the address to it too, just so your listeners can actually jump in and actually see what's what I do. 
[00:10:28] Roughly a little over a year ago, I purchased a 980 square metres block. A big block down in Ulladulla. So, that one I purchased [for] $410,000. It's block a land. And the idea is to build a duplex on it. And within six months, I got that piece of piece of land valued at $750,000.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:15:07] Without building anything on it yet?

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:11:10] Nothing. Zero. So that was obviously good negotiation, and a bit of back and forth there. And mind you, as you know, if you're picking up a good deal prior to that, and you're building a duplex, or what have you, you're already making some profits at the end of it. So just on the land alone, it got valued at about $750,000...
[00:11:40] About eight months later.
[00:11:49] And I'll give you the address if people want to have a sticky beak. It's number 28 Red Gum Drive, Ulladulla [NSW]. So they can check what it was purchased for.

Tyrone Shum:   
The property was likely worth much more than what Dimovski paid for it, but he wasn’t enlighted on how he was able to score such a deal. In fact, he nearly didn’t.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:12:19] My understanding [is] they had quite a few properties [and they were of] older age, retirement [age], they were just offloading a handful of properties. There could have been other reasons, but that's all I know.
[00:25:39] I actually almost didn't get it because there was a much higher offer, but their finances didn't come through, and they wanted a quick move. And I was the next person. 
[00:12:57] After that once purchased, then, of course, I went through the standard DA, architect drawings for the duplex, three bedroom duplex. But then there was a bit of a halt during COVID time. [There were] problems getting materials, which was the timber, then there was a waiting period of six months [or] thereabouts. 
[00:13:28] Then, once the timber prices went up, I was slugged with another about $13,000 on top of the contract. Even though it was a set contract with the builders, you sort of can't argue because you don't know if they're going to undercut you on something else, if you know what I mean. So, you cop it on the chin and move forward. 
[00:13:52] Look, I can't complain. The profit was there that was major in the land. So, okay, $12,000 [or] $13,000, I'll wear it and move forward from there. 
[00:14:03] Then the rains hit. That was January, February, March. And it's like, 'Ah, all right. So when are we starting?' 
[00:14:13] I got an email from them just a few days ago, saying they've just started with the concrete. So. Hurray! So you can get these things when you're developing little blocks of land like this. You've got to be aware that these are possible scenarios that can just pop up. Like anything, you've got your benefits, but then you've got your risk with that as well.

Tyrone Shum:   
His plan is to wait for the property to be built and completed before getting a valuation and putting a final figure on it. However, he has an idea of its expected price point.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:15:23] I've spoken to a few agents that they feel pretty confident that they can get about $880,000 to $900,000 each. I only just actually recently spoke to one yesterday, just to read just to get an idea. Because I knew you were gonna ask me that question! And the idea will be keeping both. Maybe I'll sell one and move on to something else. But yeah, the original idea was to keep both and just move forward [and] use the equity.
[00:16:28] You get a lot of benefits with a new build. I'm not going too hard on this yet. Once this finishes, I've got a couple of properties, larger blocks, then I'll make a decision what I do with them then. So far, so good.

Building Trust

Tyrone Shum:   
Dimovski puts a lot of trust in his builders, which is paramount for his success. Along with learning to trust his builders and the process itself, he’s garnered a lot of wisdom through his experiences.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:17:36] What I find [is] you've got builders out there, companies, that will actually do the full turnkey, from start to finish. Everything from DA approval to architecture to the completion. Full turnkey, right to the landscaping. And they'll give it to you for a good price. So what I've learnt is there's work to be done on knowing the area, but when it comes to the builders, it's becoming easier these days to deal with them. To deal with that company, that will give you a cookie cutter type of a build. 
[00:18:25] Of course, this is for investment purposes. I wouldn't do that for my own owner occupier home. But there's a lot of them out there that will look after you. Everything is set on a contract. And all you're really doing is making sure the contract is— which is important— that it's nice and tight. So there's no loose ends on it. And then you just move forward with them. And they're doing a great job.

Tyrone Shum:   
He manages to avoid the three hour drive down from Sydney to Ulladulla thanks to having a dependable team. 

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:19:06] I'm actually going to get an external manager to look over the project. Which I feel, that little additional cost where he'll pop in every month, I guess, he'll come in and just tick the boxes and then come back with a report, which I think is worth the money. 

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:19:30] It's like a QRS report, I guess, because the bank will probably want that for construction. So I guess you'll be checking up to see how it's going. 

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:19:37] It won't be internal through the building company. It'll be external through the building manager.

The Cooldown

Tyrone Shum:   
He plans to stick with this strategy for now, especially considering the cooling of the market.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:20:02] Back two years or a year ago, you would pick up something for $500,000 and then within months, it's $600,000. Those days are over. 
[00:20:13] Anyone can purchase a property and gain $100,000. It's not too hard. But now that the market's slowing down, the demand will be slowing down. And obviously, with that, the prices will also not be as dramatic as they were. You've got to find another strategy like this. 
[00:20:38] And I think by me having done this for a long time, this always works. This always works. And this is what I tell my clients, that this strategy will always work no matter what market you're in. And they're seeing the benefits.
[00:21:26] This strategy I do for myself is also what I recommend for my clients. There's just so much benefit in purchasing a property that has potential for building a duplex. All it is is main banking, that's all you're doing. 
[00:21:56] You're purchasing a house that possibly needs a renovation. You spend $15,000 [to] $20,000 on that reno, make it look really nice. It's positively geared, you hold that for several years, depending on their plan, and you have these benefits. 
[00:22:20] Interest rates skyrocket? Okay, well, then let's put a granny flat [out the back] and increase the rental. I think what people aren't realising is when they have a property with a larger block of land, they can add. 
[00:22:34] In Brisbane, where I'm working at the moment, we're adding a 100 square metre, two bedroom, two bathroom granny flat that's costing roughly about $150,000. So they invested $150,000 [and] they're getting $340 rental [per week]. But they will get $340. So suddenly that increases their rental. And people who are worried about the interest rates going up— they shouldn't be worried. There's there's so many strategies that work in their favour.
[00:23:37] Tyrone, you should see some of these places. They've got three metre ceilings full of lights. I'm telling you, these granny flats, they look identical to houses these days. And you walk in, and I think, 'I could live in this! Easily!' 

Tyrone Shum:   
While granny flats used to conjure up images of brown ‘70s couches and dingy lighting fixtures, today they’re a lot more sophisticated.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:24:42] A lot of people have that impression or that image of back in the day when they walked into a granny flat and it was... there was no light, it was smelly. You know what I'm saying? There was probably some old guy living there. 

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:24:57] That's why they call it a granny [flat]!

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:24:59] That's right, and these places are amazing. And they're cheap to build!

From Dreams to Reality

Tyrone Shum:   
His main driving force has been present for longer than it may appear, seeing as he started property window shopping long before he entered the market.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:25:49] Even from back in the day when I couldn't afford a house, I was always online looking at houses. I'm a bit of a dreamer, I guess. A slight creative side. This is why I had the interest in renovations as well. And sometimes I would overspend in the renos, but that's another story! 
[00:26:16] I have three real passions. Photography, fitness, and property. So even prior to setting up my own buyer's agency, I've always had the passion of just constantly looking at properties and talking about them and what this property does and what that property isn't doing and what that suburb is doing. All that sort of flashy stuff. 
[00:26:47] It came to a point where I was, as mentioned, I came back to Australia, from Dubai. And it was like, 'Okay, well, what's my next move? I don't want to do photography'. And thinking about it, my mother in law said, 'Hey, you love property. Why don't you get into property?' 
[00:27:09] And I thought, 'You know what, I don't want to be a selling agent. I don't want to do open homes. I don't want to do auctions. It's not me, it's not what I do'. 
[00:27:16] And months into it, while you're in that sort of mindset, and the energy must have spat out the frequency out there. And a friend of mine said, 'Why don't you become a buyer's agent?' I said, 'A buyer's agent?' And I was like, 'Yeah, I've heard of what a buyer's agent is, let me look into it'. 
[00:27:37] So I got into it. And then [I found out] you could be a buyer's agent with investment property. I thought, 'Wow, that's fantastic'. Then it was it was from there I looked into it further. Got my real estate license, I actually worked with a handful of buyer's agents for a couple of years. Some of them have been on your show, and I'm sure you know a couple of them I mentioned. 
[00:28:03] And that was the idea. And it was to go in there and actually pluck out what they do, and then eventually pick the best things of what they do, and then start up my own thing. 

Do What You Love

Tyrone Shum:   
He’s a big believer in the idea behind doing what you love, because then it doesn’t feel like work. Luckily for him, he’s always had that guiding his career path.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:28:49] That was always my motto. Do what you love doing, it will never feel like work. 
[00:28:54] And I was very fortunate enough, from a young age, to always be doing that. And even when I was working for the other buyer's agents, it never felt like work. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I still love it.
[00:29:18] A part of it was when I was doing photography, and I [saw] the mothers with the babies. And some of them would actually get teary, because the shots were amazing. And when they walked out, I felt this warmth in my chest. 
[00:29:37] Now that warmth has come back when I'm presenting a property to someone and I got it for a really good deal. And they're smiling. I'm smiling. The transaction's finished, and then you go off and have a few drinks with your mates and it's a great night. And you just can't wait to do it again! 
[00:30:01] I was in Europe, I just only got back two weeks ago. I spent three weeks there. And to be honest, Tyrone, after the first week, I could not wait to get back home to get into it. Seriously. So it's the passion. It doesn't feel like work.
[00:30:40] You wake up super early in the morning, you bounce out of bed, because you know your day is set up with what you love doing. I can't remember the last time— minus me being sick— that I had to roll around in bed and think, 'Oh, I've gotta get up today'. I can't remember that.

Tyrone Shum:   
While the mentor he mentioned earlier with the flashy cars is a private person and so his identity will remain a mystery, the other resources he’s drawn from have been much more publicly accessible.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:31:30] He would throw some information here and there. But they were really to the point and valid. So he wasn't one of those mentors that spent a lot of time sitting there. He would give you the solid information, and you would go and research it yourself. Which I found was probably a good way to be. Other mentors? Not really, no. No. It was just trial and error.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:31:56] Trial and error. Yeah. And resources wise, I guess did you have any sort of books? You mentioned you listen to the podcast. Anything that you could share? 

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:32:07] Definitely podcasts. I mean, I've been listening to your show for two years now, I think. And you've got some great talent that comes to your show, and [I've] picked up some of their books. 
[00:32:24] This industry is always a learning journey. 
[00:32:29] Books, I do have to— I knew you're gonna ask me this question, from your podcast— How to Win Friends and Influence People
[00:32:29] And I'll tell you why. Because I find... 
[00:32:45] This has helped me through my journey. And my clients' journ[ies] quite a lot. 
[00:32:55] You've got to be genuine. One thing I don't like doing is working with people that I don't like. I actually don't do it. And I don't like dealing with selling agents that I don't like. And with the selling agents, I'm upfront with them, and I tell them. 
[00:33:22] The reason I like this book is because not only does it give you that knowledge on how to win friends and influence people, but it gives you a really strong relationship with the real estate agents. And you know what? When they get deals, they want to work with you. They call you. 
[00:33:45] And this is, I guess, part of the success of my business at the moment. I love working with these agents, and I think they love working with me as well. Because I constantly get good deals from them. And they're always happy when they're talking to me, or when I'm talking to them, and we spend time. And so it's never a quick transaction. It's always, 'Hey, Dragan, I've got this for you. What do you think?' [And I'm like], 'Yeah, let me have a look'. I'll go to my clients and the clients say, 'Love it. Great deal. Let's move forward'.

Tyrone Shum:   
Property requires you to have a strong team on hand to help you out, which Dimovski is proud to have. While his next mentor of sorts isn’t so much a person as it is a book, it’s a resource that listeners will know well.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:35:00] Rich Dad Poor Dad, I would recommend that book. It's great knowing what to do within property investment, and I do recommend people do reading that. But after a while, when you're in a business of being an agent, it's not all about the property all the time. I mean, it is, but it's also about the people you're dealing with to get those good deals. And that, to me is a key element to my business.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:35:55] If you actually met yourself, so 10 years ago, what do you think you would have said to him?

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:36:01] I would say probably go a little bit harder with the quality of the properties. Look, 10 years ago, is almost... I would first say go to the buyer, have the experience, but don't buy those properties. I would go back to 10 years ago and go, 'Go back another 10 years and do this'.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:36:25] Let's go 20 years then! 

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:36:28] I would honestly say, 'Start purchasing properties [in] low economic areas. Buy the house that has a larger block of land, and then hold on to them'. That's what I would say. It's a strategy I'm doing now. But I would have told me 20 years ago to do that, then.

Tyrone Shum:   
His plans for the next handful of years aren’t set in stone just yet, but he has an idea of where they will look like thanks to his trusty strategy.

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:37:32] [In the] next five years I'm looking at moving forward with developing on these blocks of land that I'm doing. And using up as much as I can, what I can with that.
[00:38:08] So doing either a duplex or triplex. I hadn't thought about it yet. But that's the plan. And that's the direction it's going. 

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:38:27] How much of your success currently has been due to your skill, intelligence and hard work, and how much of it has been due to luck?

Dragan Dimovski:   
[00:38:38] You know what they say: Luck is what you put out there, really. I would say a lot of it is trial and error. A lot has to do with trial and error. Luck comes with that.  
[00:38:53] You can't just sit there and expect luck to fall on your lap. Put it that way. So, yeah, so a lot of it is hard work, a lot of it is knowledge, and I would say a small percentage of luck.
[00:39:13] But also you have to have a family or a partner to sort of back that up. Because if you don't have that, then you're going nowhere fast.


Tyrone Shum: 
Thank you to Dragan Dimovski, our guest on this episode of Property Investory. As a special offer for Property Investory listeners, Dimovski is offering a free 45 minute strategy call, normally valued at $500. To take advantage of this amazing opportunity, contact him via his website at