Property Investory
Redom Syed on How Every Habit Adds Up to Either Help or Hinder
March 7, 2024
Redom Syed is an ex-Treasury economist who founded Confidence Finance, a mortgage brokering company. Also host of the Australian Property Talk podcast, he’s combined his passions for both property and people to create the life and career of his dreams.
In this episode the devoted husband, father of two, and property and number lover shares all there is to know about his childhood growing up in Sydney. While there were many highs including those related to sports and friendships, there were also lows when it came to finances— which ultimately set him up for where he is today. Back on the upswing, he also delves into the unusual aspect of his time at university, how he met his wife, and why one of Australia’s cities is much more than its reputation.

00:38 | All Property, All the Time
03:59 | Sydneysider
08:45 | Tumultuous Times
11:57 | Opportunities Arose
14:15 | What Movies Are Made Of
16:14 | Vision Board
20:31 | Come to Canberra
23:31 | IMF


00:43 | Time to Invest
03:14 | Ready and Raring To Go
07:55 | Show Me the Numbers
11:37 | A People Person
17:37 | Uh Oh
21:16 | Utilising Resources
24:28 | Not an Easy Task
30:00 | The Perks of the Job

Resources and Links:

Redom Syed:
[00:12:20] One thing that happened with all these experiences, I became very clear with what I wanted as well, which is a little bit unusual. And I knew at a very early stage that I wanted to be in business, I wanted to be in economics. Those were my passions. And that's what I was moving towards.


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 Redom Syed, the founder of Confidence Finance. As an award-winning mortgage broker, property is one of his biggest passions, but getting to where he is wasn’t an easy ride. Committed to providing financial education, Syed lives and breathes his three passions: Numbers, property, and his family.



All Property, All the Time

Tyrone Shum:   
Having experienced what a lack of financial preparation can do for a family, Syed has been preparing for his career since he was a teenager. He founded Confidence Finance in 2015 after spending years as a Treasury economist. 

Redom Syed:   
[00:00:38] [I] left Treasury, began the mortgage broking company, and then began developing in and around when COVID started. So I'm all property person. And I love property, love talking about property, love researching property. It's just what I do all day, every day with our clients, with myself, with anyone I meet. So, property is my passion.

Tyrone Shum:   
He feeds his appetite for property through many different channels, including the Property Chat forum and his own podcast, Australian Property Talk. In addition to his day job and his roles as husband and father, his days are action-packed!

Redom Syed:   
[00:01:42] I wake up in the morning, I have a non negotiable, I must spend a little bit of time with my little girl. I've got two little girls, a toddler and a six month old. 
[00:01:54] So my toddler, I get her ready to start her day, that's my first hour of the day. Usually I wake up a little bit before and go for a swim. But first hour of the day, I do that, then I get out the door. 
[00:02:05] And I either come into my office, we're in Sydney, in Mascot. And I begin working in the mortgage broking space. So I handle a range of our clients. But I also manage our business, there's about 10 of us. So there's a lot of business and operational things that I need to address. 
[00:02:24] And then in around lunchtime, and a little bit after that I typically drive to our development sites. Not every day, but once or twice a week to check in on progress, have builder meetings, meetings with architects, engineers, things like that. 
[00:02:36] Issues do pop up in the development game. And across multiple sites, I put out fires that come to light. So yeah, it's property all day until I get home really,

Tyrone Shum:   
With two young children, life can be a bit of a juggle, but one he wouldn’t give up for anything.

Redom Syed:   
[00:03:16] I'm absolutely loving it. It is an incredibly intense time. Fathers will understand this, we do everything we can to support our families. And it's intense, is the word I use. It's from morning to night, go go go and maybe 20 minutes at the end of the night where the kids are asleep and you get a little breather, but then you realise it's 11pm and it's like, 'I'm tired'. So yeah, that's my day, but I absolutely love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Tyrone Shum:   
Syed grew up in Sydney and has lived here for as long as he can remember— except for one all-important stint interstate.

Redom Syed:   
[00:03:59] I came when I was one or two years old. And I went to school here, I went to uni here. I've lived here my whole life. And Sydney is my favorite city in pretty much the world. 
[00:04:10] I lived in Canberra for a few years when I joined Treasury. So I lived there for three or four years. I met my wife on the first day of uni. And we stayed together for 12 years. 12 [or] 13 years since then, got married halfway in that journey, had kids. So yeah, that's where I came from. I'm a Sydneysider. I might not look like it completely! But I'm a Sydneysider. My heritage is from Bangladesh. And so both my parents are Bengali, and so is my partner.
[00:04:52] I've got an older brother and an older sister. I was actually born in Libya. My parents worked there for a little bit. So I wasn't born in Bangladesh, but we can came via Bangladesh, I believe. So they were just working there temporarily. 
[00:05:05] And my brother, sister, they're both older than me. So they came to Australia, they didn't really have too much. It's a pretty common migrant story. They just sort of came here, thought it was a great country to live in, and then made a start in life.

Tyrone Shum:   
His parents chose to move the family to Australia for the opportunities available here. After settling in Sydney, those opportunities arose with the everyday Australian childhood he experienced.

Redom Syed:   
[00:05:39] Australia is one of the best countries in the world to live in. It's had that reputation for a long time. So my parents chose Australia. A lot of people in Bangladesh migrate out to other developed countries. So it was Canada, UK or Australia. I think those are the options, and my parents were seeking and they chose Australia.
[00:06:05] I went to Arncliffe Public, which is really interesting, because that's where most of my development sites are now. I love the area!
[00:06:15] My parents lived in Arncliffe at the time, and then at the end of primary school, I believe I was in year seven, they moved out west. So they sold the house in Arncliffe and then bought a bigger one out near Campbelltown. So then I went to East Hills Boys for high school. And yeah, pretty standard schooling experience in Australia.

Tyrone Shum:   
In typical Aussie fashion, one of his greatest childhood memories is playing sports. He looks back fondly on those days, and though he doesn’t play as much as he used to, his teammates are still by his side.

Redom Syed:   
[00:06:53] My two best friends are still my schoolmates. When we catch up, it's something else. That bond that we share that was built up from when we were in our teens. So yeah, it's probably out on the footy field playing touch footy or playing a game of cricket. These are just special Australian childhood memories that we have. They're irreplaceable, I think.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:07:17] Do you still play them?

Redom Syed:   
[00:07:18] I turned on my PlayStation. I bought a PlayStation over the weekend, I turned it on for, like, 15 minutes. And I'm like, 'Wow, this is too hard for me. I'm getting too old for this'! I don't get time to do much of that. So yeah, it's just a quick little exercise session in the morning to just clear my head more than anything, not so much competitive sport anymore, unfortunately.

Tumultuous Times

Tyrone Shum:   
While much of his childhood was idyllic, there was one component that was far from it. Unfortunately, it was a large component, but it ended up setting him on the path towards his career and his own family.

Redom Syed:   
[00:08:45] When I was in, I think it was around year 10, both my parents lost their jobs in that year, in and around then. So the timeframe is a little bit fuzzy, but that job loss actually led to the house being lost as well. So they couldn't make their mortgage repayments. 
[00:09:02] So we moved from Arncliffe to Campbelltown. I think the idea at the time was to reduce costs, but they ended up buying a bigger house. So it didn't actually reduce costs all that much. Anyway, they didn't pay their mortgage, interest rates rose during that period of time, they both lost their jobs. And effectively, we lost the family home. 
[00:09:21] So that happened in about year 10. And I was watching this and experiencing this more as an observer and just seeing my parents a little bit unhappy with the situation that they found themselves in. These things are little habits that happen year on year on year, day on day on day, just poor financial habits. And then eventually if you do that for long enough, you have consequences like the ones that my parents had. That was difficult for a couple of years. 
[00:09:51] But it's also extremely motivating for me. I was the youngest child. I had opportunities. I was in school, living in Australia, so I had opportunities to do really well for myself. And I love that about this country. 
[00:10:02] So I kind of saw what was happening and decided, 'You know what? I can't control so much. But my parents were sending me to school so I can control what I do here'. And my grades just kind of went from middle of the pack to just kind of acing everything I possibly could.
[00:10:23] It seemed very apparent at that age, my teachers would probably say it like, 'Something happened to this kid', like, it was just, it was just the normal kid having fun, like, playing games all the time. Now, he's super focused in the library, and just so disciplined, which is probably a little bit unusual for a 15 year old to be so focused. 
[00:10:40] And truth be told, that has remained with me pretty much since then. There's been an element of focus to the work I do, and my goals and my pursuits. And that's probably where it started. It was kind of a life shaping experience.

Opportunities Arose

Tyrone Shum:   
While it was a tough time for the family, it ended up being a pivotal moment for Syed. Turning his focus to his schoolwork, he came across new opportunities he didn’t even know were possible.

Redom Syed:   
[00:11:57] This is where opportunities changed for me. 
[00:12:01] I did really well in the HSC, did really well in school. And then I got a scholarship into a business course. I was debating between options, my parents wanted me to study medicine, or these sort of courses that are more in line with community values. [But] it just wasn't for me.
[00:12:20] One thing that happened with all these experiences, I became very clear with what I wanted as well, which is a little bit unusual. And I knew at a very early stage that I wanted to be in business, I wanted to be in economics. Those were my passions. And that's what I was moving towards. 
[00:12:39] So I got a scholarship to do a co-op course in Sydney, which is like a cooperation between major businesses in Australia, and a university degree. So they joined together, and they give you a job at the end of it, and you do a few internships within them, and they pay you through the university experience. That made uni a fair bit easier for me. Because it was a wonderful business learning opportunity. And it was a great, great course. I met so many wonderful people who were doing so many amazing things. It was a small cohort of 40 within the business degree, which has probably thousands, it was just 40 of us. 
[00:13:20] So I had an opportunity to do this, I was probably the first person in my school to ever take on an opportunity like this. So it was great, that doors opened up for me. A lot of people helped. And a lot of people gave me opportunities to do well. 
[00:13:35] So I went into that course, met my wife on the first day, which is the best achievement at uni. You pay to get a degree, but like, I got married at the end of it.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:13:48] You picked up your future wife at the same time.

Redom Syed:   
[00:13:50] [It] doesn't get any better than that. She's an amazing, amazing person. So it was a special sort of university experience for me.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:14:01] Was she in a similar degree as you or a different degree?

Redom Syed:   
[00:14:04] She was in the same degree. She was one of the 40.

What Movies Are Made Of

Tyrone Shum:
The first day of any new experience can be stressful, but Syed took it in stride. For some people, they also hope to meet somebody special to share the ups and downs with.

Redom Syed: 
[00:14:15] On this course, the first day— it's like a proper business course, imagine, like, watching The Apprentice, or some version of that, but it's like a uni version of that with uni kids. And they're kind of teaching you to be a little bit like that. 
[00:14:27] So on the first day, I go into uni, and I'm like, 'I don't know what's gonna happen here, I'm going to do some course, learn about marketing or something. We'll see what happens'. 
[00:14:36] But they had, like, a training camp for the first week about business school lessons and the first thing that you did was learn how to shake someone's hand. And they went through a four step technique on these must have business lessons because you will need this in your day to day life. And the way I met my wife was actually practicing our handshakes. That is exactly how we met.

Vision Board

Tyrone Shum:   
Most university courses don’t teach the skills offered to Syed, and he took full advantage of what he was given.

Redom Syed:   
[00:16:14] It was three years, and then I chose to do— that was the co op program. And instead of taking a job— most of us take a job with one of the employers that are sponsoring the course— instead of taking a job, I decided I wanted to do my honours in economics.
[00:16:29] I'm the sort of guy that pins my future plans on the wall a little bit, especially at that age, when it was a bit more linear, like [where you] kind of can see where you're going a little bit more. Now my life is squiggly! But when things are a little bit more linear at the time, I had Treasury and RBA on my wall as like, 'I just have to work at these places one day'. It was kind of like a dream. 
[00:16:57] So that's why I did the honours in economics, because at those institutions to become a graduate there, you kind of have to do them, you're competing with elite talent across the country, and sometimes the globe that you need to have bare minimum qualification. So I did my honours in economics.

Tyrone Shum:   
While other companies were offering him fantastic stable opportunities during an uncertain economic period, he chose to follow his dream for the best chance of happiness.

Redom Syed:     
[00:18:01] There was income on the table and a job at [a] big four accounting firm or big banks that those jobs were. They're readily available. And at the time, I think it was 2008, as well, so graduate jobs were quite tricky to obtain during that year. And the employment mark was very different to the way it is, as of right now. 
[00:18:19] So that was lucrative in terms of, 'Here's your start, the door is open, come in and show what you can do and you'll do well over time'. And that door was taken by 30 of the 40 cohort people. Some of them, I've reached out to some of my clients. Some of them are on my LinkedIn, a couple are partners already at these really big institutions. So they're doing really, really well for themselves. 
[00:18:19] And for me, I needed to be doing economics. It was just kind of obvious to me, like, I had so much respect for policymaking, for what they did for the country, for the importance of the job as well. I just valued that a lot. So policymaking is something that's just dear to me. And I find it enthralling to think about. And that's kind of why I moved there. And I was always quite clear on that. 
[00:19:08] And Treasury and the RBA were the most obvious institutions. Treasury was my go to because they're just so core to policymaking and hit so many different areas of Australia. They have their hand on pretty much everything you see, you see a road that you drive on, it's probably funded by the federal government and Treasury will have some sort of role in that. 
[00:19:38] Any tax collections that we have, frameworks for how we make those decisions, and why we make those decisions, all of that sort of analytical sort of thing was really, really kind of playing to my strengths and playing to what I really enjoyed.

Come to Canberra

Tyrone Shum:   
After that he went straight to our nation’s capital to make his mark, and was pleasantly surprised by the city that greeted him. 

Redom Syed:   
[00:20:31] I went to Treasury, actually, in Canberra. That was when I first moved out of home as well, I believe. I moved out of home and moved into Canberra. I was 20 [or] 21 years old and was just a fresh face graduate trying to work out my way in Canberra. 
[00:20:49] Which was actually a beautiful, wonderful time as well, because so many Canberrans at that time [were] flooding in from other cities, and coming in and working together. And it was a lot of like minded people. 
[00:20:51] Canberra's probably the only place in Australia that I recognise where everyone is quite similar. It's just like, they pull together all these analytical policymaking type people and put them in one city. So it's quite different in Sydney, where you just meet so many people from different walks of life, different types of thinking. Canberra was policymakers. 
[00:21:19] So I went to Canberra for a few years, I was at Treasury for three [or] four years. And I stayed in Canberra for an extra year because my wife worked at Prime Minister and Cabinet at the time.
[00:21:35] She's always been one upping me. So that's the story of my life. I like it that way, too.

Tyrone Shum:   
While he had moved in a physical sense, he was still very much in tune with what was happening back in Sydney. His family’s financial situation had stabilised, but he recognises the struggle they went through is just starting for some.

Redom Syed:   
[00:22:27] It's a little bit sad, because I think through 2023, there may be a heightened level of this, because of all the interest rate rises that do occur. And people may have just adjusted too high and they need to adjust back down. 
[00:22:38] So they had adjusted their living standard back down. Things were probably a little bit painful from a societal perspective, because of what happened. So these are the scarring elements that happen, the mental scarring elements that happen when you go through some difficult moments. So there was a little bit of that. But they were back on track. And they lived in a small house [in a] cheaper sort of area. So they made it work.


Tyrone Shum:   
Syed worked at Treasury in Canberra for three years, and then started his mortgage broking business in his fourth year in the capital city.

Redom Syed:   
[00:23:31] I was a graduate, [I] kind of rose up, like what a standard sort of progression is with a graduate that had been there for three years. So you finish your graduate program, then you jump into a certain area. 
[00:23:44] I had a really cool experience. My last month actually, I was a fly on the wall, like [a] note taker and organiser for the IMF on their Australian visits. They come to Australia every two years. It's called their surveillance article. And they produce this report that says, 'This is the Australian economy. This is what we think about it. This is what you guys should do'. You know, blah, blah, blah. 
[00:24:07] But to produce that report, they go and meet anyone and everyone in economics in Australian policymaking. So they meet all the big four banks, they meet the RBA, they meet the RBA board, so APRA, ASIC [and so on].

Tyrone Shum:   
The IMF, or the International Monetary Fund, is the international agency that helps to manage financial systems across the globe.

Redom Syed:   
[00:24:45] And in particular, they help create programs, like debt programs for countries who are struggling to repay their debts. 
[00:24:53] And in return, they help those countries adjust their policies to bring together a better societal outcome. So that's by and large their aim. And the Australian role in that, Australia is part of that institution, we're a part of the global governing structure. And we as a country have sort of a reputation a little bit like Switzerland, to be just a voice there, a credible voice, with strong institutions that speak to these countries and on the board of the IMF.
[00:25:29] That's kind of Australia's role in this institution. And there's quite a few global institutions. But that's the IMF’s role in the global economy.

Tyrone Shum:   
He learnt a lot from the experience, and had a lot of fun at the same time.

Redom Syed:   
[00:26:18] This was towards the end of my time at Treasury, I think I'd already quit, and they knew it, but they wanted me to finish this project off. And the best part about this is I was in the room with all of their meetings. 
[00:26:31] So a big one was they had a lunch with— this one's an interesting story— the RBA board. And so Philip Lowe, current governor, was deputy governor at the time. And Governor Stevens was the governor at the time. 
[00:26:45] And one thing that I just didn't know and didn't understand is literally the RBA governor as a role. And when you are there with them, it's like a demigod in terms of the way everyone perceives them. It's like the president. Like they treat them like, 'Wow, you are the most important person in the country'. 
[00:27:05] So while we were sitting there and having lunch, and I was sitting next to them, just having lunch being like, 'This is cool. Like, I don't know what I'm doing here, but I'm gonna sit here and listen to these people'. But I didn't understand this dynamic so clearly, but the IMF clearly had the respect for the governor at the time. 
[00:27:22] And when Governor Stevens would say anything— he didn't say that much, but when he would open his mouth, literally everyone would stop even moving their knife. They'd just pause in, like, statue format. There I am just being like, 'Oh, this food is delicious. Yum, yum, yum!' And I just didn't understand... like, I have a lot of respect for them. But I didn't understand the showcasing of that respect, in that way. 
[00:27:46] So it's hard to fully appreciate unless you've met them, but the RBA governor, as a body, as an institution, as a role is one of the most powerful people in this country. And they're treated like that, and the respect is given to them.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:28:01] [It] sounds like he's got a lot of influence, especially f you have to drop everything, literally your plates and stop making noise and listen to what he says.

Redom Syed:   
[00:28:08] You don't have to, but people were doing it.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:28:10] But I think that just shows the amount of respect, because you don't want to be having clanking noise while he's talking over all that.

Redom Syed:   
[00:28:16] They didn't do it for anyone else though, it was just for him. So it's pretty interesting. And Phillip Lowe there as well. And his personability level, he's very different. He's just such a friendly person. And so all of that was super interesting.
[00:28:34] Wayne Byres was chair of APRA at the time, he's just moved on. [I] had a chance to talk to them. This was in 2014, as well. And if you remember, if your audience remembers at the time, that's when Australian lending was just shooting up, interest only loans were shooting up. Credit growth was running wild. And everyone was game planning. And IMF is just sitting there being like, 'Guys, what are you doing? You have this many interest only loans going up. Are you guys concerned? Do you want to think about this?' So those were the conversations being had. 
[00:29:01] So that was a really, really cool time, because it teaches you to think, [it] teaches you how they think when you're there and you have an insight into the way their minds work, what policy options they have, what they might consider next. That's what I took out of it. And that was my experience at Treasury. [It] taught me a super valuable skill: How to think. That was the biggest takeout that I got.

Time to Invest

Tyrone Shum:   
Syed’s mortgage broking business and his property investment journey started in tandem. He and his now-wife each had built up their individual savings over the years, and when he met a mortgage broker who was also a property investor, everything seemed to click into place.

Redom Syed:    
[00:00:43] The best thing about working with him was he told me a lot about property investing and taught me a lot about property investing at the time. So that's when I started investing [in] property, while I was working at Treasury. 
[00:00:53] So we bought a few high yielding properties of the time. And those properties, I think interest rates were coming down during that period as well, were kind of paying for themselves and putting a little bit of money in my pocket, which provided me a little bit of comfort to quit my job and start a business. 
[00:01:11] So that provided a bit of a safety net, I guess. A short term safety net, because obviously there was debt against them. So a short term safety net in terms of producing some income to help me make a change in my lifestyle. 
[00:01:26] The change was motivated. It wasn't motivated by 'I don't like my life here', or 'I don't like this institution'. It's probably one of the few institutions that I would ever go back to, because it was such an amazing time and an amazing place to work. It's just, for me, it was just a little bit too slow. 
[00:01:44] And the tangible impact you have on individual people was probably missing. I really enjoy people and working with people. This was pie in the sky sort of stuff, you can't actually see your impact so quickly. And you're such a small, tiny little piece within this. And it takes, like, a decade to get anywhere. It's just the way these institutions work. You never see an RBI governor that's 35 years old, if that makes sense. They're in their 50s. 
[00:02:11] So it makes sense. But it just wasn't for me to spend 20 years building up my career there. I wanted to fast forward it, and I wanted [the] shackles off me, I wanted it to be like, 'Look, let me do what I want to do and take it where I want to go'. And starting a business gave me that avenue to do that. And mortgage broking was what I chose, because it was kind of numbers, finance, working with people, and lending. It just fit together really well. So that's how I started in 2015.

Ready and Raring To Go

Tyrone Shum:   
With so many potential avenues open to him in terms of career options, Syed had the world at his feet. In the end, mortgage brokering won out.

Redom Syed:   
[00:03:14] At the time, I had met someone, the broker that I'd worked with, and I thought I could do what he was doing, I thought I may have the skills to do it. So it seemed tangible, and easy to make the move across. The barriers to entry to become a mortgage broker at the time, and still today, are quite small, you don't need to go back to uni five years. 
[00:03:36] I was ready and raring to go. I felt like I had the ability, personality and skill sets that I had built up over my time to have a real crack at this. And that's how I started. And yeah, that was in 2015. It just made sense. 
[00:03:52] And I really enjoy it. So I've never really pivoted too far from it. I've thought about it. But it's hard to pivot when my days are fun. And I enjoy it. [So I don't want to] change that, because that becomes incredibly valuable, particularly when we're so busy, to just do something you really enjoy.
[00:04:21] We were at a team dinner the other night and I explained to my team that every morning the lift to my office comes up and I turn left and I see my sign, our office Confidence sign. And literally it makes me smile every single morning just walking through the doors. 
[00:04:38] I never come into work, never driving the car being like, 'Oh, I've gotta go to work'. We have days, of course, where it's trickier or I've got a difficult thing to do with someone. Those days can be a little bit difficult and I'm human, that exists. 
[00:04:50] But for the actual driver and passion to my work, that's still here seven years in and I'll probably know when it's time to hang up the boots when I don't feel that energy to my job. That's what I go off, like, mentally, energy is the sort of person I am. So if I feel the right energy towards it, I will keep doing it. And I definitely feel it now.

Tyrone Shum:   
He began purchasing properties towards the end of his time in Treasury, with three of them being in Brisbane and one in Sydney. He was able to do this through a government initiative called the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Redom Syed:    
[00:05:56] There was a scheme called NRAS at the time, which was a government scheme where you buy a property, typically a new property, you rent it out below market, and the government subsidises you a little bit for doing that. So it helps renters, and the investor, which was me in this case, gets a benefit for doing that. 
[00:06:15] And really the end result, it's a high yield asset. And you're probably trading off capital growth for that, because you're buying a new property, the features of that property probably don't exhibit strong capital growth potentials, but you do get higher yields to compensate for that, at least partially. So that's what I had bought at the time. 
[00:06:34] In hindsight, like, as a lesson, would I have done that again? No. That's probably not the best investing. But it was a start. And starting is important for investors. Getting that decision right. You can pivot and learn, like starting did help me. And the rising tide of assets probably just saved me from getting out of it fairly comfortably.

Show Me the Numbers

Tyrone Shum:   
He paints a picture of his portfolio, which is growing by the day. At the height of his buy and hold strategy he held seven properties, but that number is ever-changing with his new approach.

Redom Syed:   
[00:07:55] We're developers at the moment. So we're in the middle of a few developments that look like a few half built properties, if that makes sense, that will turn into property. So there's about nine homes being built at the moment, at present. 
[00:08:09] So that's that, and we have bought a site, like a land bank site, that will be a future project for us. So there's a couple there. And there's a couple more so in general, like, 10 [or] 11. So it moves. And I haven't counted exactly the number of properties. It's around that. We have a substantial property portfolio. 
[00:08:35] But we're kind of pivoting away from a buy and hold type strategy that we had to more of an active portfolio. And anything we hold and own other than our own home is kind of designed for some sort of active purpose now, so that's a change in strategy that's occurred from when I first started investing to today. 
[00:08:57] And within that, over that journey, we've bought and sold quite a few properties as well. So there's been a lot of movement in what we've been doing.

Tyrone Shum:   
When he started building a portfolio, it was for two reasons. 

Redom Syed:   
[00:09:51] It was just wealth creation at the time. And probably moving our savings into a higher earning vehicle and to leverage and the power of property to leverage a $50,000 deposit into a $350,000 home. That was the most attractive component, so building up a portfolio. 
[00:10:09] So just running for a little bit, when I was at Treasury, we probably built a $1 million portfolio. Lending was much easier at that time. And there [were] three or four properties. Maybe a little bit more than $1 million, and each of them around $350,000. 
[00:10:21] Then I started the mortgage broking business, and we bought a home to live in. And we bought, eventually, a couple years later, we bought a couple properties side by side, that we're targeting a sort of strategy where we buy land we think is going to be rezoned at some point in the future. So that's the high level strategy that we implemented at that time. And that would be the accumulation of the seven properties that we had at that time.

A People Person

Tyrone Shum:   
Syed’s a people person through and through, which has served him well in his foray into property development.

Redom Syed:   
[00:11:37] In my job, I get access to lots of information. I speak to lots of people. We find a lot of developers and builders and whatnot. So we see lots of projects, and lots of opportunities. So we've got the funding side sort of covered and understood. 
[00:11:58] And then there's the planning side. And in Sydney, in 2020, there was this statewide planning change that occurred, which allowed people to get faster and more streamlined approvals. To develop small ready projects. 

Tyrone Shum:   
He takes a step back to explain what a CDC, or a complying development certificate, entails.

Redom Syed:   
[00:12:18] So CDC, for people across the country don't fully understand that, in the past, if you want to build a duplex or a triplex or quadplex, terraces, you need to go to council, get a DA approval. And that can be a very difficult process with lots of uncertainty to your time and to your capital. And that makes it more difficult to jump into when you don't know what you're going to get approved. 
[00:12:42] But then in July 2020, the state implemented a change that was across the state. And so that made that process much easier, much faster. And so from one of my clients, I recognise that these planning changes were actually implemented in a couple council pockets in 2018. And everyone else got a delay of two years. All the council said, 'Look, we need more time'. But these two councils said, 'Look, we're happy to start now'. 
[00:13:15] So what I did was, I understood that information, I spent so much time researching these two councils and looking at what land sites got these approvals, and what didn't, and how to get these approvals, and what impact it had on valuation. 
[00:13:30] So it was like this amazing information asymmetry that existed between two side by side councils sitting next to each other, where you can get one approval, and one you couldn't get yet. But it was going to start in 2020. So it was like a form of rezoning except you had some information as to how it all works. 
[00:13:47] So I knew about that, I learnt about that. And did a lot of research and [put] a lot of time and energy into that. And that was really what triggered it all. It started at all. Understanding planning, and understanding changes that were happening in the city. 
[00:14:02] And I said it at the time on Property Chat that this is the biggest development opportunity in this city in decades for small resi developers. I don't remember a change of this nature that's occurred. And I said it after I had already participated in it and got some results in it. 
[00:14:20] So I was living through it and understanding it, but I was just a little bit ahead of the curve, because people were picking up this information a bit slower. People don't pick this up, the day comes out, it takes them a year to understand all these hinges.

Tyrone Shum:   
He acknowledges that even though they were side by side councils, the plan could have been delayed or shelved altogether.

Redom Syed:    
[00:15:17] But if you understand government's planning, the way it works, regulatory systems, all of that, like, you can input a degree of probability of hey, is these planting trees actually going to apply to this land and when. That degree of probability was higher than it's ever been before, during this window of time, that 2018 to 2020 window. And the closer you got to 2020, the higher the probability became, because they haven't delayed it and the notifications from councils was, 'This is about to start'.
[00:15:46] I was just studying information and researching land, and I call it alpha investing. So where you're, like, targeting micro suburbs, and within those suburbs, micro lots within those suburbs. So I literally had panned out almost every single property that exhibited features that would benefit from the changes that occurred within a few councils. 
[00:16:11] And I just started buying whatever I could that ticked the boxes. [I] added in my checklist being like, it doesn't make sense, what is the value at, what are the returns at, how much is the benefit gonna be? And then [I] bought assets accordingly. 
[00:16:23] So, that symmetry existed in Sydney at the time, and we knew we had done our work, and spent time researching on it and participated in that process.

Uh Oh

Tyrone Shum:   
Syed has a few different sites on the go at the moment, including one with nine on one block. He recognises that he has an advantage that many don’t, which is the ability to take action— even during uncertain times.

Redom Syed:    
[00:17:37] During COVID, this was March [or] April 2020. So about three or four months before these planning changes that I mentioned that were coming out. [It] was [a] scary time to be investing, very scary, being like, 'Oh, crap, people aren't paying rents'. At that exact moment everyone in southwest Sydney, there were rumours and talks and one of my property managers just mentioned to me is like, 'I'm getting requests for "I don't want to pay rent"'. 
[00:18:00] How do you value an asset? How do you value a home? How do you value an investment property if there's no income on it? And how long is this situation going to be for? Absolute[ly] no idea. Predictions of 15% unemployment, it's just complete chaos. So obviously, a super scary time to be dipping my toes into this and be like, 'Oh, okay, I believe in this, but should I actually jump into this opportunity?' Because the window is now, this is the backdrop. 
[00:18:02] So anyway, we were looking at one of these sites in February, just when COVID started around, and then we slowed it down. And we're like, 'Hey, we've identified this particular block that we want to buy', and then we slowed it down. 
[00:18:38] And this was a home that was just a single home that was going to benefit from these zoning changes. And I think it was being sold. It's just an owner occupied home, like, not as a development site. Like it's just one home that you can put on it. So we bought that. 
[00:18:02] But during the negotiations, the price went down about $100,000. It's an $800,000 property as well. So what's that? 10%? 15%? Huge. It's a really harsh thing to do. But it's the nature of I didn't want to buy it at the price that I was having to pay to pay in February. I was like, 'You know what, I will offer you a $100,000 discount'.

Tyrone Shum:   
At the time, everyone was bailing out of the market— except Syed.

Redom Syed:   
[00:19:41] The vendor wanted to sell. And it had lingered there for a little while. And it was [an] old home. No one really wanted it. No developer saw potential in it. So I saw potential in it. I saw a diamond in the rough, but no one else did. So, like, we can negotiate quite harshly. 
[00:19:34] So there was a bit of a big price reduction during that time. And then— we bought it in May 2020, settled on it in November 2020, like, it was a six month settlement— but we managed to get approval. It was [a] long settlement. 
[00:19:49] So we managed to get the approval during that time period. And it was probably one of the first approvals in the area where we got four homes on this individual plot of land where everyone is expecting it to be one home. And it just completely underlying changed the nature of that asset completely. 
[00:20:07] And we could sell it to developers now who are like, 'Yes, it's already approved, I can start building tomorrow or within a month'. So we bought here and we sold here, within a very short time period, because of the zoning changes. 
[00:20:19] That was a tangible real life impact that really helped propel and accelerate you. If you can make a decade or two decades' returns in property inside six months, it really can fast forward your activities a little bit. 
[00:20:32] So we had to fast forward in during this COVID period, we know a big fast forward in the development sort of land where you need a fair bit of capital to be able to make it work. We just fast forwarded our journey a little bit within this small little window by doing these sorts of transactions.

Utilising Resources

Tyrone Shum:   
The block was a little under 800 square metres, and is in the planning stages to subdivide it into four, which isn’t unusual for the area.

Redom Syed:    
[00:21:16] For readers that are listening out there, look in the Liverpool area, in the Fairfield area, and you'll see plenty of homes like this. Because they're built now, like, a lot of people are building these homes, the builders are building them, they're built, they're available, and now they're selling the end product. 
[00:21:29] And there's plenty of sites that were either negotiate or are looking at or have onsold that are now on the market. And because it's statewide, there's a lot of supply being added to the market, which is how you— from a policy perspective, and the reason why they're doing it is— getting more homes into areas where people already live. 
[00:21:46] So you don't have to go buy a home out in Wilton or Picton to get a new home in Sydney. It's turning existing blocks into much more density and getting more people to live there, in an area that's already got the infrastructure, that's already got, like, the Woolies and whatnot, people already live there. It's quite attractive to people. 
[00:22:06] So it's gentrifying the area a little bit. So that's the benefit of these planning changes. And yeah, they're filtering through, there's a lot of supply being added in these areas associated with these planning changes.

Tyrone Shum:   
He’s done several of these types of sites in different areas of Sydney.

Redom Syed:   
[00:23:05] We're active in this space. So my wife and I work together in this realm. We built some of these, and we've sold some of these. And yeah, it's kind of propelled us to the position where we can be building homes in Sydney, which is quite expensive to do. It's got us in a position to be able to do this and recycle our capital in a sort of faster way. That's the real benefit to this sort of investing. 
[00:23:30] I can't call it an investing strategy, because it's not replicable. I don't know if I can replicate it. I can't replicate it. So maybe it's replicatable somewhere, but like, that is kind of the process of what we did. 
[00:23:43] And it made sense to get rid of the other assets that we had purchased that suited us at the time, but no longer suited us. And we wanted to simplify our lives. So these small little investment properties that we had at the time were no longer suitable for our day to day life. So that's why we sold them fairly recently.

Not an Easy Task

Tyrone Shum:   
Once he subdivides a few blocks, it can turn into something resembling ‘buy one, get one free’.

Redom Syed:   
[00:24:28] They were drastic returns, like, the percentage returns on developers, I think what we talked about is 15% [or] 20%. That's really, really good. If you can find sites. 
[00:24:37] In today's market, it's kind of hard to find sites that actually exhibit the profile of that. It's not that easy to find numbers that actually work, especially when you've done a proper feasibility and you understand how this feasibility works and do it properly with, like, an experienced person doing it. It's tricky. 
[00:24:53] So these ones, because of the rezoning, and the land was just undervalued, really, that's kind of our entire investment strategy. [It] is always buying land that's undervalued. 
[00:25:05] And I touched on it a little bit earlier, when we first began investing in Sydney, so after the fall for investors, and we moved back to Sydney and we started investing, we bought side by side assets. And that has been rezoned as well. 
[00:25:17] So that was targeted, it was very targeted, we want to buy on this street, [it] needs to be a certain width. So we need multiple properties, because you can't find one that has 30 metre plus 20 frontages, it needs to be a certain size. 
[00:25:31] And that got rezoned in 2021, so it's going from two homes to, like, 30 apartments or 40 apartments, whatever we can get on that. So it's been very, very selective. We're super super selective with our asset selection. 
[00:25:48] But the purpose is to not worry about what we're paying for an asset. That's not our focus, like getting a $10,000 discount, it's buy this asset. It has to be this one. And ideally, no one else can be thinking that.

Tyrone Shum:   
Syed isn’t one to name-drop, but when a name this big plays a part in his story, it’s a story worth telling!

Redom Syed:   
[00:26:33] This particular project is going to be a long term sort of project. We've had it for years, we'll have it for years. 
[00:26:41] The backstory to this, why we did this, is my wife worked at Property Council. And so she was some sort of manager there at The Australian Property Council. And they did events, and she met Lang Walker at one of these events who is one of the biggest developers.
[00:27:17] And she was telling him a story about how he bought side by side assets in, I think it was, maybe I'm wrong about this. But it was probably in Miranda or somewhere south Sydney, near the Westfield that got rezoned, and now is probably the shopping centre or apartments back then. 
[00:27:31] And we just heard this being like, 'Wow, I live in a city, one of the [most] developed cities in the world that is rapidly changing, that has so much population growth, that will look like so, so different in the next 30 [or] 40 years. I live in that city, I know that city, I drive past that city. My office is in Mascot where it has changed. So what an opportunity that I get to be part of, like, I'm part of a changing Sydney'. 
[00:27:54] And I don't need to look elsewhere, I don't need to worry about noise, macro, this price, that price, forget about all of that. And just focus on the problem. Sydney has a problem. We need to get houses in here, we have so many people coming in, it's a rapidly changing city. 
[00:28:08] And that problem, people who can solve that problem, be part of that solution to that problem, they're adding lots of value. And when you're adding lots of value, you do quite well for yourself. So that's generally the really high level principle of what we do and what my sort of mission is in the development land.

Tyrone Shum:   
As he has a mortgage brokering business of his own, he finds that this makes his life easier in that he can finance deals with his understanding of funding.

Redom Syed:   
[00:28:42] I say property is a game of two things. There's a third one, but [the] two main things [are] getting money— so it's either your own or [the] bank's money— and placing that money. And where do you place it. 
[00:28:42] I've just touched on how we place it, where we place it, we target these sort of high return sort of areas that change. 
[00:28:58] And the third part is managing your risk, which is really pertinent in 2023. Property investors really need to be mindful of that. And those are the daily habits you have and the structures you put in and how you manage your finances. That's the third part. 
[00:29:12] That's how I view property investing and property in general. That's my sort of framework for it. It's those three components and doing the best we can within those three components.

The Perks of the Job

Tyrone Shum:   
While he doesn’t have any official mentors, he connects with and speaks to so many people day in and day out, which can offer a similar result.

Redom Syed:   
[00:30:00] That is a privilege of my job. It's a privilege of my personality a little bit as well. I really enjoy talking to people, I'm really enjoying talking to you Tyrone, like, as an example, it's just something I get a lot of energy from. 
[00:30:11] So I love meeting people and hearing about their property journeys. I can sit down over dinner and be like, 'Hey, want to tell me your story? I'll listen and be enthralled by it'. That is something interesting to me. 
[00:30:22] So I've collated a lot of people, a lot of journeys, a lot of different experiences together that frames views and opinions. Property Chat is a great vehicle for that as well. Like minded property people. That's kind of been my overwhelming mentor. 
[00:30:37] In the business, I did have a mentor that helped me begin this business to begin with. And there's some people who've played key roles in this. But information gathering has been from people, hearing stories, podcasts like yourselves, where people are open and tell people their stories can really help propel that. 
[00:30:54] So there's a lot of information out there. And if you can meet people one on one or speak to them about it, it does help propel you much faster. So that's key to anyone looking to grow a property portfolio, connect with people and gather as much information as you can and synthesise it [as] clearly as you can.

Tyrone Shum:   
All of his experience has been hands-on rather than through courses or other education, and is all fairly recent as he only started in 2021.

Redom Syed:   
[00:31:40] I'm learning a lot. But I engage wonderful people to help me learn and take projects on further forward. So I'm not doing it, per se. But I'm just managing the experience set. 
[00:31:53] And because of the experience deficit that I had [at the] beginning, you hire the best people that I can to help bring me forward. That's what I did in the mortgage broking business. And it's kind of what we're doing in this develop[ment] business as well. Connecting with the right people and hiring a great team to solve our problems.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:32:36] Let's take yourself 10 years back. If you met yourself, say, 10 years ago, what do you think you would have said to him?

Redom Syed:   
[00:32:43] Marry my wife quicker.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:32:48] How long did that take? It didn't take that long, [did] it?

Redom Syed:   
[00:32:50] I waited, like, six years, like, why? I should put a ring on it straight away.
[00:33:01] I don't really have that many regrets. I think I've kind of done what I wanted to do. But really, the dream big part, I'm trying to implement that into my day to day life more and more. Get rid of all these barriers that I have, being like, when you meet someone, like if you meet Liang Walker, for example, if you've got the privilege of meeting someone who does absolutely amazing things that you really aspire to do, believe that you can. Like, he's just another person, or she's just another person who's gone and done it. If they can do it, they have similar sorts of opportunities to go and do that, and Australia gives you that so absolutely anything is achievable. 
[00:33:38] I've always had that sort of mindset, but shaking limitations and shaking the ceiling, break[ing] that ceiling down mentally, be like, 'The ceiling doesn't exist'. You can be wherever you want to be, achieve whatever you want to [achieve]. That's something I'm trying very hard to break down today. 
[00:33:59] But my decisions would have been a little bit different, particularly on my business. I would have just gone aggressive very quickly, being like, 'Look, you can achieve bigger things if you invest in it [and] go bigger, quicker'. So that's really what I'd be saying, there's no need to slow down, back yourself.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:34:30] What are you most excited [about] in, say, your journey in the next five years?

Redom Syed:   
[00:34:34] Probably my business, this business. In the short term, it's definitely the 2023 excitement, like I'm back in, I've had a couple of years with my little kids and [spent] a little bit of time focused in on that. But now I'm really excited to build Confidence Finance up as much as we can, talk about my journey, share my insights to lots of people. I'm really excited about that in the short term. 
[00:34:57] And within five years, I don't really know so much, but it's all business related and building these businesses up as quickly as we can and to be as amazing as they can be. That's my real goal, to lead my teams and to produce wonderful service for whoever we're working for. And so that's the people who buy our homes. And the clients of the Confidence Finance business, produce amazing outcomes. And that's my real core mission at the moment. And I want it to be my core mission going forward, too.

Tyrone Shum:   
With their powers combined, Syed and his wife complement each other well and are set to take the property world by storm.

Redom Syed:   
[00:35:43] We don't take on clients for the development business. It's more of a personal investing thing between me and my wife. And we don't have plans in that sense. But yeah, it is effectively like our own investing, and it's turning into a business. So we want to be a development business. That's part and parcel of our future. 
[00:36:02] And it's business land, it's like we're at the peak of our careers, we're at the peak of our powers. We're at the age profile where we can go and do a lot. So it's spend five years doing hot in business, and with the aim of just wowing whoever touches us as much as possible.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:36:21] You've really, really achieved a lot in such a short period of time. And you've shared such an amazing story. How much of that success is due to skill, intelligence, and hard work and how much of it do you think is due to luck?

Redom Syed:   
[00:36:36] Luck does play a role, you've got to appreciate and understand that. I think hard work is important. But it's overrated. If that makes sense. You can work hard. But working smart is far more important. There's plenty of people [who] work harder than me, that won't build investment portfolios, and achieve their goals, because hard work won't get you there alone. So smart work is really important, skills and intelligence. That is part of the story as well. 
[00:37:11] I think desire and passion is really the key to it. So before you have skills and trainings and stuff like that, you have an overwhelming desire. My desire is if I have a door in front of me, I'm gonna break that down to get through. That desire is what has helped me do well in life. 
[00:37:27] And passion, mixing what I really, really like, and focusing in on that, that's advice I'd give to any young person. Be like, 'What are you good at? Do you enjoy that? Now find a way to get into that field and build a life around that. Because when you're good at something, you have a lot of passion for it. And things flow from there'.
[00:38:01] It's fun. Passion makes life fun. I just love that. And I learn that from my two year old every day, like, she's just full of passion in everything that she does. And I'm like, 'What a beautiful way to live'. We all can take lessons from two year olds, and be like, the way they live and the way they embody passion is just, like, this beautiful sort of way of living. And I try and embody that in my day to day.


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