The Brady Marcs Podcast

Episode 5 with Lucy Bulla

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Episode 5 with Lucy Bulla

This week on the Brady Marcs Podcast my guest is a core member of the Brady Marcs Buyers Advisory team, Lucy Bulla. Lucy brings over a decade of experience as a buyers agent and 17 years as a relocations expert. Lucy has a unique perspective on buying and selling property in Australia as an expat, having had first-hand experience living in Jakarta, Seoul and Amsterdam with her family.

Links for Lucy Bulla:

Lucy’s Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe

Cake

2 cups of self raising flour
2 cups of sugar (normal)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of bi-carb soda

Sift together in a bowl. Then add and mix the following:

1 cup of vegetable oil (not Virgin Olive Oil)
1 cup of hot coffee
1 cup of full cream milk

Beat for 2 minutes and add the following:

2 unbeaten eggs
2 teaspoons of Vanilla essence

Mix until combined and pour into a well greased and floured cake pan (this is a large cake).

Bake at 180℃ for approx. 45-55 mins (each oven is different).


Fudge Frosting

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
½ cup Cocoa
2 Tablespoons of Butter

Melt butter then add cocoa, when blended gradually add the sweetened condensed milk until it starts to bubble and thicken.

Let it cool slightly before either pouring onto the cake or spreading.

I like to cut the cake in half and put ¼ of the fudge, and the rest pour over the cake so it spills to the sides.

Enjoy!

Episode Transcript

Voiceover: Welcome to the Brady Marcs Podcast with your host Brady Yoshia from Brady Marcs Buyers Advisory. Enjoy discussions with a variety of guests and pioneers from diverse backgrounds, each sharing their unique perspectives on property, business, industry and more.

Brady Yoshia: Lucy Bulla is a core member of the Brady Marcs team, bringing over a decade of experience as a buyer’s agent and 17 years as a relocations expert, with firsthand experience living in Jakarta, Seoul and Amsterdam with her family. Lucy has a unique perspective on buying and selling property in Australia as an Expat. Welcome, Lucy.

Lucy Bulla: Thank you.

BY: It’s great to have you here today.

LB: Thank you for having me.

BY: So as I mentioned in my intro, you’ve lived in a couple of different countries. How did you first get started in the real estate arena?

LB: I think it does stem back to the fact that I did live in different countries. And because of that, I helped people when they came into the country, and therefore when I came back to Australia, it was an it was natural for me to work in relocations and help expats as they, you know, come to Sydney and try and work out where they’re going to live and help them source properties, etc. Therefore, that’s how I started in real estate and in rentals.

BY: Okay, and what inspired to transition from relocations to being a buyer’s agent?

LB: I had a very, very savvy client, he did his research on the Sydney property market. And instead of having the company pay his rent, he asked them to pay his mortgage. Therefore, he asked me to help him buy a property rather than rent a property. It was while I was helping him buy the property, guiding him through helping him through all the negotiations, that I felt this buzz of achievement. And it was from that moment on that I thought, that’s it. There’s no turning back. I’m going to be a buyer’s agent. I’m going to help people buy their property.

BY: So you got a taste for it from that first experience.

LB: I did. I did.

BY: A lot of people I should say a lot of the listeners don’t quite know what the difference is between a relocation agent and a buyer’s agent. Can you tell us what the difference is?

LB: It’s very, very similar. You’re matching people to properties and areas and suburbs. But the biggest difference is a relocation consultant helps you with a rental property. A buyer’s agent helps you actually buy a property. There’s a lot more involved in buyer’s agency, there’s a lot more due diligence. But basically, that’s the the main difference.

BY: And is it fair to say that when you’re a relocations agent, you also help with finding schools etc. For families moving from different parts of the world.

LB: It is with expats it’s very different because some of them are coming from different countries and therefore they, the children have specific needs. So for example, we used to have a lot of French people come out, so we would place them in the French school in Maroubra, or there is a school in Killarney Heights that has a French stream. There’s the Japanese school and the German schools in Terrey Hills. And then if they were Americans, they they’re not used to our type of schooling. So we would place them in a school in Cremorne, Redlands, that really fitted in and slotted in with them. And then the English, then they were sort of comfortable wherever, whatever school they could go to, whatever catchment they were in.

BY: Yeah, this is fascinating, because I’m sure a lot of the listeners out there don’t even know about most of these schools. So for expats that are living overseas, firsthand, you’d be able to tell them exactly where they should be living and what schools their children should be going to, to fit in with where they currently live.

LB: Correct. Yeah, absolutely. It was very interesting to see the older children parents were happy for them to hop on a bus and get to school, the younger children, we need to be as close to the school as possible. So that kind of determined where they would live. Others if they didn’t have children, they would want something specific. So for example, some wanted something really urban, others wanted the beach lifestyle because it’s Sydney. Others just wanted to be close to work.

BY: Yeah, makes sense. Had you always seen yourself eventually becoming a buyer’s agent?

LB: No, I hadn’t, didn’t even know it existed, didn’t know anything about it. It was only that one experience with that savvy expat. That opened my eyes to something really good.

BY: So you’ve lived in Jakarta, Seoul and the Netherlands. What did you love mostly about living overseas?

LB: Oh, I love a good challenge. So the challenge of assimilating into a third world country because that’s what Jakarta was at the time and getting to know the local people just sort of finding my way, trying to learn the language, I always used to make sure I would learn some basic language that I could get by especially in a country like Seoul, or I should say South Korea, and Indonesia, because you tended to shop at the local wet markets, as opposed to the Netherlands where everybody spoke English. And it was very similar to what we have here, really.

BY: So how many languages do you speak?

LB: Proficient? I would say English and Italian, or Australian and Italian. Survival would definitely be South Korean, and or Korean, I should say, and Bahasa Indonesian.

BY: That’s impressive,

LB: But it’s very, very basic, very survival.

BY: And what were the biggest differences between the countries you lived in?

LB: Oh, my goodness, huge. For example, I came from Sydney, moved to Jakarta at a time where there weren’t too many expats there. And it was not safe for me to walk the streets, for example. So I was stuck in a compound. I couldn’t just walk outside the gate. I had to make sure I wore long sleeves. So for example, we used to have visitors to our place and they were the local colonel, so to speak, who made sure we our visas were up to date. And whenever he came to the house, my maids would warn me and I would have to get changed. And that was the other difference. I went from doing all my own housework, etc. to all of a sudden have five on staff. I had a driver, I had a cook, a cleaner, gardner, security man, it was amazing.

BY: Sounds incredible. Yeah, yeah. So how was this experience, it shaped you with your work today being a buyer’s agent.

LB: I think I’m very open to different mindsets, because each country has its own way of doing things. And it’s pretty similar with each buyer. Every buyer has a different perception of what home is to them or what an investment is to them. So I’m open to listening to that, but also recommending everything that I know, putting in my experience to help them sort of mesh that all together.

BY: So being an expat is a big draw card to other expats living overseas. So what would some of your advice be to an expat who is currently living overseas looking to buy property in Australia?

LB: Definitely, definitely use a buyer’s agent. Because I have done that I have been in the situation where I was still overseas and I had family help me. Now they had the best of intentions, and they did me a favor by looking at properties on a weekly basis. The problem is what I think is a good property is different to what they think is a good property. So it became a little bit difficult when I came back to Australia and the property wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. So the second time around, I actually came back to Sydney to buy the property, but it was all rushed, it had to happen really quickly within a short span of time. And so that made it really difficult. I felt like I missed some opportunities because I just didn’t have time. So having helped expats buy property whilst they’re overseas. I know what the challenges that they’re facing, so I know what I need to do to help them feel comfortable and confident about what they’re buying.

BY: Yeah. So what do you think are the biggest challenges, challenges that expats are facing when they want to buy property in Australia,

LB: Not being able to physically walk through the property, that is probably the biggest challenge. So the way I overcome that is I will FaceTime them. First thing I do is I video the property, send it through to them, give them the positive and negative aspects of the property, talk to them about the area and suburb especially if they don’t, if they’re moving areas, and they don’t know the area. And then we if they want to proceed, then we’ll do a FaceTime. Or we use WhatsApp and we walk through the property and we talk about each room. We then walk outside go down the street, show them where the local cafe is, show them who the neighbors are, help them have a real good understanding of what they’re buying.

BY: So firstly, you take the emotion out of the equation. And second of all, with technology that’s advanced so much, I would say from when you were looking to buy a property today it makes it a lot easier for them to not feel that they are so far removed from the property because seeing a property whilst you’re doing it through FaceTime or WhatsApp video allows them to do Look at the property whilst you physically walking through it. And if they want you to open a cupboard or to do something, you can do that for them.

LB: Exactly. We can focus in on anything like peeling paint, or if there’s a problem on the floor, we can just focus in on that, and then we can discuss it later.

BY: Yes, I mean, for anybody that’s looking on the internet for a property, quite often the photos that you’re seeing a very different to reality. So when you have someone on the ground, walking through having a look through the pretty pictures to the reality of what the property really is, can save people a lot of money.

LB: Absolutely. And also, photos are taken to accentuate the good in the property. So for example, it might be a steep block. Or you may have this apartment block next door, that will not be in the photos.

BY: No, only the best is showcased.

LB: Only the best is showcased, absolutely.

BY: At Brady Marcs, we frequently receive positive testimonials about your work. Your clients absolutely love working with you. What do you think it is that you bring to their experience from a value add perspective?

LB: I think it’s many things. Firstly, the guidance. A lot of people, they don’t buy property every day like we do. So knowing is it a good quality property? How much should I pay for it? Am I overpaying for it? That sort of guidance, I think really helps. Taking the emotion out of it. A lot of people get very emotional about buying property. So I step back and give them all the facts and information without the emotion. And then they sort of take that in and go oh, yeah, you’re right. I think they’re the two most important things, and giving them empathy, because it is hard buying a property. And it’s hard work going out there week after week buying property and being disappointed because you’re not finding anything you like. Some of the time they will walk through a property and go no, don’t like it. But then on reflection will talk about it and they’ll go oh, yeah, we could fix that, we could fix that. Oh, yeah. If we put our own stamp on it, it’s actually a really good property, just guiding them that way.

BY: And quite often a client will start with a particular property in mind and a suburb in mind. But then the journey evolves. So it’s very important to have someone that’s not emotionally connected to a particular suburb or a property for them. So it gives them an independent opinion. Absolutely. Yes. Does any examples come to mind with a client that you’ve bought for that the journey changed completely from the beginning.

LB: I actually have a client that wanted to buy in the Inner West, they knew exactly the sort of property they wanted. And we would go through all these properties tick every box, but something just wasn’t quite right. When I sat down with him had a really good chat. It was because he wanted to be in the Inner West, but she actually wanted to be on the Lower North Shore. So it was marrying the brief together for them. And in the end, we ended up in the Lower North Shore in the type of property that you could buy in the Inner West. But in an area that she felt comfortable. So he was happy with the type of property it was a beautiful terrace in Crows Nest. She was happy with the location. So that was good.

BY: So it was a win-win.

LB: It was a win-win, yeah.

BY: So sometimes you’re a bit of a mediator as well.

LB: You do you do mediate. And sometimes you have to really listen to what they’re saying. I had another young couple, who had been renting in Sydney, they came from England, had been renting in Sydney for a long time, they finally received their PR, and so they needed help to buy a property. Again, we looked at numerous properties, and I could not understand why we weren’t finding anything. So I sat them down. And I said, so we’ve seen all these properties, but nothing seems to have that emotional pull for you, talk to me. We chatted for a little while and it happened to be just after Christmas. So one of my questions was, what did you do at Christmas? Did you catch up with friends because you have no family here? And they said no, actually, we just enjoyed being at home, sitting on the balcony watching the view. And then it tweaked. I said I said so, you love your property, the one you’re renting and they said absolutely if we could buy this we would. And I said okay, let’s see if it’s possible. And their eyes light up, lit up I should say. And so I contacted, we have various portals, look through the portals saw who owned it, saw who sold it, contacted them. Long story short, we bought their property and they were so happy. So happy.

BY: I love that story.

LB: Creating an opportunity.

BY: That’s it, that’s a true off-market.

LB: That’s a true off-market, absolutely.

BY: So at Brady Marcs, we believe that every client should be a client for life, not just a transactional equation. And you work exactly the same way. In fact, there have been numerous occasions where you started with one family member, and you’ve bought multiple properties for the rest of the family and friends.

LB: Yeah.

BY: What do you think it is that you have brought to the table, besides your dedication and your knowledge that draws more than one family member to you?

LB: I think being light hearted about it, making the journey fun instead of oppressive and emotional. And each person was different there. And so understanding the differences between the other family members what they needed. And just being empathetic, I think. But mostly, I think just making it fun.

BY: Yes. Fun is the key to it.

LB: Let’s not make it so boring and emotional. Let’s let’s enjoy the journey.

BY: I know that you are a lot of fun to work with. You’re experienced, you’re professional, you understand the market exceptionally well. What would your advice be to buyers looking to navigate the property market at the moment?

LB: First thing, make sure you have the finances ready. Do not go shopping, unless you know how much you have to spend, because it’s going to lead to heartbreak for sure. Secondly, don’t try and time the market. The best time to buy is when you’re ready. And when an opportunity presents itself. I was listening to a podcast the other day, ad it was about capital growth and investment. And the guest speaker said something that really resonated with me. He said the best time to buy was yesterday. The second best time is today. So definitely do your research. If you found a property that you like, make sure you know more or less what you should be paying for it have a look at all the past sales, compare that property. Is the floor plan better? What’s your indoor-outdoor flow? Is it better light? Are the rooms bigger, smaller? What’s the position of the house on the block? Is it a steep block, flat block, aspect? All these things will help you determine what you should pay for the property. And then don’t skip the due diligence. Make sure you read thoroughly the building and pest inspection or the strata report. If there isn’t one, commission it, make sure you get one. If the one you’ve been given by the real estate agent is a little light on information, get your own. Very important. If you’re moving to an area that you’re not 100% familiar with, have a look at any new infrastructure that could impact the property. Look at the flight paths if you’re going to the Inner West, because if you’ve never lived in the Inner West and you find yourself under the flight path, it can be very interesting living. And go to the council website and have a look at any DAs is that they impact your property. Super important. And also set your limit and stick to it. You’ve set that limit for a reason. Be a little bit flexible, because that can make the difference between buying a property or not. And the way to set your limit is to look at it objectively. So you’ve done your research, you know how much more or less you should be paying for the property. Subjectively, have a think, how many properties have had that emotional pull for you. Has it been many? Or has it been the first one in six months, and then serviceability. Servicing the loan is important. But it’s also important to be able to live, you know have that holiday, go out to dinner without feeling guilty because you can’t pay the loan.

BY: Brilliant tips. And of course engage a buyer’s agent.

LB: Oh, absolutely. Forgot that one.

BY: What is the typical day look like for you as a buyer’s agent,

LB: Very first thing. My cup of coffee in the morning and breakfast cannot do anything without that my to do list. Super important second, check that off. And then it’s making lots and lots of calls to agents to try and fish out all those true off-market properties or pre-market properties. And maybe try and create some opportunities for our clients. Give them their briefs. Maybe they can knock on some doors for us. And then obviously inspecting lots of properties, taking videos and photos of properties. Giving them a little report on the property. So yeah, it’s a it’s a full day normally.

BY: It is. It can be quite exhausting a time there but rewarding. Yes, You took the words out of my mouth. So as a buyer’s agent over the years, you’ve seen quite a lot of different trends. And typically people would be looking at the bathrooms and the kitchens when looking for a home. Since COVID, things have changed the landscapes a little bit different. What do you think people looking for now in a home?

LB: Well, definitely a study, somewhere to work from home, which is peaceful and you can close off. But I think something that’s really become important to a lot of people is a really low maintenance landscaped garden with an inviting alfresco area, outdoor kitchen, you got a fire pit. I think people are a pretty savvy when it comes to renovating a bathroom or a kitchen, but having the the creativity to create a really beautiful space outside so you have that indoor-outdoor flow is, you really need to be quite adept at doing that sort of thing. Plus it costs a lot of money. So it’s already done for you, it’s great.

BY: And a lot of people don’t don’t have the ability to visualize what they can change in a home. So if something’s already done, it makes it a lot easier. But having you by their side, you can show them things that they can change and what they can do to enhance the property.

LB: Exactly. It’s one of my I love doing that I love walking through a property and saying, you know, if you knock this wall down, or if you just change the kitchen, or if you put a servery from that kitchen window out to the outdoor area, it will just make a huge difference. New floors, new paint. And then there are first homebuyers that don’t have a lot of money. So just helping them understand that it doesn’t have to be a Nouvelle kitchen, it can be an Ikea kitchen, serve you for the next five years, but still look great and make a huge difference to the property.

BY: Yes. Oh, I’m going to take you shopping with me next time. What is your funniest or most unique experience you’ve ever had being a buyer’s agent?

LB: Oh, my goodness, it was just the other day, I was with an agent. And we were looking at an off market property and she forgot the key to the gate. It was one of those automatic gates. And the only way in was either a key or a buzzer. So what she did, she said, I’ll be back in a minute. Next thing you know, she’s into the next door neighbor’s and hopping over the fence. And I’m like, you don’t want me to do that do you? She goes, oh no I got this. Press a button, open the gate. And then we of course went through the property. But yeah, I was like I’m not hopping over any fences, not today.

BY: Must have been quite amusing at the time.

LB: Well, it was quite funny. She’s hitching up her dress to get over this. It’s quite comical. I should have actually videoed it.

BY: Yes. So you are a very successful buyer’s agent.

LB: Thank you.

BY: How do you define success?

LB: Ah, I think embracing failure and rejection, looking at it as something that is positive and helping you to grow and learn. I think everyone makes mistakes. So if you learn from it, make the necessary adjustments, then it’s just the pathway to success.

BY: You sound so calm and so zen with your life. As we know, being in the real estate arena can be quite crazy at time, what is essential to your daily routine to keep you balanced?

LB: Regular exercise, absolutely. And then appreciating things like I love a good sunset. And that just helps me calm down. I’m really lucky where I live. Most every night we have these beautiful sunsets. And I think just coming back to reality and carving out time to be with family and friends and my colleagues that that just all helps to sort of alleviate that craziness that real estate can be because it’s all very, it can be sort of slow and then all of a sudden it’s got to happen really quickly and you have to move really quickly. Otherwise you miss out.

BY: Yes. So how would your best friend describe you?

LB: Wow, probably energetic, but calm at the same time. I’m able to sort of see the positive in most things. Yeah, positive and energetic probably.

BY: I can attest to that working with you. So you mentioned you love good coffee. Do you have a favorite place where you like to get your coffee

LB: My home. I have a great coffee machine. I have I’ve discovered which coffee I like. And, and because I have a lactose problem. Not many places in Sydney, believe it or not have lactose-free milk. They’ll have oat milk and almond milk and as a true coffee drinker, no. You cannot have a good cup of coffee with soya milk or almond milk. So yeah, I make a great cup of coffee. That being said, when I travel to either Canberra, at our office in Canberra, or you go to Melbourne or anywhere else in Australia, they will have lactose-free milk. So what’s wrong with Sydney?

BY: Come on Sydney cafes. So another passion of yours is baking.

LB: Love baking and I think it’s because I have a real sweet tooth. I love making cakes for people. So long as I have enough time and I’m not under too much pressure that I hate cooking. I hate cooking.

BY: Like, do you have a favorite recipe that you could share with the audience, with the listeners that we can put in our show notes?

LB: I do actually. I make this amazing chocolate fudge cake. And my girls want it every year for their birthdays. It is devine. easy to make, but oh so good.

BY: Well, we’re looking forward to the recipe. As you mentioned you appreciate a good sunset. How do Sydney sunsets compare to sunsets around the world and are there any standouts anywhere that you’ve been?

LB: Ah, well, I think a standout sunset for me, last year we went to the Northern Territory. Darwin, you just can’t beat the sunsets there. It is beautiful. And the sunset, the sun will set and then all these different colors, it goes through a mirage of different colors as the sun sets further and further. From sort of muted colors to really dark, beautiful oranges and reds. It is just superb. I think that’s probably, of all the places I’ve traveled to, Darwin definitely the best sunsets.

BY: Sounds incredible. Amazing. Where’s your next travel destination?

LB: East Coast Canada. Beautiful. I am dying to go to Niagara Falls and Quebec and Montreal. I’m really looking forward to that. Not sure when I’m going. But yeah, that will be my next destination.

BY: I have traveled to those places, and that are incredible. Yeah, so I highly recommend visiting them.

LB: I’ll get some tips.

BY: Absolutely, and good places for coffee.

LB: Ah, yes, please. Yes.

BY: So if we come back to expats, people that are looking to move to Australia. And so you’ve given some incredible tips so far, what would your final message be to anyone that’s wanting to come and live in Australia?

LB: Don’t try and do it yourself. Get professional help, you will find that one, the search is so much easier. Two, the guidance that you get will really outweigh any costs of using a buyer’s agent to negotiate. We negotiate on properties all the time. So our negotiation skills, again, will outweigh any cost of hiring a buyer’s agent. And local knowledge. Having the local knowledge of an area you know what street to buy in? Why wouldn’t you buy on that side of street as opposed to that side of the street is priceless. Because investing in property is so expensive. And if you make a mistake, it can hurt you severely financially because getting out is not so easy. And it’s such a huge investment.

BY: Yes, so prevention is better than cure.

LB: Absolutely, try and mitigate it by using a buyer’s agent.

BY: And how can the listeners get in touch with you?

LB: Through our website at bradymarcs.com.au. On there, you’ll find my landing page with my email address and my phone number.

BY: Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining me today.

LB: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

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