Kathryn Fantov:The Woman in Focus
Doing Things Differently.
Okay, we’ll admit upfront that this month’s Woman in Focus has an advantage when it comes to property investing.
During her 22 years of experience in the real estate industry, Kathryn Fantov has worked as a property manager, residential sales manager, residential and commercial selling agent, leasing agent, and is currently undertaking an advanced diploma in valuation. She also became a successful property investor during this time, buying and selling property as a single woman, renovating, and building two homes with her husband, all the while raising two sons.
On top of all that, two years ago, Kathryn decided to become one of Sydney’s first seller’s advocates after becoming disillusioned with the behavior of many real estate professionals and founded Innovative Property Advocates.
What can you learn from her extensive experience? Turns out, plenty!
Kathryn hit the ball out of the park with her very first investment. She was acting as a selling agent in 1997 when she negotiated with the owner to make her first property purchase. Her experience and knowledge of the rental market and comparable sales in the area gave her a leg up in choosing the right property in a good area.
“The property owner and I were both happy with the deal.”
Kathryn purchased the property for $240,000. She rented the property, then moved in, updated the kitchen and made other minor renovations. Ten years later, Kathryn was able to more than double her money by selling the property for $510,000.
Needless to say, she was hooked on investing!
Simple but Successful Strategies
Kathryn continued to invest in properties and went on to build two homes with her husband, who is a builder. She is now focused on purchasing properties in the Sydney metro area, a region she knows well, with a buy and hold strategy.
Her latest purchase was in May 2014 using Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs). Kathryn wanted to have more control over her Super Funds while building up her real estate portfolio at the same time. However, she found that purchasing property within the fund was more time consuming and costly than she anticipated.
Her advice if you are considering this option:
“Make sure you are fully educated beforehand on how much time and money it will cost you to set up and maintain the fund. Also, make sure you are diversified. Do your research upfront.”
Why You Might Consider Using a Seller’s Advocate
What exactly is a seller’s advocate and what do they do?
A seller’s advocate serves as an intermediator advisor between the seller and the real estate agent. Their services include interviewing agents and making recommendations, negotiating commission fees and marketing costs, and providing advice on how best to prepare a property to maximize profits.
“It seemed to me that agents were working more for the buyers than the sellers. Ninety-five percent of the people I interviewed before starting my business who had sold property within the last five years said they were not happy with the level of service and integrity from their agent. I wanted to provide a trustworthy, independent, honest, and transparent experience for sellers during what can be a stressful time.”
For example, last year, one of Kathryn’s clients was not happy with their agent who estimated their property was worth $795,000. Adding value through renovations and property styling are two of Kathryn’s specialties. After helping her client reconfigure the upstairs floor plan to add on another bedroom at a cost of only $11,000, the house sold for $920,000. Kathryn was even able to negotiate the agent’s fees which then covered her own fees.
Kathryn also specializes as a buyer’s advocate or agent, helping clients search, locate, and negotiate on properties. She will also bid at auctions for clients if requested.
Kathryn’s Top Three Tips
- Do not make emotional or impulsive decisions when it comes to property investing. Some people tend to overpay or buy out of desperation or frustration. Avoid this practice at all costs and spend the extra time to find the right property at the right price.
- Do your research. Know the values of properties in your chosen area. Get to know local agents.
- When buying at an auction, write down two figures. The first dollar amount is how much you would like to pay for a property; the second amount is the absolutely maximum you are willing to pay. Do not deviate from those amounts in the heat of the moment.
Benefits of Property Investing
Property investing has made it possible for Kathryn and her husband to build a beautiful dream home in the Sutherland Shire area located in the southern region of Sydney – an area where she and her family always wanted to live. In addition, investing in real estate has allowed their family to have a comfortable lifestyle.
However, property investing has meant so much more to Kathryn and resulted in a rewarding and fulfilling career.
“When I was young and working as a legal secretary, I saw some of my friends enjoying a nice lifestyle which attracted me to property investing. However, as time went on, my career in property investing became about much more – it became about helping people achieve their goals and dreams.”
“I plan to open five more offices in the future – three in the Sydney area, one in Queensland, and one in Perth.”
Kathryn says this with the kind of confidence that makes you believe that she will see this dream come true as well.