Buyers advocate, going against instinct, first home owner angel.
Stepping off the path you thought you should be on is a risk too great for some to take. For Amy Lunardi, turning her back on her higher education and a stable job to go back to the bottom of the ladder, on minimum wage, initially seemed like too many steps backwards. But thankfully, with a little push from a colleague, she took the leap and has not only found a job she is wildly passionate about, but is also exceptionally good at.
This leap saw her dive into the wild world of real estate. While she did start back at that bottom rung, her drive and determination saw her quickly find her niche and cement herself as one of Melbourne’s most well-respected and reputable buyer’s and vendor’s advocates.
And fortunately for anyone wanting to dip their toes in the somewhat terrifying property market, Amy’s passion is the journey of the first-home buyer and creating robust educational resources to support it. A buyer herself in her mid-twenties, she experienced the minefield that is buying your first home, filled with conflicting advice, misinformation and a general lack of resources.
Recently stepping out on her own with her new business Amy Lunardi Property, Amy has dedicated these recent months to refining her education offering through her podcast The Buyer’s Bible, a future series of workshops, and of course, continuing to guide her clients through the buying and selling process.
Amy has been a friend of mine for around ten years, and has always been one of the hardest working people I know, who always gives the soundest advice. So it’s been so wonderful to watch her absolutely blossom into this space and become such a voice of authority and trust. We spoke about her chance move to leave behind her original career path, why she’s so passionate about helping first-home buyers and all the brilliant resources she has in the works.
Amy Lunardi is…
Amy Lunardi is driven. I think that’s definitely the word that springs to mind when I think about myself in my current situation.
What do you do and can you tell me when you realised is what you wanted to do with your life?
I’m a property advocate – I’m a buyer’s agent and also vendor’s advocate. So that means I help people both buy and sell their properties. And I’ve been doing this since 2013.
Before that I had studied economics and I had a degree in commerce. I always thought I should never waste my education. So when I finished uni I went to work for State Government, because I thought that that’s what I should be doing. I’d spent six years at uni, I’d spent all of this money on HECS, but it was never something that I was particularly passionate about. It was just something that I did because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. But I remember all throughout uni catching up with some friends who were studying property at RMIT and always just thinking about how lucky they were, because it sounded so interesting, but never really thought that I would make that transition.
Later on when I was working for State Government and not enjoying it, but trying to force myself to enjoy it, I sat down with my team leader and she said, where do you see yourself in the future? I said, I just don’t know. I’ve always been interested in this other industry, but I feel like I would have wasted all of this effort getting to where I am. And she was the person who said to me: you just have to really follow what you’re genuinely interested in. Even if it means taking a step backwards. Because in reality, it was a significant step backwards.
I had to start fresh in a whole new career, basically minimum wage, right at the very bottom and then work my way up from there. But as soon as I started working in it, I realised it was something that I just absolutely loved doing.
Had it been on the radar for you at all, besides those conversations you had with people you knew, because it seems like a pretty cutthroat industry from my perception. What was it that appealed for you?
I actually didn’t know anything about the industry before I got into it. I just knew that that was something that I just had this interest in. But I didn’t know what the different career paths within the property industry could look like.
So to get my foot in the door, I just started applying. I started applying for receptionist positions because all of the other jobs needed experience. I ended up getting an entry level leasing consultant role, which was not what I wanted to do, but it was just to learn about property. And then I started my masters in property, thinking that was maybe an avenue to go down, but that turned out to be very commercial property focused.
So I was like, you know what, I do love a lot about this industry, but I don’t see myself doing either of those things. And then I was just very fortunate to stumble across a junior buyer’s advocacy role. And those are very hard to come by because generally you get into that industry through either being a sales agent, or maybe being a mortgage broker, or just having a lot more experience. So very, very fortunate enough to get into an entry level position there and work my way up. I didn’t even know that buyer’s advocacy was a thing when I pivoted from government into property. So I was just very fortunate to have found it.
Yeah, I guess unless you’re buying a home or you have a keen interest in real estate or property, how would you know that that sort of a role existed? Can you explain just what the buyer’s advocate does?
Yeah, that’s a good point because especially in Australia, it is becoming more popular now, but certainly six years ago it wasn’t something which a lot of people had heard of.
So a buyer’s advocate is the opposite of a real estate agent, in that we’re acting exclusively for the buyer rather than the seller. So the seller has a professional real estate agent acting on their behalf when they sell a property, and a buyer’s agent works on the buying side.
However, because we’re not selling a product, it’s more advisory based and that’s what I love about it. It’s talking to a client and figuring out the right strategy for them and implementing it, rather than being that sales agent and being restricted to your own product.
That being said, I also do vendor’s advocacy, which has kind of this extra layer when someone wants to sell a property and they feel really overwhelmed by the whole process of finding an agent, and negotiating their fee. Some people also just feel like they need that third party to guide them through that process.
That’s awesome, because I mean, buying a home is no small feat. I assume it can be very stressful, for buyers and vendors alike, so I’m guessing that must be quite rewarding when you do help somebody secure their first property or make a good sale.
Yeah, absolutely. And different people see different value in the process too. Sometimes people just want an advocate to get them a good deal. But other times they just want someone to hold their hand throughout the whole process and say, yes, this is the right decision that you’re making, or this is the right path that you’re taking. You can make massive mistakes when it comes to property. It’s a lot of money and it’s not a very liquid asset. You make a mistake and it can set you quite far back.
Yeah, I can imagine. You own a couple of properties yourself as well, how has your experience been on the flip side?
I bought my first property six years ago now. And before I was in the property industry, I always just assumed that buying property was only for rich people. That property investing was only for rich people. And it was only when I was introduced to the idea by my accountant and she really spelled out this is how much you need to do it, and this is how much it would cost you to do it going forward.
I thought, you know what, this is actually achievable for me. So I was lucky to have her in my life to point me in that direction. Otherwise I don’t think I would have contemplated it.
Since then, I’ve been really passionate about educating people on the accessibility, but also the risks of getting into the market, whether that’s buying your own home or an investment.
It seems like it’s a pretty tricky, volatile market out there, particularly at the moment.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how the economy is going to impact the property market, because so far we’ve had a lot of stability. But next year is really going to be when the tide might turn.
I think the problem is the media and what they put out there. I was reading an article today, where the headline was just clickbait saying property prices were going to drop 40 per cent. But then the content of the article said, well, this is what would happen hypothetically in a worst case scenario. And people, if they’re not analytical in their thinking, just focus on the negative things. And I think the pessimists will be focused on the negative news and it just creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I think that people need to really understand that with property, it is always very much a long-term decision that needs to be made. And it’s something which needs to be made based on the right time for the individual, rather than their predictions around the future. Because what I can say is that all of the predictions in the past have generally been wrong.
You’ve recently gone out on your own, can you tell me your decision to do that?
So I was working with another firm for around seven years and I mean, that’s a long time to be in any role these days, but not the reason I decided to leave. I am very passionate about not only doing my job, but also the education side of my business. I have a first-home buyer podcast that is something that doesn’t make me money now, but it might in the future, who knows! It’s just something which I really get a lot of satisfaction out of.
Like I said before, the property industry is full of misinformation and first-home buyers have no idea what they’re doing. And unfortunately our industry is very unregulated too. There are people putting information out there that is just plainly incorrect or misleading. So I’ve got a real passion around changing that and changing the way that first home buyers obtain their information.
I also have ideas around building more of the education side of my business too, because not everyone can, or not everyone wants to, afford to hire a buyer’s advocate. I feel like there’s a large portion of the market out there who needs help, but can’t necessarily afford the help of a buyer’s advocate.
Absolutely, it seems like such a gap in the market. And so can you tell me about your business?
It’s only been a couple of months now since I going out on my own, and I suppose the biggest challenges for me is more going to be around the future and maybe scaling the business and deciding what I want to do, because right now it’s just me. I might get some admin support. Ultimately, if life changes and I have a family and I do other things, I’ll have to think about that. But right now, very happy doing what I’m doing.
And can you tell me what steps you took to start your business and were there any big challenges or struggles that you had to overcome?
For me I think the main thing I find it a bit challenging to do is all of the self-promotion and the copywriting and the marketing, because it’s not my strength. I would say being creative is something which I really have to force myself to do. That being said, I’m so particular with the way that I like things done, I generally have to do it myself anyway.
So that for me took the most mental time and energy, to put everything together with the collateral and the website and the marketing side of things. Everything else for me was very straightforward, because I already had all my licenses in place, I’ve had that for a very long time, I already had an ABN from previous business, and insurance. So the admin side of things was easy, but yeah, marketing and having to write copy about yourself and put a brand together. That was the hard part.
You mentioned your podcast, can you tell me about that?
It’s called The Buyer’s Bible and is purely for first home buyers and it is the first of its kind out there for starters. I did a lot of market research into this and there’s no dedicated first home buyer podcast, which I thought was really crazy considering there’s something like a hundred thousand first home buyers per year in the market.
There seems to be a podcast on everything else!
Yeah, there are a lot of podcasts out there that have just segments of information here and there. And then it’s up to the first home buyers or listener to piece it all together. But there’s no comprehensive ones. My podcast is a start to finish guide.
So at the very beginning, before someone might even have saved a dollar for their deposit, all the way through to saving that money, money mindsets, first home buyer challenges, getting a loan, going through the finance process and then the actual buying of the property. And that’s something that I feel like is definitely not covered out there in podcast land, or there’s not even a lot of good online literature about it.
I think that one of the reasons is because it can really only be written or produced by a buyer’s agent who buys properties all of the time and has that fundamental experience in doing so. So for me, I’m excited because it’s the way that, if I listened to the podcast, it’s how I’d I would want to listen, which is laying out all of the steps. And if I listen to this from start to end, I’m going to learn how to do this whole thing.
Do you have a set amount of episodes that you’re going to do? Have you already mapped out what that looks like?
Oh yeah, I’m such a planner. Those were all planned well before I started doing any work on it! So there are 30 episodes in total, and as of today, the end of August, we’re up to episode 11.
Would you look to of extend into a different topic after this?
Sure, I would probably do something more around property investing for beginners, because again, I think that that’s a topic which could be taught much better right now. So a start to finish guide – where do I begin, and then where am I aiming to end up?
What are you recommendations for those looking to purchase their first home?
So top tips would be to surround yourself with the right professionals and speak to a mortgage broker, and one that you can really connect with early on. It’s never too early to speak to a broker, because a good one, who works with first home buyers, will be able to put you on the right course of action. And then you can check back in with them at six months, a year, however long it takes. They’ll be able to really hone in on your spending habits and make sure that you can get loan ready, because if you can’t get a loan, you’re not going to be able to buy a property.
Secondly, I would say to do a lot of market research before you start, because as soon as you’ve got your loan, you’re ready to buy and you don’t want to then be wasting six months investigating the market. As soon as I talk about research, a lot of people’s eyes glaze over because it reminds them of doing homework, but there’s so many free resources.
Look through Realestate.com and Domain, but just go into the Sold areas. Don’t focus on this stuff currently for sale because those prices are not going to necessarily be what they sell for. See what things have been selling for, learn about the suburbs that you’re going to be buying in, what streets seem to be performing better, what types of dwellings are in demand. Start going to some open inspections, start going to auctions, so you can get a feel for how people communicate with the agent and the lingo. Expose yourself as much as you can to the market before you’re ready to buy.
Thirdly, it would be to make sure that you always do those due diligence steps whenever you actually go to buy a property, which is getting your contract reviewed, getting a building inspection, speaking to the body corporate, calling council – you must do all of those things. I’ve heard horror stories of first home buyers who do that for a few properties, and then they go to auction on another one and they’re so fed up with the whole process that they just buy it without doing their homework. And you know, it might be fine, but it could be disastrous!
Oh goodness, I can just imagine!
Another one would be to not let your friends and family’s opinions on what you need to do or what they think the right thing is for you, to cloud your judgment. Everyone’s going to have an opinion, so the main way to overcome that is to really nut your personal strategy and your goals out at the very beginning. And then don’t deviate from that because you’re the one who has put all of the effort into it.
And then the last one would be to work with the agents rather than against them. There are a lot of great agents out there. There are a lot of really crappy ones, true, but you just need to understand that at the end of the day, they do hold the position of power in the negotiation and in the process because they have access to the vendor. They’re that filter in between. So agents are going to be the ones who are going to give you off market properties. They’re the ones that are going to call you up when a property is selling or they can offer you another property if you miss out at auction. I know that can be frustrating, especially when the agent is being difficult to deal with, but it’s just one of those processes that you have to go through. So those are my top five tips.
Wonderful, such great advice! What are you excited about and what are you looking forward to?
Well, first of all, building my business because I’ve always enjoyed looking after my own clients and now there’s just this really deep satisfaction of building my own personal brand and having this really intimate relationship with all of my clients.
Also building up the education side of things. And that is something that I just get so much satisfaction from, because I’m already getting all of these strangers contacting me on social media saying that how much this has helped them. And for them to take the time and effort to reach out and say that it just really satisfying.
At the end of the day, it’s a minefield, and as you said, it can go so wrong. So having a really trusted, strong voice, who is willing to be very open and honest and realistic about the process of buying a home actually takes a lot of the stress off that. Especially if you know what the hardest parts are before you step into that process.
For sure. And also what I want to highlight to everyone is that it is a hard process and there are so many things that you don’t know – but you don’t know what you don’t know. And if you don’t know what you don’t know, how are you supposed to know the right questions to ask? So I hope I can bridge some of those gaps.
Thanks Amy, I love what you’re doing and I love your passion for it. And it really comes across in all the, all the work that you put out there!
To connect with Amy and learn more, visit Amy Lunardi Property.
To learn more about buying your first home, make sure you tune into The Buyer’s Bible.