Follow Rebeka's Beirin Projects on Instagram @beirinprojects for more Northcote renovations and new builds.
Kribashini: Hi, I'm Kribashini and I am going to be chatting with the wonderful Rebeka from BuildHer Collective.
Rebeka: So wonderful [laughs].
Kribashini: I know, she's right here. I really need to give compliments. Rebeka is from BuildHer Collective, but also she is the CEO of Beirin Projects. Rebeka and John have recently just sold their house, the baby house and so we thought it'd be exciting if I got to fire some questions at her for this podcast talking to us about the insights on how it really feels to have your house on the market. Are you ready to get stuck into it?
Rebeka: So ready.
Kribashini: Come join us.
Rebeka: Hi, I'm Rebeka.
Kribashini: I'm Kribashini.
Rebeka: Welcome to Building with BuildHer.
Kribashini: Our podcast, we believe that building is fun.
Rebeka: Super fun.
Kribashini: So much fun.
Rebeka: BuildHer Collective was created to help women with building and renovating and we believe that with the right tools everyone can build. For us, it's all about encouraging women to take back control of the building process and really achieve their dreams.
Kribashini: We are women in the building industry and as developers, builders, and project managers, it's our passion to share everything we know with other women doing the same and that's why we've created this podcast for you.
Rebeka: If you love all things building.
Kribashini: You're into design.
Rebeka: Keen on the numbers.
Kribashini: About to renovate.
Rebeka: Thinking and dreaming of that forever home and what it would look like or even developing for profit then you've found your family.
Kribashini: Subscribe to our podcast and follow our journey over at buildhercollective.com.au.
Kribashini: I'm a little bit out of the loop because I've been at home with a baby for the last few weeks, but I think while I've been away something pretty significant has happened for you.
Rebeka: Yes, you didn't even know that the house was on the market or being sold. We had a whole event and you didn't come to it.
Kribashini: I did get the invitation to it actually.
Kribashini: Well, I got the invitation to the Bayview open home and it's on the fridge.
Rebeka: Good. I feel happy I'm now on your fridge.
Kribashini: Yes, I was pretty happy to put it on the fridge and I thought to myself, "I would love to go to that."
Rebeka: I wrote you a handwritten note too. Did you read it?
Kribashini: No, I didn't get a handwritten note.
Rebeka: Oh, no. Actually, I forgot to write yours. I read everyone else's [laughs].
Kribashini: Well, if I had gotten my handwritten note maybe I would have pulled myself away from my newborn and come along.
Rebeka: Yes, maybe. Unlikely, but maybe.
Kribashini: It was all in a handwritten note.
Rebeka: I guess we wanted to talk about this because people-- I have a lot of conversations with people. Obviously, we run a masterclass for people who are developing for profit and a lot of the conversations are around the fact that "It's really easy for you and it must feel great to sell your house for that much and oh, it's like you've got people lining up." I just wanted to have-- and we've discussed this at great length during the campaign, after the campaign.
Kribashini: Leading up to the campaign.
Rebeka: Leading up to the campaign about what it feels like and the fact that that's like, "Hey."
Kribashini: Well, absolutely. There's always another side to the story and I think when we look at things that happen in the market or we look at a lot of the media around it, it's easy to look at it and think, "Oh, it's so easy for you or it must be so simple to bring it all together." There's actually a shitload and I'm swearing a lot. I don't know if you can swear in a podcast.
Rebeka: You can. Keep going.
Kribashini: Oh, well. It's happened now. That happened in the background that you pulled together to bring this campaign to fruition, but then while that campaigns happening it's an emotional rollercoaster.
Rebeka: Don't forget this house which I love living in, I was living in with a small pile of children [laughs]. One of them we affectionately call Bamm-Bamm and I will leave that up to your imagination of what he does to make him get that name-
Kribashini: I know.
Rebeka: -at three and a half years old [laughs].
Kribashini: Talk us through what happens for you in the before and how you're feeling about it in the before? Bearing in mind, you're also trying to finish a construction project which is super difficult in its own right. It's a lot.
Rebeka: It's pressure. There's a pressure point because you've been working on a project for a number of months, sometimes a number of years. You've had it bubbling in the background and you've got these ideas. One of the things we advocate is that you get a development plan together and because it is an emotional process and running up to the end of getting your house on the market, there are a million different people asking a million different things of you and you're on the go like you're finishing everything.
Granted, for some reason, there is always a lot of pressure around our finish dates. I don't know why. Part of that is actually if you've got momentum up to the finish date, it costs a lot to hold a house. I don't want to hold a house for an extra month or an extra two months, that's money. I think it's important to also acknowledge that if you can compress your construction time without compressing quality and there are ways to do that and if you go back to like Neil's podcasts from Future Flip, he's very good at doing that, the compressed. I think he does a 10-12 week new-build. We take a bit longer than that. We do renovations, shameful in comparison really [laughs].
Rebeka: Different. I guess you're running and you've got a whole heap of people on site. You've got a lot of momentum and so at some point at about two months out, I'm booking my campaign.
Kribashini: Well, and the pressure of that is that you're answering a whole lot of questions about finishing the build, but you're also thinking about the next stage.
Rebeka: Yes, right. In that period of time, we have a massive amount of people on site. We'll have people finishing all the different things. Normally, the landscaping is happening because that generally happens towards the end. We'll be styling, we'll be cleaning, we'll be tweaking, doing whatever defects or little touch-ups we can do and really just trying to prepare for the market. Once that stops, it's like you've done this massive push and then you're stopping and at the point of stopping it's like Judgment Day. Because you're going so fast, you're not really- like yes, you're thinking, "I hope people like it. I hope people like it." You've got plenty of things to keep busy, right?
Rebeka: A busy mind, we've done our development plan, we know our actions, we know where we're going and then we stop-- during that period of time where we'll be planning the campaign so I'll talk to you about that later, but then we stop and we're basically waiting for feedback.
Kribashini: When the first open happens?
Rebeka: Well, feedback in general. The feedback will come from all places.
Kribashini: You've stopped building, you've hired your sales team, the house is on the market and you've got your first open home, that's the period of time that you're talking about?
Rebeka: Yes. The sales team is prepared earlier, like two months out. The marketing campaigns prepared two months out, but when we're stopped, we're like, "Okay." The real estate agent comes through, the main sales rep, and then he will bring his whole team through and so everyone's going to have an opinion and at that point, they'll tell you how much they think your house is worth.
Kribashini: Well, that's got to be nerve wracking because that's really the moment of truth. From the time you did that development plan at the very beginning and you check back into it, you've now got this outside perspective or influence I guess. How does that make you feel?
Well, you're nervous because, at that point, I've got six weeks, generally speaking, until I'm going to know what the house is worth and what is the house worth? The house is worth what one person is prepared to pay for it on a given day.
Kribashini: I think it also shows a lot of mental strength because, that period when you have the real estate agents coming through and giving you that feedback, as you like to call it, whether it's positive or whether it's improvements, there's a lot of mental strength that you need there because there are some things that are easily actionable and there are some things that are not easily actionable.
Rebeka: There's never a perfect property, right?
Kribashini: Everyone's got so many different opinions, what if those are conflicting opinions?
Rebeka: They will be and there's never a perfect property. The thing is we were to buy the development site, like the perfect development site, perfect location, best house, great block of land, it won't be perfect because it'll cost too much because everyone would want to buy it.
Kribashini: Not to sound negative but you can build the wrong thing on the right site.
Rebeka: Yes. Well, this is true. You need to plan it properly and you need to know that every house is going to be compromised on some way and not suit everyone because I might want to live in a new build, you might want to live in a heritage house. You might like to live in one way that I don't like to live and so we're all bringing our own perspectives to things. We try and obviously open the market and know where our markets is but it is one buyer on a given day. Now, any given month, I have a different set of buyers in the market because there's transactions happening all the time, no guarantees.
Kribashini: How do you deal with that feedback when you get it? What do you normally go through? Do you make a list? Is it a conversation? Do you action all of them? Do you ever disagree about some of that feedback?
Rebeka: The other game that the real estate agents like to play- you know this game, surely [laughs].
Kribashini: I think everyone might know this one.
Rebeka: Yes, everyone knows this one. As soon as we've got it on the market, they want to lower my expectations. The house we just sold, sold for 3.5 million and $50 [chuckle]. They want me to sit closer to three, right? Look, it could have sold for three. It could have sold for three and a half. I thought it was more worth three and a half. It could have sold for more. It could have sold for four. We don't know. It's knowing comparisons and it's what someone has at that time. They want me to see it lower and so they'll be talking about, okay well these are the problems with it and let's get your expectations in line.
Then when they exceed my expectations by bringing me an offer that is as I expected it. Now I'm super happy with it because they've adjusted me down. Then they'll be doing the same with the purchases they'll be adjusting the purchases up to the level that they think they need to be. Now, it's probably more or less manipulative or not manipulative depending on the person and where they're going. You're aware that these are the types of things that are happening.
Kribashini: Being aware if it helps you be neutral to it and not be bought into it.
Rebeka: Yes. The agents we get along pretty well and we'll have open conversations but the second we're on the market there's no friendship. This is a professional transaction. We are going to be marketing this in a way where they don't want to talk to me too much.
Kribashini: They're professionally responsible for their job.
Rebeka: Because the more they talk to me the more I'm going to talk in circles and they can't actually give me an answer about what that is. I can talk to them in circles and I can try and draw things out them because I'm nervous about how much it's going to sell for because this is two years worth of work or a massive amount of money on the line and all of these things. I'm going to try and draw them into a conversation which gets them to commit to an answer which they don't want to answer because they don't actually have control over that outcome.
Kribashini: That answer will give you confidence but really what's that confidence based on?
Rebeka: False confidence anyway, right? They want to limit their conversations with me as a seller- [chuckles]
Kribashini: That must kill you.
Rebeka: - and they want to keep their conversations with the various different purchasers and draw them into the intrigue of the house and what it would be like to live there and what their life would then look like afterwards. More time spent on them and less time spent on us even though we're their clients.
Kribashini: That probably could feel a little bit frustrating if you're now in the campaign you're not able to have these frank conversations, you're not able to get direct answers on certain things because the hammer hasn't fallen so to speak. Then it's all these big lead up this big amount of pressure and will it want it, will it want it, will it want it up until the day.
Rebeka: This lead-up time the real estate agents will speak to you all the time. They'll chat to you because they want you to understand where you're going to be, they want you to put as much of the features in that they're going to help sell the house as possible, so you've got this great conversation until the point that you're about to sell. Then it's like this freeze. This is the way I find it. You back out of the deal now I don't have a whole heap of people. It's not a back out of a deal but "let's take a step back on the relationship because no longer are you as important as the person who's buying the house."
Understanding the roles means that at that point we're getting a house ready for opens. What are the things we get at the end of opens? We get how many people came through and what their feedback was.
Kribashini: Tell me though a little bit of behind the scenes it must be hard having opens. I feel like having three or four opens a week and getting ready for that opening and the open happens and then you can come back home. How do you get through that?
Rebeka: I actually think a house is better put on the market when you live in it. I think there's a warmth and an energy. Probably a bit woo-woo. I think people feel it and they want- what you're selling them is the lifestyle, not the home.
Kribashini: I don't think it's too woo-woo.
Rebeka: But you're selling them their version of what it would look like to live in your home and so every time you've got an open, whether you get one person through or 50 people through and whether that one person is actually genuine buyer or that 50 people are onlookers, you are trying to sell them the dream of living in this house and that all my plants live all the time and they don't die. We always have fresh cut flowers in our bathroom.
It's little things like this that you're preparing for them. Sometimes things slip. The flowers in the bathroom may have turned a little bit brown and I didn't get back to that straight away. Again, it depends on what type of person you are whether anything will slip or not. In my opinion, when you put a house on the market in a given campaign the campaign needs to suit the house. If I was selling maybe a unit in the outer suburbs I'm not going to be doing it in exactly the same way as I'm selling a $3 million-plus house in the inner-north.
This is a luxury home and thus the opens and the campaign need to be indicative of that. Because it is a luxury home and a luxury campaign that we're selling, how do I stand out from the other homes and how do we as a team because it's Sam and I working together and John is involved. John's my partner- he is involved a bit and, obviously, Sam's team is involved a bit. How do we create an atmosphere and showcase it in its best light?
Kribashini: I think that's a really valuable insight. For all you lucky listeners out there a great tip if you're looking to buy in that market or sell in that market. Now, talk us through the next stage. Now you've been a little put aside, for want of a better word, By the agent and now that pressure is really mounting coming to D-Day.
Rebeka: First of all, we've got a lot of judgment.
Kribashini: From the opens?
Rebeka: Yes from the opens. We've got a lot of people coming through and everyone has an opinion.
Kribashini: Everyone should have a reaction really because isn't that what, one, architecture is really about.
Rebeka: The negative feedback was next to flats. How to do that when I bought it?
Kribashini: You did see that.
Rebeka: I had noticed that, but we also dealt with that with the house. Yes, we're next to flats but none of the flats can look in. Of the places that I have built, this set of neighbours has been my friendliest which is ironic given there's 107 of them.
Kribashini: It must be rewarding though feeling that when you are getting this feedback that you've actually dealt with a lot of the feedback in the design. That's got to be a pretty rewarding feeling.
Rebeka: Yes it is. You also get people that know everything and will pick things.
Kribashini: I think also that's natural when we're looking at the price point you're selling. This may or may not be right but let me use Rebeka's trick - in my opinion when we're looking at things we often look at it in two different ways, what's right with it and what's wrong with it and we want to balance those two columns to help us make a decision.
Rebeka: Yes but it's not so much the people that are looking to buy it because they're going to have a gut-feel. To them, it doesn't matter if the shade of white is not the exact shade of white that they would've chosen.
Kribashini: You feel like that most of that feedback is coming from not-potential buyers?
Rebeka: No, it's coming from people who are looking and trying to take ideas and say, "I could have done it better because of blah" and that's fine. They could it better and I'd like them to demonstrate that because we can all have opinions but until we put ourselves out on the line and until we spend the amount of money to get a house to that point then the opinions are just opinions. Look, I've got opinions on other people's houses too. I think when you're out there it's an exposed feeling.
As we know I can have one person who gives me critical feedback and 20 compliments and do I hear the 20 compliments? No. Not that I actually got negative feedback on this house. It's not like that.
Kribashini: That's how we hear things. It takes a lot of positive to outweigh one negative.
Rebeka: To be honest, I'm probably more critical than anyone else. I will see the things that in my head I'd plan to do differently and I haven't achieved or - and there wasn't a lot in this house but the certainly the house before or not the house before, one of the houses before. There was one detail and no one would notice because it wasn't a big deal but it just didn't come out the way I wanted it to come out and it just really goddamn irritated me. I know it wouldn't be anything that would irritate anyone else but it was just one thing didn't line up with the other thing that I wanted it to line up with and I was annoyed with myself.
Kribashini: Internal dialogue.
Rebeka: I know when no one knows because I see what's out of line. And I know when I'm speaking to one of the stylists who's working on the photo she's like, "We put all these time and energy in the photo" so I have a team of people around me who help me with stuff as well.
Kribashini: That is something that I've noticed about you. From the beginning of the project almost you're thinking about the angle and you're thinking about the photos. It really surprised me how much thought goes into the photos.
Rebeka: Because the photos are what sells the house. The photos are what I can provide to draw people in to have a look. That's also the only thing I get to keep from the year or two with the work that I put in with some photos.
Kribashini: So goddamn those photos are going to be amazing.
Rebeka: I know right. Anyway, I'll get back to my point. I was talking to one of the stylists who helped me with one of the photos. I bring people in to help me with areas and I think it's important to go, "I love space, I love texture, but I also love working with people" One of the people I work with as a stylist so is Justin, also known as the Northcote stylist you can check it on Instagram account. We refer to her a lot in all the photos. She does this self-critical thing. I can't look at that photo anymore because that chair is not where I think it should be in that placement.
I'm like, "Yes I get that" because I'm doing the same thing. We've got this kind of idea and we're working towards things and when they're changing things at the end and then we're putting together the way things should work and it's not always- well, it can't be a very perfect cycle. So, it does come together but it's I got to have the warmth within me, organic and the texture of the old and the new and the kept and the found and the slightly not working, All of that is really well thought out for us, and you have the photos so, I know what photos are going to sell the house before I build it, I just know it.
Kribashini: Okay, so, now you've had the feedback. What's the next stage?
Rebeka: Then we're waiting, we're just six weeks-
Kribashini: Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Rebeka: It's like you can't do anything, it's now out of your control.
Kribashini: How do you deal with that?
Rebeka: You are waiting, I find myself busy on other things, I go get a project [laughs].
Kribashini: Have you ever found yourself buying a house?
Rebeka: I have found myself buying a house, but I'm trying to find myself busy on something else because I can't affect the outcome, but really build-up is all making decisions about the outcome, how can I affect these models? Sell the house better, will that be a better outcome? Is this a better way for things to look? Can I tweak these? Can I do that better? I think I often talk about the fact that a kitchen for us might take several months to design because from, the moment we design the space in the kitchen, we'll be thinking about it, but then every time we say something like, "We can do it better, we can do it better, we can do it better." And so, we're constantly adjusting and trying to do it better, and even when the design set until it's actually manufactured, it's still up for negotiation.
That's the way I like to work because if I can do it better, I will do it better. At the point where it's on the market, I can't do it better.
Kribashini: That's right.
Rebeka: I'm done.
Kribashini: You're done until the next one.
Rebeka: Until the next one, and so, I just need to wait. Again, if you've done a development plan, and you can go back to your numbers, you'll be able to ride the emotional roller coaster better, and really for the numbers, we were talking about this. If we sold for the bottom we'd be okay, if we sold for the top, we'd be great, we'd be fine.
Kribashini: Your development plan really gives you that level headed approach to assessing where you want to be in terms of how much profit you can make.
Rebeka: It's not just the profit, I guess it's all the different aspects. It tells us what the tax sections need to look like, what the best way to sell will be, how we're creating a brand and it's all building into the brand, how we're leveraging the different marketing campaigns, how we sell better. All of these things fade into the development plan. We've thought about it, we've assessed it, we've made it the top we can make it, and so, things like, we did two open house parties during our event and, fingers crossed, but the last six houses have been on the cover of Domain and these things become important for me because it's not so much how much people are going to pay for it, but it's that ego of I can do it better than I did the last time.
Kribashini: You're competing with yourself, and so now we've come to the end of the campaign and offers are coming in, how close have your office come to the end of?
Rebeka: In this case, we took an offer a week early, and so, then at that point in time, I've got a whole heap of people that have come to the house and have been interested in it. I've got a list of people on and I will always have a list, but it's a list of people that are wanting to buy the house, and then I've got an offer coming a week early. Instead of seeing it out, and waiting, I've got to make a judgment call on whether this is a good offer, and I should accept it. Whether if that offer walks away, which it may do if you don't accept it, has done in the past for me [chuckles]. Whether if that offer walks away, I'll be able to find someone from this list that will love it as much to buy it or whether that list is going to bring more.
Kribashini: That's nail biting, I think.
Rebeka: Yes, it's a decision and largely it's a decision of fairness. For us, it came down to fairness. If we like the person who's put the offer forward, and we'll know a lot about them at that point, [chuckles] if we like that person, and we want them to live in this house, and we're rooting for them, because we'll have favourite purchasers in the campaign, because we'll know, Okay, this person's this, this is their details and this is what they're doing and that's a conversation that you may or may not have with the agents depending on I guess, your level of interaction, but [chuckles] I'll be like, I really hope this person likes it, it's going to be a perfect house for them.
For me, that buys into the decision and whether it's a fair price. The price that came in, I thought was fair. I don't know if it would have been the best price we would have got. I thought they were a good fit for the house and I thought it was a fair price.
Kribashini: Yes, I love that, it's like you've created this little thing, and you want the people who buy it to love it, and who are going to look after it and nurture it as much as you've nurtured it.
Rebeka: I love it, I don't build stuff I don't love.
They are emotive decisions, and I think that this indicative in the way that they sell, and so, yes, you're right. I think at that point, it's a good fit, and that's not just my decision. It's my decision with John. John is much more level headed than I am [laughs]. That's where we go, and then I guess at that point, if we've got an offering beforehand, then it's not under auction conditions, so, you've got a cooling-off period, so, then you're waiting three days to see whether that person actually wanted to buy it or if they're going to take it off the market.
That decision is got to be made at that point in time. We think that they'll pan out, at that point in time, we don't think they'll back out in the deal, and then I guess once it's sold, there's a bit of relief. That's my experience with it, so, you do have this emotional-
Kribashini: Such a roller coaster.
Rebeka: - run with it, but from the outside, it's, oh, you bought a house for this much, you spent nothing on it because no one ever spent anything on it to make it happen, and they were not holding costs or anything like that. Then you've sold it for this amount, oh my god.
Kribashini: There you go at the side of the fence, always so interesting.
Rebeka: Yes, I hope you did find that interesting.
Kribashini: I did actually, I learned a few things, so, thank you.
Rebeka: We speak about these through the process, because you'll be like, "How's it going?" and I'm like "Don't wanna talk about it." [laughs] So, that's it.
Kribashini: Thanks so much for sharing your insights and a little bit about you and behind the scenes. I think it's really interesting to share that perspective for people and I hope that our listeners and if you're listening right now that you've really enjoyed it because I certainly have.
Rebeka: I hope so, don't judge me too harsh.