Adler Ho: Helping Expats Move Back to Australia


Interview by Molly O'Brien, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Advance

One of the most difficult things about being an Australian expat is returning home after a period away. Relocating is hard enough, let alone finding a new job, a new house and everything that comes with it. Adler Ho of Adler Ho Property Consultants can help with such issues. No stranger to the real estate industry, he understands the inconveniences, stress and time involved in finding a new home – especially from the other side of the world.

Having experience design, development and marketing, and coming armed with an impressive portfolio of Australian properties of his own, Ho has turned his real estate expertise to a fully functional buyers agency; helping international Australians purchase real estate back home.

How did you get started in the Real Estate industry?

I started buying properties as investments when I was 18. By the time I was 28, I had around 25 properties across Australia, but have sold a few of those now.

Is Real Estate something that you fell into organically?

It was. I bought my first property with help from family to secure a deposit, savings I’d accrued as a teenager, and a loan from the bank. Two years after that, I bought another property and fell in to the classic dance of re-evaluation, developing and buying.

How did your investments gain momentum?

A few early properties I bought were in Queanbeyan, just outside of Canberra and I acquired them right before the fires of 2003. Rental and buying prices skyrocketed by about 50% in six months due to shortage of housing. Regional areas were a lot cheaper than Sydney – getting a bank approval for a certain amount that I could either buy one other property in Sydney, or two properties in regional Australia. It accelerated the pace of my investments quite quickly.

How do you know if a property is a good investment?

Property value really does come down to fundamentals, timing and experience. It’s very easy to look back and think about all the 'what ifs’, which is why I started my buyers’ agency, to assist buyers that are less familiar with the market than myself. Depending on the client and their requirements, we can either take a consultative approach to their purchase, explaining and involving them in each process along the way – or alternatively, where required, we can provide a hands-off service. This can be useful where our clients have other priorities and do not have the time and/or desire to be actively involved in the property search process.

Separately, we provide consultancy services to developers who are looking to build; helping them from acquisition and design stage through to project marketing, branding and setting up internal sales processesinternally. They're able to cost effectively manage that sales process and marketing campaign themselves as well as being able to provide a level of professionalism to the project that is generally reserved for larger scale developers and projects. Our methods also allow the developer to engage a number of local sales agents as opposed to an exclusive agent, while being able to maintain brand consistency.

I should also mention here that we don’t intermingle our developer consultancy clients with our buyers agency clients so there is never a conflict of interest.

What makes your buyers agency unique?

Because of my significant experience with investment and working internally with developers, I have a very different outlook to many other buyers agents who come from a sales agency background. I’m able to view the whole process of acquiring, building and buying real estate, as opposed to just looking at a single transactional outcome. When I'm working with developers there's a very fine distinction between that and my buyers’ agency; I never push clients to look at any of the developments I'm consulting with.

What we do differently is that we're in Hong Kong and Singapore every month or every quarter, we’re able to help guide expats’ decisions in person, then come back to Sydney and help them buy their own house or investment property as well. It's that one-on-one service that is really important when you're trying to buy a property unseen: understanding the client.

Where are most of your clients based?

We service both local and international clients. There’s a large number of Australian expats in Hong Kong, being a traditional business hub for larger corporates within the Asia Pacific region. We've also got a number of corporate entities, such as fund managers and hotel management companies that are looking for properties or assets in Sydney.

Where else are your clients located?

I do have some potential clients in Greece and we've got a couple of clients in the USA as well. As I mentioned, it’s important to adhere to our point of difference which is meeting the client wherever they are. We like to keep the process extremely personalized, and unfortunately, I can’t be everywhere at once! I love to meet clients to have a coffee, lunch or dinner with them, to really get to understand them and their situation. Half of my work is not really to buy properties for them, it's actually to stop them from buying a property that's not suitable for their particular requirements. I find individual clients in particular get very emotionally involved in a property transaction and it is our job to ensure they look at each situation objectively (while also understanding when exceptions need to be made).

What type of lead times do you work with?

At the moment, we've got a client in LA who’s looking to move back within one to two months, so are attempting to find something within that timeframe. We have worked with clients that have needed to buy properties urgently within a one to two-week period, and we've actually done that for them and negotiated deals for them in that time.

Would you be looking to expand to other areas of Australia soon?

I'm very cautious of the fact that the people that are wanting to buy from me, or to use my services, it's because of my expertise in real estate, and because it's not the traditional buyer's agency experience. While I'd like to offer that to the US and Europe market, it's not something that we can necessarily commit to having monthly trips. It's something that I would rather not compromise on and, I guess, that goes to why we're based in Sydney only, so that we've got an area of expertise that we're focused on. A lot of Buyer’s Agents only focus on one particular area of Sydney, so they might be focused on North Shore or the eastern suburbs and because we're ready to do all of Sydney and also to residential and commercial.