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MY FRIEND FRANK

A philosophy of rare goodness

by  Neil Jenman

Article written and provided by Neil Jenman from Jenman.com.au . To see the original source of this article please click here. https://jenman.com.au/my-friend-frank/. Neil Jenman is Australia’s trusted consumer crusader. He can support you, all the way, from choosing an agent who will get you the highest price guaranteed to when your removalist comes! You get an unprecedented level of total support. All for free. To find out more visit jenman.com.au

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When he was 90, the famous writer, W Somerset Maugham, was living in his glorious home at Cap Ferrat in the South of France.

He told his nephew Robin Maugham, “All these wonderful things I have collected, this beautiful house, the fine art, the books in my library. Soon I will be gone, and I can’t take a thing with me, not even my favourite chair.”

He paused, lifted his face and said to Robin, “I don’t like the thought of it at all.”

In the cutthroat world of real estate it’s easy to become jaded. It seems everyone wants to squeeze the best deal for themselves – owners striving for the highest price, buyers longing (or lusting?) for a bargain. And, of course, agents telling lies to stay alive. Agents measure success not in happiness of clients but in amount of commission. Many top salespeople are mean mongrels you never want to meet.

Yet despite the ubiquitous negativity, greed and selfishness, there are some good people in the real estate world – even, occasionally some good agents. There are some stories of kindness.

And here’s an interesting fact: Kind people seem happier. They are certainly nicer. There is a joy that radiates from good people.

Like my friend Frank. He’s the quintessential Aussie good bloke.

Now, to be sure, Frank’s not perfect (who is?). He supports Collingwood, he has a flashy gold watch, and drives a fancy car (black, of course).

Despite these flaws, Frank has a heart of gold – and a lovely wife (known as ‘The Supermodel’. Trump eat your heart out).

After a lifetime in the catering business, Frank, now in his sixties and retired (sort of), is still on the lookout for opportunities. Not just opportunities for himself but opportunities for others.

Although he’s never studied philosophy, my friend Frank is like so many good people – he instinctively knows what’s right. He knows that doing good feels better than doing bad.

As my dear departed mother often said: “You get more joy out of giving than receiving.”

THE STORY OF FRANK

Although Frank has not asked me to tell his story – nor have I asked his permission to do so – I will tell it anyway. It’s a story of goodness and kindness that needs to be heard.

In my opinion, my friend Frank – and many other silent good people – deserve to be held up as examples. They are an inspiration, a force for goodness in an oftentimes malevolent world.

Most Australians have heard the story of “the Biloela Tamil family”. It’s a story that caused plenty of controversy and many divided opinions.

At the heart of the story was a Tamil family – a man, his wife and two young daughters. They were dragged from their home before dawn in a raid by federal authorities and locked in a detention centre for four years. Sure, their application for refugee status was declined, but a person would need ice in their veins not to feel sympathy for their plight.

Eventually, in May 2022, when the federal government changed from Liberal to Labor (much to Frank’s chagrin) and Anthony Albanese became Australia’s 31st prime minister, the Biloela family was released from detention.

When they flew home to Bilo (as locals call Biloela), a crowd met them at the airport. Most of the town supported this family, indeed adored them. Many residents fought hard to have the family released and returned to Biloela.

And now it had finally happened.

At the airport, the smiling parents thanked everyone for their support.

FREE RENT.

Some anonymous person who owned an investment property in Biloela offered the family his home rent-free for six months. There were many tears and hugs that day. Soon, the Tamil family settled into their ‘free’ home – a lovely brick cottage in one of Biloela’s best streets.

All thanks to the anonymous donor.

That donor was my friend Frank.

Housing in regional communities can be as tough to find as in the cities. Rental prices have soared.

Frank’s investment property – which he had recently purchased (for $327,000) – should have given him at least $425 per week ($22,100) a healthy 6.75% return. Instead, Frank – who was touched by this family’s plight – chose to receive nothing for six months. He effectively gave $11,000 to people he’d never met.

Frank’s kindness did not go unnoticed or unrewarded. Now, two years since he gave away his home for six months, he has a loyal and dedicated occupier.

Having settled back into the Biloela community (there are many jobs in some regional areas), the Tamil family pay their rent like clockwork. Straight into Frank’s bank account. And here’s the best part – bypassing the local agents who charge 10 per cent collection fee. Yes, that’s right: More than two thousand dollars a year for re-directing rent. No thanks.

Frank might be generous but he’s no mug.

He also knows that, while kindness may be costly in the short term, it can pay big dividends in the long term. As someone once said, “Whatever you withhold can only ever be yours; but what you give out comes back to you many times.”

And now Frank is doing it again. This time in the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham.

FRANK’S COMMERCIAL PROPERTY.

Frank has owned a top-quality commercial property in Cheltenham for more than a decade. Prior to Covid, the premises were rented by a beauty spa business. Of course, as happened to many small businesspeople, Covid killed that business.

Covid also seems to have killed something else – the attitude of the lazy agents, most of whom now tell Frank that his beautiful fully-fitted-out commercial premises – three minutes’ walk from Cheltenham station, in a street filled with flourishing businesses, is only worth half what it was worth before Covid.

A recent proposal from one agent tacitly suggested that Frank “needs to understand that the commercial property market is struggling. High interest rates and the cost of living is killing consumers”.

The agent then boasted about his own skills and experience.

To someone as street-savvy as Frank, the agent’s comments almost made him laugh. Rather than Frank needing to understand that his property has dropped in value (from about $1.2 million to about $600,000), the agent needs to understand what most agents never understand. It’s not their job to talk sellers down in price. It’s not their job to boast of how many properties they’ve sold.

Agents are supposed to talk up the benefits of properties, not talk them down.

And if ever a property deserved high praise, it’s Frank’s commercial premises. There are six individual treatment rooms (for medical purposes) or offices (for business purposes). There is also a lunchroom, a relaxation area plus parking for four cars. It’s ready to occupy with virtually no cost to the tenant.

As the agents tell Frank that commercial property is now hard to rent – and as Frank looks at the occupied shops and thriving businesses surrounding him, he can’t help feeling the way many property owners feel – that the agents are playing him for a fool.

Frank would rather keep his property and offer it at no rent than pay an agent several thousand dollars to sell his property at half price.

FREE RENT AGAIN!

And so, just as he did with the Tamil family at Biloela back in 2022, Frank has decided to offer his superb commercial premises rent-free for up to 12 months (yes, maybe one year!).

For the right applicants of course.

And who would be the right applicant?

Well, as Frank himself said: “Everyone wants to build a better life for their families.” That’s what Frank did. As a young man, he found premises and opened a coffee shop. He worked his heart out and, sure enough, he achieved financial success – and happiness. He can also afford to be generous – especially to those who need help.

Frank said: “The best way to build wealth is with your own business. Work for yourself, not for others, that’s the way to financial success.”

But the hardest part of starting any business – aside from the fear of going broke – is the start-up costs. Finding the right premises at a decent rent is one of the biggest challenges for any new business.

Frank’s commercial property would suit all sorts of business – another health spa, a medial centre, an accountancy firm – gee, don’t laugh, even a real estate agency.

So whoever is looking to improve their life through working for themselves – if my friend Frank likes you – he’s happy to give you a mighty big start in your business life.

Of course, at the end of the rent-free period, Frank would expect – just as happened with the Tamil family once they got on their feet – that the occupier would then pay market rent. And no, Frank will not increase the rent after the rent-free period to compensate him for his largesse. As stated, despite being a Collingwood fan, my friend Frank is a FGB (Fairly Good Bloke).

THE IRONY OF LIFE.

As an ironic aside, Frank is of Italian heritage. Many years ago, when I was opening my real estate office, another Frank, also of Italian heritage, allowed me to rent his office premises for a low nominal rent.

Like the property that Frank now owns in Cheltenham, the property owned by the other Frank of long ago enabled me to get off to a great start with my business.

The rich and famous writer, Somerset Maugham who articulated what we all know – that we can’t take our money or our possessions with us when we die – also wrote about the powerful impact that doing good deeds can have upon our lives.

To quote Maugham’s exact words: “I discovered that goodness is the most powerful force in the world.”

Wouldn’t it be good if more people placed a priority upon goodness. For sure, it would lead to increased happiness.

And isn’t that what life is all about?

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