Finance advice

An investor shares how he earns two incomes on a single property

By Bianca Dabu
Cameron Pass

Cameron Pass decided to physically build out his investment portfolio with his wife, utilising his knowledge as a construction estimator to charge forward his property investment journey.

Cameron's unique strategy made it possible for the couple to benefit from the "higher purpose" of property – earning two incomes from a single title.

Shortly after they bought land in 2013, they built a property, which then cost around $600,000 and is currently valued at around $750,000.

In 2014, Cameron and his partner bought another block and built a house with an attached granny flat, which cost them around $640,000 and is now valued at $800,000.

"That's in Spring Farm down in Camden Council. What we've done there, it's just a single storey house with a single bedroom granny flat. The strategy behind that was, for not much of an extra build cost, you can get basically a second income from that one property," he explained in The Smart Property Investment Show.

The proud investor added: "It's a four-bedroom house, double garage. That rent's typically in that Spring Farm locality, it's about $550. For ours, we've accepted $500. You lose a little bit of that rent having a secondary dwelling attached – it’s sort of seen as something less desirable. So that's renting for $500 a week, and then the granny flat's $350 a week, just for a single bedroom... We designed it so that the second dwelling's got a street-facing front door, its own walkway is completely private. It's got a car space for itself as well."

Find out more about Pass' incredible property investment journey, which was, quite literally, built from the ground up:

 

Whose idea was it to build your property that way?

Cameron Pass: I had seen that there had been granny flats around and heard in the media, so I was very interested in it. Then, I'd realised that it could be done as a complete construction at the same time. That's when we thought, yeah, that's going to be what we’re going to do.

[The builder] had an even more compact budget planned but we did a lot of tweaks. Being in construction myself, I was keen to work that around a bit... We changed the design and went from there.

Can you explain the floor plan of the house?

Cameron Pass: Well, the actual building company was marketing it as a house and attached granny flat, already as a package. We really just amended how the granny flat was relating to where the house was, so that the front door and the granny flat could have a window directly seeing the street. There was less common wall so that there may not be noise transferred and the like, positioning cabinetry and the rest up against that common wall to make a sound buffer — that sort of thing.

Do you have different metres on water and other services?

Cameron Pass: Yes, we've set that up. They've all got their individual supplies of services. The only one that changes a bit differently is the water supply. We just have a flow metre which separates the dwellings and then we can work out the difference that way.

The rates, you do pay a small premium for having two lots of bins collected by the council. Other than that, setting it up right at the start with the builder, it's fairly straightforward... The extra money you can get for the granny flat makes it quite attractive.

Do you have a property manager that looks after it for you?

Cameron Pass: Yeah, definitely. That same property manager manages both and keeps them separate.

Are there any complications with council in terms of zoning?

Cameron Pass: The legislation that the NSW government has introduced has made it quite a straightforward process to get these sorts of buildings built. It's complying development, which means councils almost don't have to have a look in. It can go through private certification, provided you meet all the criteria... The criteria that you meet, that's the criteria that we're using when we're looking for a potential site, so it's things the like the block size. The surrounding houses impact what you can do.

It didn't complicate your lending at all? Were any of the banks saying 'I don't really understand what you're trying to do here'?

Cameron Pass: Interesting point. No, it wasn't a specific issue about having the granny flat... Initially, we had some interesting times with the financing on the purchase of that first block. The value didn't meet the purchase price, initially, so the funds that we had allocated for building were chewed up in that. Straight away, I knew that we could look at another lender and I went to another... It was just a bit of a hiccup. It was interesting that the first bank wasn't keen.

Why have you gone down this path of building property rather than buying established property?

Cameron Pass: For us, it's partly my enjoyment and passion to build and get involved that way. At the same time, initially, we saw it as a way that would be different to allow us to potentially accelerate because of the extra serviceability that you get from having the granny flat as opposed to just having a stand-alone dwelling.

The other part of the theory behind the new build is that there's value to be had in building a house with an attached granny flat because it's serving a higher purpose than with the block of land if you just build a new house on it. It's hard to measure that difference in value compared to just the pure construction costs, what you'd be paying over and above the house, just because we've seen growth over the period from the time we started the projects to finishing.

Do you think you'll always stick with buying new property or will you dip your toe into some established stuff at some point?

Cameron Pass: Interesting question. For now, I think we've probably finished our purchasing for the foreseeable future. I can't rule it out for sure, because when you do a comparable or a weighting, when you compare buying existing and renting compared to this strategy, you can see that buying an existing would make building a portfolio much of a quicker process. You've got immediate rent and you can probably almost instantly harvest equity.... For us, it's partly because, while I enjoy the building process and going through that... we think there's a bit of value to be had on getting higher purpose for that block of land had it not been a house.

The long-term plan is to try and get an income, aside from our 9-to-5 job, so it can support our lifestyle whatever that may be. It may not necessarily mean that we have to work, but for me, in the foreseeable future, that could mean our own business.

 

Tune in to Cameron Pass' episode in The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about his "Buy, Build, and Hold" strategy, and his tips for fellow builder-investors.

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  string(72) "Mortgages in a tighter lending economy and why Brisbane is a good option"
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Tune in to the latest episode of Property Showcase, the podcast with the inside track on the products and businesses that will help turbocharge your portfolio, maximise returns and make your overall investment experience seamless and stress-free!

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To hear more about these services, make sure to tune in to this episode of Property Showcase!

 Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to us now on iTunes!

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Son Pham is the accredited Head of Mortgages at Rethink Financing\/Rethink Investing. He has over 6 years\u2019 experience writing loans, over 12 years in the wealth management industry working for the likes of CBA, AMP and private practice and he is also a licenced financial planner (AFSL 326450). He has multiple investment properties that are cash flow positive which help pay his mortgage on his home and fund his lifestyle.<\/p>\r\n

Son is able to write all types of residential and commercial property loans.<\/p>\r\n

In this episode of Property Showcase, head of mortgages at Rethink investing Son Pham joins host Tim Neary to unpack how an investor should approach getting a mortgage in place with banks tightening down on serviceability.<\/p>\r\n

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    In this episode of Property Showcase, director of investment services for Open Corp Michael Beresford,\u00a0joins\u00a0editor of Real Estate, Tim Neary to share why he disagrees that the cooling market means that the best times are behind us.<\/p>\r\n

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Smart Property Investment" ["menu-meta_description"]=> string(91) "Financial tips for property investors, from mortgages to cash flow to saving for a deposit." 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Mortgages in a tighter lending economy and why Brisbane is a good option
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  ["title"]=>
  string(82) "Stories of success: The migrants that became Australia’s renowned Property Twins"
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Sana and Mona Ali moved to Australia from Pakistan at the age of 15. Years later, the once-struggling migrants successfully turned their $40,000 savings into a $5 million-portfolio, earning the moniker “The Property Twins” — all before the age of 30. How did these millennials make their way to the top?

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The Ali sisters lived in low socioeconomic conditions for years since arriving in Australia in 2000, but instead of accepting their fate, they used their circumstance as motivation to work hard and achieve financial security.

According to Sana: “Moving countries was a huge personal challenge. We were living in a low socioeconomic area of Sydney and we just saw people around us living really good lives. It really pushed us and made us wonder, ‘What if we could buy more than one house?’”

They initially wanted just a strong financial foundation for themselves and their family and the sense of security brought about by owning a home. In less than a decade, they got all of it and more.

Aside from being able to build a 10-property portfolio, the Ali sisters were also successful in establishing a mortgage business that aims to help investors make the best decisions for their own wealth-creation journeys.

“We just want to feel that Australia is really home and to have our roots here,” Mona highlighted.

How it all started

What they lacked in funds, the Ali sisters made up for continuous education, training and mentorship.

In 2009, they have both spent years in the Information Technology and Project Management fields before progressing through finance roles. The high-net worth individuals that they constantly work made them realise that there’s more they can aspire for than corporate jobs.

They started doing research and eventually bought their first property in Parramatta through their combined savings of $40,000 and the aid of the First Home Owners Grant. Seven months later, they bought their second property in Blacktown.

Mona shared: “I personally wasn’t a good saver, because I loved shopping and shoes. Nothing wrong with that, but looking back, it's like a ‘need it versus want it’ question. Obviously, I did buy a lot of shoes but we didn’t go travelling and all of that. So, we did have some savings.”

The Ali sisters opted for cheap properties in the lower end of the market to jumpstart their investment journey for low-entry prices.

“The cash flow meant when we did rent the properties out, they could look after themselves,” Mona highlighted.

Sana and Mona advise investors to avoid being afraid of starting small. Being realistic instead of aiming for a dream home on their first shot at investing helped them enter the market sooner than later.

After all, property investment is a long-term commitment and, essentially, a kind of “delayed gratification”.

The twin’s property portfolio grew to consist of eight more properties spread across Western Sydney and Brisbane, including units, villas and townhouses.

Strategies

Not long after they started investing in properties, the Ali sisters sold their first two properties in Sydney to take advantage of the property boom that happened in the city. Prior to selling, they did cosmetic renovations on these properties to add value and eventually extracted equity from them.

The first property returned around $330,000 while the second property returned around $190,000.

Mona and Sana used the extracted equity to make their third and fourth property purchase, which are strata properties located in Blacktown. Less than 10 years later, the same properties have increased in value by 90 to 100 per cent.

As the market went more stagnant, Mona and Sana continued increasing their savings to improve the buffer for their portfolio. They saved 20 to 30 per cent of their salary, sacrificed travels, minimised eating out and drove a Kia Rio for years to save as much as they could.

For years, they carefully weighed their needs and wants to determine the things they could live without as they are building their portfolio.

Where to buy

The Ali sisters deliberately chose to buy most of their properties in the Western Sydney region, between Parramatta and Penrith.

According to them, having properties in such good locations, as in close to transport and other valuable infrastructure and establishments, helped them maintain good cash flow and minimise the impact of property investment on their finances and lifestyle.

While they have implemented different strategies throughout their investment journey, good location is one of their non-negotiables.

Sana explained: “We wanted to make sure the properties were well-located. That’s formed the foundation of our property strategy, where we make sure that properties are close to the train station, or a big shopping centre, because that’s what’s going to drive the demand down the track.”

Who to work with

Unlike many investors, the Ali sisters didn’t recognise the value added by property professionals to their portfolio in the beginning. In fact, it took them four purchases to seek the guidance of experts. Needless to say, it turned out to be among their more costly decisions.

According to Sana: “You don’t know what you don’t know, and we didn’t know any better. In hindsight, it would have been good to work with a broker for our initial couple of purchases.” 

Through online forums, they found out about the benefits of working with a mortgage broker and has since worked with a few throughout their investment journey. They taught them not only what they needed to know about mortgage broking, but also what they want to be done differently.

Eventually, Mona and Sana grew to love the “numbers side of property” and went on to establish their own mortgage business, The Property Twins. The business aims to empower investors by offering different services, including building portfolio roadmaps and finding better loans.

According to them, their personal experiences as investors consistently help them provide the best customer service and most effective advice even amidst changing broking spaces.

Mona said: “We really look at building road maps for our clients upfront. On paper, we really put the options down — lender A, B, C, D, in that order — so you continue maximising what's really possible for you."

“Whilst you have no control over the lending policies or where your interest rates go, if you’re making that strategic choice, you’re keeping a lot of doors open for later investment," she added.

Helping investors

As investors-turned-mortgage brokers, Mona and Sana seek to improve the knowledge of Australian investors and ultimately help them achieve their financial goals. Their experiences as investors who, quite literally, started from the bottom allow them to provide realistic and well-rounded advice to different types of investors.

Instead of acting as mere intermediaries who bring borrowers and lenders together, they take on a holistic approach and help budding investors establish a good foundation for their investment journey.

The most important advice they give to their clients is to always implement long-term strategies, but also be flexible enough to alter plans accordingly along the way.

Sana explained: “You need to look at the big picture rather than just one product or one rate focus, because it's a long-term strategy for you.” 

“We are taking our clients on a journey. It’s not about one transaction at a time, it’s about the big picture and really educating them through the process, through the decisions that they are going to be making — just talking through the pros and cons, the rates and how it's impacting them and what their plans are in the next six to 12 months," Mona highlighted.

Finding the right mentors is critical to success in property investment, according to them. Finding the ones who will be willing to understand your goals, capabilities and limitations as an investor and give you tailored advice will certainly help you fast track your wealth-creation journey.

In fact, Mona and Sana themselves have made it a point to stay in contact with their mentors even after they have successfully crossed the $5 million-line.

As mortgage brokers, the Ali sisters go above and beyond their responsibilities to serve as lessons and inspirations to budding investors.

Mona said: “It’s been really rewarding to see the changes that people have had or the smart decisions our clients have made over the last couple of months. Whilst we’re not property coaches or mentors, that naturally comes to us.

“We pretty much hold their hand and say, ‘Look, this is what we would buy, this is what would make a good property and this is what you should be looking for, and where you should be looking.’ When you’re working with someone who’s been there, where you want to go, you cut down 10 years’ worth of effort,” she concluded.

 

The information has been sourced from propertytwins.com.au, realestate.com.au, Daily Mail and the Smart Property Investment website.

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Stories of success: The migrants that became Australia’s renowned Property Twins
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Will Magee has had ambitions to enter into the Australian property market for quite some time, but it has been more than just finances holding him back.  Having been granted permanent residency just two weeks ago, Will is wasting no time and is now in the process of signing papers and finding his first investment property.

" ["fulltext"]=> string(2483) "

In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Will joins host Phil Tarrant to share why he is purchasing his first property in partnership with his brother, discuss the complications that can arise from such a strategy, and unpack the ongoing plan for building a joint property portfolio with his brother.

Will will also share how they approached saving for their first property, why he is taking out the mortgage in his name exclusively, and share their savings plan for the year ahead.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

From property in Australia to a ski lodge in Japan
Mortgage Trusts, an alternative first step for property investors
Should a real estate title be in one person’s name only?

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A property investment plan years in the making

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