Finance advice

How ‘mistakes’ led to a four-property portfolio

By Bianca Dabu
mistakes in investing, investment, property market, property portfolio

Since beginning their property investment journey in 2015, husband-and-wife Brendon and Courtney have carried with them the lessons they have learned through each of their four purchases in order to make better decisions as they go along the path towards achieving financing freedom and stability.

The couple realised the exceptional wealth-creation potential in property after they witnessed their principal place of residence increase in value by around $400,000 in a short span of three years.

After a series of planning and preparation, they finally got pre-approval for their first investment property, which they bought in EaglebyEagleby, QLD Eagleby, QLD.

According to Courtney: “We knew we didn't want to invest in Sydney because the prices were astronomical, so we thought we'd have a look in Brisbane … [partly due to] the lack of education or only a minimum amount of research we'd been doing.”

“All the talk at the time was the Brisbane market … so, we found out our suburbs, did some research, and jumped on a plane … went and had a look around up in Queensland … found some areas we liked and started making some offers,” she added.

Little did Brendon and Courtney know that one of their very first experience-based lessons in property investment will come shortly after purchasing their first investment property.

Lack of research

There was “a lot going on in Brisbane” at the time that the couple decided to purchase a property, including a high expectation for gentrification.

According to Brendon, the population is expected to double in the whole Logan area over the next few years—around 20 to 30 years—and, in line with this forecast, they have decided that they are willing to hold the property for as long as it gets good returns.

However, over the past two years, the area has only seen a growth of about 12 per cent to 13 per cent.

While it’s a relatively good amount of growth, the couple knows that they could have done a little bit better as property investors.

Brendon explained: “In terms of a lot of research, it was just more [than] that whole growth corridor. Beenleigh, [the suburb next door], was getting upgraded ... We know Eagleby was going to go next … so we sort of just … jumped in … Letting our passion and excitement take over, I guess.”

“[We] really hoped that it would gentrify further ... but we got caught up as well, a little bit,” Courtney added.

The couple bought the property for $288,000 in 2015, and after two years, it’s now valued at $330,000.

While it could be seen as good growth by many property investors, Brendon and Courtney simply regret the better opportunities they might have missed—they could have used the money to induce better returns.

Courtney said: “Where could we have put that money and made more money? Isn't that the question that every investor asks?”

Lesson in finance

After buying their first investment property in Eagleby, Brendon and Courtney went on to buy two more assets in Deception Bay and Werribee.

Both areas are expected to grow in the near future. “We're in the long haul, so the risk isn't that high for us,” Brendon said.

In fact, Courtney considers the Werribee property in Melbourne as one of their best buys, next only to their principal place of residence.

She said: “I wasn't going to make [the same] mistake again. We researched a lot … went to the area, saw what streets we were happy with, and then just negotiated quite strongly.”

However, these succeeding purchases didn’t come without any lesson. While they were able to extract equity from their principal place of residence in order to kickstart their property investment journey, Courtney said that they still had to produce quite a big deposit in order to buy their assets.

According to her: “The difference for our principal place of residence and what the value is, it's quite low, so we're doing quite well there, [but] not having a mortgage broker and going to the banks [who have] just cross-collateralized the loans [was not good].

“In hindsight ... going to a good mortgage broker, we've worked out that [it] wasn't a good thing to do and it's sort of affected our serviceability,” she added.

While it’s an issue they can definitely sort out, the couple regrets how it has slowed them down in their property investment journey.

Brendon said: “It worked for us and allowed us to get some momentum to go forward but it's slowed us down now … They've essentially just tied the title, I guess, together with our owner-occupied.”

For their next properties, the couple got a pre-approval for a new loan through a trusted mortgage broker who worked with them to understand their goals, capabilities, and limitations as property investors.

Their advice for budding property investors: There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes along the way as long as you learn from them.

“Just get in there, have a go, research, educate yourself, and get a good team around you and meet the right people and just keep learning,” Brendon concluded.

Tune in to Brendon and Courtney’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about how they made the transition from being property buyers to being property investors, as well as what they have learned through the properties they bought and how it has impacted each purchase.

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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

Hear from\u00a0Son\u00a0about:\u00a0<\/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

    In this episode, hear from\u00a0Michael\u00a0about:\u00a0<\/p>\r\n

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Mortgages in a tighter lending economy and why Brisbane is a good option
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  string(5) "18293"
  ["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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