Our Portfolio

How we saved money on our Port Kembla investment property purchase

By Phillip Tarrant
Port Kembla investment property

As I write this column, we’re about three weeks away from settling on our recent purchase in Port Kembla.

I wrote at length last month about our latest investment purchase and the rationale for choosing the Wollongong area.

In summary, we like the size of the area, its geographic positioning, and in particular, its economic diversity.

Built on the bedrock of a solid port and heavy manufacturing industries, Wollongong is also rich in employment opportunities in other sectors, including health, education, hospitality and retail.

It ticks our investment boxes and will deliver not only long-term capital growth but also immediate rental yields via a strong demand for rental properties.
While often considered an ugly duckling of the Wollongong area, Port Kembla is a town undergoing a transformation.

Identified by the port that bears its name, the suburb has long been considered a melting pot of cultures drawn by the heavy industries that give Wollongong a lot of its uniqueness, character and appeal.

The town has a certain sense of balance and harmony, and is home to not only port workers, professionals and trades working in the local economy, but also an increasing number of holidaymakers.

Timing is important with any property purchase, and the need to balance cash flows should always be front and centre

The main street of Port Kembla feels a little rundown, with a number of empty shops – a result of the burgeoning Westfield shopping centre around the corner – however the high street continues to serve the local community.

The upsides for Port Kembla are significant, and we’re taking a long-term view by investing in the area.

The town and wider area is defined by its industrial past, but it sits on one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches on the New South Wales coast. Strong job prospects will sustain job security and wage growth, which will boost population numbers and investment – from local, state and national governments.

Wollongong is a region that will grow, and we’ve backed the suburb of Port Kembla as a long-term, slow-burning performer as it goes through a period of gentrification.

Good negotiation

The buying process for our Port Kembla property has been a bit of a bumpy ride, with a number of factors influencing how we acquired the property.

We purchased the property for $320,000, which reflects a true purchase price of $325,000 less an additional $5,000 we’ll receive off the purchase price at the time of settlement.

What this means is that our initial five per cent deposit was based on the $325,000, however we’ll receive the adjustment at the time of settlement. Not a massive amount but every dollar counts.

Port Kembla industry
Port Kembla is often defined by its industrial past

So how did we manage to get the additional discount? It all comes down to good negotiation.

The property was originally listed at a $350,000 purchase price, which we felt was under market.

The asset consists of two two-bedroom villas (or town houses), which is very unique for this area and a hard one to find comparable properties on.

Looking at the local market, three-bedroom houses are being sold upwards of $400,000, with some four-bedroom houses realising prices in excess of $530,000.

But I’m the first to acknowledge that this property is a bit of an eyesore. Some would even argue it’s much more than an eyesore; however this is where experience counts.

Firstly, I’m not planning to uproot my family and move to the property. Remember, this is an investment property and my goal is to maximise my prospects for boosting its capital value while generating revenue (a return) on the property as this value grows. It’s pretty straightforward.

Already an investment property, each two-bedroom villa has been returning between $230–$250 per week over the past few years. A quick calculation of yield, based on our purchase price and a rent of $250, shows this investment in delivering a little over eight per cent – pretty good.

This doesn’t include other costs associated with the purchase and holding the investment, which is a measurement we usually use when doing our numbers, but as a top-line view this property is fetching a yield I’d argue any investor would be happy with.

Know your goals

We’ve been toying with the idea of just leaving the property as it is, parking it in the portfolio and getting a relatively neutral investment position.

We’re also considering adding some value to the property through renovation with a view to immediately elevate the property’s capital value (instant equity) and rental return – and this looks like the path we’re going to follow.

However, back to the actual purchase.

Port Kembla investment property
Our new investment property in Port Kembla

Timing is important with any property purchase, and the need to balance cash flows should always be front and centre.

Having recently settled our property in GlenroyGlenroy, NSW Glenroy, VIC, Victoria, and without any refinancing in place, we were very conscious about not putting too much pressure on our finances when purchasing the Port Kembla property.

As a result of this position, our objective was to secure the property, ie. take it off the market, but delay the actual transfer of any deposit cash plus other expenses as long as possible.

We used a number of levers to achieve this. The first was to drag our heels a little on signing a contract – delaying it where we could by going back with questions and taking time to respond to the agent.

Seeing as our buyer’s agent, the Right Property Group, had an existing and good relationship with the agent, we were able to stall a little.

After the initial round of negotiations where we established our position to pay $325,000 for the property, we were able to stall for time by making that purchase price conditional to a pest and building inspection.

That bought us some more time as we arranged the inspection, waiting for the results. We then embarked on another round of negotiation to attempt to drive down the purchase price using the report as leverage to highlight the property’s weakness and problem areas.

We attempted to seek early access, which was rejected by the vendor. I think we may have pushed our luck a little too far

It was during this next round of negotiations that we agreed to another $5,000 off the purchase price, to be adjusted at the time of settlement.

We obviously attempted to get more off the purchase price, but the vendor would not budge. So we shifted tactics, seeking a longer settlement term to allow us time to refinance another property to give us the cash we need to finance this purchase – and this we received, securing a three-month settlement period.

The whole negotiation process was undertaken by our buyer’s agent Steve Waters – liaising directly with me to understand our position and pressure points. It worked well and we’re very happy with the results – an excellent purchase price plus a longer settlement period to allow us time to underwrite the purchase.

We’re now three weeks away from settlement and we have cash in the bank ready to go – cash to not only cover settlement costs (the remainder of the deposit, legal fees, stamp duty and other sundries) but also the renovation on the property.

We’re looking to transform this property – giving it much improved street appeal but also create an interior that will substantially increase the rent we can generate.

After the exchange of the contract we’ve attempted to seek early access to the property during the settlement period so we could commence renovation works and get a head start on the work that needs to be done – which was rejected by the vendor. I think we must have pushed our luck a little too far.

The renovation will be an exciting project and one that I’m itching to get my teeth into. I’ve yet to actually see the property and need to get a clear picture on what exactly needs to be done, but I’ll be visiting the day after settlement and making our plans – which I’ll share with you soon.

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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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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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