our-portfolio

How we'll make renovating long distance work

By Phillip Tarrant
Interstate property renovations

The ink has now dried on the contract, settlement has taken place and we have the keys to our new two-bedroom town house in Woodridge, Queensland. It’s time to get down to work.

As I write this, our renovation crew is in action with a week and a half of hard graft ahead of them to prepare the property for tenanting.

With a purchase price of $145,000, we’re confident we’ve purchased under market value, which is always one of our key property investment objectives.

Considering the last like-for-like property sold in this complex for $187,000 in March 2012, we’ve clearly purchased well. But what are our plans from here?

In its current state we’d fetch around $240 a week in rent. While we’d need to spend a few dollars doing essential repairs (circa $1,000) to get it up to rental standard, we feel we won’t reach the property’s full potential without spending a few extra dollars.

With a smart, cost-effective renovation we should achieve a rent of between $270 and $280 – pretty good for the area.

While I feel intimately familiar with this investment property, the truth is I’ve never actually seen it

Over and above the opportunity to boost the rental return on the property, a cost-effective renovation will also help elevate its capital value significantly. This ‘manufactured equity’, plus the upsides of purchasing the property under market value, should deliver a nice return on our investment.

We can keep this increased equity within the property, effectively decreasing the loan-to-value ratio (LVR), or we can realise it through refinancing, bringing the LVR back up to 90 per cent. This is a level we’re comfortable with given current market dynamics in this area of Brisbane, as well as the longer-term potential.

I’m not an advocate of continually milking a property for its equity. However, I am comfortable with refinancing a property once to extract the cash initially invested and recycle it to finance another property in the future – and we’ll follow this approach with this property.

So, down to the renovation. You’re probably rightly wondering how we are going to undertake a renovation on a property over 1,000 kilometres from where I’m currently sitting. The answer is, we’re going to do it remotely, and in the coming months, I’ll share with you how we’ve done it.

Remote renovating

While I feel intimately familiar with this investment property, the truth is I’ve never actually seen it.

My experience with this property amounts to a video my buyer’s agent produced for me and uploaded to YouTube, a detailed report and discussion with the pest and building inspector, ongoing dialogue with my buyer’s agent, accountant and mortgage broker, as well as a bunch of detailed photos taken of various aspects of the property.

If I was to dispel one of the biggest misnomers I hear when it comes to property, it would be around the need to physically view it before you buy it.
With the right resources, technology, due process, understanding of your goals and confidence in your research, you can purchase without having physically set foot in a property. This holds true for local as well as interstate property.

Investors the nation over are happy to invest in this fashion, and I advocate it – as long as you’ve done it the right way.

For us, I have utmost confidence in our buyer’s agent to give me the ground truth. The state of the property, potential for upsides, short-, medium- and long-term prospects, as well as intelligence around rental dynamics are what I base my decisions on.

So I was happy to purchase this particular property in Woodridge, knowing that I’d followed this process to the letter. And when it comes to renovating remotely, it’s all down to good practice, common sense, sound communication, and confidence in the capabilities of your trades and other support people.

For this particular renovation I do hope at some point to visit the property. However, it’s not essential that I do. We’ve chosen to effectively ‘outsource’ the renovation to one particular contractor, AGJ Home & Property Maintenance, who has given me a fixed-price contract to undertake the work required.

Over and above the opportunity to boost the rental return on the property, a cost-effective renovation will also help elevate its capital value

In terms of scoping out the breadth of the renovation, I worked quite closely with our buyer’s agent to determine what were essential elements that had to be included, and what were not essential but would help significantly increase both rent and capital value.

At the time of negotiation on this property, the installation of new carpets for the bedrooms was included, so that is not required as part of the reno. However, other floor coverings need to be replaced because they significantly date the property.

A new kitchen is also essential. While it would be useable after some quick repairs, the current kitchen is falling apart and would need to be replaced soon, so it makes sense to install a new kitchen, oven and stove top now.

This holds true in the bathroom as well. While functional, it’s dated and if we’re going to improve the remainder of the house it’s worth spending the money now to renovate this room too.

Remember, two key areas tenants and bank valuers place heightened value on are the kitchen and bathroom, so keep this in mind when you’re exploring the possibilities of your next renovation.

As well as all this work, we’ll give the property a full internal paint, new curtains and light fittings. In essence, we’ll have a fully renovated property.

Keep it focused

Notwithstanding the prospects for this property through renovating, it’s important not to get carried away when undertaking any works on an investment property.

All too often renovations blow out – both in time and money. While the end result may be impressive, you need to remember the goal of a renovation from an investment perspective is to increase the rent the property receives, boost its capital value, or hopefully achieve both.

Every dollar spent must be for a purpose and you need to continually question the reason for undertaking certain works when renovating. For this particular property we’ve secured a good quote from the contractor we’ve chosen to use – which we sourced via our buyer’s agent.

Steve Waters from Right Property Group, who located and negotiated this property for us, has used this builder before and recommends the quality of his workmanship and his ability to get the job done on time.

As a result of the volume of work he receives from his wider network of property investors, he has been able to keep his prices lean, giving us a solid ¬fixed-price contract to get the work done. He also uses materials that are in line with our budget and with similar properties in the area.

We also have an agent lined up to market and let the property, who can check on the work for me as we progress to ensure it’s up to our goals and standards, and in line with what is expected in the area. This certainly gives me the confidence to undertake the work remotely.

All up we’re looking at about $11,000 to get the renovation done – I’ve outlined the scope of it below. Essentially, it’s a full internal renovation, but we’ll need to spend a few dollars on any electrical work, repairs and alterations that come up as part of the renovation.

On this note, you should always factor in an additional budget to your renovations as a buffer for unforeseen work that may need to take place. You may need some extra plumbing or electrical works that you just can’t see when you’re scoping out the work that needs to be done.

By the time you read the next instalment of Investment in Action, this renovation will be complete – if everything goes to plan – and hopefully tenants will be in.

Don’t forget to contact me with any questions or comments you have on this project at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Scope of renovation works

Kitchen
Remove and replace the kitchen with a kit kitchen, including overhead cupboards, sink and sink plumbing. Install splashback tiles, under bench oven and hot plates

Bathroom
Strip the bathroom tiles, shower screen and other bathroom fittings. Retile the whole bathroom, install a new vanity and shower glass, then grout and seal

Other internal works
Remove louvre doors to linen press in the hallway and replace with standard doors. Replace curtains throughout the unit and replace light fittings where required

Flooring
Remove flooring from the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, dining room and hall and replace with the same floor tiles throughout

Painting
Full internal paint of the unit, including all doors and frames, the ceiling (including exposed ceiling) and the walls

External works
Repair garage gates, remove weeds and tidy overgrown garden beds. Tidy the yard and remove rubbish

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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

    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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  ["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.

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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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