It takes good discipline to be a successful property investor. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard about a good investment that stacked up but has been outside of our strategy.
The process we use to create wealth through property is to purchase under market value properties in the $180,000-$300,000 price range in growing areas – with good or expanding infrastructure, plus solid wage growth and a demand for housing – and then we seek to add value through undertaking cost-effective cosmetic (and sometimes structural) renovations.
We seek properties with strong yields that deliver a neutral or positively geared cash flow position. And we’re in for the long term; we’re not looking to renovate to flip – we’re seeking long-term buys that deliver good results. Then we let time take its course, delivering an increase in capital value.
While we do have properties that are negatively geared, the diversity in our property portfolio delivers a relatively neutral result, and that’s not taking into account the effect of tax and depreciation. So in essence, our portfolio isn’t costing us a lot to run. As long as we’re seeing capital growth in our properties – and we are – we’re ahead of the game.
But back to discipline. Our strategy works for us and we haven’t deviated from it – despite some mouth-watering opportunities that have come our way.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with assessing other opportunities – if only to improve your own knowledge – but you’ve got to stay the course.
I speak with investors who one day are looking to buy an off-the-plan two-bedroom unit in a high-density development and the next they’re talking about a knock-down rebuild and placing four townhouses on a block. It’s enough to make your head spin.
While it might be exciting to talk about and explore all these wonderful opportunities, it’s easy to get carried away. Decide what works for you and what fits within your buying capabilities and other constraints, and stick to it. Don’t spread yourself too thin and cover too much; you’ll only do things by half and fail to achieve the results you want – you may even end up losing money.
A scalable approach
Take a look at our portfolio– you’ll see a lot of similarities amongst the properties.
While the lion’s share of properties are in Sydney’s western suburbs and have similar characteristics (purchase price, demographics, rental returns, property type, renovation work undertaken), if you check back in a few months’ time, you’ll see some new properties appearing – most likely in the Logan area in Brisbane, Queensland.
We’re doing a lot of work right now assessing the market there and locating the right properties for our portfolio. We’ve got a good buyer’s agent – Steve Waters from Right Property Group – who is intimately familiar with our portfolio, our buying capabilities, finance readiness and our strategy; he’s on the ground now.
Although Brisbane is in another state, and is indeed a different market to Sydney, the reality is that by looking to expand our portfolio by investing in the Logan area, we haven’t changed our strategy.
I speak with investors who one day are looking to buy an off-the-plan two-bedroom unit in a high-density development and the next they’re talking about a knock-down rebuild and placing four townhouses on a block. It’s enough to make your head spin
Yes, the houses do look a little different, the weather’s a bit hotter and the beer is not as great, but our investing strategy is essentially identical.
The Logan area in not unlike the western suburbs of Sydney, and locations like Woodridge are pretty much on a par with areas like Mount Druitt.
There’s no need to alter our investment strategy – we can pretty much take a cookie-cutter approach:
• Can we buy within the $180,000- $300,000 bracket?
• Can we identify under market value properties?
• Can the properties offer a neutral or positive cash flow position?
• Do we have the capability to undertake cost-effective renovations and increase the capital value of a property without over capitalising?
• Does the area show good prospects for capital growth over time, as well as demand for rents, which places upwards pressure on rental values?
The list goes on. The point I’m making is that our strategy can translate to any state or capital in Australia.
What works for you
I can’t express how important it is to establish a strategy and keep to it. Do your research, understand your objectives, get a good team around you, and continually educate and invest in yourself.
The excitement I get from investing in property is through knowing I’ve got a good deal. To get a good deal you need to be prepared, so be finance ready with the capability to follow up any investment purchase.
Fear is also a big driver. I’m not staking our hard-earned cash on an investment I’m not confident will get me results. I like to be in control, and our strategy gives us that control.
While some readers might think our strategy isn’t very glamorous – we’re not buying blue-chip properties on the beachfront that we can boast to our friends about at the next dinner party – it works.
A good friend of mine recently bought up in the Logan area. A colleague of his who comes from one of the more affluent parts of Brisbane was quick to tell him how bad an area it was and that his place was sure to be damaged by tenants.
I hear these kinds of uneducated statements from a lot of people when I chat about our properties in western Sydney. If they’re unable to see the wood for the trees, I’m happy not to have that competition for the properties I’m after.
While we’ve done well with our portfolio to date, the last six to nine months have been a little more mundane – but just as important.
Getting our administration up to date, securing pre-approvals, researching the market and getting ready to buy are all an essential part of the process. These are the fundamentals to property investing, and we’ve got our house in order.
If you’re unsure of where you stand right now, my advice is to follow our lead – know where you are and be confident you’re ready to buy.
Remember to check back with us next month to see the steps we’ve taken towards our next purchase. I enjoy sharing our path to building our portfolio with you. If you have any questions please feel free to email me: [email protected]
Portfolio at a glance
$2,695,000: Total value of portfolio
$694,798: Total equity
$2,890: Total weekly rent return
6.8%: Average rental yiekld
$9,154: Total monthly mortgage repayments
August 2011: Date of first purchase
December 2012: Date of last purchase