our-portfolio

Setting yourself up for success

By Phillip Tarrant
Property investment strategy

To realise your investment goals you’ve got to get your house in order – which means gaining an intimate understanding of your portfolio. Get this right and you’re on the path to success.

I always get excited when I review our property portfolio. It inspires me to work harder to prepare for our next purchase, as well as giving me time to reflect on some of the decisions we’ve made and the areas we can improve.

Coming off the back of a marathon meeting with our property team recently – our mortgage broker, accountant and buyer’s agent – I’ve picked up my game over the last few weeks and put some solid planning in place to prepare for our next purchases.

It’s been a year now since we’ve purchased a property. The past 12 months have been pretty intense on the work front as we’ve continued to grow our business, dragging my attentions elsewhere. But our portfolio is always in the back of my mind.

While we haven’t purchased over the past 12 months, the time has been good for our portfolio and this is an excellent case in point on the virtues that time can play in wealth creation, particularly when it comes to property investment.

A property portfolio is constantly in a state of flux. Whether it’s growth in the values of individual properties, changes in rents, losing or gaining tenants, repairs and maintenance

Get the real picture of your portfolio

The equity in our property portfolio has increased favourably and I’m confident in our position to kick-start 2014 with cash on the hip, ready to buy. Refinanced to 90 per cent loan-to-value ratio (LVR), we have the capacity to extract $427,000 from our portfolio. You can do a lot of damage with that!

I spoke last month about the importance of preparation when growing your portfolio: the need for pre-approvals and a game plan for your purchasing strategy.

It’s also essential you have an up-to-the minute view of your portfolio’s performance – you need to be able to quickly ascertain your net position, and this visibility is paramount if you want to succeed in property investing.

A property portfolio is constantly in a state of flux. Whether it’s growth in the values of individual properties, changes in rents, losing or gaining tenants, repairs and maintenance, it always requires some degree of attention.

I outsource the management of all our properties. The time savings I achieve by not dealing one-on-one with tenants is significant, allowing me to direct my attention towards the growth of our portfolio. This is money very well spent, and by and large, the agents we use to manage our properties do a pretty good job.

There are also some very good software programs available on the market to help you manage and map your portfolio. However, if you’re not using a dedicated program, a simple Excel spreadsheet can do the job. It’s important to find out and be comfortable with what works for you when administrating your portfolio; then focus on accuracy, timeliness and simplicity.

You also need to be comfortable in how you report your numbers and the measurements you use to equate the performance of your portfolio. One example of this – and somewhere I see a considerable amount of difference between investors – is rental yields.

This can be an important measurement of the performance of each property, highlighting the return you receive on the investment you’ve made. Yields can be a good mechanism for benchmarking a property against other similar properties in the area, whether you’re assessing the potential of a particular property purchase or seeking to dial up your rent.

There is a range of ways rental yield can be calculated, and they are typically favourable to the agent or developer marketing the property. Obviously, an agent or developer trying to sell a property is going try and paint the best possible picture, and presenting a property based on the rent it receives as a reflection of the actual purchase price is going to give just one measurement.

Smart Property Investment calculates all costs associated with a purchase to give what we feel is a true rental yield. This includes the actual cost to purchase a property (the purchase price) but also all sundry costs, such as stamp duty, bank and associated loan fees, conveyancing costs, buyer’s agent fees, the cost of any renovations, as well as the pest and building expenses.

This gives a more accurate picture of the true cost to secure the investment, with the rental return a reflection of that amount. These numbers, however, are all relevant and as long as you’re consistent, it’s up to you how you choose to assess your portfolio – but my advice is to be honest with yourself.

You’ll find that as you get a few properties under your belt, with a number at different cycles and stages (including those that have been renovated or refinanced), you’ll need a number of other mechanisms to measure the performance of your property. Cash flow, or the impact of tax and depreciation, are just a couple.

I had a good debate with our buyer’s agent, Steve Waters from Right Property Group, while producing this month’s column around this issue of assessing a portfolio. For some of the properties he has held for a number of years and refinanced multiple times, he likes to use a measure of the performance of a particular property as the rent it receives compared to the actual loan amount.

For Mr Waters, this reflects the depth of refinancing activity over time and gives a clearer picture of the property’s performance compared to others in his portfolio, as well as the current market.

Other experts I’ve spoken to in this space, such as Ben Kingsley from Empower Wealth and chairman of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA), use a simple measure of yields in their client portfolios to give some general visibility on the viability and success of a property.

However, he uses this in conjunction with in-depth modelling to factor in all other costs associated with an investment, including owner’s corporation fees, property management fees, ongoing maintenance cost provisions, occupancy rates, the benefits of tax and depreciation, cash flow and other elements to offer an insight into the performance of a property over time.

At the end of the day, it’s what works for you. Just be consistent and give yourself a true picture of your real positioning. The best property investment decisions are made by dealing with the facts, not the ‘what ifs’, so get it right early on. If you feel this is outside of your level of expertise, I recommend you seek assistance from the experts and utilise their skills and experience.

Grab the low hanging fruit

We’ve got a number of properties with varying degrees of equity. Those with a higher LVR are typically properties we’ve purchased, renovated and refinanced, using the equity to finance additional purchases.

It’s a strategy that has generated good results and we’ve been able to create a solid portfolio that offers plenty of scope for additional purchases. You’ll also note the properties where we’ve undertaken a renovation to increase rental yield and capital values, but have yet to extract any equity.

There are also properties we’ve purchased well under market value, and sat on, letting time do its work.

Being intimately familiar with your portfolio is critical if you want to succeed in property investing

For us, those properties with significant available equity are the ones we will capitalise on for our next purchases. Our property in Mount Kuring-gai has the most equity available, potentially o-ffering $135,000 should we refinance at 90 per cent LVR. While some of this equity is a result of financing the property at 80 per cent LVR (a 20 per cent deposit), we’ve seen some exceptional growth in this property over the past 12 months.

With a valuation in the mid-$700,000 mark, it’s a relatively straight-forward process to refinance this property to 90 per cent; and the research we’ve undertaken shows this property should continue to see ongoing growth over the period ahead.

It’s quite a tightly held geographic area that is very popular with families, with very few rental properties on the market. This will continue to place upward pressure on rents, giving us confidence the rental return should stay strong and stable.

Our property in North St Marys – the first purchase we made – also offers considerable scope for refinancing, and we’ll look to draw on that equity to finance our next purchases. By refinancing at 90 per cent LVR we can draw approximately $82,000 from this property, giving us plenty of clout to move quickly once the next opportunity arises.

Being intimately familiar with your portfolio is critical if you want to succeed in property investing. Assessing your portfolio on a regular basis will allow you to spot problems as they arise but importantly, give you the confidence to make decisions.

Some of the best opportunities will be those you need to move quickly on. I’ve missed out on a few buying opportunities simply because I haven’t had a pre-approval in place or the cash on hand to pay an immediate deposit – mistakes I plan not to make again.

Our buyer’s agent – who has full visibility of our portfolio and is aware of our “readiness” position – can sometimes require an answer immediately, with a deposit paid that day. That’s how quick it can happen and if you want to succeed, you need to be in the game because these quick opportunities are often great buys.

I hope this month’s column will kick-start you to take control of your portfolio and get yourself in a ‘buying ready’ position – with all your ducks in a row.

The onus is on you to make it happen, so take ownership, take responsibility and take action.

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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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  • The pitfalls that he has seen people get into<\/li>\r\n
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    Whether it\u2019s building a successful property portfolio or investing in one of their Development Funds, Open Corp can help you through every stage of your investment journey. The team has 40 property specialists who collectively have been involved in over $4 billion worth of property transactions and the acquisition of more than 8000 homes and investment properties.<\/p>\r\n

    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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  string(318) "

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
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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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