After successfully building a 28-property portfolio in a span of seven years, Scott O’Neill is not yet done engaging in the business of creating wealth through property.
Since he began investing in property back in 2010, the Sydney-based engineer has acquired more than $11 million worth of assets, which secures him an income of $300,000 each year. Right now he is looking into investing in properties overseas while helping his friends and family start their own property investment journey and ultimately craft their own path towards financial freedom and stability.
Scott shares his future plans with Smart Property Investment and reveals some of the secrets of his success as a property investor:
What do you do when you travel in between buying property investments?
Scott O’Neill: I'm going to the U.S. this year… I don't think I'll buy over there but I'm really looking into it hard, so I'm trying to meet some similar investors over there that have done well… I'm not going to pretend I know the U.S. market, I just want to leverage off what I know to pick what someone else knows a bit better than me. I'm just going to see what comes out of that because there could be a bit of a free ride with the… Aussie dollar falling against the US.
What could be the downsides of investing overseas?
Scott O’Neill: The fact that you need checks to do things, and property management is not as strong as it is in Australia… I've got no idea what the tenants are like there… It is all risk, but I'm a property nerd, basically. I'll keep looking into all those just because it's enjoyable—lots of reading and I do sort of keep the ear to the ground in Australia… There's plenty to do when you're travelling.
How do you see yourself as a property investor?
Scott O’Neill: I work in property because I enjoy it… Even finding properties for others now, it's just, it's like chasing the hunt... It's like treasure hunting… After I stopped buying or was tapped out from the banks, I'd help my sisters buy or their friends, and then their friends. It would just flow on through that way. It was just enjoyable and I think there's a shelf life of three weeks on a beach, doing nothing, so you can't do that… This is the game for now.
Are you still buying now?
Scott O’Neill: I buy once a year now because my finances are too tangled to bother one at a time. I normally buy around December each year. There's not many buyers around [that time] and there's normally a lot of people trying to offload properties quite quickly around Christmas, so I'll buy three or four on the spot, and then sit out for the rest of the year.
In terms of securing finance, have you got all your stuff cross-collateralised or all siloed?
Scott O’Neill: All siloed… spread between the majors. I think I've got a couple with Aussie Home Loans, but that's about the smallest bank I'm with... I haven't fixed many rates. I like being quite nimble with the portfolio… I've just basically spread it out as much as possible, so it's all independent.
What type of properties are you looking into buying next?
Scott O’Neill: Imagine a Thai restaurant that's in front of a major shopping centre—there's going to be tenants there for the next 50 years. People have got to eat. As long as the population grows around it, there's going to be people continually needing that spot… They're the types of commercials I've been targeting—office space, some kind of industrial stuff… But it scares me a little bit, to be honest.
What would be your advice for property investors who want to make the jump from one to more than 20 properties?
Scott O’ Neill: Sounds a bit cliché, [but] just only look at the numbers. I see so many people buy because their uncle said, ‘Buy this area because I feel like it's going to grow,’ and that's it. They make decisions [basing] on purely growth, but if you [got to ask]... what's the cash flow in and out? And then kind of predict things around population growth [and other relevant factors]... Just break the numbers down in every way you can, that's how you reduce your risk.
Tune in to Scott O’Neill’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the diversity of his assets, how he’s “buying his time back” through property investment, and how he’s effectively managing his assets to secure $300,000 in income each year.