How this former engineer embraced property investment

How this former engineer embraced property investment

By Bianca Dabu | 20 March 2018

Scott O’Neill discovered that his passion lies in property investment, so he grew a multi-property portfolio and established a career as a buyer’s agent—but why did he let go of his day job and made a complete transition?

Before starting his investment journey, Mr O’Neill worked as an engineer in Sydney, surrounded by professionals 20 years older than him whose lives are dedicated to building railways even on holidays.

According to him: “If I worked past 5:30 p.m., I'd be disgusted. I hated it.”

So, he shifted gears and found another way to make his future financially stable. Within seven years, he was able to build an impressive 28-property portfolio worth more than $11 million dollars.

Letting go of his stable job to dedicate his life to property investment was not an easy journey, but he knew that he wanted to make a full-time career out of buying properties as soon as he saw the returns on his second investmentMr O’Neill said.

The property, which was purchased for $425,000 and rented out for over $800 a week, gave him around $15,000 worth of earnings annually.

Mr O’Neill shared: “I thought … ‘Imagine owning 10 of those. You can actually replace your income’. I was obsessed from that point [on]. So, [I] just chased high cash flow stuff and they all grew in value, too … That allowed me to have deposits and be in a position to move forward.”

“It's been a long road but it was always the plan—to treat it like a business to replace engineering,” he added.

He knew the lessons he acquired from his journey are meant to be shared, so he established a buyer’s agency group called Rethink Investing, where he and his fellow agents teach people the same processes and strategies he used as an investor.

As a buyer’s agent, Mr O’Neill helps budding investors find properties that can provide both good cash flow and capital growth so they can continue growing their portfolio.

He said: “[We] buy the same types of properties I had a lot [of] success buying, [which are] basically properties with slightly better yield than others, and things like unit blocks, commercials, duplexes—anything to get a better income than the average.”

“When you do that, you can actually acquire more properties and, if you're still in a growth market … you can get the best of both worlds—cash flow and growth,” the buyer’s agent added.

Luck and hard work

Through the years, one of the most important lessons Mr O’Neill learned is the value of hard work.

While he definitely reaped the benefits of the Sydney boom during the earlier part of his investment journey, he always made it a point to put in time and effort to improve his market intelligence. In fact, after buying two properties in the city, he went on to explore other marketplaces across Australia in order to seek new wealth-creation opportunities and ultimately diversify his portfolio.

Through thorough research, he was able to find assets that gave him good cash flow and equity within a shorter period of time, minus all the competition in bigger markets. One of those assets is a $710,000-block with five units strata-titled individually. In four years, the value of the asset has grown to $1.5 million.

According to Mr O’Neill: “That kind of stuff produced equity a lot quicker than [those I found in] ... Sydney … Outside Sydney, [I was] getting similar returns but, overall, I was getting a better cash flow on top.”

“It just took thousands of hours of searching for these things … I [once] letterbox-dropped about 300 properties in Port Macquarie. I found every unit block … [and kept notes] … [and] I just kept writing, ‘I'd like to buy this off you. I'll pay above market rate’, just to try and get them excited … One came back out of the three hundred,” the buyer’s agent shared further.

As a buyer’s agent, he makes sure to do the same due diligence for his clients.

At the end of the day, his success—both as an investor and a property professional—comes down to his willingness to “burn the shoe leather”. In contrast with how he felt about being an engineer, Mr O’Neill loves every minute he spends helping budding investors build their portfolio.

His advice for aspiring agents: “You've got to love it ... I spend hour after hour … [reading] nearly every article to do with property … looking at all the stats, 10 different websites. You won't be able to do that for long-term unless you love it.”


Tune in to Scott O’Neill’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the skills required to become a good buyer’s agent.



An agent is a real estate professional licensed to guide property buyers and sellers with their transactions.


An agent is a person authorised to act as a representative in the selling, buying, renting, or management of a property.


An agent is a person authorised to act as representative in the selling, buying, renting or management of a property.


An investment is an asset or item purchased with the expectation that it will generate income or appreciate in value in the future.


Property refers to either a tangible or intangible item that an individual or business has legal rights or ownership of, such as houses, cars, stocks or bond certificates.

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How this former engineer embraced property investment
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