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How two global wanderers became property investors

How two global wanderers became property investors
December 21, 2017 Propertyology

Jo is from South Africa and Richard is from England. They met in London quite a few years ago and ended up in Sydney in 2008 – for a while.

Sick of the cold London days and nights, the couple decide to shift somewhere sunnier about a decade ago.

They couldn’t decide between South Africa and Australia so they left it up to immigration – as you do.

“We were sick of London, we had one child by then, and my husband’s always fallen in love with South Africa so we just took a bet on which visa would come through first. Obviously the Australian one did. They’re probably still processing the South African one,” Jo says with her ready laugh.

“We picked Sydney because we knew a few people here and they kept saying how lovely and wonderful it is. We’d never been here before so that in itself was a bit stupid.”

Unsettled in Sydney

Accountant, Jo, and Richard, who works in IT, spent the next seven years in Sydney, where two of their three children were born.

When Richard came into some money after his father died, they thought they better buy something with it but it just never worked out.

“We tried to buy houses, we pulled out of a few,” Jo says.

“We moved it over when the pound was very week and then we wanted to move it back when the dollar was very high. We just had this lump sum sitting in the account for about 10 years.”

The couple and their three children went back to London, but decided after just a year to give Sydney another go.

They returned a year ago and contacted the mortgage broker they’d be in contact with years before.

“In that time, the Sydney prices! What we could’ve afforded in 2008… it’s a bit depressing,” she says.

“The mortgage broker said, ‘Unfortunately, you can still just borrow as much as you could have a few years ago, the problem is those properties are now double the price.’

“We thought, let’s buy an investment but we’d never considered it before and in hindsight I wish we had because it’s such a logical thing to do.”

Friends in deeds

As fate would have it, a friend of Jo and Richard’s was a client of Propertyology’s already and had a similar story.

They, too, had money for a deposit, were professionals, but couldn’t afford to buy in Sydney either.

“He’s a research-type of a guy and researched and researched and found Propertyology. He really highly recommended them to us. It still took us a year to phone them but we did,” Jo says.

That phone call lead them to Propertyology’s Head of Property Acquisitions, Bryan Loughnan, who talked the couple through their nerves about buying property.

Jo says because they’d never bought property anywhere in the world before they definitely had more questions than answers.

But that didn’t last long.

Plus, the couple were still not sure how long they would remain in Sydney.

“The thing that triggered in me was when he said, ‘You’re both not from here so an investment property is probably a perfect way for you – if you wanted to live in another country – you’re not tied as much as you would be with an owner-occupied place,'” Jo recalls.

“It took me a long time to get my emotional side unattached because as a woman you’re still like ‘I don’t like the windows’ but Bryan constantly reminded me that I couldn’t be emotional.

“Eventually, you know what, I’m actually not. I had hopes of going to visit but it’s not necessary. For me, it’s actually like a little small business that we have on the side.”

Strategic investment

That initial contact – albeit one year in the making – was in June and by September the Propertyology team had recommended a house in a different, much more affordable, capital city.

That concept was something that had attracted the couple to the firm in the first instance, Jo says.

“We had no confidence in the market or experience in the market. Our biggest fear was to buy an investment property, say in Sydney, where our rental return is only two per cent so we’d be making an awful on-paper loss on the property,” she says.

“We were adamant we didn’t want to buy or invest in Sydney or even New South Wales. There is the whole of Australia out there and we wanted the expertise of people that actually did the whole of Australia, not just specific areas.”

“When our friends said that Propertyology did Australia-wide, that was something that really interested us.”

Jo and Richard became the proud owners of a three-bedroom house on 763 square metres on 11 September 2017. Propertyology negotiated the off-market sale for just $393,800.

The property also came with a ready-made tenant, which was another bonus of working with the firm.

“You probably don’t even get that size in Sydney anymore or its $5 million. So it was this massive piece of land on a good street and low maintenance,” Jo says.

“We also got rent from day one because we bought off-market so the owners stayed as tenants until they could find a property to buy. I thought that was clever. We got it for under market value and we got rent from day one.”

Jo is already thinking about their next property purchase, which may happen in the next year or so once the family is more settled.

She says she’s learned plenty in the past few months and would happily utilise the services of Propertyology again so this globe-trotting family can create a more successful financial future.

“The whole thing is that they’re just so easy to speak to that you trust them. It’s all about trust. They’re so open and giving with their personal experiences that you feel totally comfortable to let them run with it really,” she says.

“Also, what I like about Propertyology, is the fact that they cap (the price) of their properties. It’s comfortable so you don’t feel like you’ve over-extended yourself.”