After a run of successful property investments, Lisa Curtin had trained herself to be a cold, hard, calculating machine. She never bought with her emotions, only her smarts. If a property wouldn’t make good returns or promise capital growth, she walked. Then the unthinkable happened.
In 2005, Lisa heard about a property that had recently come onto the market in Rockingham, WA. Knowing it was possibly overpriced and the returns wouldn’t be good, she found it hard to turn her back on the sale. Something about it compelled her. She had to buy it.
She struggled against every instinct telling her it was a bad idea. She tried reason and logic. It was no use. The once-calculating machine chugged and groaned, its circuits puffing smoke. It eventually gave way and the 43-year-old public servant found herself signing on the dotted line.
The interesting thing is that taking on a cash-draining investment hasn’t affected Lisa’s investment success. For most investors, an expensive property with rents that offer little relief from the full brunt of mortgage payments would murder their portfolio, especially with little capital growth. For Lisa, the property has been but one stepping stone in a strong portfolio – and the cost has been more than worth it.
“I had once lived in that house,” Lisa says. “It was our family home when I was a teenager and when it came onto the market I felt sentimental.
“My father had built the house just after we arrived in Australia from England. He had died two years before and I felt I just couldn’t let someone else have it. I had additional mortgage payments on my PPOR (residence) and other investments, some of which were heavily negatively geared, so I was really overextending myself when I bought it, but I simply did what I felt I had to.”
Lisa adds that the first few months after buying the property were the toughest. “Things took a real turn when I had to take a day off work just before payday because I couldn’t afford bus fare,” she says. “I had made an emotional purchase, but now I had to work out what I was going to do about it.”
Getting started in property
Lisa solved the problem by going back to how she started in property investment. A string of cleverly timed projects meant she had built up a collection of properties that she could use to rescue her.
Her first purchase had been back in 1991, when she was working as a radio communicator in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). She had joined the military five years earlier, aged 17 and ready to see the world. The RAAF had posted her in seven different locations, but it was in her favourite – near Penang Malaysia – that she first looked to the Australian property market.
Not wanting to be bogged down with maintenance costs or risks, she simply bought a block of land in Singleton, WA. With the allowance she received from the Airforce she paid down the $33,000 mortgage and sold the property in 1995 for $54,000.
At this time she decided to leave the Airforce and settle down, partly because she was due to give birth to her daughter Isabella. She used the funds from the land sale to purchase her first home, a $67,000 property in central Rockingham, and set up life as a single mum.
“I got a cheap price for the property, but only because of the amount of work it needed,” says Lisa, who adds that she had to knock down a few walls and replace the kitchen and bathroom to update the property’s gaudy 1970s feel.
Life in the property wasn’t easy. “I struggled to pay the mortgage on my government pension and I needed to retrain in a non-military role. I undertook study in accounting at Tafe and eventually re-joined the workforce as a public servant for the Child Support Agency. I had to arrange care for my child and was travelling an hour to work each day. As all parents know, multi-tasking becomes a necessity and this was a skill I brought into the investment game.”
Want to hear more from Lisa? You can keep up to date with her and other real-life investors in our investor blog section
Go to page: 1 2
Top Suburbs :
mount gravatt east
Simply complete the form below, and let one of our experienced advisors assist you. Our advisors will help you work out whether you can afford an investment property, and assist you in selecting the best loan for your needs.
Can you afford that property? Find out now
We value your privacy and treat all your information seriously - you can check out