How to invest in property in your 20s

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Property investors Ben Dempster and Louise Testen began their property journey in their 20s, proving that it’s never too young to get ahead in the property game.

When Ben made his first investment purchase he was just 23 years old. “I was living at home and the unit was already tenanted, which gave me time to save for furnishings while at home, and I realised I got some tax benefits,” the now-33-year-old explains. 

Louise had also been bitten by the property bug, and had bought her own home in her early 20s as well. When they combined their assets, the pair opted to offload Louise’s former home as Ben says it “wasn’t a good investment – it required a lot of maintenance”.

They converted Ben’s home into an investment and with the proceeds from Louise’s sale, bought a property in the beachside suburb of Glenelg North. The couple paid $490,000 for the coastal pade, which is now worth $620,000.
 
Since then, Ben and Louise have purchased two more investment properties. In 2008, they bought a two-bedroom Gold Coast townhouse for $362,000 (now worth $370,000) with a 5% rental return, and in 2009, they added a three-bedroom unit in Brisbane’s Calamvale to their portfolio, paying for $348,000 (now worth $360,000) and getting a 5.5% rental return.

“We’ve learned that it is important to choose an area with a long-term rental history. The property should be close to schools, shops and public transport and new or renovated,” he says.

With a portfolio worth over $1 million and plans to buy again in the near future, Ben is a strong advocate for investing from a young age.

“Historically, house prices have doubled in around 7-10 years, but this is not always the case. Younger investors have time [to experience] that second growth cycle, which can make all the difference,” Ben says.
 
“Parents can provide a leg up, either contributing towards the deposit or acting as guarantors on the loan to make the banks more comfortable with lending money. Guarantors don’t need to stay on the mortgage documents long: with some steady repayments, young investors can be well on their way to owning independently.”

For those younger buyers who are considering taking the plunge and buying their first property, Ben offers the following tips:

1. Invest long-term.

“Start thinking about your long-term financial independence and consider an investment plan. This may require a mental shift.”

2. Learn from those who have been there, done that.

“Speak to others who started investing young, to gain a realistic view of the financial journey, sacrifices you may need to make, and rewards.”

3. Save smart.

“Lenders look for evidence of consistent savings over time. Get into good saving habits from an early age by putting aside money from any working income, even casual jobs. To meet lender’s guidelines, you’ll need to show savings of 3% of your purchase price, generally over a six-month period.”

4. Maintain a clean credit history.

"Pay all of your bills or loan repayments. If you can’t make payments, make alternative arrangements with the creditor. A creditor may lodge a default against you on your VEDA Advantage personal credit file if your payments are more than 90 days late and alternative arrangements are not in place.”

 

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