When expert help pays off

Brian Doughan turned to property investment in 2001, at the age of 47. He had been working as a schoolteacher for 20 years, and despite his efforts to build a decent superannuation, he realised that movements in the share market prevented him from building a secure retirement fund.

"In December 2001, I had what I like to call a life changing 'aha' moment," says Brian. "I looked at my two superannuation funds and saw, with horror, that one fund had actually decreased by $6,000 in six months. I found myself asking questions like 'What is the name of my super fund manager?', 'What are his/her qualifications?' and 'Why am I paying this unknown person commission to lose my money for me? I could just go to the racecourse!'"

After the shock wore off, Brian and his wife Carmen decided to take control of their future.

"Our house was worth $750,000 at this stage and we only owed around $200,000 on our mortgage, which left us with plenty of equity," says Brian. "My decision was to use this to invest in property. At least with property, Carmen and I are in control, we decide where and when to purchase."

In February of 2002 Brian and Carmen began inspecting the property market and familiarising themselves with the world of investment. However, as they soon found out, choosing the right property isn't an easy project.

"We were babes in the woods when we bought out first property for investment," says Brian. "We chose to buy older style two bedroom apartment with waterfront glimpses in Wollongong, NSW because it was close to Sydney and it's a beautiful area. We were rapt with the place but we later realised that the $270,000 we paid was way too much."

Buying with their hearts and not their heads was their first mistake, says Brian. Still the Doughan's decided to hold onto the property and today, it is worth $310,000 and rents for $245 a week.

Brian and Carmen wanted to continue buying investment property but thought it was necessary to seek some expert advice to ensure success with their next purchase.

"Some friends of ours told us that they had an acquaintance, Ian Hosking Richard from Rocket Property Group (an investment real estate and finance company), who had helped them find investment properties which have performed well," says Brian. "So we met up with Ian and we were impressed with his knowledge, honesty and complete lack of pushiness."

In March 2004, Brian and Carmen used Ian's services to purchase their next property - a $198,000 one-bedroom unit on Chevron Island, Queensland.

"The price was right and the area was steady so we bought it. The property is now worth $235,000 and rents for $240 a week," says Brian.

Brian says the most comforting thing about seeking Ian's advice was that he invested in the same locations he suggested to his clients. "It certainly lends a lot of credibility to what he is doing," says Brian.

Since 2004 the Doughan's have purchased four more investment properties. While they have taken gambles that put them outside their comfort zone, Brian says it has all paid off.

"In late 2004 Ian told us about an off the plan house in Townsville, which we were going to buy sight unseen. This went against all my instincts and I was very skeptical about the purchase because I had never been to Townsville (and still haven't)," says Brian. "But we trusted the advice we were given and this has been one of my best investments. We bought the house for $230,000 and it is now worth $320,000!"

Today Brian and Carmen's portfolio is worth $1.5 million - a figure that Brian says he is "completely astounded" by. Now 55, Brian enjoys investing in property so much that he has qualified for his Real Estate Agent's license and helps others to get started in property investment.

"Investors aren't multi millionaires, they're just ordinary people like me, but what prevents many people from buying a successful portfolio is lack of knowledge," he says. "I am still teaching but I am gradually spending more free time talking to friends and colleagues about property. Maybe one day I'll make it my full time career."

Brian Doughan's investments


Property Date Purchase Price Weekly rent Current value
Wollongong, NSW (unit) Feb 02 $270,000 $245 $310,000
Chevron Island, QLD (unit) March 04 $198,000 $240 $235,000
Labrador, QLD (unit) Sep 04 $230,000 $280 $320,000
Condon, QLD (house) May 05 $262,910 $330 $350,000
Cairns, QLD (unit) Nov 07 $268,000 Not built yet Not built yet
Idalia, QLD (unit) Sept 08 $279,000 $320 $330,000

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