While most people in their twenties are only thinking as a far ahead as their next Facebook status update, or what outfit to wear clubbing on Saturday night, Marcia’s ambitions are scarily well defined.
“I’m aiming to retire by my 30th birthday with 20 houses in my portfolio,” she says bluntly.
This is no idle boast. For in the three years Marcia has been investing, she’s already amassed a $1.8m portfolio of seven investment properties in Queensland’s Logan City District, 20 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD.
The “self-confessed workaholic” somehow juggles a full-time job as state manager for a cryogenics company and manages no less than a dozen properties.
That steely determination may also explain her love of Zen Do Kai, in which she holds a brown belt. The martial arts discipline's philosophy encompasses the principle of "if it works, use it" and, according to its founder, means ”best of everything in progression". Both mantras could easily describe Marcia's assault on the local property market.
“My true passion is real estate,” she explains. “The whole process of buying a property is a huge rush and it only takes a few months after I sign a contract that I need that rush again. I am a real estate addict.”
The love affair begins
Marcia says her “love affair will all things real estate” began in her first job after leaving high school, at a local real estate agency where she learnt the nuts and bolts about buying and managing properties.
She’s come a long way, and quickly, since then. Her first purchase was in 2009 of a two-bedroom unit in Logan Central which she bought with her then- partner with $7000 in savings and a First Home Owners Grant.
While the relationship may not have lasted, the romance with property investment has only burned brighter despite her entering it in the middle of the GFC.
“In the worst of the GFC I purchased three properties … many had dropped by as much as $50,000 before I bought them,” she says.
Marcia says her investment strategy, which now boasts a net worth of close to $340,000, is simple.
“Purchase at the bottom end of the market, undertake minor renovations to add major value, then use that equity to purchase more properties," she says.
"I don’t have a lot of cash flow so I have to buy properties that are in high rental demand areas. Since I began, not one has been vacant for more than one week.”
Strike quick and true
Marcia says the tactic of buying distressed sales is a winner citing her most successful investment of a three-bedroom home in Crestmead for $228,000.
“They were desperate to get rid of it. Houses in the street were selling for low to mid-$300,000s, so the contract was signed, and the day after settlement the house was rented at $340 a week to great long-term tenants.”
She says the property is positively geared by $110 a week and had instant equity of $92,000
Marcia's not afraid to go in hard and fast with an offer if she sees a bargain.
“It was another case of a seller desperate to sell. I grabbed a three-bedroom home in Logan Central for $187,500 because the seller couldn’t afford the repayments,” she says.
“The alert from realestate.com.au came through at 7am, and by 1pm I 'd checked it out, and the seller signed to accept my offer.
“It needed a total overhaul … the floors were destroyed, there was no kitchen! But by getting everything secondhand, the renovation come in at just $5,000."
She says it took two months and is rented out at $330 per week.
“The house was re-valued at $260,000 and I used the equity to leverage my next purchase in [nearby] Beenleigh.”
From little things, big things grow
For someone with such big ambitions, Marcia advises to "start small".
"Get something that doesn’t need a lot of work and make good repayments to put you in good stead with the banks for your next purchase," she says.
"Buy as close to a major CBD as financially possible and get a good accountant that specialises in real estate. And always get a depreciation report.”
But Marcia admits to one blip on her magic carpert ride. She has been burned by one dodgy tenant.
“Once, I didn’t fully check a tenant's history. He went after a warrant of possession was issued, but not before leaving a lot of malicious damage ($3,000) and the rental arrears. Luckily his bond covered the arrears and my landlord insurance covered the damage. Lesson learnt!”
Just can’t get enough
So for an addict, can you have too many properties?
“Don’t listen to anyone who says 'don’t you think you’ve bought enough properties?’ because I don’t think there’s such thing as enough."
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