Rear view with David Brewster

It’s would be a tough task to find anybody more passionate about riding waves than David Brewster of Buy Property Direct. He reveals his strangest property experience and how a car accident changed his outlook on life.
David Brewster

What are three little-known facts about you?

I came from a blue-collar family and was born in Wales. I immigrated to Australia in 1979, just before I turned six, then grew up in Frankston, Victoria.

While I was great at maths and science, I was terrible at English and literature. As a result, I grew frustrated with school and never finished high school.

I am mad about surfing and have basically geared my life around the sport. It’s my ‘time out’ or release. I have travelled around Australia and all over the world chasing a few good waves. It is almost an addiction, to the point that I have recently sold the family home and a couple of other properties so we could move to a place where I could walk to the end of the street for a surf.

Throughout your investing journey, have you had any unusual experiences you would like to share?

While we are building our new place in Shoreham, I have become a tenant for the first time in over 15 years. At first, it was like a little adventure – we moved to six acres in Main Ridge in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula wine region. Besides paying someone else $40k p.a. (I have a huge double standard here – it would be fine if the shoe was on the other foot), things were going along great ... until one day I got a phone call from our agent informing me that the landlord had returned from Chile two years early and would not be extending the lease. Further to this, the landlord wanted to turn up and do gardening and work in the paddocks every day! We agreed to break the lease, found another place and moved the family again for a second time in eight months.

From the experience, I grew a greater appreciation for the fact that although the tenant does not own the property, it is still their home. So what could I do with other properties to make my tenants’ occupation more enjoyable, so they would in turn look after my assets better?

Did anybody in particular help spark your interest in property?

There were a few people along the way who led by example and were supportive. My uncle Bob was a senior banker, who at one stage had 17 homes in 23 years, each a little bigger and a little better than the last. Or my wife’s uncle Ron who was in
the timber industry and was a big property investor, who told me “anyone can make a million dollars”, before adding “but if you can keep your first million you are a real genius”.

All this floating round in my head, I did my trade and worked harder and harder and longer and longer hours. I had purchased my first house and thought I was going all right, until one day I fell asleep behind the wheel and smashed my car at 3am. Then the penny dropped: I needed to work smarter, not harder. It wasn’t the money I made that would make me wealthy, it’s what I did with it.

What is your favourite film and why?

The original 1966 Endless Summer. Directed by Bruce Brown, it follows two surfers, Robert August and Mike Hynson, around the world chasing waves and the concept of an ‘endless summer’.

This was and still is very appealing to me. While the film was set in the ‘laid-back sixties’, the concept of never being in cold water and surfing every day has been a huge motivator and driver for years.

What are three things you can’t live without?

Obviously my family and my surfboards. (They are listed in this order in case my wife reads this.) The other is opportunity and the ability to act upon it. Living in Australia, opportunity is absolutely everywhere. It could be as simple as getting up early to watch the sunrise on the beach; or the next property investment, development or business venture. I must always look at every opportunity presented to me, assess the ‘risk versus reward’ proposition, and act. Life is too short to simply watch it go by.

At what age do you hope to retire?

I hope to retire in the next five years (at 46), but retirement for me doesn’t mean that I will not go to work every day. It just means that I have a better offer and I can choose not to go to the office. The better offer may be spending time with the family, or maybe it’s just a good swell. The goal is to have both – an asset base income, and control over my time to have the choice. Then I have achieved success.


 

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