AFL star Matthew Pavlich has long been acknowledged as one of the most versatile players of his generation, with a captain’s temperament to match. Those same qualities have helped him become a prudent property investor with plans to win big.
There aren’t a whole lot of AFL players who have scored more than 500 goals, had success in nearly every position on the field, and carried their team from minnows to title contenders, but Matthew Pavlich is one of them – and despite his phenomenal success on the pitch, his approach to life and property investing is an interesting one.
“You can’t always win,” Matthew laughs. “I’m throwing in the clichés, but it’s true. It’s something that sport has illustrated to me every day. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you don’t play to your absolute potential. It happens and you’ve got to take the emotion out of it. I try to think like that when I invest. I look at it in a business-like way.
“When you take out the emotion you realise that you’re going to make good investments and you’re going to make poor investments. Eventually they even themselves out. You come ahead at the end.”
Matthew’s relationship with property has spanned his entire 14-year AFL career. The star made his first property purchase after his debut season with the Fremantle Dockers, still a teenager. He admits that it simply seemed like a good idea at the time and he knew almost nothing about property markets or investing.
“Property investing started for me as an opportunity to invest some of the money that I had at the end of my first AFL season,” says Matthew. “I saw it as a chance to put some money down and not spend it on indulgences and luxuries… but I didn’t know much about property and knew nothing about shares. There was just this feeling in Perth at the time that the residential market might pick up. It was a straightforward decision.”
Matthew’s first property was a three bedroom townhouse in the Fremantle area of Perth. Being eligible for the first homeowners grant, he purchased the property with the intention of living in it and then renting it out at some point in the future. He ended up living in the property for six years, a period through which his AFL career flourished.
“When I first arrived at the Dockers I thought I’d probably see out my initial contract out and then look elsewhere, but I fell in love with Fremantle and Perth. I knew there was unfinished business from a playing point of view and I really wanted to stick the course. I had wanted to purchase property in my native South Australia, and came close a few times, but in the end I stuck with WA.”
After moving out of the three bedroom townhouse, Matthew rented the property out for roughly two years before selling it. He says that the experience helped him to learn more about property investing and gain the confidence to go deeper into the market.
He made his next purchase in the southern suburbs of Perth – a Federation style house which he purchased off a big block of land. He then followed this up with an apartment purchase in one of Perth’s northern beach areas and a 1950s-style house in a trendy part of western Perth.
“I usually like to go for a balance of capital growth and rental returns,” Matthew says. “It’s also important to know how your financial position is going to be impacted by buying property further or for the first time. Of course, location is synonymous with property, so you’ve got to try look for growth areas as well.”
Matthew has been aided in his property decisions by family and friends, who he says were his primary source of information in the beginning. He was also pointed to a number of property professionals who had worked with other athletes and knew how to be discreet.
“None of my tenants know I own the property they live in,” he says.
These precautions aside, he adds that it’s rare that he gets called out in public for his AFL allegiances, even though his club enjoys heated competition with fellow WA club the West Coast Eagles.
“Western Australia is a big football state and there’s a reasonably fierce rivalry between the Eagles and the Dockers but I’ve never really come across people or a business that’s been against me.”
Following his initial foray into property investing, Matthew recently joined a Western Australian consortium, aimed to undertake developments in and around the south-western region of the state. The appeal was strong. Matthew would get the chance to continue to be involved with something ‘physically visible’ and get more involved in an investment class he was becoming proficient at.
“When you’re involved in sport for long enough you get a lot of opportunities put to you. By virtue of circumstance and meeting people along the way I got involved with [the consortium] and it has a variety of purchases and projects. It was the chance to get onto a bigger level.”
With more purchases on the horizon, Matthew says that opportunities outside of WA, while tempting, haven’t yet made him move his money into different regions.
“I came close to purchasing in the western beach side suburbs of South Australia, but I didn’t in the end. I put an offer on a place but it fell through. Then things changed and moved a little bit.
“Adelaide and Perth are very different. The architecture is different. The housing is different. Adelaide is steadier, but Perth has been more tumultuous with bigger gains over time. I guess I’ve also spent a lot of time in Melbourne and that market has always interested me. I just haven’t purchased there at this stage.”
Matthew’s passage through property investing has left him with a perspective he thinks many Australian investors can identify with.
“I started off as a young, for want of a better term, uneducated guy. A lot of the learning I did was on the spot. I’ve found that you’ve got to be realistic about what you can and can’t afford. People sometimes make decisions on this absolute need to have a house in a certain location. Then they put themselves under financial pressure. You don’t need to be rash. Be realistic about the outcomes you’re seeking.”
Quick Q&A with Matthew Pavlich
YIP: Why property?
MP: It seemed the most steady and robust type of investment. I think like most people it’s nice to have an asset that’s physically visible.
YIP: What’s your advice to investors?
MP: Enjoy the good returns when they come and don’t get too down on yourself when others don’t match expectations. We’re all human.
YIP: What do you need to see in a property to invest in it?
MP: Interest rates and the overall sentiment of the property market need to be good. I also consider my current exposure to the market.
YIP: How about the location?
MP: You don’t go into decisions like buying property without doing your own background research, but I lean on the advice of people I speak to about these sorts of things. Beaches are certainly important for the WA lifestyle. From that point of view it has been beneficial to purchase in beach side suburbs, but it is a pretty exclusive market to get into and it’s not as easy to get into for some as it is for others.