Four new investors share: ‘How I got started’

By Cam McLellan | 09 Jan 2020

We all share similar goals that we want to achieve through investing: greater financial freedom, stability and comfort in our future, and a secure retirement, to name a few.

But we also want to know that the process of reaching these goals can be done in a safe but profitable way.

These four everyday couples, who are on their way to building sizeable property portfolios, started with little more than the vague idea that they wanted to invest in real estate. So how did they move from ‘wannabe investors’ to bonafide successful landlords?

Achieving this came down to finding a mentor who had five core principles, according to this group of OpenCorp clients, who are new-to- market investors on their way to building large property portfolios.

The four investors, who we interviewed to understand their journey, identified education, mentoring, hand-holding, 'curveball' support and results focus as the key principles that any property investment mentor must have.

All the investors we interviewed were new to the world of property investing, as we wanted to look at what makes an aspiring investor trust a mentor with a multimillion-dollar portfolio. Here are their stories.

Anthony Smith only began investing a few years ago, but having already enjoyed capital growth of more than $350,000, he’s well on his way to a financially free retirement.

Anthony and his partner found themselves in a familiar position: they knew they had to do something to improve their financial situation but had no idea what would be the best and safest way to invest.

It is a problem for many first-time investors, particularly when, as new investors, you’re unsure what is realistic to expect from a property portfolio.

“We were building up a deposit to start investing, and we had been doing research. We went to a couple of seminars and researched different companies that help investors, but none of them really ticked all the boxes for us. Once we read Cam’s book, that was the catalyst to make us slowly but surely emerge from our fear of investing and make it a reality. and once we got started we turned from risk averse to excited investors,” Anthony said.

“We went to a couple of seminars and researched different companies that help investors, but none of them really ticked all the boxes for us”

It was the not knowing where to begin, what to buy or who to trust that threw him for a loop initially.

“Despite having a sizeable deposit, we were never taught or ever learnt how to invest, so it was a massive stumbling block for us and a nice step forward to a world that we knew nothing about. It was very daunting and it was completely outside our experience or comfort zone,” he said.

“Now, the proof is in the profit, in the sense that the first property that we bought has grown substantially in value. We got it revalued and we were able to tap into some of that equity to help us move forward with the third property, so the system in itself is working well. And that's exactly what we were hoping for from the start.”

Anthony had a strategy he wanted to achieve, and while not having an intimate knowledge of how to achieve it, he knew that it required surrounding himself with the right people.

For other new investors keen to follow in his footsteps, he offers this advice: “I would start by asking yourself these questions: what do you want to do long term, and where do you want to end up? From there, fi nd the right people to help you implement it and ensure your strategy is in line with their vision and expertise.”

Rod and Rachel Wilson

Beginning their investment journey five years ago, this couple now has over $337,000 in equity in their portfolio, which is generating positive cashflow of $6,500 per year.

As new investors, Rod and Rachel’s goal initially was straightforward: to put themselves in a better financial position in the future, and to “try to do that in the best way possible, with the least amount of stress”. 

They knew that sitting on cash was not a wise approach to investment. But they were also unsure how to fast-track the process of creating wealth and developing a clear strategy.

“Working with Michael, we've become a lot wiser as investors. We've sort of picked up information elsewhere as well, but we cross check what we've learned to make sure we’re on the right track,” they said.

The speedbumps of life often force some un-mentored investors into making decisions that may not be necessarily the most beneficial for their financial goals. For Rod and Rachel, having a trusted ear during these periods has been the biggest benefit of engaging a mentor.

“We’ve become a lot wiser as investors … we cross check what we’ve learned to make sure we’re on the right track”

“Some people might find that when they first start having a family, or when the cost of having children at university becomes more expensive, they’re working out whether they can still keep hold onto their properties and just having the team there to suggest, ‘maybe you should try this, maybe you have to tweak this’, has worked well for us in finding alternatives to keep growing out portfolio,” the couple explains.

And grow their portfolio they did, beginning in 2014 with a brand-new construction in the suburb of Greenvale. Located in Providence – a master-planned development around 24km north of Melbourne’s CBD, which is now home to over 600 families – the home has grown in value by more than 25%.

Next came a house in the Freshwater residential development project in Griffn, in the Moreton Bay region of Southeast Queensland. This property grew in value by more than $50,000 during a period in which Melbourne and Sydney were booming and Brisbane struggling.

The couple’s most recent investment was in the Brisbane suburb of Thornlands three years ago. Combined, these three properties deliver strong returns, and Rod and Rachel pocket $125 per week in positive cash flow.

Martin Krajnc

If Martin Krajnc had never come across Cam McLellan’s book, then there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have become a landlord, and he wouldn’t be sitting on almost $380,000 in equity.

Today, Martin owns three investment properties that generate a combined positive cash flow of $47 per week. But when he began investing half a dozen years ago, he admits the process was “very daunting”.

After reading my book, however, Martin realised that there was a real strategy and process behind successful investing, and the concept became simplified.

“That book was the reason for me approaching OpenCorp. As I started speaking to Michael and the team I realised they all knew the process inside and out and they were mentors; they weren't salespeople. I needed an investment mentor who had done this extensively and could manage it for me; that was the key,” Martin said.

“Don’t put off investing. Time is ticking. You need time in the market, and the longer you’ve got, the easier it’s going to get for you”

“It would've taken me considerable time to self-educate while also going through the stages of getting finance and building – all things that were foreign to me at the beginning.”

After taking the plunge on his first property in 2013, Martin has been driven to improve his financial position and his understanding of the wider process of wealth creation. He has purchased three investment properties, diversifying his assets across Victoria and Queensland, and says he only has one regret: he wishes he’d started sooner.

“My advice to others? Don't put off investing. Time is ticking. You need time in the market, and the longer you've got, the easier it's going to get for you,” he said.

“I'm frustrated that I started investing in property when I did and I didn't do it 10 years earlier. I didn't have the education back then, but yes, time is ticking.”

Howard Wright and Natasha Weir

Howard and Natasha currently have three investment properties worth $1.6m in their portfolio – and it’s costing them less than $100 per week.

Like for many other first-time investors, the thing that held Howard and Natasha back at the beginning was fear.

“I think our biggest fear at the start was the whole concept of getting it wrong,” they explain. “There’s so much stuff that people invest money in, then it disappears. Building trust with people was very important to us so we knew we weren't going to get it wrong.”

“The outstanding thing for us was that [OpenCorp] had patience with us. They were always willing to talk again about the same things because it was important that we ‘got it’. It was about building that trusting relationship; they would explain the same thing again and again, just to make us feel comfortable.”

Trust and ‘skin in the game’ is one of the core principles our team try to instil in our culture. At OpenCorp, all of our directors have been investing in property for over 20 years. Our CEO, Al Lewison, came from nothing and is now on the BRW Young Rich List with a net worth of over $74m.

I’m also the author of the bestselling book, My Four-Year-Old The Property Investor, which shows every step of the process to potential investors. I wanted there to be no secrets in the process – to give couples like Howard and Natasha the ability to know the process, inside and out.

So, despite the fact that Natasha and Howard were apprehensive in the beginning, we were able to help them break through that barrier of fear. They had added three properties to their portfolio, the first a house in Victoria, and two other properties in Queensland.

All properties are brand new and attract healthy tax and depreciation benefits, which has helped reduce their out-of-pocket expenses to just $100 per week. As a result, they cannot imagine life now without a growing investment portfolio.

“Years ago, if somebody said to us, ‘You'll have multiple properties in multiple states’, we just didn't think that would be something that people like us would have. But now we've got to a point where it's enjoyable and fun!”

Cam McLellan
is general manager of
investment advisory company

Top Suburbs : south brisbane , toowong , canterbury , lalor park , rockville


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