High school dropout to big-time property owner

By Jacqueline So | 16 Apr 2020

Tamara Wrigley was never the scholastic achiever – nor did she want to be. But she didn’t quite know what she wanted, either.

“I made it to grade 10 before opting out. My passion wasn’t to be the dux of the school and get straight As – I was there for the social aspect,” she admits.

“I did leave, however, without having a clue on what I wanted to do with my life, no idea on what career I wanted and no aspirations to go to university to study a degree.”

Fortunately, fate led her to property when she secured her “first real job” as a receptionist in a Brisbane real estate agency, which gave her a shot to be educated in the industry. There, she found her passion.

“I was only with them a short time before they asked if I wanted to complete a traineeship in real estate – specifically, property management. As a result of that traineeship, I fell in love with the prospect of buying property.”

Tamara Wrigley

AT A GLANCE
Years investing: 20
Current number of properties: 6
Current portfolio value: $3,415,000

At 21, Tamara bought her first property in Roma: a traditional Queenslander on a large plot of land, for $104,000. This property served as her own home until she decided to move back to Brisbane about a year later. She was able to sell the property for over $100,000 more than its purchase price – a substantial profit, given the short period Tamara held the property.

However, it certainly didn’t mean she could splurge when she returned to Brisbane.

“When I moved back to Brisbane, I could only afford a property in a cheaper part of town and ended up buying a house at Zillmere for $160,000,” she shares.

It turns out, Tamara had chosen her location wisely, and after two years, she was able to invest in several more properties that would give her finances a massive boost.

“I purchased the home beside me for $165,000, and the two behind for $160,000 each. Why? It was all about the zoning. These four blocks of land were zoned high density, meaning that you could build townhouses on the site. I subsequently sold the four homes to a developer and that is where I made my serious profit.”

Branching out

Tamara followed up her big win in Zillmere with another great investment in Indooroopilly in 2004.

“I purchased a house with a rundown old Queenslander on two lots for $270,000. Two years later, I divided the two blocks and added two homes to them. I sold one of the homes for $760,000 and lived in the second home for two years. When I purchased my real estate office on the Sunshine Coast, I sold that home for $960,000,” she shares.

Tamara’s main goal with property has always been to create wealth to support her and her children. Thus, she set out to build a portfolio that would thrive both in the short and long run.

“I’m all about growing my portfolio. I’m always keen on buying more properties as long as they are going to give me a passive income, so they have to show a positive return up and the overheads or outgoings are low,” she explains.

Even though she focuses on Queensland as her home base, her properties are diverse – ranging from houses to commercial property. In 2015, she became an NRAS participant with the purchase of a townhouse in Nambour.

Tamara also likes to add value through renovation, but she treads carefully and evaluates the property’s potential first.

“I wouldn’t buy an investment and then spend $100,000 on renovating it unless I know I’m going to make my money back, and then some,” she says.

“I tend not to buy properties that need too much work – a new lick of paint and carpet is sometimes all a property needs.”

In 2018, she bought another property in Nambour that she was able to subdivide to great success.

“It was a lowset besser brick house with three bedrooms, one bathroom and one car lock up garage with a pool. There was a pre-existing concrete slab off to the side of the home, which I believe at some point may have been a garage. On the slab of concrete, I got council approval to put a one-bedroom fully equipped granny flat.”

Tamara went on to maximise the value of the existing house as well through renovation.

“I converted the existing lock up garage which formed part of the existing house into a fourth bedroom and added a double carport out the front. I put new carpet, repainted, and relined the pool,” she explains.

“The total cost to purchase the house and build the granny flat and extras was $420,000 – the property has now been valued at $580,000 and I currently get $700 per week in rental income!”

In 2017, Tamara also bought her first commercial property – a decision she wishes she had made earlier as “the outgoing on commercial properties is normally paid for by the tenants”.

Tam WrigleyDoing it for the family

In the two decades since Tamara began her investment journey, she has successfully cultivated her portfolio into one that is currently worth over $3m. Moving into semi-retirement, she hopes to pass on a portfolio that can generate $150,000-$200,000 in annual passive income to the next generation.

“I want to create my wealth through property and leave a property empire for my children and their grandchildren. At the end of the day, I don’t want to struggle to live and I don’t want my children to go without,” she says.

“I’m not going to rely on my super fund to support me until I’m pushing up daisies. We are living longer these days – my grandparents have just entered their 90s, so chances are I’ll be here for a while!”

Tamara’s daughter has already discovered a love of renovation and is ready to carry the torch.

“She loves these tiny home projects that are all the rage at the moment or decking out a van to live in. You never know, we might find ourselves doing these little projects together!”

Tamara’s top buying tips

  • Buy a property that is low maintenance. The last thing you want to be doing is constantly spending money on repairs and maintenance.
  • Do your area research. You want to know what is happening in the area, if there are any proposed developments happening in the next five years and what the projected growth is for the area.
  • Invest close to amenities like hospitals, schools, universities and TAFE colleges. These are always growth areas because teachers, doctors, nurses and families need to live within close proximity to these locations.
  • Don’t overcapitalise. Know your numbers and ask yourself questions like, “Is this property going to add value to my portfolio, and what will be the projected sale price in five years?” and “At the end of the day, how much money will I make if I sell this property in five years’ time, and is it worth it?”
  • Look for emerging suburbs outside the “15km city radius.” Consider outer suburbs that may have potential to emerge into their own business district yet are still close enough to major necessities.

Tam Wrigley's Portfolio Timeline

Top Suburbs : new farm , st marys , leumeah , coolbellup , coorparoo

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