Rebecca and Alfred Cardamone have similar values that have been instilled in them since they were children.
“We both come from family backgrounds where our parents instilled in us from a young age the importance of working hard, saving your money and buying yourself a house to look after your family, regardless of whether you’re female or male,” Rebecca says.
“When we first met each other at 27 and 28, we both already had investment properties to our name, and our passion for the property industry is something we initially bonded over.”
It took just a few months for Alfred and Rebecca to realise that they wanted to be partners not just in love but in investment as well.
“We purchased our first investment property together after only six months of dating – we were so excited about the potential to develop on the land,” Rebecca says.
AT A GLANCE
Years investing as a couple: 6
Current number of properties: 5
Portfolio value: $3.090m
“We also both worked in the property industry, so being able to team up and begin a portfolio together was a goal from the start.”
They had both made mistakes when they started out in property in their early twenties. Alfred had made his first investment in an area with limited growth potential, and while Rebecca’s first unit was in a high-growth area, oversupply choked any increases in value.
The property also offered no add-value potential. And having learned about the value of land since then, the couple decided they wanted to buy something they could develop.
“As soon as we met and started talking about property, we changed our individual strategies. Alfred sold his house, I sold my apartment, and together we purchased a large block of land in a high-growth area to begin our journey as property developers,” Rebecca says.
The block of land came with a house, but the Cardamones saw the potential to do more with the space.
“We built three townhouses, one of which has become the family home. This development also allowed us to have two extra incomes on the same property, and it is a bonus to live next to our rentals as we can take care of them,” Rebecca explains.
“Most developers of townhouses stick to your typical brick veneer construction; however, we chose to stay with the weatherboard look and feel that is respectful to the streetscape. We essentially gave our townhouse development some character. When everyone else was zigging, we chose to zag.”
The development was a hit – the value of the original house on the land has appreciated by almost twice the purchase price, and the two new townhouses now reap considerable rental returns of around 5%.
“We have had so many neighbours compliment our home. We are so proud of this development, as we worked on it together and were able to be unique with our approach. We designed and built it together as a couple, so it’s close to our hearts.”
Alfred and Rebecca hold to a strategy of buying in pockets that are expected to see significant growth. This is something many investors do, but the couple have set themselves apart by applying their family-oriented mindset to help them locate those potential high-growth areas, easing the burden of doing stringent research themselves.
“We look at population growth and infrastructure, but we also look at how many childcare facilities are in the area. These usually only get developed in suburbs with a high number of families, and they all do their research to determine population growth before developing in a particular area, so they are kind of leading the way for us,” Rebecca explains.
The couple also aim for suburbs with enough land to add value through townhouse development.
“What differs between suburbs is the land value. A property developer makes money on land growth – the construction of a home will generally be similar, whether you’re in the outer or the inner city.”
With their strategy, it took only 36 months for the couple to earn their fi rst million dollars in equity. While completing the Glenroy development, they were already laying down the plans for their next projects – both at home and elsewhere.
“We completed the construction of our first development and simultaneously organised plans for our next development, all while pregnant with our first baby,” Rebecca says.
“It was not easy, but it can be done! Developing while being a new mum also gave me a great work/stay-at-home-mum balance. Having support from your partner and working together as a team is the key to success.”
Alfred and Rebecca’s complementary styles have helped contribute to the excellent quality of their developments.
“Alfred has a strong work ethic, and I have a high attention to detail – something that is sorely missed in the construction industry!” Rebecca says.
“Women generally tend to have excellent attention to detail and can appreciate the finer points, so I feel that more women supervising or project managing developments can make a big difference to the quality of workmanship and end result of a build.”
A foundation for the future
For Rebecca and Alfred, the pinnacle of their investment journey will be earning enough income off positively geared property to supplement both their salaries.
Their new two-unit project in Geelong’s Belmont, settled in 2018, is underway.
“We purchased the property over a year ago, and it came with plans and permits for townhouses. However, we submitted new plans to council that will better utilise the space and increase the value of our development,” Rebecca says.
The couple also intend to hold on to their portfolio for as long as possible.
“More women supervising or project managing developments can make a big difference to the quality of workmanship and end result of a build”
“We haven’t sold any properties that we have developed together, and we don’t plan to do so in the short term.”
The couple see developing property as something that will become their family legacy in time.
“The benefit of being a developer is the fact that you can create a strong financial future for yourself and for your family, all at your own pace. It is also something you can build slowly over time, while still having your full-time job,” Rebecca says.
“We believe in building a solid foundation, even if takes years It starts with a vision, goes to paper, becomes material and then finally becomes a huge accomplishment. We’re pretty proud that we have something to show for all our hardwork and can allow our children to one day share in this journey!”
Alfred buys a house and lot in Craigieburn, Victoria, for $350,000 and develops a unit at the rear of the property.
He sells the house at the front of the property for $280,000. In the same year, he completes his development, which the couple has held ever since. The unit is now worth $400,000.
Rebecca and Alfred transformed the house in Glenroy into an impressive three-townhouse development
Rebecca and Alfred meet and after six months of dating decide to get their first property together. They zero in on a property in Glenroy, Victoria, that’s located on a large block of land.
The couple get to work on renovating the original house on the property and developing two more townhouses at the rear. They live in the existing home and Rebecca begins studying law; the family grows when she gives birth to their first child.
Both Glenroy townhouses earn more than a 5% yield
The two new townhouses on the Glenroy property are completed, and are presently worth $480,000 and $510,000
Rebecca and Alfred seek out properties with enough land to add value through development
The couple buy their second property in the suburb of Belmont in Victoria’s Geelong region. They submit their plans to maximise the land by developing two more units on the property.
The Belmont house shot up in value by $240k in less than two years
The Belmont project commences. In the meantime, the property appreciates significantly in value.