More widely known as ‘Ranger Stacey’ on the popular children’s television series Totally Wild, Stacey Thomson has befriended animals of all sizes and temperaments – some more claw-bearing than others.
But the property market has its own capacity to wreak havoc, and Stacey and her TV operations supervisor husband, Rob McCall, have also embraced property investing as the key to attaining what every person dreams of – a debt-free lifestyle.
“I think that’s something we have learned: to be committed and to know that you are in there for the long term, and you know there will be benefits in the end. I don’t think you can really go wrong with a long-term approach to investing,” Stacey says.
She’s certainly been playing the long game, as Stacey made her first property purchase about 25 years ago in balmy Queensland for under $100,000. While it wasn’t a place she’d planned to live in forever, she describes her first home as “an old Queenslander with a wrap-around veranda” that was an ideal starting point.
“It was a cheaper area to live in, and that was a good way for me to get my foot in the door, because the houses were a lot more affordable back then,” Stacey says.
She sold the house a few years on for a substantial enough profit to comfortably purchase her next home to live in. However, once Stacey and Rob met, they “joined forces” and began planning an investment strategy.
AT A GLANCE
Years investing as a couple: 13
Number of property investments: 4
Gross profit to date: $325,000
A shift in perspective
Based in Brisbane, the couple recognised that they needed a little guidance if they wanted to get serious about investing, so they turned to advisors in 2007 for a helping hand.
Getting good financial advice from a professional who can crunch the numbers for you “provides a level of reassurance”, Stacey says.
“We’ve formed a strong bond with James from Patrick Leo and we can always trust that the advice we receive is unbiased and reliable. James has helped secure a strong financial future for our family through sound property advice, something we couldn’t have achieved on our own,” she says.
One of their first forays into investing was a one-bedroom unit purchased in St Kilda, Melbourne, which experienced consistent capital growth over the five years the couple held it. When they realised it had grown in value by six figures, they made the decision to sell.
“We made quite a good profit for that property, so that was a bit of a milestone,” Stacey says.
In fact, the profits from the sale were nearly enough to completely wipe out the mortgage on their family home.
“When you’re looking ahead 10 years, you’re thinking, ‘That’s so far away; it’s never going to come’. But as we realise now, all of a sudden we are nearly mortgage free 10 years down the track,” Rob says.“We love it when a plan comes together,” Stacey adds.
Stacey and Rob have used their six-figure equity gains to invest in further properties, the latest being a four bedroom house and land package in Flagstone, Queensland
Raising value through developing
Pleased with the results of their first investment, the couple decided to step things up a notch with a development deal. They built a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Tarneit, Melbourne, a suburb that was poised for growth driven by the establishment of a new railway line.
They also bought another investment closer to home, picking up a three-bedroom property in Pimpama on the Gold Coast for $320,000.
Their Victorian property went on to perform well, and when it reached the magic six-figure profit mark, Stacey and Rob again made the decision to sell so they could reinvest closer to home.
They then went on to secure a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house and land package in Flagstone, Queensland. With the development’s foundations about to be laid, the couple plan to keep the house as a rental that’s targeted at families.
“The development is on the outskirts of Brisbane. I suppose there are lots of big cities where there are these new developments popping up, where there is going to be a lot of infrastructure, which is still in the very early stages, but we are getting in at a time when it’s all about to happen,” Stacey says.
“I think research is really important. Doing your homework is the key to making a good investment, and once again, knowing that it’s not going to be an overnight success and that’s it’s going to be long-term.
”Listening to tenants and understanding what will make them most comfortable in a rental is front of mind for the couple. It’s a strategy that has paid off, as it has allowed them to retain tenants for longer and avoid most of the common setbacks of being a landlord, such as vacancies and property damage.
For instance, if a tenant puts in a request for an appliance, such as an air-conditioning unit, or they point out something that requires maintenance, Stacey says they will work to meet those needs as quickly as possible.
“We’ve had good tenants, which has been great, but I do think it’s respect that goes both ways. We look after our tenants and then they are more likely to stay and look after the place,” she says.
1995 - Stacey purchases her first PPOR, an old Queenslander, in the Sunshine State for less than $100,000. She sells the property a few years later, and the equity helps support the purchase of her subsequent home.
2007 - Over the following decade, Stacey focuses on her career as ‘Ranger Stacey’ in Totally Wild. She also meets her now-husband Rob, and they team up to develop an investment strategy with some professional advice. The couple make their fi rst investment together in a unit in St Kilda, Melbourne.
2010 - Buoyed by the success of their St Kilda investment, Stacey and Rob up the ante by taking on their first development, constructing a three-bedroom house in the suburb of Tarneit, Victoria.
2014 - The couple return to Queensland for their third buy, a three-bedroom terraced house in the Gold Coast suburb of Pimpama. The property generates an excellent yield and grows in value over the following years.
2015 - Stacey and Rob say goodbye to their St Kilda property for $450,000 – over $100,000 more than the original purchase price – in order to focus on investing more in Queensland.
2019 - After their Tarneit development is snapped up for another six-figure profit, the couple buy a house and land package in Flagstone, on the outskirts of Brisbane. They plan to keep it as a rental property to make the most of anticipated tenant demand in this area.
What the future holds
Although Stacey and Rob haven’t taken an aggressive approach in their property investing journey, they have employed sound strategies to drive strong profi ts in the medium term.
“Our overall strategy is to be comfortable. We are not getting any younger; we are looking for a comfortable retirement so that we can enjoy all of the things we have been working for ... so maybe it’s at the back of our minds that it might be nice to have an investment property that we can actually end up living in, with walks on the beach in the mornings and a beautiful lifestyle,” Stacey says.
“It’s respect that goes both ways. We look after our tenants and then they are more likely to stay and look after the place”
With each successful investing endeavour comes the opportunity to dive into another. But while Stacey and Rob, who both lead busy professional lives in television, believe that having a larger investment portfolio would be great, they are pleased with where their low-key investing strategy has taken them.
“We are happy with how we are at the moment. It’s very exciting with the new development at Flagstone, so we are looking forward to seeing how that progresses,” Stacey says.
The Queensland government has a plan for a proposed passenger rail link between Salisbury and Beaudesert, and with Flagstone included in this railway line, Stacey says population growth and increased housing and rental demand is expected due to more accessible public transport.
“We lead very busy lifestyles, so it’s a relief knowing that our investments are in good hands, and we can relax knowing that we’ve made the right decision in securing our family’s fi nancial future as we edge closer to our dream of debt-free living.”