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Buying a home

Property investment strategies for the 21st century

22 December 2017

This article is part of The Homeowner’s Journey series, featuring case studies from homeowners and property professionals.

Let’s face it - the property market is not what it was in our parents’ or grandparents’ time. Buying an investment property in the 21st century calls for a millennial mindset.

There are plenty of different creative ways you can enter the property market for the first time or grow your investment portfolio. Here we explore four unique property investment strategies.

1. Investing in a holiday destination


In 2011, Martin Shew and David Cook-Doulton were looking at buying an investment property when they came across a beautiful, albeit run-down set of Victorian terrace houses in Ballarat, Victoria. It was the perfect opportunity to utilise their creative strengths and passion for period-style homes to begin a renovation project.

Several years of hard work transformed the property, called Lascelles, into a beautiful holiday home listed on several online short-term rental sites.

For Martin and David, who both have full-time marketing jobs in Melbourne, renovating Lascelles and keeping up with the admin of running a side-business was challenging. Martin admits, “undertaking a project like this comes with great sacrifice”.

Operating a holiday home as a property investment strategy has worked for David and Martin’s own personal experience and circumstances. While it might not be suitable for everyone, they offer this wisdom to those considering a similar option:

Be prepared

When you go into a project like this, you have to prepare yourself for several scenarios. Provide a provision for if it isn’t successful – what will you do in that case?"

Luckily for us, it ended up being more successful than we thought. We actually questioned if we could keep up with its success!”

Use technology to stay on top of things

“We get push notifications to our phones when someone has made a booking or has a query. The great thing is that you may be able to manage something like this while sitting by a pool in Bali (which we did a few weeks ago!).”

“See what others are doing, benchmark yourself and keep improving what you’re doing.”

2. Entering the market with guarantors

Jess and Sam Lowrey

Home ownership is one of the most common property investment strategies, but getting into the market is often a struggle. As newlyweds in their early 20s, Jess and Sam Lowrey were renting the house they now own. When their landlord decided to sell the house and offer them a discounted price, they knew it was a great opportunity to enter the property market at such a young age... but they simply couldn’t afford the house deposit.

“We couldn’t get a deposit ourselves,” Sam explains, “so my mum and dad had their house revalued and put up their home equity towards our deposit. The fact they were willing to go guarantor for us was great as it meant we could buy a home without having to pay home loan insurance.”

“It was a big call for them to do it,” Jess adds, “but they knew it was such a great opportunity for us to buy. We were already renting the property, so it was easy to stay on and not have to move all our things. We were being offered a discounted price, we really liked the area and the house, so it made so much sense to buy it.”

Although this situation isn’t suitable for everyone (and you should always seek your own independent financial advice before investing in property), Jess and Sam are pleased they were able to invest in property at a young age. They’ve personally learned from the experience:

Seize opportunities

"If an opportunity presents itself, take it! We’d still be renting now if we hadn’t bought when we did.”

Get a building inspection

“Spending a few extra dollars upfront could save you thousands. We failed to do this, and now we have to fix quite a few things we didn’t know about when we bought the place.”

3. Investing in a rental property

Hannah Mathews

Hannah Matthews left high school early to pursue a nursing career, and by the age of 19 had already been working full-time for a year. With the savings she’d accrued while working and living at home, her parents suggested she try and get into the property market.

“They suggested buying an investment property because we knew I’d still be living at home for the next 3 or 4 years at least,” she says.

Hannah decided to buy a 2-bedroom unit and rent it out. She says that one of the hardest parts was convincing herself that she didn’t need to buy the best of the best – because ultimately she wouldn’t be living in it anyway.

“I nearly bought a different property which was about 10 years younger, and looked much nicer and newer. It was around the same price as the one I ended up buying, but, when we got a building inspection done we were told there was about $40,000 - $50,000 worth of work to be done to it. So even though it looked nicer, I had to detach myself from how nice it looked and realise the other one was a wiser investment. I wasn’t going to live in it anyway.”

Here’s what Hannah learned from her personal experience investing in a property to rent out:

Don’t overspend

“Don’t sink a ridiculous amount of money into a house you won’t be living in yourself. ”

Do your due diligence

“Get a building inspection done.”


“Shop around for your home loan.”

4. Buying, renovating and selling

Jeff Coyle

Jeff Coyle purchased his first house in 2009 for a great price, with a long-term plan of renovating and selling it.

“I couldn’t afford my dream home at the time,” Jeff explains, “so I bought something really cheap and essentially unliveable – my sister said it looked like a chicken coop – with the plan to sell it. My intention was never to live there long-term myself, even once I’d done it up.”

Jeff’s renovations didn’t quite happen as quickly as he first thought...“I thought I’d renovate the house and sell it within 12 months. I actually sold it 5 years later! It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it didn’t worry me because of the capital growth I knew it was accruing. It gave me the capital I needed to buy my second home, which is also not my ideal home. I plan to subdivide this place and build a second house to rent out.”

Jeff’s property investment situation was unique, and may not work out the same for everyone. Regardless, here’s some useful insight he took away from the experience:

Do your homework – in all aspects

“Work out how much you need to save and what sort of home loan you’ll get. Research good areas to buy in and find out the property values in those areas.”

Look for a way into the market

"If you’re handy, get something cheap that you can do some work on. If you’re not, maybe invest in a smaller unit that doesn’t need much work. ”

Whatever your financial situation and life stage, you can do some research, seek advice and explore property investment strategies that suit your needs. While the investment strategies spoken about above worked for those involved, you’re best to discuss your own investment options with an independent financial adviser. You can learn more about the types of home loans you can get to support your investment by visiting your local Suncorp branch, enquiring online or calling us on 13 11 55.

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The information reflects the personal views of those mentioned in the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp Bank or the Suncorp Group. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant terms and conditions before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product. Contact us on 13 11 55 for a copy.

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