An Accidental Start in Property Investment

Property investment is usually the product of thorough planning, budgeting and at least a few discussions with a loved one. Occasionally it’s far less deliberate. Take my friend who stopped for a snooze in a garden on his way home from a particularly big night out, woke to the noise of an open house, wandered inside and signed a contract.

There he was, minding his own business in a comfortable hedge, when the jingling of keys roused him from the mid-morning slumber. Hungover and confused, he peeked his head out of the shrubbery and saw the suit-clad agent perched on the stairs preparing to welcome potential buyers.

He panicked. What should he do? Sit very still and wait for the crowd to go, then sheepishly head home to his probably furious partner? Or sneak out, play it cool, take a quick walk through the cottage and then hightail it out of there?

Partly out of embarrassment but mostly so he could ask for a glass of water, he crept out, dusted himself off and walked up the stairs. Through the front door, he spotted a place he’d love to call home.

So, he bought it. Imagine how that conversation went down! Instead of coming home with a headache and empty wallet, he had a house and his first property investment.

Those sorts of things don’t happen everyday, and for good reason – buying a property is obviously a serious commitment that requires an adequate level of due diligence. However there are other examples of accidental starts in property.

I was reminded of my friend’s now-hilarious story recently when interviewing a Brisbane investor who is just about to undertake a townhouse development project. He was explaining how it’s all a world away from his former life as an investment banker in London. The combination of a few circumstances – including the tragic events of September 11 – prompted a return to Australia and a change of focus. Now he couldn’t be happier.

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My own start in the world of property was mostly unplanned. I’d just rented a brand new apartment in a CBD high-rise that was wonderful – 25th floor, designer fitout, incredible views of the river. Coming home felt special. That balcony played host to some incredible gatherings too.

After six months, a television ad for a home loan aimed at first homebuyers caught my attention and got me thinking. How much would it cost to service a mortgage? Much to my shock, a $300,000 property could be paid off for less than I was forking out in rent.

So I did it. Within a couple of weeks, I’d signed a contract on a unit that ended up being a great little money earner. Its equity also allowed me to begin building a portfolio. If not for that ad, who knows where I’d be?

Whether you’re a recent investor or one with an extensive profile you’ve built over many years, I’m keen to hear how you got started in property. Was it part of the grand plan? Who or what inspired you to take that first step? Share your story below.

Shannon Molloy is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine