Case Studies

8 min read

Private property issue #101 - 3 case studies

Here are 3 of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard recently. They’re all Kiwis who come from humble beginnings. But they're all determined to change their financial future.


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Every Sunday, real investors share their stories on the Property Academy Podcast. It’s called “Case Study Sunday”.

People always tell me it’s the best episode of the week. You guys love hearing how other investors use property to get ahead financially.

Here are 3 of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard recently. They’re all Kiwis who come from humble beginnings. But they're all determined to change their financial future.

Sera and Quentin are breaking the poverty cycle

Sera and Quentin were high school sweethearts. And life together started out tough.

They moved into their own rental at 16. There was no fridge. No washing machine, and they worked 5 jobs between them to pay the bills.

They were determined to break the poverty cycle. So they worked hard.

But they never (ever) dreamed they’d own their own home.

"That [owning a house] was never ever a part of this goal setting because it seemed too far removed, right?," Sera said.

But they did it.

After living in Auckland for a while, they moved to Te Kauwhata. They bought a house and paid off their mortgage in 5 years.

“That’s how nuts we are. We never thought about another property. The goal was debt-free… And we’d cracked it”.

Then Sera started listening to the Property Academy Podcast. She made it through every single episode. So, she began to think about investing in property.

They met with Kathy Faulkner – a financial adviser from Opes – and went from there.

"In our culture, it's always about connection.”

“When you find those people, like Kathy, and you align yourself to those types of people ... we use it as an opportunity to benefit our knowledge growth.”

“Growing up, our attitude to money was: there was never enough, and we didn’t know where it was going to come from”.

For Quentin and Sera, this is about creating a generational shift.

They don’t just want to build wealth for themselves but for their son and their future grandchildren.

“We're breaking the cycle and changing the outlook in his [our son’s] perspective of life, I suppose.

"What will he learn and build for our next generation?

“It's like that connection, that story, that drive - what we do now has generational effects for our whanau."

This was one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard in a long time. If you want to hear their full journey, listen here on Spotify or here on Apple.

Stuart and Katherine used property to buy a supermarket

Katherine bought her first rental property in Rotorua during her lunch break.

No bank pre-approval. No house tour. She just put her hand up at an auction.

She told her husband, Stuart, over the phone.

"It was a steal," he says. “It was probably the best property we’ve bought”.

(To be clear, they don’t think anyone should do the same thing).

Over the years Stuart and Katherine flipped properties to get ahead.

In one case, they bought a property and subdivided the back section to create 3 properties in total.

They lived in one, sold one and kept the last property as a rental.

They’ve used the money from property to start and grow their businesses.

Katherine recently became a supermarket owner. She used the money from property to help afford the investment.

At only 31 and 32, Stuart and Katherine own 3 businesses and have a sizable property portfolio.

To many people, they seem lucky.

"To us, it was a very slow process."

“Everyone forgets we’ve been doing this for 11 years. We haven’t been able to do all the fun holidays and stuff.”

“I didn’t wake up one day, look under my pillow and see the keys to my business. I had to build it.”

For people starting, their advice is: “Go deep and do it now. Crack on with it.”

I love this story, partly becuase Stuart and Katherine aren’t my clients.

To the best of my knowledge, they’re not using any of our services here at Opes.

But I want to share their story because it’s motivating. And they’re part of the Property Academy Podcast community.

If you want to listen to the full episode, listen here on Spotify or here on Apple Podcasts.

Mike did renovations for 16 years, now he’s changing strategies

Mike started renovating properties at 23.

His strategy was to buy it, live in it, do it up, and then sell it.

And he made good money. One property sold for a $160k profit after only 5 years.

That was over a decade ago when $160k was even more money than it is today.

His worst mistake was breaking the cardinal rule at an auction. "I started bidding with emotion," he said.

“The bank told me $400k. That's your limit. But the final price was $435,000 ... I'm like, ‘surely they [the bank] can make it work’."

The next day, a few drinks deep at the races, Mike's bank manager calls to say: “You need $7k up front to make this happen”.

But he didn’t have the money.

So, less than 6 months into a new relationship, Mike asked his partner: “Can you go to the bank and get a $7k loan?”

She said yes. He got the house. And the couple are now engaged with 2 children.

But after having the kids, life is changing.

After 16 years of painting, hammering, and paying tradies with beer – he’s switching sides.

He thought he knew everything about property.

“Not that I did. But in my head, arrogantly, I thought: ‘You just buy heaps of houses, happy days’.”

Then his friend told him about Opes. But Mike wasn’t immediately on board.

“My buddy said, ‘I've just been in touch with this Opes guy, and he's just showing me this Wealth Plan and how I get to this position.’”

“I'm like, okay, mate. Sounds like a bit of a cock-a-hoop”

“And he goes, look, it's free. You just have a chat, and he shows you all this cool stuff, and he gives you some ideas and gives you a plan.

“And I'm like, yeah, no, that does actually sound pretty good.”

So Mike talked to Derry – a financial adviser – and bought a New Build townhouse in Christchurch.

It’s different from the properties he’s had in the past. He plans to "never ever, not once" step foot in it.

“If I knew 16 years ago what I know now … I’d do it [New Builds] in a heartbeat”.

“Just let the experts do their thing … You just be content and happy and growing your portfolio and doing everything else you need to do in life.”

Mike is a natural storyteller. So, if you want to hear his full story, listen here on Spotify or here on Apple Podcasts.

And if you want to get the same free meeting Mike did, you can book a meeting with a financial adviser here.

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Andrew Nicol

Managing Director, 20+ Years' Experience Investing In Property, Author & Host

Andrew Nicol, Managing Director at Opes Partners, is a seasoned financial adviser and property investment expert with 20+ years of experience. With 40 investment properties, he hosts the Property Academy Podcast, co-authored 'Wealth Plan' with Ed Mcknight, and has helped 1,894 Kiwis achieve financial security through property investment.

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