This Month’s Woman In Focus
This month’s Woman in Focus, Bernadette Janson, became interested in renovating in her early 20’s as a stay-at-home Mum with four children while improving her own house. Shortly thereafter, when Bernadette and her husband, a builder, began investing in property, she quickly discovered her knack for turning ordinary properties into spectacular family homes.
Bernadette’s property investments have not only included renovations but also heritage properties, developments, and subdivisions. Learning some valuable lessons over the years, she now enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience to inspire, motivate, and empower others to create a brighter financial future as well.
Bernadette is also the director of “The School of Renovating”.
How she got started
During the 1990’s, Bernadette and her husband began buying high-end investment properties. After renovations were complete they would sell the property for a quick profit. The properties afforded the family a nice lifestyle and disposable income, but lessons were learned along the way.
“At first, we were driven by a one-size-fits-all mentality and built to a standard that most people were not prepared to pay for. I learned to tailor the renovation to the buyer and found out I was really good at that. Being a woman helped me since women are typically the ones who influence a property purchase. I learned from my husband technically, but I also learned that I needed to be strategic and that the renovations needed to be of good quality but also efficient.”
In addition, the way Bernadette approached investing was hit and miss due to her view of debt. For example, during the early days of property investing, she sold a small development simply to pay it off even though there wasn’t any profit in the deal.
“I really struggled with the concept of debt. I would buy something then I would be panic-stricken about the debt and all I wanted to do was sell it. I know now that I should have held on to that investment and I would have had a great cash flow property now.”
Bernadette also discovered she was suffering with depression which was influencing some of her decisions.
“Once I received treatment, it opened my eyes to what I could do with investing.”
In the beginning, Bernadette focused solely on buying high-end properties valued at $1 million-plus, which she would then renovate and sell. She still purchases properties for this purpose once a year to provide immediate income.
However, as time went on, she became interested in renovating “bread and butter” properties which she defines as houses that the average person can afford. These types of properties were more suitable as Bernadette and her husband began looking at their retirement years.
“I turned 50 and looked at what we needed for retirement to provide the type of lifestyle we were used to and thought I needed to do something about this. Renovating is the only thing I knew that would make the amount of money I would need without physically working hard. However, I saw lower-valued properties as a better way to provide long-term cash flow and a strategy that was less risky.”
Bernadette began putting her new plans into action. A year ago, she owned three properties including their own home. They downsized and moved into one of their investment properties and sold the other two properties.
Bernadette is looking to replace those properties with a portfolio of lower-valued properties which she plans to keep over the long term as rentals.
Bernadettes top 3 tips
- Get educated. Not only through books and seminars, but also through people who specialise in property investing. For example, a good real estate agent is gold and will have his or her finger on the pulse of the market. An experienced mortgage broker can open your eyes to different ways of financing. Learn from these experts.
- Research and due diligence is critical. Attend auctions to see what people are buying. Get to know the “lay of the land.” The expectation of buyers will vary significantly according to the area.
- Surround yourself with specialists. Find an accountant that specializes in property investments and has an understanding of various tax structures and issues you will be facing. Use mortgage brokers that invest in properties themselves. Property Women’s events can help put you in contact with people who have invaluable expertise.
Reaping the benefits of property investing
Bernadette’s retirement is looking good and her future bright because of her property investments.
“The majority of women are facing a poorly funded retirement, particularly those on the wrong side of forty. The average superannuation payout for an Australian woman is $37,000 which is a fraction of what I make on just one project. Property investing is a powerful way to fast track your retirement savings while keeping risk to a minimum.”
In addition, Bernadette has been able to teach her four children entrepreneurial skills. Her son is now her architect and her daughter has completed a renovation and is looking to buy a second investment property.
“I know my children are well-equipped to buy in this market. They don’t need me because they have been living with property investing throughout their lives and have learned the principles they need to be a savvy investor.”
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” Bernadette has lived by that philosophy and is reaping the rewards.