All Posts by Jo Vadillo

Heidi Doe

Woman In Focus – Heidi Doe

As a child, Heidi Doe attended open inspections and display homes with her mother to collect ideas for redecorating and updating their home. She loved to look through Home Beautiful magazines kept around the house. Heidi credits these early experiences for her love of property, home styling, and renovation projects.

Heidi, now 42, married with two children, is a busy woman juggling family life and property investing with her businesses which include property managing, a renovating and home styling business, consultations, and a home-based coffee business.

Heidi purchased her first property at 19 and since then has sold six investment properties, renovated six properties, has been involved in two joint ventures and two subdivisions, and currently holds four properties.

How Heidi Got Started

Like many people, Heidi’s experience with property investing began by purchasing her own home. When Heidi moved out on her own as a teenager, she absolutely hated renting.

“I saw that handing over rent was a waste of money and wanted my money to go toward something. I had no strategy, but no fear either, so I jumped straight in. I was so excited.”

Heidi diligently saved up the initial deposit and purchased her first property in 1991 for $73,000. The property had character and potential – although it was also “cosmetically challenged.” She tackled the minor renovations and was able to sell the property later for $105,000.

Heidi was hooked. In 2000, she bought her second home for $127,000 and sold it two years later for $170,000. Next, Heidi and her husband built a home in 2002 for $250,000 and really scored when it was sold two years later for $408,000. The profit allowed them to own their next home outright.

“With each property, I made money and it was very addictive. I do like to do renovations as it allows you to buy under market value, add value, and manufacture your own equity. I’m impatient, so I find this is a faster way of increasing a property’s value. I also love seeing a property transformed. I can see the end result in my mind. Renovating is hard work, but the satisfaction of seeing the project through to completion and the transformation – along with a big chunk of money – makes it all worthwhile.”

Jumping into Property Investing

In 2003, Heidi purchased her first investment property in a nearby suburb for $153,500. She spent $7,000 renovating the kitchen, adding new tiles, and painting. After renting the property for a few years, the property was sold in 2006 for $205,000. Even though she made over $40,000, Heidi now wishes she had held on to that property.

 “It would have been a good cash flow property and it’s now worth $320,000.”

During the next six years, Heidi’s investments paid off handsomely. In 2004, Heidi and her husband designed and built the beautiful two-story home they are currently living in for $300,000 which is now worth $500,000. In 2007 and 2008, they purchased two investment properties which currently yield $305 and $295 a week in rent and combined have increased in value by $165,000.

Renovation still at the heart of Heidi’s passions, they purchased and renovated two properties. Heidi sold both properties shortly after renovations were completed for more than $200,000 than the purchase price. After purchasing another rental property that currently rents for $295 a week and has increased in value by $55,000, Heidi learned a tough lesson.

A Stunning Setback

In 2010, Heidi got involved in a Property Syndicate with a fairly well-known property investor who claimed to have experience in development. Heidi believed the syndicate could achieve better results than she could by working alone and invested in a 17-townhouse project. A year later, the investor was featured on Today Tonight as a scammer. As a result, Heidi suffered a major personal loss of $250,000.

“I won’t lie. This did really knock us off our perch for a while and fear crept in. It shook my confidence to the core and stopped us in our tracks. I had made a decision to leave my job and renovate properties full-time. That was my dream. It was a double whammy – losing the money and my dream at the same time. We were unable to purchase property for a while which made it even more painful.”

Heidi used this time to educate herself, study for her real estate license, and earn a diploma in property services. She also launched a property services and home styling business. Heidi and her husband are now investing in property again including a joint venture to build five townhouses and two renovation projects.

“I am grateful that I have skills I can use to recoup the money we lost. And I learned a powerful lesson. No one else really cares about your financial welfare, so don’t hand over all responsibility to another person, your partner, a financial adviser, or a so-called expert. Always be involved and have a say in your financial matters and trust in yourself and your ability. Beware of so-called property education groups that sell property. Research property and don’t make rash or ill-informed decisions. People who do the wrong thing usually leave a trail of destruction – Google them.”

Heidi’s Top 5 Tips

  1. Educate yourself. Attend property events like Property Women, read property books and magazines, and talk to other property investors. Gain an education on a wide range of property investment strategies. Surround yourself with like-minded people. There are many well-meaning dream stealers out there.
  2. If you are investing close to your home, become familiar with property values and attend open inspections. If you are investing outside of your area, property managers can be a wealth of knowledge. Visit to get a feel for the area and talk to the locals. Consider purchasing property research reports.
  3. Spend no more than 5-10% of the value of the property on renovations and aim for 4 to 6 weeks to complete the work. Do your prep work while you’re waiting for settlement. Contact tradesmen, get quotes, and check availability so that as soon as settlement takes place they are all lined up ready to commence with work. Prioritize where your money is best used and stick to your budget. “Remember it’s not all about the lovely things you like,” Heidi says. “Keep things neutral to appeal to a wider audience.”
  4. If you choose to joint-venture, make sure the other investors are on the same page as you with the same goals. Discuss all the possibilities and be sure and have the proper documentation.
  5. If you hit an obstacle, don’t give up.

Heidi’s Dream for the Future

When she first started investing in property, Heidi was inspired by Property Women’s “Woman in Focus” articles. She has now come full circle to become one of those women.

Property investing has helped Heidi pay off their family home, provided additional income, and enabled her to take time off work. In addition, Heidi has been able to educate her children about property investing.

In five years, Heidi hopes to live out her dream of not having a job and concentrate on her property investments and renovation projects. The future looks bright.

Audra Tracy

Audra Tracy: Property Woman of the Year 2014

Although the high caliber of nominees made this year’s Property Woman of the Year award extremely competitive, Audra Tracy received top prize.

When you look at her numbers, which are staggering and impressive, you’ll see why. After just seven short years of serious property investing, Audra Tracy’s current portfolio is now worth $5.5 million. By the way, that figure excludes profit from all the properties she has sold. Her monthly rental income is $22,500.

In fact, this 46-year-old powerhouse property woman has purchased 23 properties in under a decade and currently holds 15 of them. Even more impressive, she accomplished all this while working 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday as a mining industry accountant. And did we mention that between Audra and her husband Darryn, they have six children and four grandchildren?

Do you want to learn more about how this go-getter attained all of her success while juggling a career and family? Audra, who was excited and honored to receive the title of Property Woman of the Year, is very passionate about property investing and is thrilled to share her story so others can learn from both her successes and mistakes.

So let’s get started.

Audra’s First Steps

Watching her parents work hard all their lives yet struggle through retirement and feeling financially vulnerable after the end of her first marriage inspired Audra to start saving so she could buy her first property. She quickly got a taste for property investing.

Audra jumped right in, although she admits when she first started, the only investment strategy she had in place was a buy-and-hold, hope-and-pray strategy.

“The only knowledge I employed was being familiar with the area and buying what I could afford and maintain. I was in survival mode at this point after the failure of my first marriage. Fortunately, my strategy evolved over time. I sought education along the way with Property Women’s Diamond membership, reading property magazines, watching DVDs, and attending seminars. I haven’t stopped educating myself to this day.”

Over the years, Audra progressed from buying and holding properties that were likely to experience strong capital growth to purchasing sites with development and renovation potential to manufacture capital growth. She currently buys property for cash generation purposes that have subdivision and renovation potential. If purchasing property through her SMSF, the strategy is more specific and generally includes buying, renovating, strata titling, and then selling.

Audra’s Strengths and Weaknesses

A qualified accountant by trade, Audra used the skills she already possessed combined with the knowledge gained from educating herself to achieve success.

Audra knows exactly where she is financially at any given time so she can act quickly whenever she sees a great deal. In addition, her organizational and planning skills have proved invaluable when researching properties. Due diligence includes researching pricing history, security perspective, affordability, and flood mapping. Audra also keeps a white board with lists to keep track of dates of rental inspections, mortgage payments, tenant agreements, needed renovations, repairs, and maintenance, and trade workers’ contact information.

Audra’s weakness is being a self-proclaimed perfectionist and control freak. While this can be a helpful trait at times, in the past, it has hindered her from trusting professionals, which is vital since many of her properties are out of state.

“I am very particular with what I want and the outcome. However, I have managed to build up my team of reliable trade workers and experts that I can trust to work with me to get the results that I want in the timeframe that I need.”

Audra’s Proudest Moment

Audra considers her first subdivision her crowning achievement. She was just learning how to develop property and competing with more experienced investors, yet was able to put in an offer that was accepted.

“I performed my own successful town planning applications which were approved, served as project manager of the subdivision, and coordinated the plan sealing and title registration process. I then was able to successfully sell the property for a profit.”

Audra’s Biggest Mistake

Audra’s biggest blunder was lumping insurance for all her properties with one insurer to get a discount. Certain properties she held required flood insurance; however, Audra did not fully understand what the insurance she purchased covered. During the devastating 2011 Brisbane floods, one of her properties suffered significant damage. That’s when she discovered her insurance did not cover flooding.

“It cost me a considerable amount of money to get this property ready to be tenanted again and it was valued significantly less than what I paid for it.”

Audra’s Top Five Tips

Audra believes that the key to becoming and remaining a successful property investor is fairly simple. Here are her top five tips:

  1. Education is essential before embarking into the world of property investing. Subscribe to property magazines, attend seminars, network with like-minded people, and invest in educational books and DVDs.
  2. Success does not come quickly or easily. Work hard, stay focused, and understand your investing environment well. Be flexible and adapt to changing markets
  3. Be organized with your finances, record keeping, and paperwork. Have it at hand and ready to go.
  4. Ensure your systems are in place. Surround yourself with a great team of professionals. Have your “A Team” at hand, which in the beginning will include your mortgage broker, real estate agent, solicitor, and mentor.
  5. Build a network of people who trust and support you. In Audra’s case, that list not only includes mentors and other experienced property investors she’s met along the way, but also her husband who has been very supportive.

Audra’s Plans for the Future

“My end goal is to have fun and be happy, travel the world, and eventually retire from my job to become a full-time property investor. I would also like to provide a nest egg for my children and grandchildren.”

It looks like Audra is well on her way to achieve those goals. Congratulations Audra!

Amanda McEwin

This Month’s Woman In Focus

Amanda McEwin

When Amanda McEwin’s husband, Alistair, first brought up the idea of property investing, Amanda was in the hospital after giving birth to her third child. With a 2 ½-year-old and a 15-month-old jumping on the bed next to her, needless to say, she wasn’t exactly thrilled by the idea at the time.

Nonetheless, her husband had planted a seed that grew in Amanda’s mind, especially when she thought about returning to work after her maternity leave was up.

What happened next is amazing.

In less than four years, this highly focused and organized 39-year-old mother purchased 10 properties and currently holds six with a portfolio worth $3.24 million. All while juggling a young family. She is determined to succeed while maintaining a balanced life.

How did this Property Woman of the Year 2014 nominee do it?

The Secret to Success is Education

Amanda and her husband decided in February 2011 to start investing in property and two months later jumped into the market. Like many first-time investors they didn’t have any education or strategy. They purchased a six-year-old furnished townhouse around the corner from their house for $490,000.

“We didn’t know about growth versus cash flow. Nor did we have a clear idea on how this purchase was going to help us achieve the financial independence that got us into investing in the first place.”

Fortunately, the house had a five-year executive lease paying above market rent with no property management fees or maintenance. The yield was about 5.6 percent. The property has been cash flow neutral after taxes.

After this experience, Amanda quickly realized she needed to educate herself. She became like a mad woman trying to absorb as much information as soon as possible. Hungry to learn, after the children went to bed she skipped watching TV so she could read everything she could get her hands on about property investing.

The couple also invested in a mentoring program which proved invaluable.

“Just to have someone to hold your hands and answer silly question you come up with gives you confidence. You can also bounce ideas off someone who has been through this before.”

Through education, Amanda learned the importance of purchasing where the market is growing, not just in your own backyard. She also came to understand the power of conducting extreme due diligence when making a purchase.


The Secret to Success is Evolving Strategies


In 2011 and 2012, the focus was on buying and holding properties to provide passive income. Amanda’s background in business development, management consultancy, as well as her experience as a former chartered accountant were useful to accomplishing this goal.

Amanda used her skills to negotiate good deals as well as conduct extensive due diligence that included researching the growth market, infrastructure, and demographics. After narrowing her choices, Amanda dug in even further by talking to real estate agents and property managers in the area. The couple’s goal was to purchase 10 properties in 10 years, eventually selling half so they could own the remaining properties debt free, providing passive income for their family.

In 2013, Amanda discovered her true passion when she successfully renovated and flipped two units. She was able to secure the first unit under a license to occupy and renovated and flipped the unit in only four weeks, prior to settlement. As a result, she didn’t have to incur stamp duty or holding costs. She banked $22,000 in less than three months. She repeated the process and renovated a second unit in four weeks, sold it in two weeks, and although she had to settle on this property, she still pocketed another $19,000.

“I get the most satisfaction from renovation deals. To see the before and after photos and think that I actually created this – I am excited and proud – and when you make money, it’s even better!”

The success prompted a change in their strategy.  Alistair and Amanda now plan to purchase 20 properties in 10 years and sell half to generate a passive income. In addition, they want to focus on property development to create cash flow and fund deposits for the portfolio. This part of their strategy includes renovations, subdivisions, and developments.

So far this year, the couple has purchased a townhouse in their SMSF, a house in Queensland, and have secured their first option/development deal which they estimate will generate approximately $135,000 profit.

The Secret to Success is Patience and Following Your Instinct


Remember that property investing is a journey, not a destination, Amanda advices. Once she got started, Amanda was pumped up, motivated, and ready to jump right in. Her husband cautioned her to start small, which she now says was good advice.

“Once I had committed to using property investing as a wealth creation tool, I wanted everything to happen immediately. I wanted to understand everything yesterday and I wanted to achieve the end result now. Property takes time to grow. Experience takes time and each transaction has something new to learn.”

Impulsiveness almost got Amanda and Alistair in trouble when they got caught up in the mining boom frenzy and had a contract on a property in Moranbah, Queensland. The contract was for $710,000 and their plans included renovating, subdividing, and developing two units in the back. This would have been their first development, done remotely, with a hefty $1.4 million price tag.  At the time, ridiculous rents of $1800 per week were common; however, vacancies were starting to rise, setting off alarm bells in Amanda’s head.

She began to feel physically ill and paying attention to her instincts pulled out of the deal. A few months later, the market tanked and rents dropped from $1800 to $400 per week with a huge number of vacant properties. Many properties are now worth less than half of what some people paid for them.

“This was such a good lesson for us as it made us reevaluate our risk profile and to always listen to our instincts. The biggest mistake is getting caught up in hype and following the herd.”

Amanda’s Top 3 Secrets to Success

So here are Amanda’s top three tips in a nutshell:

  1. Educate yourself. Find someone who has achieved what you want to achieve and learn from them. Invest in yourself.
  2. Be clear on why you are investing in the first place. Set your strategy and goals.
  3. Most importantly…TAKE ACTION

The Secret to Success is a Bright Future

As Amanda transitions into becoming a full-time property investor, Alistair is onboard and hopes to become a full-time investor eventually as well.

The couple runs their property investing as a business with monthly meetings to review their portfolio, performance, and strategy.

Amanda also enjoys mentoring others to help people achieve their financial goals. Her advice is simple:

“Believe in yourself, educate yourself, set your goals and strategy, take action, and enjoy the ride to financial independence!”

Amanda Orr

Amanda Orr

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,”
Walt Disney said.

That has certainly been true for Amanda Orr, a Property Woman of the Year 2014 nominee.

Four years ago, Amanda decided she didn’t want to sit behind a desk working on someone else’s dream. She set a goal of completely replacing her income with property investments so she could quit her job and become a full-time renovator in just 18 months. She studied, planned, scrimped and saved, and stayed true to her ideals – despite family and friends who thought she was crazy.

Amanda accomplished her goal, just as planned, in only a year and a half. During the next few years, she purchased 10 properties, renovated and sold three properties, and now has a property portfolio worth over $2 million. She even realized her dream of owning a holiday house free of cost. (More on how she accomplished that feat later in the article.) If all that wasn’t enough, she started her own company last June and now employs her partner as a full-time carpenter along with her brother and future father-in-law.

Whew! What’s this 34-year-old’s next dream?

Amanda reveals that and more in this month’s Woman in Focus article:

Why property investing?

In one word: freedom.

Amanda spent most of her twenties as a bit of a nomadic traveler, but when she moved back home to settle in Australia, she soon discovered she hated the corporate world.

“I think I’m allergic to working for someone else. I just can’t do it. I had a fantastic job, an amazing boss, amazing pay. It was easy but I still hated it. I guess I’m a control freak. I like to have direct control over my money. I like to see it, feel it, I like to create it literally with my hands and my mind.”

How did Amanda get started?

Amanda and her partner were sharing one small room at his parent’s house when they purchased a small house and started renovating. That’s when Amanda discovered her passion for renovation projects. Next, she purchased a property nicknamed “House of Horrors.”

“It lived up to the name. I lived in that house and had over an hour commute to my full time desk job. Working long into the nights and all weekends, I made sure to keep renovating this house with the intention that once this property was done and sold, I would parlay those profits into cash-flow positive property that would replace my desk job and enable me to quit my job.”

Right on schedule, “The House of Horrors” sold for a hefty profit after 18 months. Following her heart, Amanda quit her job and within just one month purchased three residential properties.

What was Amanda’s strategy?

Amanda’s property investing strategy was two-fold. First, she wanted to purchase cash-flow properties to give her a steady weekly income. Second, she wanted to start her own company which would focus on profits made from quick cosmetic renovations funded by investors.

Moving ahead with her plans, within a year, Amanda started her own business, purchased eight properties, sold one, and completed two renovations. This provided the proof potential investors needed that Amanda had the ability to generate a good return on investment (ROI) on their capital.

Any mistakes along the way?

Like most property investors, the short answer is yes. Amanda says one of her biggest mistake was buying a property based on emotions. She was sucked in by pressure to buy on the spot.

“I made an emotional spur-of-the-moment decision and bought a property in an up market and sold it in a down market. I lived in it whilst I renovated, so it took three times as long as it should have.”

Another mistake was choosing an individual agent, who said all the right things, but made every mistake in the book, including going on holiday when auction day arrived.

What is Amanda’s proudest moment?

She is most proud of her free holiday house mentioned in the beginning of this article.

“I wanted to have a house by the beach, but cash-flow positive properties were hard to find. I found two units in a great location. I managed to turn one of the units into my own free holiday house by putting in place a tenant whose rent effectively covers the mortgage – therefore costing me nothing to have a beach house!”

How sweet is that?

What are Amanda’s top 3 tips?

  1. Learn as much as you can.
  2. Research and conduct due diligence. Become an expert in your chosen area. When renovating, get three quotes on everything.
  3. Consider joint venturing with others. By combining your strengths with experienced investors, you can become better as a team than you are alone. However, use caution and get everything in writing before you start.

What’s Amanda’s next dream?

As promised in the beginning of the article, we’ll now reveal Amanda’s next big dream.

Of course, she wants to keep expanding her business and help make money for other people as well as herself.

But property investing will also make her next personal goal possible. Amanda plans to wed her partner, renovate her dream house, fill it with children, and live happily ever after!

Kathryn Fantov

Kathryn Fantov:The Woman in Focus

Doing Things Differently.

Okay, we’ll admit upfront that this month’s Woman in Focus has an advantage when it comes to property investing.

During her 22 years of experience in the real estate industry, Kathryn Fantov has worked as a property manager, residential sales manager, residential and commercial selling agent, leasing agent, and is currently undertaking an advanced diploma in valuation. She also became a successful property investor during this time, buying and selling property as a single woman, renovating, and building two homes with her husband, all the while raising two sons.

On top of all that, two years ago, Kathryn decided to become one of Sydney’s first seller’s advocates after becoming disillusioned with the behavior of many real estate professionals and founded Innovative Property Advocates.

What can you learn from her extensive experience? Turns out, plenty!

Early Success

Kathryn hit the ball out of the park with her very first investment. She was acting as a selling agent in 1997 when she negotiated with the owner to make her first property purchase. Her experience and knowledge of the rental market and comparable sales in the area gave her a leg up in choosing the right property in a good area.

“The property owner and I were both happy with the deal.”

Kathryn purchased the property for $240,000. She rented the property, then moved in, updated the kitchen and made other minor renovations. Ten years later, Kathryn was able to more than double her money by selling the property for $510,000.

Needless to say, she was hooked on investing!

Simple but Successful Strategies

Kathryn continued to invest in properties and went on to build two homes with her husband, who is a builder. She is now focused on purchasing properties in the Sydney metro area, a region she knows well, with a buy and hold strategy.

Her latest purchase was in May 2014 using Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs). Kathryn wanted to have more control over her Super Funds while building up her real estate portfolio at the same time. However, she found that purchasing property within the fund was more time consuming and costly than she anticipated.

Her advice if you are considering this option:

“Make sure you are fully educated beforehand on how much time and money it will cost you to set up and maintain the fund. Also, make sure you are diversified. Do your research upfront.”

Why You Might Consider Using a Seller’s Advocate

What exactly is a seller’s advocate and what do they do?

A seller’s advocate serves as an intermediator advisor between the seller and the real estate agent. Their services include interviewing agents and making recommendations, negotiating commission fees and marketing costs, and providing advice on how best to prepare a property to maximize profits.

“It seemed to me that agents were working more for the buyers than the sellers. Ninety-five percent of the people I interviewed before starting my business who had sold property within the last five years said they were not happy with the level of service and integrity from their agent. I wanted to provide a trustworthy, independent, honest, and transparent experience for sellers during what can be a stressful time.”

For example, last year, one of Kathryn’s clients was not happy with their agent who estimated their property was worth $795,000. Adding value through renovations and property styling are two of Kathryn’s specialties. After helping her client reconfigure the upstairs floor plan to add on another bedroom at a cost of only $11,000, the house sold for $920,000. Kathryn was even able to negotiate the agent’s fees which then covered her own fees.

Kathryn also specializes as a buyer’s advocate or agent, helping clients search, locate, and negotiate on properties. She will also bid at auctions for clients if requested.

Kathryn’s Top Three Tips

  1. Do not make emotional or impulsive decisions when it comes to property investing. Some people tend to overpay or buy out of desperation or frustration. Avoid this practice at all costs and spend the extra time to find the right property at the right price.
  2. Do your research. Know the values of properties in your chosen area. Get to know local agents.
  3. When buying at an auction, write down two figures. The first dollar amount is how much you would like to pay for a property; the second amount is the absolutely maximum you are willing to pay. Do not deviate from those amounts in the heat of the moment.

Benefits of Property Investing

Property investing has made it possible for Kathryn and her husband to build a beautiful dream home in the Sutherland Shire area located in the southern region of Sydney – an area where she and her family always wanted to live. In addition, investing in real estate has allowed their family to have a comfortable lifestyle.

However, property investing has meant so much more to Kathryn and resulted in a rewarding and fulfilling career.

“When I was young and working as a legal secretary, I saw some of my friends enjoying a nice lifestyle which attracted me to property investing. However, as time went on, my career in property investing became about much more – it became about helping people achieve their goals and dreams.”

Future Plans

“I plan to open five more offices in the future – three in the Sydney area, one in Queensland, and one in Perth.”

Kathryn says this with the kind of confidence that makes you believe that she will see this dream come true as well.

Sonia Woolley

Sonia Woolley

Sonia Woolley bought her first property as a single woman when she was just 20 years old. She was off to a good start; however, in her 40s, she found herself starting all over again due to a divorce. That didn’t stop her for a second. Sonia successfully turned property investment into a career and not just her passion. She has completed 17 renovations, four subdivisions, and currently holds 11 properties. In addition, Sonia is principal and director of her own real estate company, Vision Property Group, and director and joint owner of Ipswich Granny Flats.

How’d she do it?

The Beginning

Growing up, her parents never owned a home and Sonia lived in government housing. After finishing school, she leased a property which made Sonia swear that she never wanted to rent again.

“A girlfriend and I moved out – you do it when you’re young – we were only just 19, just under 20. We took a lease on a place for 12 months. Boy, what an experience that was. So, I moved back home after that and told my Mum and Dad that I am never renting again in my life.”

Sonia meant it. She worked seven days a week – five days at a bank and weekends at a local street market – and saved up money for a deposit on her own place. At 20, she bought a two-bedroom small unit. That was the start of her journey.

Overcoming Fears

Although Sonia started young and her first investment went well, that didn’t     mean there weren’t any obstacles along the way. Getting financing as a single woman 35years ago wasn’t easy. In addition, she had to overcome fears that included incurring debt, a lack of confidence, and the fear of the unknown. She was slowly able to overcome these fears and continued investing.

However, life through Sonia another curveball when she was in her mid-40s and lost everything in a divorce. She was forced to start all over again “with a kid and a cat.”

Instead of letting that stop her, Sonia fearlessly foraged forward and came into her own as a successful property investor. She had purchased a small house for $46,000 as a place for her and her daughter to live. Four years later, after the divorce was settled, it was worth about $200,000. She bought some land for $21,000. That property is now worth $150,000 and can be divided into six blocks.

“Although at first I feared debt, after you’re a million dollars in debt you quit caring and worrying so much. You need money to be able to move forward. I can understand that now, but it took me a long time before I was comfortable with it.”

And move forward, she did! Sonia went on to purchase eight properties in three years. She admits she didn’t have a specific strategy and because she was still working didn’t give much thought to creating cash flow. Sonia simply bought undervalued properties, did extensive research to find future hotspots, and made purchases based on what she could afford at the time. Her simple but effective plan of action was successful.

She once again fearlessly started over by moving to Ipswich seven years ago where she didn’t know a soul and began working in the real estate industry. After several years of dedication and determination, Sonia carved out a niche locally and teamed up with another property addict, Julie Adams, to form her own real estate agency. That company now has one of the largest sales teams in Ipswich.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

Sonia quickly learned that it pays to treat tradesmen with respect and consideration. Although some of her renovations were “hands-on” – for example, Sonia loves to paint – she has learned to establish good relationships with her tradesmen for renovations she doesn’t have the knowledge or desire to tackle herself. She lets her workers know they are part of a team, pays them promptly, and even provides tea and coffee for them.


Although Sonia has been successful, she did lose money on one transition in Cairns with an off-the-plan contractor because she did not understand the full implications of the deal. However, Sonia didn’t let that stop her from jumping right back on the saddle again. She went on to purchase another property in Cairns and was able to double her money. Later – in what she considers her most exciting property investment – she purchased an uninhabitable, condemned property for $90,000 that she estimates will double her money once again. Sonia also discovered that land development was more profitable than renovations. She and her partner are now focusing on subdividing and land development which for them has been a natural progression.

Inspiring Others

Sonia likes to think that she has inspired her daughter, who just turned 27. However, Sonia also hopes she can inspire other women who find themselves in difficult circumstances. She firmly believes that if she can start over again in her 40’s anyone can do it.

“You just need to start and you just need to do it. Get yourself a mentor, write down some goals, and surround yourself with other like-minded people.”

The monetary rewards are great, but Sonia talks to dozens of women on a daily basis and finds helping others achieve their dreams is one of the most rewarding aspects of her career.

“If I’ve even inspired just one woman in a day, I believe that I’ve achieved something that day.”