Women in Focus – Sharon Tolhurst
Meet Sharon, a talented music teacher who bravely moved on after tragedy to become a successful property investor.
Sharon’s life turned to darkness when she lost her fiancée in car accident. After four years of grieving, Sharon finally decided to take on a new direction in life. Through property investing, she has started rebuilding her life and has amazingly purchased 6 investment properties in less then a year.
The early years…a carefree life
Right after she completed her undergraduate degree at Avondale College in New South Wales, Sharon spent time in the US to finish her Masters degree and later on went with her sister to London to work as an English nanny and was Head of Music at Salvatorian College, Middlesex for two years. She didn’t earn as much as her sister who was a nurse, but she enjoyed her experience there.
Sharon returned to Australia, with only $20 in cash, a credit card and a job…but Sharon was determined to build on this.
Put your money in a house…
Sharon’s parents had always encouraged her and her siblings to be independent and self-sufficient. They would always say, “Put your money in a house and don’t owe anyone money.” They learned that lesson the hard way…as they didn’t purchase their first property until they were in their 40s and were told they were too old to get a bank loan…they didn’t want the same thing happening to their kids.
After convincing her sister to move in with her in Melbourne, they started saving up for a new house. Because Sharon plays the French horn which can be loud, she knew that she couldn’t just buy any house. It had to be one that allowed her to play her instrument without disturbing the neighbours. In 1993, they finally found the right house, a 2-bed villa unit with a garage in between the units. The house shrieked of the 60s but with the help of their family and friends, they managed to do a bit of renovation to fix it up.
In 2000 Sharon became a Lecturer in Music at Avondale College, a Christian tertiary institution. She bought a house in the Lake Macquarie area to move into, which turned the Melbourne property into an investment by default.
Except for a car accident that resulted in a T2 fracture, life was good. Sharon was teaching musicians to become music teachers, she started dating a wonderful man and had just bought another property. And in 2001 Sharon also bought her sister’s share of the Melbourne property.
And then in 2005, Sharon’s life took a tragic turn…just as Sharon and her fiancée, David were planning to purchase a property together David was tragically killed in a car accident. This hit Sharon very hard and has proved to be one of the toughest things she has had to get through. “Being emotionally paralysed after David’s death – life that was planned was in TOTAL ruins, David wasn’t perfect but he was perfect for me.”
Life after David
Sharon didn’t know how she’d live her life without David…but in December 2008 she found a way.
After attending a Property Women Workshop, Sharon finally got the courage to move on, and with a help from a finance expert she met at the workshop, Sharon bought her 2nd investment property. “I knew I had money in equity, but I didn’t know what to do with it.” She realised then that she had found a way to move on…the path is different from the one she had planned but she now knew she would be okay. “There is life after David – buying my 2nd investment property was the milepost when I KNEW that I would be OK.”
Within a year, Sharon has managed to purchase 6 more investment properties, most of them in June 2009 all under market value and she has managed to get a good rental return by leasing the properties by the room to students. A tip she got from attending the Property Women Workshop.
Here are a few pictures and figures of the purchases Sharon has been busy making…
||Purchase Date||Purchase Price||Current Value||Weekly Rent|
|Principle Place of Residence||2000||$150,300||$325,000||–|
|Invest 2||2008 (Dec)||$389,000||$450,000||$395|
|Invest 3||2009 (1 June)||$330,000||$375,000||$470|
|Invest 4||2009 (6 June)||$308,000||$370,000||$560|
|Invest 5||2009 (15 June)||$151,000||$172,000||$200|
|Invest 6||2009 (25 June)||$184,500||$225,000||$250|
Sharon is also just about to settle on the house next door to where she lives.
Getting involved in property investing has empowered Sharon and helped her self-esteem.
She now lives with her 3 furry kids, her gorgeous cats and has just completed her PhD in Music Education through Deakin University.
She conducts the community Brass Band, the Tertiary Chamber Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble. Her main focus is instrumental music education at all level of education.
Sharon’s Property Investing Tips
- Buy your first property with the biggest deposit possible and pay it off as quickly as possible.
- Use the equity from your other property to purchase your next property.
- Stick with properties in areas that you are familiar with and study the market.
- If you can’t see a property, have someone you trust to look at it for you.
- Educate yourself in property investing. Attend courses and seminars, and read books on the subject. Learn what you need to know on property investing.
- If you are buying a property with someone, make sure that the person you partner with is someone you absolutely trust and have a legal professional draw-up the contract.
- Don’t let your heart rule your financials.
Sharon’s Words of Wisdom
“If I can do it, you can too.”
“Do what you do when you can”