This month’s Woman in Focus is Michelle Lewis, a busy 38-year-old mother of three small children who balances her time between her husband, children, and renovating properties. When Michelle was 18 years old, she watched an episode of Current Affair interviewing a woman who didn’t earn much money from her job but was a prosperous property investor. At that moment, bells went off in her head and Michelle decided that would be her path to success as well. She purchased her first smelly, dilapidated property from a woman who owned 22 cats, grabbed some bleach, eagerly started renovating, and never looked back. Michelle currently holds five investment properties and has completed six renovations.
Michelle used a small inheritance from her father and grandfather to purchase her first property in 2004.
I wanted to put the money into something that would grow over time opposed to things that depreciated. It was very important to me. Fear was not really an issue. I was more afraid of not doing anything.”
Michelle admits her original strategy was "buy and hope for growth.” With little knowledge about property investing, she purchased the one-bedroom "stinky” property mentioned above in Adelaide at an auction for $149,500. Michelle and her husband began renovations and turned the house into a two-bedroom with an extension for about $70,000. The home is now worth $280,000 to $300,000 which translates into a $50,000 profit and earns $280 a week from tenants.
Believe in oneself
Instead of buying new cars and spending money on holidays, Michelle was careful with her money and invested in property instead. Michelle believes in the saying that property investing is 90% mindset and 10% knowledge. Learning along the way, she was undeterred, even though she encountered some problems including purchasing a termite-infested house. Michelle recommends that those starting out believe in themselves, get the necessary education, and then take action.
"Stay focused, believe in oneself and your knowledge and DO IT! DO IT! Take one property course and then take some kind of action. You’ll learn best by doing. Start small, perhaps by renovating your own house or purchasing an inexpensive property. Talk to property-minded friends, read magazines, and listen to Property Women’s CD’s over and over. Ask questions, seek advice. Have a mentor. Find your passion, what drives you, and make a plan. Put it in writing to help you achieve your goals. Be organized. Anything is possible.”
With her property investment knowledge she gained through education and experience, Michelle now manufactures her own capital growth through renovations and makes decisions that will provide positive cash flow. Her latest renovation was a 3 bedroom, 1 bath neglected home with the porch falling down and possums in the roof that was located close to her home. She purchased the property for $310,000 and spent an intensive six weeks renovating, spending about $30,000. The property sold almost immediately for $440,000 netting Michelle $50,000 after paying her agent, stamp duty, and capital gain taxes.
Michelle’s Renovation Tips
- Be frugal. Never buy retail. Always buy wholesale, check out sales on Gumtree, and don’t be ashamed to pick up things on the side of the road. Never replace what you can reuse. For example, instead of tossing an old sink away, polish it up and change the taps.
- Always get a minimum of three quotes from tradesmen. Ask for itemized pricing.
- Be organized and communicate well with tradesmen. Be on site on a regular basis to check on progress. Build a team environment and always thank your tradesmen for good work.
Moving into the Future
Michelle’s goal is for her husband to choose whether he wants to work in the future and peace of mind in their retirement years. She plans to keep following her passion for renovating properties and would love to do some developing in the future.
"My kids are my motivation. Property investing is for them as well. We are teaching them to work hard and the benefits of property investing."