Thursday, September 3, 2015

Investing in a cheapy

Now and again I do a search for the absolute rock bottom properties in Australia and see if I can see something interesting. You know what I mean; those places under $100K, wasting away in a rural area somewhere, an asbestos laden cottage that probably hasn't had anyone live in it for a while, begging for a bulldozer.

Why do these properties even exist? Should they, not unlike the Detroit-like sub-prime houses, be flattened to make way for something new, or better yet, returned to mother earth?

The underlying fact remains that these properties do change hands, and someone is doing SOMETHING with them. Have you had any experience with one of these? Please write comment about it below; I would love to hear of your experiences.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Here we go again

It seems to be a common occurrence on this blog, but once again it's been a long time between drinks (posts) as life gets in the way and other priorities take over. It's a bit like eating a cake and the cake is good, but if you swig a can of coke, the sugar overload hits you and in the haze of it all you realize you've forgotten to eat more cake. It's a bit kind of like that here on the PIIA blog.

Anyway. Today I am going to discuss extensions. We are living somewhat cramped (but happily) in our little three bedroom, one bathroom, one living area, one carport, 600m square block little 'shack'. It's cramped, I won't lie. So the conversation with the minister for finance turns to (well, I turn it to...) the possibility of extending the house back into the yard so we have an extra two rooms, an additional living area and another bathroom. This would make it a 5 bedroom, two bathroom home. Cost? Let's say $40K-ish. For us, that's a lot of money. The funny thing is, we don't need to come up with 40K because it's sitting there nicely in equity which we could just access. What it does mean, is approximately $40/week extra in repayments. We can afford this right now.

So what's the issue sir? The counter argument that is continually proposed is that we shouldn't over-capitalise in our current suburb, which is the lovely, but somewhat negative-press-receiving Caboolture. And if I'm being honest, I use the term 'lovely' quite loosely. But it's, you know, OK.

Counter-Argument 2 takes the shape of inconvenience during construction. This I can buy, BUT, we have been through much much more WITHIN our home, so an EXTENSION should be alright considering there would only be a little bit of modification to the existing to open up the thoroughfares.

SO yeah, a stalemate of sorts. I can't help but think that the extension would easily increase the net value. Our house would be five bedrooms. five! Two living areas! Two! And for the sake of using another exclamation mark, two bathrooms! Two! So a completely larger and better house in almost every way, bar the reduction in backyard space, which is kind of whatevs.

To further augment my thoughts, I have recently seen and worked with a few little extensions via my company, Sunray Painters. It seems legit that people all over the place are putting some money towards their little homes to make them just a tad bit more livable.

More convincing to do before I give this one up I think.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

State of Affairs, October 2014

They say variety is the spice of life and so it has come to be for my family over the last few months. Throughout the last 4 years or so I've often blogged about the tiny little insignificant thing called 'life' that often gets in the way of my ambitious investing strategy and again, it has proven so.

A few thing then. We have sold our PPOR in Toowoomba. Sentiment in the Garden City boomed after the airport announcement and, when news of the bypass started spreading, the proporty market went into a sort of weird piranha-like eating frenzy where everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, was getting snapped up quick smart. We jumped on the bandwagon and surprise, surprise, we ended up about $20,000 ahead of my best-case-scenario amount when it came time to order the removal truck. It took a grand total of 3 days to sell our comfortable home and I have to thank Ray White Toowoomba for the wonderful job they did for us. 

Just prior to this, we also bought a modest, tiny little three bedder in Caboolture. Remember that little thing called 'life' I was talking about? Well, when the planets aligned nicely for me to leave my job, this little Caboolture residence was (somewhat) ideal to shift into. And, it came to be, that after a short stint in a govy provided residence, we moved again. 

Kicking out the tenant was a whole new world of pain. I won't go too much into detail, but let's just say that SOME property managers have no idea what they are doing (shock horror) and in reality, since we began our investment journey back in 2004, this was the first time we were left with a very sour taste in our mouths. Luckily it all worked out satisfactorily in the end, but it was a close call. 

Caboolture is an acquired taste. The house itself is tiny and we are surrounded by EVERY neighbour having a dog, which of course is not a real confidence booster. On the plus side, we won't need a dog. The clientèle is very much mixed, low and medium socio-economic families, single mums and a lot of renters. Our street seems leafy enough, quiet so far and, the best part of it all, it's a hell of a convenient location. Besides, we've lived in Kingston in the Logan area south of Brisbane and we survived that experience. 

So where does this leave our portfolio? 

We are still in the process of consolidating. We have:

PPOR: Caboolture (QLD), 3 bedroom brick and tile, small suburban block.   
IP 1: Launceston/Invermay (TAS), 3 bedroom plus sleepout, tiny historical block of 405sqm, weatherboard, competitively rented with some renos completed mid last year. On the market, but no bites. 
IP 2: Ingham (QLD), 5 bedroom typical fibro, undesirable street, on the market, DEFINITELY no bites, but we can hang onto it as it's also strongly rented. Both of these IPs are just negatively geared. 
IP 3: Glen Aplin (QLD), small block near Stanthorpe, on the market but again, no bites. There has been some movement in the area where our block is and if the street is finally developed from dirt to asphalt, we may be in luck to make a tidy little profit. A lot of little houses popping up around our block. 

All of these are becoming very hard to move. Ingham is floody, Tasmania has a job crisis and the Glen Aplin block has it's challenges to develop. Hopefully we have a win on one of these soon. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A little while later, a lot has happened.

Over the last few months, my little (but growing) family has encountered a bit of an uprooted  experience, as we flash-sold our house, moved into a government rental ice-box, bought a new house and are now pretty much waiting until we can move to said house. There are a lot of stories I could muse over from the experience, but I'll save this for a later time, needless to say, the experience has un-earthed its fair share of negatives.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Contract crash

So we were looking at house in Caboolture. Put in an offer. Three weeks. Hear back and they say valuer said worth more,  so they back out. Now,  it will continue to stay in the market for 6 month and probably sell for the same price we offered. Hmmmmmmm.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

This article talks crap


This = Load of Crap

I have written already about this exact scenario before, AND here we are again. On the plus side, we see journalists pushing up property prices nicely.

Sensationalism at it's absolute worst.

Monday, December 16, 2013 the hell are you doing?

I'm in a bit of a whiny mood tonight so I thought I'd share one of my biggest bugbears tonight; the bloody app. And just for a bit of icing on the cake, the map function on the regular website.

Now I'm not 100% sure about this, but real estate is a pretty hot topic on most adults' lips these days (well, those that have some form of cash flow anyway). And of course our love addiction with all things technology naturally leads us to our wonderful smartphones. It is here where I assume A LOT of visitors are starting to migrate to. Now lets get this straight from the onset; I have been using since 1876 and I absolutely love most elements of it. That is until I made the switch to smartphones in 2008 and found the initial version of the app not long after (I think it was 2010 roughly...). It used to be OK. Of course since then there has been a number of updates and variations and all sorts of fancy functionality had been introduced, but what we have now is a complete stuff up. The app is bloody hopeless. The maps function on the regular website is a pile of shit. Apologies for the bluntness.

I think I could poo poo a better map function out of my poo poo hole while I was sleeping dreaming of poo poo. I mean come on...really? Large balls and useless zooming in and out that resets as soon as you look at a property? And the 'refinements" you speak of...what the f!@# is that? Half the time they don't even work and you can only refine a few elements. I rate is -10000/10.

Seriously, you would have received feedback about this. I bet you have. Now how about you move one million into development, get me on board and we'll sort this shit out.

You know, just because I love you.


You used to be thin and you're covered in warts and look like a walrus.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A few months later in the land of OZ.

The 2013 winter is behind us now and with the renewed economic stability we're receiving here in Australia, the property market is starting to perk up a bit; it's time  for a new post.

Again I've had an extended sabbatical from this blog; work, life, kids....something had to give and blogs was pretty much it over the last 5 months or so.

A bit has happened since. My family has started to look for something different. If you read my blog regularly enough, you'd get the overall feeling that I'm not a big fan of suburbia. I'm not a big fan of living with your window coverings almost permanently closed and am definitely not a fan of not being able to walk around nude in my backyard. So we've been looking; with the sole criteria of a property where I can walk around completely nude without anyone seeing me. This has lead to a few properties which fit, but the one I really liked was a 144 acre bush block. It had everything ready for the picking...some development, a lot of virginal bush, far away yet close enough (sort of).

The main challenge to buying such a block to live on is very much about choice for kids. Buying a bush block basically:

1. Limits you to your nearest school. The next nearest would be ages away.
2. Limits you in terms of sporting opportunities. Although there'd be enough space to flatten an oval or two.
3. Limits you to a 'run down to the shops'.
4. Limits you to the type of car you can realistically have.
5. Limits you to checking out tractors akin to checking out Lamborghinis.

Anyway, the space and the opportunity to make a huge block mine, the way I like it, is indeed compelling. Have any of you made the switch to a rural block?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Suburbia revisited

My little family has lived in suburban Toowoomba for almost two years now; in a plain, no frills, small little house, made of bricks and colorbond.

I'll be truthful, it's not where I imagined to be by 2013, but then again, I don't think I had a particular 'dream' for this phase of my life.

Suburbia, to me, is kind of a living hell. Most of the time:

1. Our windows are closed with curtains and blinds virtually permanently closed. We typically live in darkness and artificial light.
2. When we do go outside, we have 634 square metres of "land". The reality is there is a patch of about 4 by 14 metre grass to run around on, the rest is house, sheds, garden, totally useless unfenced front yard, carport and driveway, and trailer space. It's a bit like watching lions in those small cages. Space, yes, but it's really just a small holding pen.
3. There is no paths leading to the local park; we become 'road walkers', dodging cars and pushing prams up and down  the kerb between the road and the council strip.
4. The local 'park' has unsuitable play equipment for my 2 and 3 year old. Half of it disappeared one day after some teens melted some of the plastic tunnels with some sort of fire producing device.
5. At around end-of-school time, the street becomes a mini racing strip of mummy taxis.
6. Birds.

Look in all honesty it's not too bad. Of course there are heaps of awesome parts to living so close to convenience, to life, and really, we are lucky to have great neighbours (although next door just moved out, here's hoping).

At the moment, suburbia is close to work, which is good. But soon enough, work will change once again and I'll be doing my 30-35 minute "thinking time" drive all over again.

The bottom line thought I think for me has become about the actual house itself. This particular one is your typical three bedder with the original garage remodded to be a rumpus/large 4th bedroom. It's starting to grow on me in terms of practical space; recently I've added more storage and it's starting to work. It's become easier to live with.

What is most perplexing for me is how do millions upon millions choose this living option. How do they favour such an option? How do they "live with" this type of living? Is it by choice?

Suburbia....the joy of confinement.    

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Should we really pay down our PPOR before our IPs?

I am having a break from my usual KFC feasts these days and while I'm sitting here suffering on this no-sugar diet, I began to ponder our portfolio. Apart from the fact that the two IPs we have on the market are getting less interest than Australian politics these days, the thing that occurred to me is that one day, they will miraculously sell. When this does eventually happen, I will need to make a choice as to either pay off some of my PPOR mortgage, or, make one other IP cash flow positive. Financially, the obvious choice is to pay down the PPOR, but emotionally I'm starting to think it would make sense to do the opposite. The little boost to my ego that would come along with knowing that an investment is actually bringing in money while I sleep is indeed very tempting. The potential flow on affect from this could be further acquisitions, better SANF and possibly a different mindset to move forward with IP as a strategy to accumulate money for an early retirement, a lifetime of KFC, or to help pay for tennis lessons for my little boy.

So what would you do?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Is this just getting ridiculous now? Stars and Real Estate

In what appears to be a new low for real estate journalism, you can now let the stars decide how you're going to tackle the 2013 property year by reading the horoscopes!, a wonderful free news website by the way, has just posted this. Make of it what you will.

"And here we see the duplex IP constellation."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Upgrade Part 2

Yesterday we had a few hours to kill so we went and had a look at a property on our "upgrade" radar. 
Here is a link to it on

We had mixed feelings. Yeah, it has four acres, but it's sloping away. 
It's in a great spot close to Toowoomba CBD, but it's next to a dry creek bed. 
It had plenty of bedrooms and a study, but it's hardyplank. 
It has a large kitchen, straight from the 80s. 

So it was mixed thoughts. Prooobably a no goer. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweat Sweat Sweat, Toowoomba Edition!

Wow, this latest heat wave has really hit home here in Toowoomba and even I, the official air con Nazi, has had to yield. 

I just finished saying how climate doesn't really influence house prices, yet, here we are in a town often referred to as "the fridge on the ridge" melting like snowmen taking in a sauna. So I suppose the climate up here on the Toowoomba range is no different to anywhere else is South East Queensland, although I do have to say, the humidity is not as high as it was in Brissie when I was down there a few days ago. 

On the plus side to all this warm weather is the fact that my front garden, the one that will ultimately provide SOME street appeal  come sale time (I say 'some' because the house is only kind of appealing form the front, no matter what gardens will be in place) is going great guns. My hedging plants are doing well and I'm contemplating putting up a small  hedge boundary, as we have open council strip front gardens on my side of the street and I don't really like this concept much. 

"Permission to land in Toowoomba."
I wish it was a bit cooler so I could go and do a bit of gardening outside...maybe after New Year. 

In other news, it dawned on me that my little nuclear family is staying in this house for at least another year, if not longer. Not a bad thing, but it does mean that I can go ahead and try to make our house a bit more homely for the year ahead. I'm installing more permanent storage, looking at setting up the backyard for the kiddies a bit better and generally trying to fit into this house a lot more. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Humid, humid Brisbane

The City of Sweat
I'm staying in Brisbane tonight, on the northern side, not far from the Bruce Highway. I can just hear the cars, the trucks, the slightest echo of travel wheezing by at breakneck speeds, wondering what important places people need to be at this time of night.

The thing is, I like this place. It's handy to everywhere, the house is small but nice and it's been a place we have visited over and over again for almost 16 years now. What I don't like is the humidity.

Every time we come here, it feels like a sauna. Not that saunas are bad; I love to sweat now and again and I love the feeling that comes with cooling down after such a sweatfest. I do however hate sleeping in the heat and Brisbane unfortunately gets to the uncomfortable humidity level more often than not.

Yet many many people choose to live in this city. Do they like the weather? Do they like to choose to either sweat continuously until they become a sticky mess, or, choose to rather pump air con which, let's face it, is killing the planet. Neither really appeal to me, and it's times like this I love Toowoomba again.

I then get confused as to why houses prices are so much more here than in the town I call home right now. The climate, in my opinion, is 10 times better in Toowoomba, you can actually see four seasons and really, it's quite an awesome place. But obviously this isn't a factor for most, as if it was, Toowoomba would be the capital by now. So the obvious conclusion is that climate, while important for some people, has no bearing on house prices.

In other news, I think finally conditions might be right for a bit of movement in house prices in Queensland. The recent rate drop, the strength of the job market, the flatness in real estate all point to a buying frenzy. I do hope it happens, the markets need a bit of a boost.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Should I mow my grass more often? Hmmm.....

It occurred to me today that I am not a frequent visitor to my front lawn. Yes, I vaguely look at it for a split second as I drive up my driveway, but I don't really take notice of whether it needs mowing or not. Until today.

As I pulled into the driveway I remembered that we need the other car out for a trip later, so I stopped half way and began to back out. Strategically perhaps, a car was coming down the road, so I had to wait and as I did, I spent an extra split second to glance at my lawn and what I saw scared the crap out of me. 

You see I've planted a few fruit trees to fill this empty space, you know, just to be different, maybe with the hope of starting a fruit tree revolution in my neighborhood where everyone decides to do the same in their tiny, otherwise useless, front yards and we all miraculously swap our KFC for pieces of fruit. Anyway, I digress. As I took this extra glance, I REALISED THE GRASS HAS GROWN ALMOST AS TALL AS THE TREES! Surrounding each tree, roughly where the watering system would take effect, the grass had shot up. Not that this is unusual, but I would have thought that over a few days, perhaps weeks, I would have noticed this starting. But alas no, it appears that the grass height has to hit a critical point where I FINALLY see it and force myself to push around a plastic/metal contraption which, much like to Cookie Monster, or me at KFC, goes NOM, NOM, NOM, and makes all the long grass disappear. 

I was then also thinking "Is me not mowing having an effect on my potential resale value?" Is my house going to be known as a "rental house" because I prioritise other aspects of my life over mowing? A potential buyer, who may know a neighbour, what will they think when they find out the grass grows as tall as them sometimes (I exaggerate of course, but it does get quite high). 

In established suburbs on owner occupied streets, everyone knows how each house is kept. My street isn't quite like that, there are a few rentals, but also a lot of PPOR houses too, but it is an "established" street with nice brick houses. 

So maybe I need to mow more know, just for house value sake. :)