Where the experts bought their first homes

Where the experts bought their first homes
Where the experts bought their first homes

Real estate experts, commentators and industry members are regularly listened to carefully for tips and information on where to invest next and how the market is performing, among other advice.

However, every expert had to start somewhere. Property Observer asked a number of industry experts about their first homes, where they were, when they bought them and why. The results, which span across Australia, are a fascinating insight into their first step on the property ladder.

TERRY RYDER - Hotspotting.com.au Where the experts bought their first homes

  • Location: Bundamba in Ipswich City in the south-west of the Brisbane metropolitan area.
  • Price purchased for: $25,000
  • Year purchased: 1981

Do you still own the property?

No, I sold it in 1984 for $40,000 (which was 60% growth in three years, proving that ugly real estate in downmarket suburbs can show exceptional capital growth). I then bought a house in the eastern suburbs of Brisbane for $50,000, which I later sold for $110,000.

Why did you buy that property?

It was what I could afford at the time: a small weatherboard box on a noisy road in a fairly dismal suburb, but it was affordable and it was close to a commuter train station.

Did you renovate?

No, no renovations.

Why did you want to buy?

I was fed up with being mistreated by landlords, so I decided to buy my own place.

TODD HUNTER - wHeregroupWhere the experts bought their first homes

  • Location: Cronulla, Sydney NSW
  • Price purchased for: $112,000
  • Year purchased: 1993

Do you still own the property?

No I don't, it sold for $256,000

Why did you buy that property?

It was my first home, a one bedroom unit very close to the water with a tandem car space. It started a love for property for me that is still there.

Did you renovate?

Paint and carpets only.

Why did you want to buy?

It was my first home and my parents instilled the property bug in me early as I purchased when I was 19 (after much saving for the 20% deposit is set up costs with my girlfriend... There was no first home owners grant then either).

ANDREW WILSON - Australian Property MonitorsWhere the experts bought their first homes

  • Location: Camberwell, Victoria
  • Price purchased for: $95,000
  • Year purchased: 1986

Do you still own the property?

No. Good growth as purchased at bottom of the cycle before the 1988 boom.

Why did you buy that property?

Great location, big block in a sleeper street - but in original condition (plenty of upside potential).

Did you renovate?

I completely renovated and rebuilt.

Why did you want to buy?

I’m Australian – the aspiration for home ownership is in our DNA.

MICHELLE COLEMAN - W FinancialWhere the experts bought their first homes

  • Location: Quinns Rock, WA
  • Price purchased for: H&L for $95,000
  • Year purchased: 1995

Do you still own the property?

No, I bought it with my partner at the time.  He does actually still own the property and it is estimated to be now worth around $550,000 to $600,000.

Why did you buy that property?

It was what we thought we could afford at the time (that was closest to the beach of course), but also we thought the area would have good growth.

Now I look back with all my knowledge with finance and investing and wonder how we could have made our decision that way!

Did you renovate?

We had to do some landscaping as it was house and land.  

At one point I really wanted a spa - it wasn't ever fully installed (when I was there) but I'd sit in it anyway.

We didn't have fences though at the time, so random people in the neighbourhood would wander by to have a chat.

Why did you want to buy?

It's the great Australian dream; I wanted that like everyone does. That property didn't quite go to plan, but it did give me an appetite that has made me the investor I am today.

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BRAD BEER - BMTWhere the experts bought their first homes

  • Location: The property is located slightly to the west of the main city of Newcastle in a suburb called Georgetown, NSW. It’s quite close to the Newcastle Knights stadium and the University of Newcastle, right near a bus stop and 300 metre from a Coles.
  • Price purchased for: The property is a four bedroom, one and a half bathroom house on 400 odd square metres of land with a big shed in the rear. I purchased it for $170,000. The current rental of the property is around $440 per week.
  • Year purchased: 2002

Do you still own the property?

I still own the property, which has been well-performing since the day I purchased it. In fact, I’m generally a believer in not selling property, particularly when it has demonstrated a great deal of growth. I haven’t actually sold a single house to date.

Why did you buy that property?

I actually went to Newcastle University myself, so I was familiar with the area which I still think is quite a good area. I wanted to invest into property and someone I knew who was buying property was looking at the area and brought it to my attention.

It looked pretty rough when I bought it, so we negotiated hard because it was originally listed at $198,000. I also liked that it had a sizeable shed, because I thought I might have been able to use it in some way for storage purposes – every man needs a good shed in his life!

Did you renovate?

I renovated it a couple of different times actually. When I bought it in 2002, I basically spent the first few months on a pretty decent internal renovation. I pulled the kitchen apart and discovered that it was full of cockroaches, it was an absolute mess, even the bathroom was a mess – it was all in pretty bad shape. So I got stuck into it and put together a new kitchen and a new bathroom.

I also had to put in new flooring and piers, and completely reline the bathroom. I polished floor boards, I painted, I basically just spruced up the whole of the inside. Even though I didn’t change any of the internal walls there was still a fair bit of work to be done, but I probably only spent about $20,000 because I did just about all the work myself.

I worked nights and weekends in the middle of winter in the freezing cold, but then about six months later we did a re-evaluation and it came in at about $240,000. This was great because I hadn’t done any exterior renovations by that point, so it had still gone up even though it still looked pretty bad from outside. There was probably also a bit of market movement around that time which would have helped, so I was able to leverage into my second property pretty quickly.

Then in about 2005, I did a fairly extensive external renovation also. It had those old forever boards on it, which I ripped off to put new weatherboards around the whole of the house. I painted the roof and did a fair bit of landscaping, adding in a picket fence, a new driveway – just basically renovated the whole of the exterior. In 2007 I revalued it at $425,000.

I’m still going on it. About three years ago I put on a new roof because it was old and needed replacing. It probably needed replacing when I bought it actually, but I’d just patched it up and put up with it for a while until I could do it properly.

Why did you want to buy?

I’d been at BMT for about three or four years by that point, and had the opportunity to learn a great deal about investing in property. I’d also been to a number of different property seminars then, and have been to a lot more since, and believed I wanted to invest into property based on what I’d learnt about investing in property to generate wealth. I’d also saved up my deposit by then and so was just ready to go.

Essentially, being at BMT and being surrounded by investors all the time, learning about investing in property and the fundamental ways to do that – I decided: right, now it’s my turn.

VICTOR KUMAR - Right Property GroupWhere the experts bought their first homes

First home:

  • Location: Currans Hill, NSW
  • Price purchased for: $137,000
  • Year purchased: 1998

Do you still own the property?

Yes. It was valued by the bank last week at $420,000. I lived in this untill 2006 and it is currently rented at $410 per week.

Did you renovate?

Removed carpets and put in floating floorboards because of my allergies. Also starting painting the trims at one stage, following a Peter Spanns renovation seminar in 1999, they are still half complete! During tenancy the only works I have done has been to replace a powerpoint... having said that I will now probably jinx myself!

First investment property:

  • Location: Campbelltown, NSW
  • Price purchased for: $70,000 (two-bedroom unit)
  • Year purchased: 1999

Do you still own the property?

No, I sold it in 2001 to fund the business startup for $185,000.

On purchase it was rented for $130 per week, on sale it was rented for $230 per week with the same tenant. Under the current market value it would be around $290,000.

I wish I hadn't sold and had bought more of these units back then!


My first investment property, a one-bedroom unit. It had a green shag pile carpet and a weird T-shaped lounge, which we sectioned off with a wall to make a second bedroom.

  • Location: Cabramatta, New South Wales
  • Price purchased for: $28,000
  • Year purchased: 1980 

Do you still own the property?

Back then no one understood leveraging.  I sold it to buy a three-bedroom townhouse in Macquarie Fields. In the two years we owned it, it grew by $6,000. That's probably pretty good!

Why did you buy that property?

My dad said we had to get into the property market, I was 20 and engaged.  It was the only area we could afford.

Did you renovate?

We painted it, and added a shower screen to the tiny bath but that was all.

First Home Buyers Investor Stories

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