Six Of The Best
We catch up with six innovative and successful investors who have been profiled in the past 12 months. We hope you enjoy catching up with them as much as we did, writes Joanna Mathers.
1 January 2023
ABOVE Investor, author and property mentor Nichole Lewis is staying busy.
LEFT LOTY Natasha Middleton is reviewing her approach.
RIGHT Kariah Lieu believes it’s all about the right team, advice and education.
Every January we revisit the people who have been profiled in New Zealand Property Investor the previous year. It’s always fascinating to find out if strategies have changed, what people have been buying (or selling), and their ideas for the year ahead.
We catch up with six innovative and successful investors who have been profiled in the past 12 months. We hope you enjoy catching up with them as much as we did.
The author, investor and property mentor has been busy since we profiled her in July last year. As an investor she has weathered many storms (personally and professionally) and her success as an investor is testimony to her resilience. She sold a property on Waiheke Island at the height of the market in December last year, and with the money from that purchased a new renovation in the Auckland suburb of Glen Eden.
This is a cash positive home and granny flat, which she renovated. “I have rented this out and plan to sell it when the market comes back around,” she says.
“It’s opposite a retirement village and zoned for terraced houses, and the neighbours are willing to sell, so I think it will do really well if I hang on to it.”
She’s also been mentoring new investors after the release of her book, Property Quadrants. “I buy properties with my students, and we do property projects together.”
One project will see her renovating and subdividing a three-unit development in New Lynn for eventual sale (planned for 2024); another student wants to partner with her on a project in Avondale in which they will create two separate titles.
“These projects have been successful as we are buying very under market value,” she says. “You need to buy very sharp; I’m currently negotiating to buy some properties that are currently not on the market. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything out of the ordinary: long term settlements, early settlements – the vendor may say no, but you can always ask.”
Our October 2022 profile was the winner of the NZPIF Landlord of the Year 2022, Natasha Middleton. Her focus on “the art of land-lording” really made her stand out, and she’s always been one to give people a chance. But she’s just as good with her property investment decisions as she is with tenants, and this has led to a highly successful career as an investor.
She says she’s in the middle of reviewing her investment approach, and next year could be a busy one.
“I have just finished studying for a Diploma in Civil Engineering, and I am ready to sink my teeth into the portfolio,” she says. This will include feasibility for development and relocatable homes for her existing investments, working out the numbers and how things look on paper. She believes 2023 could be a very interesting year for landlords, especially given a possible change of government.
“There is a possibility we may buy or sell, if there is anything good up for grabs,” she says. “I plan to be pretty active in how I go about [the property business] next year.”
But as we have found out in the past few years, anything can happen. And savvy long-term investors such as Middleton are likely to come out on top, no matter what comes along.
‘For myself, It’s the best that it has ever been. The current economic times [are perfect] for me’ KARIAH LIEU
After leaving school at 19, Kariah Lieu’s been transformed by property. Her determination and ability to save when others spend has led to much success in the property business. She’s also extremely open to advice and has worked alongside experts to make the best property decisions.
Lieu is currently finishing up on a recent project and has been working with a mortgage broker to get refinancing with a whopping circa $600,000 to use again.
She thinks that weathering the year ahead will be dependent on an individual’s mindset, the strategy being used and the personal/financial circumstances of the investor.
“For myself, It’s the best that it has ever been. The current economic times [are perfect] for me. As Robert Kiyosaki said ‘the tougher it is, the smarter you’ve
got to be’.”
She believes the challenges ahead are already in play, but believes there might be further restrictions on lending. “Many people will get hurt financially, but with
the right team, advice and education, anyone can pull through. Challenges bring opportunities.”
Lieu has always had a family focus, and is keen to help her parents by building them a new home. She also wants to buy herself a rural property and increase cash
flow to her existing portfolio.
ABOVE Sam Barnett is looking at new builds for 2023.
TOP RIGHT Andrew Nicol’s advice: ‘Stay the course.’
RIGHT Victoria and Chris Travis are shifting focus to long-term rentals.
Our June 2022 profile, Sam Barnett, was one of the first investors in Rotorua to make money out of short-term rentals. (At one stage his yields sat at around 50 per cent.) But when we interviewed him last year, Covid and associated lockdowns had necessitated a change of strategy and all but one of his properties had been transformed into long-term rentals.
He’s still renting these homes out long term, but finding new tenants isn’t as easy as it was. “We had a property advertised for rent for quite a long time; it’s rented out now, but it took a while.”
Sam and his partner Lauren Atkinson have eight long-term rentals, plus their family home which has an extra dwelling still used as a short-term rental (that is booked out until mid-next year). Fortunately, long-term rentals are bringing in equivalent rental return as short-terms, says Barnett, so they will be sticking to this strategy.
The couple have two young children, who have been keeping them busy. And there are plans afoot for new builds (if the numbers work out) and also the possibility of developing a new business.
In our March 2022 issue we profiled Andrew Nicol, investor and managing partner at property firm Opes Partners. He is currently transitioning his portfolio from older properties to new builds due to the challenges posed by interest deductibility removal.
In the past six months he has signed up for a number of off-the-plan builds. “I’ve settled two of these, and I also have two of my existing properties on the market,” he says.
These properties are old stock he has renovated; the money he makes from these will be used to pay down debt and invest in more new builds.
Andrew believes it will be a good and hard year for investors.
“There will be buying opportunities, but it will also be hard because of interest rates and other challenges. These include the next phase of interest deductibility, access to money, and the uncertainty people have around what is happening in the market. There’s a lot of confusion and people hunting around not knowing what to do, and conflicting news stories.”
His goals are just to keep buying and transitioning the portfolio to new builds. He has advice for investors concerned about the future: “Stay the course.”
Victoria Travis is one of the owners of Exeter Homes, and an experienced property investor. She explains that she and her husband Chris recently sold one of their properties in a rural area on the outskirts of Rotorua, which was developed with the purpose of selling.
“We were hit at the downward turn of the market so didn’t make much profit. We had another property in Rotorua which we were also developing but instead decided to hold on to long term and we used the money released from the rural sale to do so. We were happy that we were able to change direction with the
market downturn and hold on to a brand new property which we immediately rented out for a good return.”
The couple are looking at long-term rentals now rather than developing for sale.
Victoria thinks investors will be wary this year as interest rates rise. “However, there will be some good deals coming into the market as some people are forced to sell properties, so if you’re savvy you could do quite well. Election years are always a bit up-in-the-air and we could have new housing policies coming out or we could have another three years of consistency, so I’m sure some investors will be watching what happens this year in order to make plans in 2024.”
She believes interest rates are a major challenge. “Many investors, including ourselves, haven’t invested when rates have been so high. So some will face a challenge around ensuring their portfolio isn’t too negatively geared that is pushes costs outside the realm of affordability. Given the last few years, it is hard to see stability in the market just around the corner, but hopefully 2023 and 2024 will start moving towards a bit more normality.”
“Building a residential portfolio is still a big goal and diversifying in terms of unit size (district plan changes have us focusing on townhouses a bit more) and diversifying location so not all properties are in the one town.”