Young Investor
Young Investor

Tradie buys four properties by age 22

Queensland tradie Norbert Kaess bought his first property at just 20 years of age - and he's never looked back.

He snapped up a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Townsville for $175,000 in 2016 after saving for about a year beforehand.

The 10 per cent deposit plus legal fees and conveyancing came to about $20,000 - and as it was his first property, the young tiler didn't have to pay stamp duty.

Mr Kaess did some minor, $12,000 renovations on the home - including installing airconditioning and repainting the interior - which grew its value to about $275,000 with "little to no effort".

"It was a deceased estate, so they had it up for the low $200,000s. I put in a super low-ball offer that was accepted straightaway," he told news.com.au.

"Three of the four properties I've got were deceased estates or repossessed, and they're cashflow positive as well."

Around a year after buying his first property, Mr Kaess settled on a one-bedroom unit in Bowen, near the proposed site of the controversial Adani coal mine.

At the time, the market was at "absolute rock bottom" because the government had been "umming and ahhing about Adani for so long", which meant the tradie scored another bargain.

"Prices peaked around 2007 when people started hearing about Adani coming, and in 2010 Adani was being assessed by the government for the first time, so prices were going up and down based on (speculation) if Adani was going ahead or not," he said.

"Then when it looked like it wasn't, prices went to dirt - the prices in Bowen more than halved."

Mr Kaess's weekly repayments on that property are $140, and it has always been rented out for about $200-$250, which meant he was "making money from day one".

He bought his third property - a house in Brisbane - about 18 months later at age 22 followed by his fourth house in Townsville a month out from his 23rd birthday.

Mr Kaess paid $535,000 for the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Stafford Heights in Brisbane and did some minor renovations and added an extra bedroom.

Norbert Kaess said even Aussies with ‘ordinary’ jobs could build a property portfolio. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Norbert Kaess said even Aussies with ‘ordinary’ jobs could build a property portfolio. Picture: Shae Beplate.

The median price for a similar-sized home in the area is $680,000 - "well above" what Mr Kaess spent on his property, which was originally listed as accepting offers above $550,000.

He now lives in that home, which means Mr Kaess doesn't pay capital gains tax, as it is his primary residence.

But when he rented in the past, he always avoided "ridiculously overpriced" properties to help him maximise his savings as he worked towards his property goals.

Mr Kaess said he almost always bought deceased or repossessed estates, and he saved each deposit from scratch.

"I save up a deposit for each property - I don't use equity from one to buy another, which is a mistake a lot of other people make," he said.

"If you've bought a property for $175,000 and it's now worth $275,000 and the bank is giving you $100,000 equity, if you draw $50,000 of that, you're now paying off a loan of $225,000 and interest on that extra $50,000.

"It's not worth drawing extra, because then you're in even more debt and on top of that you'd have to pay lender's mortgage on that extra amount too."

At the moment, borrowers must pay lender's mortgage insurance when the loan-to-value ratio is more than 80 per cent - or when they have a deposit of less than 20 per cent.

"Too many people try to look rich by buying a first property as quickly as possible rather than actually doing the smart thing and waiting until they have a much larger deposit, which means they spend so much less," Mr Kaess said.

He also urged other wannabe property owners to consider buying deceased estates.

"The main reason people are selling them is because they've been gifted a property for nothing … but if it's your family home you've worked on your whole life or built with your own hands, it's different," he said.

"There's much less sentimental value with deceased estates, and I always find they accept a low-ball offer."

Today Mr Kaess earns $1600 per week in rental income, and when he is saving a deposit for a new property, he works a minimum of 80 hours a week to bulk up his income as much as possible - although he still manages to go out with mates on the weekend and go on overseas holidays, as long as he plans in advance.

"If you work 38 hours a week you're just keeping your head above the water - you've got to be putting in more hours than the next person. If you're going to get paid double the money for double the hours, my biggest tip is to find a job that doesn't limit your amount of hours per week so you can work as many hours as you want," he said.

"When you think about it, other people work 9am-5pm, but I start at 5am and for those first four hours, they're just sleeping anyway, and after five days, I've done an extra 20 hours."

When he's saving, Mr Kaess works until around 7pm and also works weekends but said he didn't feel he was "missing out" on anything and was still "extremely loose" with his cash.

Norbert Kaess buys deceased estates before carrying our minor renovations — and watching their values soar. Picture: Facebook
Norbert Kaess buys deceased estates before carrying our minor renovations — and watching their values soar. Picture: Facebook

He plans to buy more properties in future, and his goal is to earn enough net income to "live comfortably", which he estimates to be around $3000 per week.

He said he had been able to grow his portfolio's value by renovating himself using his tradie skills and by researching properties thoroughly - including previous sale prices and the area's median value.

He also mixes his property portfolio up by buying a combination of low, medium and higher risk properties and balances rental yield with potential future growth.

But while his achievements might seem extraordinary, Mr Kaess stressed he was just an "average person" with an "ordinary" job and his parents did not help him financially.

"All I do is tile stuff - I don't do anything special or out of the ordinary - I just go to work," he said.

"My parents were not guarantors on my loans, and they didn't give me any money for any of my house deposits - all they did was teach me that buying houses is the next step. They told me I should do it, but they didn't help me do it. I just saved, and it wasn't even that hard.

"Most young people have the mindset that buying property is unachievable, so they don't try - but it definitely is very achievable, and I believe anyone can do it."

He also advised young people to avoid waiting for their "dream job" and said they should find any work in the meantime to start building up wealth.

"I didn't really want to be a tiler, and it's not the most fun, but just get your hands into some full-time work - it doesn't matter what it is," he said.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au

 

 

Originally published as Tradie buys four properties by 22


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