Linda and her husband Ramon arrived in Mission Beach in the year 1999 and lived on a Catamaran in the North Hull River at the bottom of our two acres of land. We had been travelling for the past few years and could be best described as "asset rich, cash poor". By this, we had a house in Perth and two small units - all mortgaged with the rents just covering the expenses. We had some equity, but by no means could be classified as RICH! It is scary going to the supermarket and hoping that there is enough money to pay for the groceries.
We bought a Queenslander and had it brought down to the block and stumped up high so we could enclose it. Whilst we were trying to get finance of $50,000 to buy this house (back in 1999), we went to all the major banks. The one we were with said that if they put the application in, based on our past earnings they would look to recall our existing loan for the block. The bank we are with now actually declined. I am sure the manager at the time couldn't stop laughing at the poultry amount of money we had lived on for the past two years. Yes, this is the same bank we now owe the debt of a small nation to.
About this time our next-door neighbor mentioned that she had just bought a unit in Cairns for $32,000 - as they say the rest of this part of the story is history. Each time Ramon and I had the money saved to do anything to the house it went on a deposit for another unit. We lived in this house for at least three years pretty much the way it was when it was stumped on the property – and basic would be an understatement.
For the first three to six months we didn't even have stairs going up to the first level - it was a ladder – try dragging your groceries up the ladder! We used the original kitchen, our built in wardrobe consisted of two plastic one inch pipes hung from the ceiling with ropes, we had all the second hand furniture from the units and the highlight was when two years into living there someone gave us a second hand gas hot water heater.
One night we came home from Cairns to find a card tucked into the trap door above the stairs - we didn't feel it was necessary to lock it up as what did we have they could steal? It was from a Policeman in Tully asking us to call him back. We had been reported into Crime Stoppers as someone couldn't understand how we were buying all these properties with no real form of income - so we must be dealing drugs or something like that. The lovely Policeman explained that he had to investigate each allegation, but he had been to our house and had a good look around and there was no way would be living the way we were if we were making lots of money illegally!
We bought our first bedsit unit in September 2000, and although it has been a huge sacrifice to keep buying, I can honestly say we would not be where we are today if we hadn't of invested in property. The next myth to bust is we now live in a big mansion that is beautiful. We have a very basic pole home, and we have honestly done nothing to it in the eight years we have been here. I have only just managed to get my office set upstairs and in a nice environment. Our bathroom window leaks, the oven is on its last legs, the whole place needs to be repainted, the decks need oiling (managed to do it once in eight years), we need to enclose downstairs - oh the list goes on.
One of my clients recently made a lovely comment that is so true - we are like a carpenter with a chair that has only three legs. The moral is that we are so busy looking after our investments, the tenants and your properties that our stuff comes last.