We all accept that such a thing as a property cycle exists. Most of us have seen at least one cycle, some of us two and a few of us six or seven. The typical cycle involves rising interest rates, stagnating property values followed by falling interest rates, and rising property values, the whole cycle lasting about 7 years, more or less.
My philosophy has always been to buy property at any time I can afford to and hang on for the long term. In other words, waiting for the right time to buy property is not nearly as important as keeping for a long time.
Not long ago, I met Nick, an old Greek gentleman at an inspection and had a very interesting conversation with him. I told him that I came here 11 years ago and had worked very hard to build my portfolio and then I was blown away by his story.
Nick came from Greece 40 years ago and always felt he was doing the right thing by his family in buying investment property but had little encouragement along the way. He happily shared his story with me:
Many times in the past 35 years, my family and friend tried to talk me into selling my properties. I always listened but I never sold.
I came from Greece in 1976 and settled in Melbourne. I was nineteen and I hardly knew any English. My father bought a fruit shop, which my mother and I and my two brothers worked in day and night.
One year later, I was married and lived with my family at the back of the shop until I had saved up enough to buy a house. I bought my first property in 1978 for about $9,000. It was nothing fancy. The after two years I bought the land next door.
With three children under five, my wife wanted me to sell the land in 1982 to help pay for the kids but I did not. I told her that being young, the children would not eat much. Instead, we built a house for my grandfather on the land that my wife wanted to sell and he rented it from us. With the extra rent, two years later I could buy another property in the next street.
In 1985, with my three children at school, my grandfather who still lived next door told me I should sell the house I had bought in the next street to help pay for their schooling. However, I thought I would be better to teach them the right way about money.
Therefore, I bought one more house in the same street. The kids did not really need any extra money for their schooling. Grandpa just thought I should think of the kids first and I told him I did. How else would they learn about money?
Again, in 1995, my wife wanted me to sell a property to pay for my daughter’s wedding, but I thought I would be better to teach her and her husband the right way about money so I decided to buy another property and I bought a house in the same street again. I then had five properties, my own, my grandfather’s and my three houses in the next street.
In 1996, property prices almost doubled and I was glad I had bought all those properties. My wife was too. However, by 1997 I thought I was going to go broke with the high interest rates because I had borrowed money for all these houses. My children wanted me to sell but I managed to hang on by arranging with my solicitor just to pay the interest. Then after thinking I might have sell some properties, I find I can buy one more. I was glad I did because the prices increased again after three years.
My wife and children came up to me the other day and thanks me for not listening to them over the years about selling properties over the years. I said I did listen, I just never took any notice.
There is so much to learn from the people who have been investing in property for a long time. One thing they all tell you is to buy whenever you can afford to. In other words, buy when it suits you financially, not when it is economically correct.