First property bought as a student, and thriving portfolio by 35

Teaming with his brother to buy a property while still a student was the starting point for Dean Munro to build a multi-million-dollar property portfolio by the age of just 35.

Dean and Robert Munro, with female sales agent, place sold sticker on their first property investment.
Selling the property that started it all; Dean Munro and brother Robert (right) partnered on five successful property investments. (Image source: Dean Munro)

A love of Melbourne, aversion to rent and some early challenges in life were the ingredients that culminated in a five-property portfolio at the age of just 35.

While other 18-year-olds were focused on their first legal trip to the pub, Dean Munro was making his first foray into the property market.

Collaborating with his older brother Robert, the pair worked while studying and saved assiduously to cobble together the all-important first deposit.

That was 2006 in Brunswick West and the start of what would become a property portfolio worth around $3 million and now comprises houses, a duplex and townhouse in Bendigo and Melbourne.

The dynamic duo went on to buy another four properties together before they sold up at a handsome profit in 2016 and moved on with their own individual financial arrangements.

While it was with his brother that Mr Munro cemented his financial platform, it was his mother who provided the initial inspiration.

“I grew up in both Melbourne and Bendigo as my parents divorced when I was three,” he said.

“My brother I spent the weekends in Melbourne with Dad and during the week we lived with Mum in Bendigo and attended Girton Grammar School.

“I developed an interest in property as Mum bought and renovated real estate throughout my childhood.”

Dean Munro's current property holdings

No. Address QTY Year Purchased Purchase Price Current Value Annual Rental Income Mortgage Equity
1 Abbotsford 1 2020 $995,000 $1,200,000 $41,600 $695,000 $505,000
2 Broadmeadows 1 2017 $425,000 $600,000 $21,320 $246,000 $354,000
3 Ironbark, Bendigo 1 2016 $157,500 $350,000 $12,480 $100,500 $249,500
4 Ironbark, Bendigo 1 2016 $157,500 $350,000 $12,480 $100,500 $249,500
5 Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo 1 2013 $242,000 $500,000 $18,200 $146,000 $118,000
Total       $1,977,000 $3,000,000 $106,080 $1,288,000 $1,476,000

Mr Munro’s childhood connection to those two home bases was instrumental in shaping his investment decisions.

A focus on Victorian property was seen as being more manageable than buying in unknown interstate markets and buying at such a young was already daunting enough.

“Having realised that home ownership was cheaper than renting, in 2006 we purchased our first home in Brunswick West, cementing our position on the property ladder and paving the way for what was to become an upward trajectory,” he said.

“This brave move paid dividends for us and was the catalyst for me having amassed a multi-million-dollar property portfolio to date.”

Family and friend property investments can present their challenges but with a common goal and exit date agreed, the pair were a terrific tandem.

“Buying with my brother was a great way to enter the property market earlier and build wealth together while young.”

The brotherhood's bought and solds

No. Suburb Purchased Sold Increase in value
1 Brunswick West 2006 2018 145%
2 Clifton Springs 2008 2010 70%
3 Broadmeadows 2011 2021 50%
4 Kangaroo Flat 2011 2019 45%
5 Flora Hill 2015 2019 30%

Having studied and spent much of his professional life as a quantity surveyor, the insights he gained into the real estate sector proved very beneficial to his investment strategy and went some way to demystifying what can to a property rookie seem an opaque and daunting world.

A chance meeting with Cate Bakos, API Magazine columnist and President of the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) proved a life-changing moment, leading to a career change as a buyers agent.

“I have been able to take advantage of tax depreciation benefits on my property portfolio, build a successful business offering quantity surveying services and this unique qualification gives me an added skillset to differentiate myself from other buyers agents in Melbourne and regional Victoria,” Mr Munro said.

Property investment strategy

 While he has diversified his portfolio through property types and budget, with purchases from the $200,000 to the million dollar mark, he has consciously chosen to stay within Victoria.

It’s a decision that has served him well but hasn’t come with some regrets.           

“In my view, Melbourne is the best city in Australia and Bendigo is a beautiful part of regional Victoria, which is why I have been investing in these areas for almost two decades and will continue to do so into the future. 

“I regret not buying into the Sydney property market when I moved there in 2013 for two years for work before returning to Melbourne in 2015 to start Dean Munro Property.

“We can’t live in hindsight but Sydney did enjoy some really strong capital growth from around that time.”

Mr Munro said he focuses on a mix of capital growth, rental yield and tax depreciation benefits and with a healthy equity situation plans to continue building his portfolio.

Property investing, like any other form of investment, presents its challenges and is an ever-evolving landscape. The mortgage cliff has presented the biggest challenge since saving for that first deposit.

“I have been buying property for a long time and experienced these expensive rates before,” Mr Munro said.

“It’s not ideal but property is long-term and bank interest is tax deductible for investment properties.

“My strategy is to buy and hold so I will be definitely holding long-term.”

That long-term strategy extends to wanting to have his tenth property on his 40th birthday.

It’s a strategy he says others can, with a little determination and self-sacrifice, achieve themselves.

“Keep saving hard, stay positive and search for areas that are still affordable and if you lack knowledge, research or get professionals on board to help you navigate the market.”

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