Investor In Focus - Amanda Cecchin
An inbuilt tendency towards making her money grow is an integral part of Amanda Cecchin’s personality, so when the opportunity arose to invest in property she met it head-on. Amanda purchased her first house with a friend at the age of 21 - a principal place of residence in Victoria’s South Morang. When the partnership dissolved two years later, Amanda was determined to buy out the other share.
“I knew it would pay off in the long run,” she says.
In what Amanda describes as her major AHA moment, her strong instinct to hold the property was provoked by previous comments she’d heard about real estate. “You never hear anyone say they’re happy they sold that house all those years ago. You always hear them say they wish they’d never sold.”
Despite the odds of being a young investor, Amanda sought financial assistance from her family and then tenanted the property as soon as she could. It was a challenge she met and readily accepted - a learning curve for which she feels forever grateful. The South Morang property originally purchased in 2011 for $352k has just sold for $545k, giving her a sizeable deposit on her next investment.
Last year Amanda and her partner bought a three bedroom standalone house in Mernda for $442k. Now a devoted real estate researcher, Amanda estimates the property’s growth at $40k since its purchase, equity she’s keen to leverage when necessary to build her portfolio.
The recent sale of her South Morang property has further buoyed her confidence. “I’m happy now I’ve had the sale and I’ve got a lot more cashflow that I can reinvest or have a holiday and buy a new car. I constantly see older people or people the same age and it’s so hard for them to even get a foot in the door,” she says.
Her strategy moving forward is to look for another property within the same area, which Amanda sees as an important growth corridor for Melbourne. She cites the ongoing infrastructure developments including shopping centres, medical facilities and the recent opening of three extra train stations.
Amanda’s ideally seeking something to flip, that she can get in and out with more money behind her. The intention is then to invest further afield, but in a strategic and staged process, she wants to be able to comfortably undertake. “The plan moving forward is to always have one or multiple investment properties. We’re prepared to sell if it means buying our dream home, but ideally we want to hold. It’s easy money and even though there have been a few tears, I can’t see myself making money from growth like that in any other way.”
Amanda praises the strong investment team behind her, including quantity surveyor Mike Mortlock, who has become a mentor with his in-depth industry knowledge. She says the depreciation report from her second investment has been fantastic for tax savings and she’s planning on using it again this year. “Being an investor, even if I save $30 it’s $30 more I can pay off the loan,” she says. “When you do those types of things over time, they do add up.”
Admitting that the road hasn’t always been smooth sailing, Amanda’s experiences with VCAT when her last tenants moved out have left a bad taste in her mouth. The action was intended to clear up disputes over the final condition report, but it didn’t all go in her favour. Out of pocket by a few hundred dollars, Amanda felt ill-advised by her real estate agent with regard to the process. “It definitely taught me in the future to go through the condition report with a fine-tooth comb,” she says.
Now with over six years of investment behind her, Amanda advises new investors to be a little conservative when they start out with property. “Make sure you can cover your repayments,” she says. “If it costs $200 per week, make sure you can cover up to $240.”