Investor In Focus - Ian Dowson
Collaborative property investment kick-started Ian Dowson’s portfolio after a number of years on hold, with a bulk purchasing strategy maximising capital growth and rental yields. Overhauling apartment buildings inside and out, it’s the real-life equivalent of television makeover series ‘The Block’ - minus the cameras. Making up for lost time, Ian purchased five apartments throughout Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs in buildings secured via Buyers Advocate Frank Valentic’s Group Block Strategy. With each apartment now rented out - along with the property he started out with - Ian has his sights on development.
Outlaying $1.5m for his Melbourne apartments, Ian says his involvement in the Group Block purchases enabled him to buy a good amount of property in a short space of time without being a drain on his income. Rather than its on-screen equivalent, he left the hands-on renovation work to his expert team of contractors.
“I’m good at running health clubs, not banging in nails,” he says.
As a leader in the Australian fitness industry, it’s part of Ian’s goal-driven nature to keep pushing the limits. Changing tack from the renovation strategies that rebuilt his portfolio, the next stage will see Ian taking a more aggressive approach to his investments through development, subdivision and property flipping.
“I feel that I’ve got a good base, now it’s time to make some cash,” Ian says. “I’m pumped up to get into that.”
On the eve of his first subdivision, Ian acknowledges the principle of supply and demand continues to drive the market forward.
“Our country and lifestyle is highly desirable. We keep increasing the population but we’re not increasing the size of the land in the desirable suburbs and towns,” he says.
It’s this knowledge of property’s scarcity value that first piqued Ian’s interest back in his university days when he discovered a mate had bought his first investment. Describing his parents as “accidental investors” themselves, 18 year old Ian had already seen the profits made as they’d bought and sold houses, capitalising on rising markets.
“I had the foundation that property was a good thing to do,” he says.
The knowledge that a fellow university student had started his ascent up the property ladder further sealed the deal.
“He explained how the rent pretty much covers the mortgage,” Ian says. “Even back then I knew that property goes up in time. I thought I had to get myself one of those
The portfolio Ian developed at that time grew at an organic pace, but major life changes meant he had to start again - almost from scratch. He’d met Frank Valentic back in 2003, when the concept of a Buyers Advocate was still relatively new.
“I liked the sound of it,” Ian says. “I needed someone on the other side of the fence. When it came to getting back into the investing game, I called Frank again and he suggested the Group Block Strategy.”
While the renovation process was relatively smooth-sailing, Ian says he’s had challenges in recent years obtaining finance due to the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority restrictions.
“But where there’s a will, there’s a way and I find that’s probably the biggest thing - not giving up because someone says no,” Ian says. “See it as more of a temporary obstacle.”
Undeterred, Ian says he’s always thought that property was the best way forward. “It was a couple of years after buying my first place that it had gone up by about $60k. For me this was validation that I was doing the right thing.”
Ian’s gained much confidence through his involvement with property, especially knowing he’s made good investment choices - the best of which he says was his initial entry into the market. He’d advise other wealth builders to do the same. “Be one of those people that say in five years time, ‘I'm so glad I bought that five years ago.’ We all know how the opposite of this statement sounds,” he says.
Non-negotiable, Ian adds, is the need for expert advice. “Even if it costs $10-15k it could save you that amount,” he says. “I couldn’t be a stronger advocate of getting
professional advice. It’s a no-brainer.”