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Investors In Focus - Darren Maiden And Clare Jameson
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Investors In Focus - Darren Maiden And Clare Jameson

The advantage of buying and renovating entire apartment blocks is now available to regular investors, with Melbourne couple Darren Maiden and Clare Jameson enjoying the profits of their labour.

Renovating entire apartment complexes is no longer restricted to reality television, with one Melbourne couple adopting Group Block Strategy purchases to flip individual units and maximise profits. As an advanced investment option offered by Buyers Advocate Frank Valentic, it appealed to property flippers Darren Maiden and Clare Jameson who wanted to source high-potential housing stock to secure their financial future. The ability to purchase in tandem with other investors and secure an entire apartment complex meant a lower buy-in price and opportunity to create impact with the wow factor once only seen on air.

Prior to that time, Darren and Clare had undertaken a small makeover on a Williamstown dwelling with cosmetic changes to interior styling and decorating that added a $30k profit to the sale price. When Darren’s employment conditions changed in 2008 - half-way through owner-building their Point Cook residence, with one new baby and another on the way - they knew it was time to take action. “We had a three bedroom investment property in Adelaide that we decided to get over and renovate, then take to market,” Darren says.

The four-day makeover included landscaping, painting and polishing floors, with a degree of pressure they’d never experienced before. “It was purely get in and get out,” Clare says.

In what was to be a “game changer”, the Adelaide property sold quickly and reaped the couple an extra $50k in profit to the sale price. They realised they could work together and do it again, with money in their hands then to do something closer to home.

The first property Darren and Clare bought through Advantage Property Consulting’s Group Block Strategy was a $238k one bedroom unit in Mentone. “Frank’s able to purchase at rock bottom because he buys the whole block,” Clare says. “It gives you instant equity from day one because you’re buying in for less.”

Whilst the couple set about opening up the unit to create a lighter, appealing space, they were fortunate to have all the buyers on board for external rejuvenation. “All six units were updated together which added instant value, up to $30k for our property alone,” Clare says.

After a six week renovation, Darren and Clare sold the unit for $375k. They’ve since bought two more properties through the Group Block Strategy - a 3 bedroom Fawkner Unit (which they bought for $299k and sold for $540k following a six-week renovation) and a one bedroom unit in Frankston due to settle early 2018.

A limited budget in the early days of flipping constrained the couple somewhat, but they treated what they were doing as a business and brought everything back to the numbers. They completed with a consistent, quality finish and didn’t skimp on anything, adept at making their properties look like homes in order to appeal to buyers’ emotions. “We always try to do minimum cost for maximum impact,” says Clare. “We allow for a $5k styling budget, whether it’s a one or three bedroom property.”

By using a high degree of analysis and strategy, Darren and Clare bring their combined professional skills of painting, rendering and styling into their projects and sales campaigns.

“You’ve got to have the dedication and confidence to back yourself in anything you do, especially property,” Darren says. This includes having a great team, knowing whether you intend to flip or buy and hold, making design decisions in line with your budget and always holding funds in reserve to allow for the unforeseen.

“Purchasing through a Buyers Advocate is like a triple check,” says Clare, referencing the due diligence undertaken in recent years by Advantage, themselves and other local real estate agents with whom they conducted independent research. “It’s also essential to know you’re buying in at a good price and what you’ll get on the way out.”

For new investors, the couple suggest setting a low to moderate buy-in budget, with units a great stepping stone for beginners as “money-making gems”. They recommend dynamic, modern design to appeal to higher net worth buyers, who feel a sense of pride at owning cutting-edge properties.

And when the profits do start to roll in, Clare warns against taking the money and spending it on yourself. Looking at a possible $200k profit, she says you could purchase another property for the original buy-in price, then roll over your gains in order to owe less to the bank. Otherwise, you could purchase a more expensive property; conduct a larger renovation; or, buy two properties, flip one and keep the other.

Now able to enjoy a better quality of lifestyle for their family and financial freedom, Clare says they’re keen to up the ante again. “We want to get into the position where we can buy two properties, hold one and flip the other for a cash injection. We don’t want to limit ourselves to just one strategy.”

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