Young Investor Leah Crockett
When Leah Crockett found herself extolling the virtues of property investment to fellow Australian travellers 10 and 20 years her senior during a trip to India, even she could see the degree to which it's changed her life. Since purchasing her first property at the age of 22, Leah has developed a portfolio that’s allowed her to travel, build wealth and secure her retirement goals - all achieved with a maturity seldom seen in others her age. With three properties under her belt, she has a firm financial basis and the assurance that arises from knowing she’s covered by assets that can be drawn on in case of emergency. Now focussed on saving for a family home, Leah is keeping one step ahead backed by a professional team that’s essential to her success.
“When your tenants don’t pay or your hot water service explodes and soaks an entire two bedroom apartment, leaving your tenants without carpet in the middle of winter, you need people who can make stuff happen,” Leah says. With one of her investments situated in Western Australia, Leah says there have been frustrations with communication from her Sydney home, but nothing insurmountable. If a property management team isn’t working she doesn’t hesitate to source someone else, relying on personal recommendations where available.
“If they’re crap, move on,” she says.
Early on, Leah realised how essential it was to work with property-minded professionals when poor tax advice left her out of pocket. She’d purchased her WA unit under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), which aims to increase numbers of affordable rentals, complete with annual financial incentives.
“My previous accountant didn’t understand what I could claim and it put me in a weird spot where I owed the tax office money,” Leah says. While it was only a few hundred dollars she wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, moving on to an accountant with investment property expertise the following financial year.
As she awaits completion on her third property - a four-bedroom house near Sydney’s proposed second airport - Leah says her investment portfolio has helped change her perspective on life. Working in the entertainment industry where many of her colleagues survive from pay cheque to pay cheque, they look at Leah as though she has six heads when she tells them about her portfolio.
“It’s so different to the way they live,” she says. “I find myself more and more getting into conversations with people about property investment and becoming an unexpected advocate.”
Excited about her future prospects, Leah’s already reaping the rewards of her extra income with annual overseas trips where her investment portfolio’s rents help to cover costs.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still work hard!” she says.
In the pipeline are plans for a six month trip to South America during which Leah is comfortable her investments will churn away in the background while she travels. This sort of hands-off approach is something she’d recommend to new investors - knowing when it’s time to hand over the reins.
“After you’ve got yourself a good property manager, sit back and relax,” Leah says. Admitting she had no idea of what she was doing when she started out investing, Leah admits it’s been a huge learning curve. “You can plan to have an investment to ease the stresses of life, but sometimes they cause them.”
These moments have reinforced the importance of having a good team. “To be perfectly honest, when I started investing I had no strategy. In the first instance, I just had to move somewhere and it was more cost-effective to buy than rent,” Leah says. Using that property as a springboard, she then purchased the unit in Western Australia - a property she’s never seen and admits to having no emotional attachment towards whatsoever. Working instead from a place of trust, Leah uses a buyers agent for the property selection process to seek areas set for capital growth. She says her best investment decision is the house she’s building now in western Sydney just 10 minutes from Campbelltown. Located on a small block, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom, one car space property was secured as a house and land package for $550k and expected to get great rental returns.
“That’s awesome, it’s everyone’s dream,” Leah says.
A few years ago Leah moved out of her principal place of residence and became a rentvestor on Sydney’s North Shore. Understanding the strategy of renting where she wanted to live and investing elsewhere was a contemporary housing solution, it suits Leah’s current needs until she’s ready to purchase a family home - her next property goal.
“My strategy moving forward is to build my portfolio slowly over time as a retirement plan,” she says. “My short term goal is to use my properties and their equity to buy a family home with my partner. We wouldn’t be able to do so without my portfolio.”