Nila Sweeney

I guess this attitude was impressed upon me from a young age by my parents Deborah and Bruce.

I was a pretty good student and made it to uni but when I turned 20 I decided to take some time off to work full-time so I could save some additional money for a deposit on a house.

I spent every weekend for a year checking the newspapers - I looked at everything on the market and even read several books on real estate and mortgages. A home loan is a lot of money and it's with you for a long time so I didn't want to make any mistakes and had to be sure that whatever choices and decisions I made were informed ones.

I went to one of the big banks and got a pre-approved home loan so when the right property at the right price came along ... I pounced! 

It happened so quickly, I'm still amazed. The 'For Sale' sign went up on the Thursday night, I saw it on the Friday morning and by that afternoon my offer had been accepted. Settlement went through two months before my twenty-first birthday at the end of 2001.

It's a two-bedroom apartment in a very nice block, with ocean glimpses in Perth's southwestern suburb of Mosman Park. It needed little work and I also put in wood floors but my furniture fits perfectly and I'm very happy there. I'm also on the strata committee.

In May 2002 I completed the four-week Certificate III in Property Services at the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA). The knowledge I gained during the course was invaluable and my assignment was highly commended.

Shortly after that, property number two was in the bag. This time it was a two-bedroom apartment in Rockingham, just 200 meters from the coffee strip, right on the beach. The block was a bit grotty at the time but has since been done up by the strata company which even imposed a special levy to install new carports.

As I found out, all my place needed was a new coat of paint and a little TLC and it was easily rented.

For the second property I went back to my bank for the loan, but even with a good deposit I didn't meet their criteria for another mortgage. My only alternative was a non-bank lender and this is where Homeloans Ltd came into the picture and I can't say enough good things about them.

The selling agent at the bank gave me their phone number and I met with Colin Woods who got me the mortgage and I've been with them ever since.

I wanted an investment loan that had a completive rate and was low on fees, so I took out an investment loan that's flexible but doesn't have ongoing fees and without charges to redraw or fix the rate. As this was an investment property I wanted to keep my costs down and know exactly how much I had to repay each month.

March 2003 saw the purchase of property number three, a one-bedroom apartment, again in Mosman Park close to public transport, restaurants and shopping. It's been rented out since day one to the same tenant - my brother.

In January this year I reached property number four, a two-bedroom apartment in a well kept complex with a pool.  This one is also currently rented.

I have arranged the mortgages for my last three properties through Homeloans Ltd and hopefully many more to come. Dealing with a good lender makes life easy as they do all the hard, stuff; all I have to do is pick the property I want and sign on the dotted line!

All my loans have been the same kind - Special Value Loan (Origin). The investment properties all have Interest Only periods for the first 5 years and are on the variable rate. I considered fixing but the variable rate was too attractive.

When it came to funding, I used the equity I had acquired in my original property, which I was living in and which had increased considerably in capital gains value since I initially bought it.

I funded the other properties partly from the increasing capital gains of my home but also from the dramatic increase in value of my first investment in Rockingham. I was lucky to buy in the right areas so I have been able to build a property portfolio for very little cash outlay.

I still plan on having 30 properties by the time I'm 30 and don't think it's an unrealistic goal. I'm lucky that I have a stable secure job (one that I've worked in since I was about 11 years old) and one that's flexible so I can study and have time off during exams.

I'm a bit of a go-getter so I'm continuing my studies in Commerce Management and Biotechnology at Murdoch University and want to do an MBA later on. At the moment I'm keeping busy as the youngest ever member on the Mosman Park Council.

In my spare time I help my parents in their veterinary hospital, mainly doing administrative duties and bookwork. It's just a little thank you to them for instilling in me some of the skills and the desire to be financially independent  . . . well eventually.

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