Nila Sweeney

My name is Mary Deakin, I'm 46 years old and currently live in Berri in South Australia. I'm the deputy chief executive officer at the Berri Barmera Council – a position I've held for almost 16 months after moving from Darwin in the Northern Territory.

I finished my accounting degree almost seven years ago and separated from my husband at the same time. I started work as an administration assistant in an IT firm the week after this, and was a single mother with no assets.

In order to progress in my career, I moved to Katherine in the NT in January 2003 to work in an indigenous primary healthcare organisation. It was with this move that I lost custody of my boys and I was forced to buy the matrimonial home in Queensland (to buy out my ex-husband).

In finding finance for this purchase, the response from lenders in the initial stages was quite negative. I had no credit record, no assets in my name, no history of my ability to earn, save or pay off debts, but was still considered liable for the marital debts.

The lenders acknowledged that I had equity in the home, but with no prior lending history I had to prove ability to pay off the loan. I used a mortgage broker in Toowoomba who was able to find me a willing lender. By the time I had to buy this home, I was living in Katherine and could prove six months' work. I used rental appraisals and employer references to support my claim.

My broker advised me to get a small credit card that I paid off regularly to boost my credit history. By this time. my ex-husband refused to move out of the home, so I sold it soon afterwards.

After using the proceeds of the sale to pay out my car loan (which I’d had since leaving university), I had a reasonable deposit for another home.

With no debts this time around, and while I only had a short employment history, I was able to provide evidence of the ability to pay off my debts. This all helped support my loan application in buying a house in Howard, Queensland (February 2004) for $175,000.

At this time I enlisted the assistance of a finance broker. I was living at Tennant Creek, NT – a very remote town with only two banks. His support was invaluable. He found lending authorities that looked at my request favourably, at competitive interest rates.

My father lived in the Howard property until he passed away in early 2008. This small three-bedroom home with double garage on two acres has almost doubled in value since I purchased it, and is now being rented out.

In May 2005, I purchased a property on 1,100m2 of land in Moulden, Palmerston (Darwin) for $320,000. Again, I rented out some rooms to help with the repayments.

I left Darwin in August 2007 to take up the position of Deputy CEO in Berri, South Australia, continuing to rent out the Palmerston property.

I've purchased another home just outside Berri. It’s on 1.5 acres of land overlooking the town. My two boys are living with me again, my career has progressed very well and I now have three properties (one in Queensland one in the NT and one in South Australia).

Paul Sawtell of Map Loans in Brisbane has helped me through the purchase and refinance process. Although I had no credit rating and no savings history, Paul worked hard to get me the loan I needed to start, and my persistence has paid off.

I'm not out to own a multitude of properties but would like to have a nest egg for my future and something to leave my children in years to come.