Ladies Laying Foundations

By Jo Chivers

Did you know that women are two and half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men? By 2019 on average, women will have half the amount of superannuation than men have?* and 40% of women over 50 will be single through choice, divorce or death of their partner.

As at August 17, 2012 the gender pay gap in favour of men was 17.5%, based on average weekly ordinary earnings, with men earning $252.80 more than women per week. This figure increases dramatically when we look at different occupations. For instance, the financial and insurance sector is now the industry with the largest gender pay gap at 32.7 per cent. (source Workplace Gender Equality Agency) 
So what can we do about it?  We all need to take control of our future and plan ahead for our retirement.  Building a property portfolio is a great way to complement our superannuation.   
Right now, I’m seeing many women not just buying houses but taking on property developments.  My business, Property Bloom™ project manages developments for others and I’ve noticed a massive increase of women taking the next step into developing property.  
For every male client I have three female clients. And these women are not afraid to take on a little risk. They are developing up to four properties from one.  I think in general, women are in a hurry to build their property empires. This doesn’t mean women are rushing in; they are very astute and carry out extensive research.  They can see that property development can boost their portfolios quickly.  They are all extremely busy juggling work or their own business and raising children. I can totally relate to that with two young boys of my own!  
It is still very expensive to develop property in many capital cities around Australia. Land prices, building costs, labour and developer charges are high yet block sizes are small. Property Bloom™ focuses on the fast growing Hunter Region of NSW for their development projects. Before you make any decisions on location, it is imperative the numbers stack up. For this to happen, ensure you look for a site that has some or all of the following attributes. 
- Offers promise; perhaps going through a gentrification phase
- Is going through a growth phase; median prices are historically performing well
- Has an expanding population; 
- Has diverse industries support employment; 
- Has private enterprises, such as large retailers or mines for example have announced expansion plans. 
Using a project manager to handle your development means you are handing over all the detail to someone with the experience needed to successfully manage your investment.  
Some of the responsibilities of a project manager include:
  • Source development sites
  • Run feasibility reports
  • Brief architects and designers, interpret plans, estimate costs 
  • Consult with architects, engineers and other technical workers to make sure that design intentions are met
  • Plan construction methods and procedures 
  • Coordinate the supply of labour and materials
  • Direct site managers and subcontractors to make sure standards of building performance, quality, cost schedules and safety are maintained 
  • Study building contract documents and negotiate with building owners and subcontractors 
  • Control preparation of cost estimates and budgets 
  • Make sure that building regulations, standards and by-laws are enforced in building operations 
  • Negotiate discounts
  • Assist in finding tenants 

*(Queensland Government (2009), “Women and Superannuation”, Focus on Women, Office for Women, Information Paper


“I was bitten by the property bug, there was no turning back.”

Jo Chivers proves that women can indeed have it all- a career that you are passionate about and a family.  While all of this sounds great, it does require hard work, dedication, perseverance and a bit of risk-taking.

Jo’s love of property development inspired her to leave her corporate career and pursue her true passion. After educating herself in property investing, she started building up her own property portfolio. After purchasing a few blue chip properties in Sydney, she soon realised how negatively geared they were and began researching outside of Sydney. She discovered a more affordable, large region of NSW where she completed her first property development.  Soon her friends were asking her to find them sites and manage their developments. 

She realised there was a need for an all encompassing project management service and her business Property Bloom™ was born.  Ten years down the track, she has developed over 60 properties for clients, creating literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity and high end yields.