I bought my first property for $1,000

Emily Greenaway was an actor who says she was always living hand to mouth with “no idea where the rent or even food was coming from”.

She says she always knew she wanted to invest in property at some point, but it seemed like a pipe dream fantasy. 

When the musical she was performing in was shut down 12 months early (just three weeks into the production), she was “jobless and broke beyond words”. 

Emily says she couldn’t have been any lower, but that having no money was the best thing that ever happened to her, because it forced her to get creative. 

She borrowed money from her grandfather to invest in property education and then set about finding property deals. 

She found a property that most people were putting in the “too hard basket” because of a boundary issue. 

“The property was 100 years old. There was a fence line that was approved a long time ago through council which was actually on Crown land,” she says. “So there was a slight discrepancy. But I had done my homework and knew that even if I were to buy back that land that the fence line was on, it was only going to cost me $5,000. There were also a number of properties on the same street with the same issue with their fence lines being beyond what was on the actual title – so I knew I wasn’t going to be the only person who had to get the titles realigned.” 

She says the vendors were motivated to sell, but weren’t in a hurry because there was no mortgage hanging over the property. 

The property had been on the market a long time due to the boundary issues but Emily knew it was in a prime location – so she set about negotiating. 

She told the vendors she wanted to buy the property in 12 months and gave them $1,000 as a goodwill gesture. They signed a legally binding contract of sale. Emily also implemented a rent back agreement. Emily rented the property out to a third party for $410 a week and gave $100 of this to the vendors. The money she was earning on the property helped her save the deposit for when the purchase was finalised 12 months later. 

By the time this deal was finalised, Emily had developed a solid relationship with the real estate agent who had listed the first property, so she simply repeated the process for deal number two a few months later. 

“With the second deal, the vendor wouldn’t accept $1,000 so I put down $5,000,” she says. “I actually did that under a joint venture agreement, so I had a partner on the deal. We then shared the costs of renovating because we knew that with a quick cosmetic refresh we could add significant value.”

The final purchase price for the second property was $185,000. With her joint venture partner, she then spent around $7,000 on renovations – bringing the property’s value up to around $240,000.

“We really concentrated on the flooring which was really dragging down the value. We also added a second toilet because it was a four-bedroom property. That significantly added value for not very much cost.” 

Emily is now negotiating her ninth property and says the best advice she can offer investors who are stuck is: change your thinking and realise that everything is negotiable. 

“For me, it’s about problem-solving. You need to think ‘How can I make this work? How can I find the missing link to this puzzle? How can I either joint venture with someone or negotiate a deal with a vendor that’s going to solve their problems? How can I make this work?’

“There’s always a way you can negotiate your way into a deal.”

I bought my first property for $1,000
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