Invest in research

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 October, 2008, 12:00am

Chris Alexander, a business development manager for a software company, had an early introduction to property investment. While quite young he bought a place with his brother, and they did very well with it. Career paths then took them in different directions. 'I didn't buy any more property, and in a blink I had missed out on 10 years of the property cycle,' he says.

While living in Hong Kong in 2004, Mr Alexander met Michael Bentley, of Citylife Property Group, who convinced him to invest again. He bought a Perth apartment off the plan in Beaufort Central.

'I was a bit hesitant,' Mr Alexander admits. 'I had never bought off the plan before, and I was from Melbourne - Perth was on the other side of Australia. But I did feel comfortable with Michael doing the deal.'

He says that the first investment is the most daunting - but his confidence rose along with his apartment's value, which soared 75 per cent in two years. Buoyed, he bought a second property off the plan at Alexander Place in Belmont, 6km from Perth city, which delivered 50 per cent growth.

Since then, Mr Alexander has built his portfolio with properties in Melbourne, Sydney and northern New South Wales. He looks for areas with upcoming major infrastructure projects such as freeways, and sticks to quality developments.

He says his only mistake, so far, was a purchase made on a whim in a Victorian coastal country town. 'I read a rumour in a local paper that Golden Beach was about to get its first pub,' he recalls. Two years later the pub hadn't materialised and Mr Alexander sold without making any money. It proved to be a valuable lesson. 'We didn't do our research - and this was where we went wrong,' he says.

His subsequent properties, including a house in Frankston, Victoria, close to a new freeway, a golf course property at Sanctuary Lakes, Victoria, a unit in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, and an apartment in Ultimo, Sydney, have all performed well.

Mr Alexander is now living in Sydney and continues to build his property portfolio. By fixing the rate of his loans, he's largely shielded himself from rising interest rates. He believes it's harder now, but that opportunities still exist.