Brisbane landlords

An investor’s story: the Grey Nomads’ property journey

At the end of the day, investing in residential real estate is all about a human journey. Put aside the market stats, the financial equations and the constant ‘noise’ about home prices – property ownership takes courage, self confidence and some sacrifices for a better future.

This week we interviewed Rosemary Wilson, a landlord client we’re proud to have known and worked for over the past 21 years. Rosemary tells us about the day her late husband Philip said he wanted to buy four units: “I thought I’d have a heart attack!!” And she shares her personal story of the risks they took, the rewards, the caravanning lifestyle it allowed them to enjoy for 20 years – and her decision to sell a property since Philip’s recent passing:

How did this journey start for you Rosemary. You mentioned Philip was working in the bank at the time?

Rosemary: “Philip decided that for retirement purposes we needed to be independent. This was in 1989 when Philip was about 50 and he realised that his superannuation wasn’t going to be sufficient for our requirements. Once we started our family I didn’t ever work for an income so we were going to be reliant on Philip’s superannuation for our retirement income. Philip decided to get into the property market because he said it would be better than bank interest.

One weekend in 1989 we went to Brisbane and bought four properties. These are the properties we still own. I was not as sure of this decision as Philip – thought I’d have a heart attack spending that amount on an interest only loan until the loan could be paid off when he retired and was able to access his superannuation!”

So when he retired you hooked up the caravan and set out to explore Australia.

Rosemary: “The caravan was home for 20 years as we didn’t have a home base. The rental income from the units gave us the opportunity to do that. We always agreed that we were happy to accept a little under market value for rent for the right tenants. We liked to have happy, long term tenants instead of tenants that were in and out for short periods.

In all the years we have owned the units we have only ever had one major problem with tenants. Some tenants have needed time, as with COVID last year but with patience and the help of our property manager everyone was happy with the end result. The Bees Nees team has been looking after our tenants for 15 years and communication with our property managers over the years has been important. Communication with Alana and Rebecca over the last 12 months has been exceptionally important. Sometimes a phone call instead of an email has been appreciated”.

Your travelling days came to an end when Philip was not able to drive?

Rosemary: “Philip was always very healthy and the dementia diagnosis in 2018 was a bolt out of the blue. Without that diagnosis we probably would still be Grey Nomads. Philip passed away last year aged 81.

For me it has been a swift learning experience, while we always discussed things with the units Philip was always the one who looked after our financial affairs”.

You made the decision recently to sell your Cooparoo unit and our team found a buyer for that. The capital gain worked out to around 8.5% per annum so you must have been pleased?

Rosemary: “That was better than bank interest, yes. We had a few problems with maintenance but the main reason for selling was that at some stage I am going to need money on hand to purchase somewhere to live. At the moment I am living in my daughter’s house but the house and garden are going to be to much for me to look after in the not to distant future”.

We first met in 2000. Would you be happy for us to keep looking after you and your units for another 21 years?!

Rosemary: “I’ll be just about 100 by then. If I’m still around and still got the properties I think you’ll be managing them and telling me what to do! The kids will inherit the units and probably just keep them.

Financially wise the units have served us well and proves that Philip made a fantastic decision in 1989 and I am pleased that I didn’t succumb to the heart attack on the day we purchased the four units.

Thank you Bees Nees for looking after us for all those years”.