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DIY Property Investing

From Money Magazine, March 2003

Investors in residential property keep getting burnt because they are willing to let others take control. They could do much better by doing the work themselves, says Terry Ryder.

It’s real estate’s worst trap. Property buyers show great reluctance to handle their own investments, choosing instead to place their financial destinies in the hands of strangers.

All too often, these strangers are rip-off merchants. They include marketeers, get-rich-quick scheme promoters and property discounters, often companies with reassuring names that imply authority (the word “institute” in the title, for example) or an association with a reputable entity.

Property is a particularly dangerous area for investors because of the lack of federal scrutiny of those who sell property products or advice. While the new Financial Services Act regulates anyone selling financial products or providing financial advice, it excludes real estate.

Queensland’s Fair Trading Minister, Merri Rose, has announced plans to close the loophole. She is asking ministers in other states to back her move to regulate those making millions from property investment “advice”.

“Currently, anyone at all can set up in business purporting to offer property investment advice, regardless of previous criminal record, qualifications or business practices.”

How to do it yourself

Property investment is not a complex matter. It involves a number of simple steps and clear principles.
Educate yourself. Read books and magazines, speak to people you trust and tap into the wealth of information on the internet.

  • Establish a clear strategy. Some want a property investment that provides sufficiently high rental returns to be self-servicing. Others chase capital growth. Which strategy you choose will dictate what kind of property you buy and where you look for it.
  • Educate yourself. Read books and magazines, speak to people you trust and tap into the wealth of information on the internet.
  • Research the areas you target for investments.
  • Always get a valuation and a building inspection report before signing
    up to buy.
  • Be prepared to pay for advice. If you’re going to spend $450,000, why wouldn’t you spend $450 to get an independent valuation and a building inspection report?
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