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I was recently sitting with a group of people and one of them said “I don’t think I am ever going to be able to afford to buy a property”. This got me thinking about what it takes to be in a position to own your own home, or at least qualify for a mortgage to purchase a property. I am fortunate enough to own my home outright, and I am happy to share how I got to this point in the hope it may inspire or educate.
I certainly haven’t had any money fall in my lap in my lifetime, such as being the beneficiary of a financial gift from a family member, or received any kind of inheritance. However, what my family has provided me with is a different kind of a gift – they have instilled in me the value of money and a strong work ethic that has always helped me to achieve my goals, be it monetary or otherwise.
I’ve you’ve ever checked me out on platforms such as LinkedIn or searched for my name in scholarly publications you may already know that I have other qualifications outside of real estate that I gained in my time before entering the real estate industry. If we wind the clock back a little, straight after finishing my secondary education at good old Albany Senior High School I moved to Perth to study at University. I’m proud to say that I’m the first person on both my mum and dad’s side of the family to gain a University degree. In fact I loved studying so much that I successfully completed three degrees in a relatively short space of time, being in the fields of Biochemistry, Physiology and Nutrition & Food Science, if you are curious to know. Anyone who has ever been a student will tell you that studying does not pay the bills, and so throughout that time of my life I got by mainly by working part time and receiving some assistance from the Government (think Austudy). After gaining my tertiary qualifications, my future was looking bright, and I was anticipating being able to establish a career and become financially independent. Home ownership was certainly on the list of achievements I was hoping to be able to tick off in time. However, things for me came crashing down in my mid-late 20s when I became critically unwell. At that stage I returned home to family support in Albany to fight my illness and thankfully I won the battle after a number of years, but not, unfortunately, without a cost to my future well being.
When I was considered healthy enough to re-enter the workforce I was very keen to get back on my feet financially and regain my independence so applied for all sorts of different jobs in Albany. However, I was continually knocked back and told it was because I was over qualified and the employers didn’t think I would stick around. Out of the blue one day I saw an advert in the local newspaper (there were no job seeker websites around in those days) published by a local real estate office looking for a rookie salesperson – someone without prior experience in the industry was preferred. I was certainly a rookie alright! I knew nothing about buying or selling a property and hadn’t ever had a loan. I was also very shy, far from being a social person, and hadn’t made a lot of connections in the community as I was practically new to town after living away from the area since becoming an adult. But I thought I would give it a go, submitted an application, and that was the beginning of a now nearly 18 year stint in the industry.
I have worked very hard in that time and gone through many ups and downs, both personally and professionally. However, after many long days and nights and weekends of commitment to my job, I have managed to earn and save enough money to purchase a few properties, including one for my now ex-partner (!), and am very close to being completely debt free with a healthy superannuation fund before reaching the age of 50. I also supported my current partner financially for many years until his new career became established and worked continuously throughout my pregnancies. After my son was born I didn’t receive any maternity leave entitlements so I kept working to pay the bills for my family (except for about a 6 week period when I thought I’d try to be a stay-at-home mum but that nearly drove me up the wall so I knew I couldn’t continue with that).
I look back now and I think that anyone could have been that person 18 years ago who applied for the rookie salesperson position that I did. That was without a doubt the turning point for me which enabled me to create the wealth I now have, as before then I really hadn’t had a chance to spend much time in the workforce. I don’t consider myself to be ‘rich’ like the high flyers around town but I am able to live a comfortable life and I’ve set myself up so I don’t have to worry about what age I can retire. Now that I am at this point in my life I have set some new goals that involve me being able to give back to the community that I live in and I’m excited at the prospect of being able to turn those ideas in to a reality.
In reflecting about what it took for me to be able to afford my own home, it’s quite funny that the answer was getting a job in the real estate industry. However, this is just my story and there are many other different paths people can take to achieve their home ownership goals. I hope, though, that you can appreciate that with some smart, sometimes bold choices, an intrinsic fight inside you that keeps you pushing on even when the going gets tough, a commitment to self improvement and many hours of hard work and sacrifice, what seems the impossible can become possible.
By Lee Stonell – Sales Consultant