MICHAEL & VIKKI QUINN
- Michael: NSW Sales Manager, Custodian
- Vikki: Client support, Custodian
- Age: 50 & 48
- Family: : Two Children, 10 & 11
- Began investing in residential property (year): 1999
- Property portfolio value (including principal place of residence): Approx $5 million
- Number of houses you own (including principal place of residence): 8
Michael and Vikki Quinn own their own home and have seven investment properties. They aim to have net assets of $4 million by 2015.
Prior to investing in property the Quinns had some other ‘investments’ – namely a Harley Davidson, an MG and what Michael describes as ‘some crappy shares in trees’. In 1998, he met John Fitzgerald on the set of a popular morning TV show on which John was launching his book Seven Steps to Wealth John gave Michael a copy. He read it but being a self-proclaimed procrastinator, he didn’t do anything about it and he was nervous of the debt. However, Vikki loved the book. She thought it was well reasoned and made perfect sense so she prompted Michael to give the book to their financial planner. The financial planner not only dismissed it, but redirected the Quinns into buying the worst investment they ever made: an off the plan, 43m2, one-bedroom apartment.
The best part of this decision was that they were forced to save up the $34,000 deposit – focused savings which they had never undertaken before. The worst part was that when it came time to settle, they nearly lost the lot! As the property was less than 50m2, the banks did not want to fund the purchase.
“As John says, investors lose their money two ways: greed and not doing their homework. We certainly didn’t do our homework,” says Michael.
Eventually they were lucky enough to get a loan through a lender who was willing to take the single car park into consideration as part of the floor area of the unit which got them over the line.
The most frustrating part was that their financial planner couldn’t tell them why that one-bedroom unit was such a great investment. In contrast, Vikki says, “John Fitzgerald is an authentic person who really cares and is committed to helping ordinary Australians reach their financial goals.”
Michael regards the following story as both the best and the worst moments of the Quinns wealth building journey so far. In 2002, John Fitzgerald came back into Michael’s life when he asked Michael to help make a TV commercial for his Untold Wealth study program. As part of Michael’s research in making the ad, he attended one of John’s seminars. Michael says, “I was 40-years-old and it was such a wakeup call – I realised I was running out of time and I needed to get focused!”
Later, Michael and Vikki had lunch with John. At that meeting, John brought out a white board and started asking them all sorts of questions to learn their personality types and who makes what decisions in their marriage. John said to Michael in front of Vikki, “Quinny, what are you doing? You have a wife and two young kids who desperately need their own home. You’re paying $530 a week in rent and riding around on your Harley Davidson pretending life is grand. In fact you have no wealth. I don’t want to see you again. Go and work out what you want.”
Michael says, “I felt cold running through my face and body. I was absolutely embarrassed. Then John said, ‘I’ll tell you what you should do. You’re earning enough money. Go buy a $1 million home. That’s what your family needs.’ “My mind was full of fear. What would the deposit be? What would the repayments be? But John told me to buy the house and the money would come,” recalls Michael.
That night the Quinn’s sat around the dining table at home with friends debating what to do until the early hours of the morning.
Later that year, Michael and Vikki bought their first home on a 1110m2 block in Killara, on the Upper North Shore, Sydney, for $970,000 – but they had no money. They sold the Harley, the MG and leveraged out of the unit and shares but they were still short. They came up with all sorts of ideas to gather money together but a lot of them fell through. Michael even negotiated vendor finance which was enough to buy the house – now valued at over $1.8 million.
In the same year as Michael and Vikki bought their first house, they also bought their first investment property with Custodian in Aspley, Brisbane, and settled on it at the same time as they settled on their own home.
They used the one-bedroom unit to purchase the Apsley property. However, by the time the house was built, the value of the property had gone up so much from the original valuation that the bank said they did not need a deposit. They bought it for $315,000 and it is now valued at $580,000.
Michael and Vikki quickly came to realise that with the right criteria, residential property is a safe tax and cash flow effective asset class and it enables the m to leverage to build compound growth. In eight years, they have built a portfolio of seven investment properties.
The Quinns say that without a doubt their best investment decision was buying their home – and the worst was buying that one-bedroom unit.
Michael and Vikki have ambitious financial goals. They aim to own their home in Killara outright and to have a property investment portfolio of net $4 million by 2015. They say they are about quarter of the way there.
Their personal goals are to stay fit and healthy and enjoy the journey. They are committed to putting their children through private schools and they have plans to travel but it will not be at the expense of what they need to do to financially secure their retirement and their children’s future.
Health wise, Vikki says, “We are very fit (touch wood). This is an important part of our lives. We get up around 5am most mornings to train. It keeps us sharp and helps us to balance any stress.”
MANAGING CASH FLOW
How did the Quinns manage so much debt, buying their house and their first investment property at the same time? Vikki says, “Cash flow is everything.
At first we had a bad accountant who got us to claim our tax rebates at the end of the financial year so we were suffocating in debt. We also had huge tax bills – $130,000. Fortunately, through work we met David Shaw who is a property focused accountant. He offered to review our circumstances and worked with us to establish the correct tax structure.”
Michael also asked John to mentor him as he felt like the management of their quickly growing portfolio was running away from him. John sat Michael down, worked out a spreadsheet, and got him on track.
Vikki says, “You have to be focused on your budget and your finances. It’s vital to have the right structure. You have to know everything that is incoming and outgoing. I run everything through a spreadsheet. By getting the structure right and effectively managing our cash flow, we were able to duplicate in 12 months and build our portfolio quickly.”
When it comes to investment advice, Michael and Vikki recommend starting to invest when you are young – and if you are not young, get going now! Michael says, “Be goal focused and review your goals every year. Stay away from the mob and hang with winners. If you feel your enthusiasm and focus waning, put your hand up and get help. Get a mentor who has done it and listen to their advice. Build your ‘A Team’ and stay focused.”
Michael and Vikki have built their property investment portfolio quickly and they have learnt from their mistakes along the way. They have also learnt about compound growth. They are teaching their children about compound growth and they hope they will teach their future families.
Michael says, “It’s important to maintain the right mindset. We stay focused on the big picture – if we wane, we check in with our mentor and work together to be all we can be. You have to remain positive and we surround ourselves with winners, which helps us maintain the right attitude for success and being dynamic.”
Building wealth has changed the Quinns’ focus. These days Michael and Vikki are extremely goal focused: they can see how they will retire; assist Michael’s father in his retirement; and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren. “And most importantly teach them how to use it and not dismantle it,” adds Michael.
What Michael and Vikki are building now will support them as well as future generations of their family. Michael says, “Wealth building has enabled us to have choices and it allows us to give back. I’m proud to have learnt how to build wealth and pass this knowledge on to my family and clients.”
But there is more to it than money. Michael adds, “One of the reasons I gave up my well paying job in TV and came to work at Custodian was because of Toogoolawa School. I saw what Toogoolawa does for youth at risk and it really affected me.
Michael and Vikki recommend starting to invest when you are young – and if you are not young, get going now! When it comes to investment advice, Michael and Vikki recommend starting to invest when you are young – and if you are not young, get going now!