Custodian Millionaire Case Study: John & Ann Carter


  • Occupations:
  • John: Account Executive –Southern Cross Austereo
  • Age: 44 & 40
  • Family: Son Lachlan, 8 and Ryan 5
  • Began investing in residential property (year): 2006
  • Property portfolio value (including principal place of residence): Approx $2 million+
  • Number of houses you own (including principal place of residence): 4

John and Ann Carter own their own home and three investment properties. They aim to continue buying investment property whenever they can.

In 1993, newlyweds John and Ann Carter moved to the Gold Coast from Sydney for a lifestyle change and armed with a five year plan: to establish themselves financially and then return to Sydney. They bought their first home in Daisy Hill and within a couple of years, they decided to stay.

Prior to investing in real estate, the Carters regularly made additional contributions to their superannuation.

They also invested in shares after being encouraged by one of Ann’s employers who had said he had done well in the stock market. Ann did a short course in an attempt to understand the financial principles involved but as John says, “It was confusing and after 5–6 years of time and effort, we came out neutral.” Another investment for the Carters was building up a successful retail business which they eventually sold.

Leading on from that sale, John went into a partnership to build up a national retail chain which they sold out of seven years later. The business allowed the Carters to grow their quality of life and the sale allowed them to invest in both residential and commercial property. But as John says, they didn’t start investing the correct way until they bought their first investment property with Custodian.

The Carters saved the cash deposit for their first home and it was at that point that they realised how hard it is to do and that you can’t save yourself to wealth. Five years after buying their home in Daisy Hill, they decided to upgrade. They also decided to become ‘property investors’ by keeping their first home and renting it out.

Later, with the proceeds of their business sale, the Carters had the cash to invest further and Ann started focusing on property. Ann had worked for a real estate agent for a while and could see the benefits.

The Carters next investment property was purchased through a real estate agent. In hindsight, John says, “It was a terrible decision. We bought using emotion not logic and we didn’t do our homework. It was an older property so it had maintenance issues. We certainly didn’t understand the true costs involved and didn’t maximise the tax benefits of owning property.” A few years later they invested in a commercial venture, buying some land and building shops.

It took a long time to develop due to all the red tape and there were lots of unexpected costs. “It was a hassle but once it was completed, it was true passive income. However, it came at a much higher risk. We got great income but not so much capital growth which impacted on our potential. The lender recognised the risks so held more security over our home. At one time we didn’t have tenants in one of the shops for over 12 months, then there were rent free periods and shop fit out costs for new tenants. It bought holidays but that was about it,” reflects John.

Investment wise, John says, “We stalled for a few years because life got in the way and then one day we realised how old we were. We looked at what we wanted to do in the future and realised we had no plan to fund it.” The only true asset they had was the amount of time they had to make a difference. But they also wanted a lower risk way to invest with better leverage than commercial property to reach their goals.

While the Carters still had their commercial property, they decided to invest in another house, and again they went through a real estate agent. They selected another older house based on emotion, signed the contract and paid the deposit. Around that same time, Ann came across Custodian through a past colleague.

He explained John Fitzgerald’s wealthbuilding model and gave them Seven Steps to Wealth to read. John was sceptical but Ann was the proactive one and saw the potential. After a lot of talking and a lot questions, John changed his perspective, “it was like a light globe going on in my head, realising there was a better way.” The Carters cancelled the contract on the house and they bought their first Custodian home in 2007. They have also recently sold their commercial property and intend to use the funds to invest in more houses. John says, “The leverage is better and there’s less risk.” The Carters also plan to sell their older investment properties and redirect their money into new more efficient investment houses. “I would never buy old again,” reflects John.

John considers his best moment in their journey as finding a positive investment strategy utilising compound growth. It is not just about the property, it is about the journey and the person you become. John and Ann now have shared big picture goals, they’ve given themselves a timeframe, and they are less stressed over their investments, seeing them in a positive light. As a result, there is more communication and they have a better relationship. They also consider their best investment decision has been to pick a solid performing asset class and focus on it.

The worse part has been John’s realisation that he can’t share their wealth building journey with some of the members of their families. Their negative approach to debt and following a ‘herd mentality’ of borrowing little and paying back quickly puts them at odds. “While I’m not against that, I can see a far more beneficial way.” He finds it difficult to see them without a sufficient plan to fund their retirement.

The Carters like property as an asset class because of ‘stability and ability’. Investing in lower end residential property is a proven performer and offers stability during market fluctuations and greater benefits during cycles. This kind of property is geared for capital growth which gives the Carters the ability to leverage into more property. John adds, “I’m not experiencing the risks associated with other investment classes and I don’t need to know what the market is doing every day like in shares. Property is a ‘set and forget’ commodity and we all need to live somewhere – it’s a matter of supply and demand. We also don’t have to compromise our quality of life to build wealth through affordable property.”


While the Carters have different short- term personal goals – John admits he’s more ‘into lifestyle’ – their long-term goals are in sync. They also have a shared goal of ensuring their children have an understanding of property and have a legacy they can add to.

With both their personal and financial goals, they realise that to continue to enjoy their quality of life, they need to have a good income. That income will be primarily derived from their property investments. Combined with their superannuation and savings it provides choice rather than sticking only to what is affordable.


John says, “Cash flow is very important and that’s why we choose to invest the way we do – it’s one of the most affordable ways. You have to balance your investment for both capital growth and income. On the income side I manage my rents very effectively and am not afraid to try for that extra bit. On the capital growth side, I now only choose a very specific class of property that caters to a selected target market and based on a pre existing model. The other aspect is to only buy property when you can actually afford to. Plenty of people suffer the consequences of over committing. It’s about being slow and steady.”

While the Carters haven’t had to work to a strict budget, it has made them more aware of household expenditure and they’re prepared to accept ‘short- term pain for long-term gain’.

Ultimately, it is important to do something different compared to what most people do which seems to be nothing. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Find people who have successfully gone before you and follow their path; surround yourself with people who are on the same journey and learn from them. If you decide to invest in property, learn to deal with the ‘lumps and bumps’ along the way. “You’re dealing with property so anything can happen. A council can delay development, you can have bad tenants, the builder can go broke etcetera. You have to work through them but there’s also ways to minimise the risk through education, understanding what the risks actually are and leverage, and you can have an ‘exit strategy’ in place in case something goes wrong,” explains John.


John warns against confusing learning with research. He describes learning as the ability to sort through information, taking on aspects that will help educate you and help you move forward – and filtering out the rest. There are plenty of people who do the research but never move forward because they get stuck on the detail. It is important to think big.

John finds the best way to maintain the right mind set and a positive attitude is to learn detachment as there is a lot of negative information and attitudes around us. ‘Bad’ things happen but it’s how we respond to it that matters so use it as an opportunity to learn and improve how to do things in the future.

“The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Improve how you do things and surround yourself with positive people,” John advises. “People often let themselves down over their potential. They spend all their money on lifestyle and don’t strive for anything extra. We have a distinct advantage in that we aim for what we want and find a way to do it. It’s simply a matter of working out what you want then putting a step-by-step plan in place to achieve it. The main part of that plan is actually believing that you can do it.”

Building wealth has taught the Carters that being goal focused is a very important part of success. It has also taught them that there are some areas in life where they need to detach from the strong negative influences that surround everyone on a daily basis and maintain a positive attitude. In turn, this is reflected and radiates out to others.

John and Ann are passionate about building wealth through residential property and John says, “I’m lucky to have the opportunity to educate average people every day on how they can affordably build wealth. Average people can definitely do this.”

Custodian Reviews – Read more success stories from average individuals who rose above the average!

*extract from Custodian Millionaire Case Studies magazine printed in 2012.

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