How 25yo built $1.75m property empire
WHEN Joey D'Agata graduated from high school, he had one clear goal in his mind.
While his teenage peers focused on partying and the freedoms of adulthood, Mr D'Agata was determined to become a homeowner - the quicker, the better.
For the next two to three years, he juggled his full-time university studies in exercise and sports science while also holding down a full-time job running and then managing sports programs for kids through the PCYC.
He remained in his family's home in Maroubra in Sydney's southeast to avoid paying rent while other teens moved out, and ruthlessly stripped back expenses wherever he could.
In 2015, at the age of 21, his hard work paid off.
He'd already squirrelled away a $55,000 deposit, so when he spotted a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment one street back from Maroubra beach for $450,000, he swooped.
"I always knew property was something I wanted to get into but initially for me the vision was of buying that first property as early as I could," he told news.com.au.
"I thought in 10 to 12 years I might be looking for a family home, so the plan was to sell that first property off and hopefully have enough for a deposit on a family home - that was my mindset."
Mr D'Agata said the "critical key" to his being able to pull off home ownership at such a young age - while he was earning an annual income of just $45,000 - was living at home, something he was "not ashamed to admit" he still did today.
"I wanted to keep my overheads as low as possible - I have that delayed gratification mindset, so I'm happy to forgo some of the finer luxuries now," he explained.
"But it's not as if I haven't lived. At 21, I was still going out with my friends and I have still been able to go on an international holiday a year since I was 20, so it's not like I put my whole life on hold.
"It was just about allocating my finances on things that would make me truly happy rather than wasting it on weekends."
Two years later in 2017 he visited his bank manager to discuss the possibility of a second loan, and he was stunned to learn he was able to borrow 100 per cent of the value of a new property.
In July that year, he came across an off-market opportunity through a family friend, and ended up scoring a $350,000, two-bedroom home in Liverpool in a "nice spot" between the station and a shopping centre.
In March 2018 he followed it up with his first foray outside NSW, nabbing a one-bedroom, one-bathroom property in Southport in Queensland for $200,000.
"It was quite affordable for the everyday punter but at the same time my tenant left the place in Maroubra, which caused a bit of a headache as I had to get the cash together for the deposit as well as for some renovations on the Maroubra property, as it was a 1970s original," he said.
"Being the thrifty person, I enlisted the help of family, friends and myself and moved heaven and earth to do a complete renovation minus the bathroom, which came in under $10,000, which was phenomenal."
Just before Christmas last year, Mr D'Agata, now 25, bought his latest property - a one-bedroom unit in Rockdale in Sydney, which had passed in at auction due to lack of interest.
He picked it up for $383,000 - about $120,000 less than another buyer paid for a near-identical flat in the floor above the year before.
"Obviously it takes legwork and research but every $1000 you save purchasing a property, the lower your mortgage repayments and the better the yields," he said.
Today, his four-property portfolio is "floating somewhere between $1.7 and $1.75 million", with a loan-to-value ratio of 74 per cent.
For the past year he has moved into a project co-ordination and management role at one of the big four banks, where he earns $90,000 a year, and over the years he has developed a "side hustle" as a personal trainer, running his business out of his garage before and after work.
He's also set to launch his own buyer's agency, ESTRO Property, to help other investors get a foot on the property ladder - and he's already eyeing off a fifth property he hopes to buy in the near future.
He stressed that his portfolio was not "unachievable" for the average person on an average income, and said now was the perfect time to buy due to softening house prices.
"The first property was absolutely pivotal - if I had mucked that up and taken a wrong step, I wouldn't be where I am today," he said.
He recommended living at home as long as possible and curbing other expenses, picking up "side hustles" to maximise income, gathering an "A team" of professionals to help and buying deceased estates or properties that have passed in at auction in order to score the best property deals.