BENJAMIN & NATASHA BUICK
- Benjamin: Manager, Queensland Rail
- Natasha: Office manager, real estate business
- Age: 39 & 37
- Family: Two Children 6 & 3
- Began investing in residential property (year): 2007
- Property portfolio value (including principal place of residence): Approx $2.6 million
- Number of houses you own (including principal place of residence): 5
Benjamin and Natasha Buick own their own home and four investment properties. They aim to own ten investment properties by 2015 – and eventually to live in Tuscany six months of every year.
Benjamin Buick is the sixth of nine children and he grew up in a big house in the leafy eastern Melbourne suburb of Malvern. At 23-years-old, he had just finished a plumbing apprenticeship when his parents’ financial circumstances changed and they had to sell their home. Benjamin took a redundancy package and used that money to help buy a new family home with his parents. They bought it in the nearby and more affordable suburb of Carnegie for $212,000 in 1995. felt underappreciated and unhappy at work, he rarely saw his son who was asleep when he got home from work and asleep when he left, and he realised he hadn’t taken any risks. The Benjamin and Natasha talked it over and they decided to move to Brisbane to have a better lifestyle. Within a few weeks of putting out feelers, Benjamin had a new job. They sold their East Malvern home for $531,000 which gave them a substantial deposit for their home in Morningside where they now live and are currently renovating.
Prior to buying the house, Benjamin invested in a managed fund that a friend had recommended. He contributed monthly until the fund became defunct and it was bought out by a life insurance company. He was offered a life insurance policy but instead he transferred some of the money out to buy shares in the Commonwealth Bank and APN News & Media which he still owns. The remaining balance has slowly whittled down over time. “I still have those shares but they’re for my children now. The experience made me realise that I had little influence over their direction,” he explains. The Buicks’ property investment journey began in 2008 when Benjamin was reunited with an old friend from Melbourne, Custodian Queensland Sales Manager, Gary Sparks. Gary showed him an easy way to achieve his financial and lifestyle goals. “There were a few triggers but the one that really got me thinking about my future was the birth of our first child. Children often have a way of refocusing us on what is important and what is not. I realised my goal of financial security wouldn’t be met on the path I was currently travelling,” he says. However, it was seeing Gary’s goal sheet where he aimed to own 12 investment properties and 10 had been crossed off that really got him going. “I thought if Gary could do it, so could I. When we bought our home in Brisbane, we made sure we had enough to buy an investment property as well.” “My property journey began when I bought the house with Mum and Dad. It was a four and a half bedroom house and I ended up with the half.
We were a large family but all we really needed was enough room for monthly family dinners where about 20 plus adults and 15 children could sit around a table or two to eat,” says Benjamin.
Soon after, Benjamin met Natasha whom he later married. Initially, she was happy to move into Benjamin’s family home but he says, “Her enthusiasm lasted about 12 months and then the pressure was on to find a place of our own.” In 2000, they bought a duplex in East Malvern for $196,000.
Before long, Benjamin was managing a large commercial cleaning company and work was everything. Then in 2007, while on a plane, Benjamin read an article in an in-flight magazine about risk taking and how the farther down a person is in the birth order of a family, the more risks that person is likely to take. It struck a chord.
Benjamin realised that his older siblings were conservative but his younger siblings were risk takers. He Benjamin admits, “I was prompted to invest in property because of the growth I had seen in my homes in Carnegie and in East Malvern. I didn’t do any research; I took advice from a friend.” Under Gary’s guidance, the Buick’s bought their first investment property in Queensland through Custodian using the equity in their home. Gary also gave him John Fitzgerald’s Seven Steps to Wealth to read“. This book literally changed our lives. It showed us that just an average family like ourselves could build real wealth in property and never have to worry about money again.” his work and fell in to the same trap of working too hard for too long. He decided to take a leap of faith. He joined just before the GFC. “Custodian has helped keep my head above water. There are lots of distractions in life. Working in this environment every day, and being surrounding by positive people stops me from getting sidetracked,” he explains.
“Without a doubt, the best part of my journey so far is helping Mum and Dad get back on their feet and have a place they could call home. I didn’t understand leverage and equity back then and the motivation for buying was from the heart. However, all of my recent purchases have been made with one purpose in mind: how will this allow me to duplicate to the next, ” enthuses Benjamin.
Benjamin’s life philosophy is not to see things as ‘bad’ otherwise there is a risk they can get on top of him.
However, he says if anything, the worse moments are seeing Natasha get disappointed and frustrated over delays in finance and settlement for their investment properties – and there have been delays each time. He also feels disappointed that he hasn’t been able to educate his family about property investment. “They’re not interested and I’m not the brother they turn to for advice – I’m sixth in the pecking order after all – but that may change,” he says hopefully.
Benjamin likes property as an asset class because for him, “It just makes sense. We’ve all seen property do wonderful things over time. It’s something you can see and also directly influence. I can dictate what goes on with tenant selection, rent increases, and future acquisitions.”
The Buicks bought their second investment property in Melbourne in 2009 and their third in Sydney in 2010, using the equity in their Morningside home and the house in Carnegie. Not long after buying their first investment property, Gary asked Benjamin to join Custodian as a consultant. The Buick’s original goal was to have 10 properties by the time they reached 50-years-old or 10 properties in 15 years. Their current success means that they are now likely to reduce that time frame to 10 properties in 10 years. And after a one-on-one goal session with John Fitzgerald, he challenged them to achieve 10 houses in five years.
“John is audacious with his goals and when you sit one-on-one with him he inspires you to strive for more.
We need ten properties to have a net worth of $3 million.” Again Benjamin was consumed by One of Benjamin’s personal goalswhich drives him to build wealth is that he wants to live in a beautiful little Italian village in Tuscany for six months of every year. When Benjamin and Natasha married, they could only afford a short honeymoon. “We planned a three week trip to Europe based on having a coffee in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, having a beer at Oktoberfest and visiting my brother, Dominic, in London. My mother-in-law wanted us to visit one of my sister-in- law’s pen friends who lives in a small village in Tuscany. I couldn’t imagine anything worse but I included it to keep her happy. How wrong I was! Raphael and her now husband were renovating a castle on top of a hill and we fell in love with the place and the people,” explains Benjamin.
Benjamin is working towards a new lifestyle. He wants to take regular breaks from work, learn a new language, loves cheese and wine, and wants his children to benefit from having a different cultural experience.
“I’m definitely going and Natasha and the kids can come too if they like,” he laughs.
“After a recent Custodian event Natasha is looking to increase our net worth to $6 million so it’s more of the same for us as we work towards that new target. Our net worth currently sits bang on $1 million,” Benjamin says proudly.
MANAGING CASH FLOW AND INVESTMENT ADVICE
Benjamin confesses that he and Natasha ‘don’t work to a budget that well’ and they haven’t had to until recently. “It became a bit tight about six months ago. We were living a five star life on a three start budget so I admit I occasionally get ahead of myself. We had to refinance to buy our next property. With two children it’s easy to make impulse buys. Knowing that I’m likely to keep doing that, I always have a buffer in my equity loan to accommodate unforeseen costs. Each buffer is about $8,000 so I’m always covered.
I also use the buffer to help fund any shortfall in interest or out of pocket expenses on the property,” he explains. “Cash flow is the big thing for everyone. People are right in one sense when they say they can’t afford to buy an investment property so you borrow enough to cover it. Over time, the rents go up and the property becomes cash flow neutral so that buffer has done its job.” When it comes to investment advice, Benjamin laughs, “It’s probably not my place to offer advice, but what I do is educate people so they can choose their own path. But from what I’ve learnt so far: don’t reinvent the wheel; buy brand new with high land content; hold and never ever sell.” He also says that he takes comfort from the fact that so many people have gone before him and successfully invested in property. He also looks at the research that shows where areas are doing well and where areas will improve. It is all about investing over time to get a good return.
“I’m very lucky to have direct access to John Fitzgerald and others who are on the same path. Every day is an opportunity to learn more about the history in property which we all know repeats itself. My forecast for the future is based on the detailed analysis of the past. There is no first time for the properties I own. History is repeating itself. I also I surround myself with like minded people.
There’s no negativity in my life,” he states.
Put simply, wealth building has given Benjamin and Natasha direction in their lives and they are really enjoying the journey. The positive experience has a flow on effect on how they live, act and motivate others. “I’m ready to help anyone identify their goals, financial or otherwise, and share my knowledge and contacts to help them achieve their potential.” But there is still more to do and with successful wealth building the Buicks intend to give back to the community.
Benjamin says, “I am looking for my calling. I used to help coach football in Melbourne and I dream about having enough money to buy a house for the old footy club to use. Something will come.” Benjamin likes property as an asset class for him. It just makes sense.
We’ve all seen property do wonderful things over time. It’s something you can see and also directly influence. I can dictate what goes on with tenant selection, rent increases, and future acquisitions.
Custodian Wealth Builders Reviews – Read more success stories from average individuals who rose above the average!*extract from Custodian Millionaire Case Studies magazine printed in 2012.