How to be mortgage-free in your 30s
ARVINDER Dhanota was just 28 when she bought her first property and her husband Kulwant Singh was 30 when he bought his.
But just seven years later, the couple now have eight properties in their investment portfolio - with an estimated net worth of $3.8 million.
Ms Dhanota said while the pair had worked hard to build their real estate dream, the process had been relatively straightforward.
Mr Singh said they had both worked in "synergy" together to build their portfolio as a team.
Ms Dhanota bought her two-bedroom unit in Bankstown in western Sydney 2009 while Mr Singh purchased another two-bedroom unit in the same year in Liverpool.
The couple, who migrated to Australia from India in 2004, married six years later and in the same year, they bought their first property together - another two-bedroom unit in Liverpool, which they have since sold.
They followed that purchase up with a two-bedroom apartment in Blacktown in March 2013, and a four-bedroom house in Glenwood in September 2013.
In May 2015 they purchased a two-bedroom off-the-plan flat in Kingswood, and in June 2016 they bought a 508sq m off-the-plan block of land in Melbourne, their only buy outside of Sydney.
Their most recent purchase was a three-bedroom house in Whalan, western Sydney, in August 2016, when Ms Dhanota, a public servant, was 35 and Mr Singh, who owns his own business, was 37.
Their first Bankstown property recently sold for more than double the purchase price, and the couple plan to put their Melbourne block of land and their Kingswood unit on the market this year.
If they get a good price for both properties, they will put the profits into their Glenwood house and make that address their long-term family home.
The pair said the combined profits should pay off the home's mortgage entirely, and if that happens, they planned to travel around the world for six to 12 months.
"We only paid the deposit on our first properties - and with the rest, the equity kept funding us," Mr Singh said.
"We have some other investments overseas - we bought a farmhouse back in India, and we've invested money in dad's business as well, so we have a diversified investment strategy," Ms Dhanota added.
"Property has been the main focus though and for most of our properties, we don't pay anything out of our pockets except council rates, strata fees and water - the rent pretty much covers most of the mortgage, so we're only paying a little bit towards the property."
Ms Dhanota said her decision to invest $200,000 in her first unit had paid off.
"If in 2009 we had invested $200,000 in the bank instead of buying the property, we wouldn't have more than doubled our money in eight years," she said.
"Even if the market goes down and really crashes we are still pretty confident we'll get the money we paid for the properties back.
"Interest rates would have to at least double what they are at now before we started to worry."
"Most of the properties were bought at a really good price so we are not concerned they will lose their value, and if we didn't get the price we were looking for, we would just keep them," Mr Singh said.
"We have always had principle and interest loans, however, in December 2017 we trialled interest only loans.
"Two months into the trial, we have moved a couple of properties back to principle and interest and will be moving all of them back to principle and interest loans soon. You pay too much interest in interest only loans and it takes longer to pay off your loans."
Ms Dhanota said one of the keys to their success had been purchasing properties at a good price in the first place.
"We never had the intention of buying so many properties but we started around the global financial crisis when prices were really down," she said.
"I bought one, he bought one, we moved in together into my property and rented his out and we thought, 'You know what, we're not really paying anything on the property, why not buy the next one?'"
Ms Dhanota and Mr Singh had some simple advice for potential property investors.
"Just buy a cheap unit to start with - something really basic, even a one-bedroom - just go for it and renovate and rent it out, and then build [your portfolio] over time," Mr Singh said.
"Don't shoot for the stars in the first place because there's no point getting a loan worth millions of dollars for your first property when that's going to be hard to repay," Ms Dhanota added.
"The location of the property is the key, and remember, it's very easy to rent apartments if they are closer to public transport and universities.
"We have been in contact with a lot of people who have been waiting all these years for the property market to go down before buying, and it never has."