How to Buy Property

Making the Daunting Doable

Katie Marshall of Chicks and Mortar on Property Investment tips for womenFor many women the thought of getting into the property market is daunting because it seems just so difficult, but for one inspired woman changing this limiting perception has become a life mission.

Katie Marshall of Chicks and Mortar is determined to empower women with the core skills and knowledge they need to successfully buy and sell property, "women can learn what they need to know to overcome their fear barriers," she explains.

Katie bought her first property at the age of 19 with her partner, choosing a house in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, to get free of the renting cycle and have the freedom to design and decorate. From there Katie says "investing in further properties was natural."

Coming from a working class family that did have properties she was able to see her parents get ahead which created a strong learning base about what's involved in successful property investment and this has deeply informed her passion for educating other women about this vital industry.

"For me it's really important to educate women, so property investment doesn't have to be so hard, that they can see it can be done," explains Katie.

While buying into the Sydney or Melbourne property markets can be too hard for many first home buyers, Katie believes that "every state, region and city has good and bad pockets, there's always give and take."

It's about being able to afford the investment, whether it is your first house or an investment property, that is the key to success. Katie's Blue Mountains house "was not in my ideal suburb but we could afford it," and it was from there that she grew her portfolio as well as her skills and experience.

How to Pick Apartments

With the boom in apartment building in Sydney and Melbourne many first time buyers are starting out with a flat of their own. So I wanted to get Katie's starting out tips for picking the best apartment blocks as well as the individual units.

Katie's 6 key tips for inspecting an apartment property are:

1. Start with the basics and have a good look around.

2. Find out if the body corporate has a good track record with financials.

3. It's important for the body corporate to have a healthy buffer with a good sized sinking fund for any possible future needs.

4. When you're inspecting the apartment look for water issues with signs of rising damp or any water marks.

5. Check for floor movement with any gaps or cracks.

6. Look up and take note of the ceiling and cornice levels for any signs of movement.

The Power of Education

The key for Katie is education as she believes that by empowering yourself with the basics you can be informed and practical decisions. Katie started Chicks and Mortar in 2009 for this very purpose, so that for "whatever property involved women can make the best decisions they can with as much information they need to make informed decisions," enthuses Katie.

Chicks and Mortar started as a social group and evolved into a blog and then a business with Katie filling the need for 101 property skills via blog posts, a published book, an online course and free templates. The blog covers everything from property buyers and agents to conveyancing to styling your house for selling to finding the right investment property to how to organise your investment property paperwork and a host of topics in between.

What I find really interesting is seeing a woman who's grown up in a family that's created its own financial freedom through property investment then make a successful career in the field herself through investment and work. Her passion for property and empowering women through practical education is nearly tangible and what it clearly shows me is that knowledge makes all the difference.

Make the Choice to Learn and Banish the Scary Unknown

It's through getting involved and learning what you need to achieve your goal that you can succeed. This isn't some huge revelation but the realisation that everything involved in buying and selling properties and being involved in this industry can be learnt, whether you're a woman or a man, it makes no difference. I agree with Katie when she says that women learn differently to men, women will ask more questions, have a stronger bond with money and want to reduce risks by making as many smart and informed decisions as possible. So to me, a woman who is thoroughly versed in the industry is the ideal educator.

For many of us, when we're scared of something it is usually because of the unknown elements and it can be all too easy to put it in the too hard basket. But with the structure of the Australian economy property investment is financially too important for us to ignore. By choosing to start to learn the basics you need to make informed and savvy decisions about properties you won't need to worry about the too hard basket.

When you start looking at the statistics of women and poverty and age it can be frightening what is potentially ahead for women. That is until, you start looking at what creates security, and the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency has home ownership by women as one of the four pillars for retirement. The good news is that over 65% of single women over 65 years of age own their home outright but the bad news is this is their main asset.

Owning your own home means you aren't paying a mortgage or rent but it isn't income. So you need assets that do bring you income, whether that's through investment properties or shares or royalties or any other sort of investment. That's why it's so important for women to learn the skills we need to create our own financial security.

As property can be both about our homes as well as a source of income letting go of your fears by switching the lights of understanding and skills it makes perfect sense to be brave and get learning.

How to Get into Property Investing

So to help with the switching on of the lights, we've got five tips from Katie on getting into property investing:

1. Get clear on your end goal.

Know what you want to achieve and why. For some it may be simply buying one investment property to increase their asset base, while others may want to build a portfolio of properties with the aim of replacing their income. Knowing your why, the reason you started in the first place, will give you more drive to succeed.

2. Know where you are before starting.

Take some time to sit down and go through your current situation. Get clear on your finances, sort out your budget and get to know your risk profile.

3. Be process orientated.

Get to know the processes of buying property. The create checklists and work through the steps so you are making sure all bases are covered.

4. Build a strong team.

Buying property is a team effort. Start building a team of people that are going to help you reach your property goals. These people include an accountant, conveyancer, finance broker and property manager.

5. Don't wait

Don't wait until all your ducks are lined up before you start. You can start today. You can start building your property knowledge, you can start researching suburbs or even start looking at the real estate websites to get a feel for what the market is doing in your chosen area.

There's More Fun Had Being Bold and Brave

And remember - Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for an explanation if you don't understand anything. Don't be afraid to reach out ask and people to share their property story. The more questions you ask the more opportunity you have to learn.

To find out more about Katie and Chicks and Mortar join her online at Facebook and Twitter or head over to to download your FREE eBook on why women make ideal investors.





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