Justine Franklin-Browne is a trainee train driver based in Karratha, WA. A former hairdresser, Justine has reinvented herself following an emotional separation from her partner, along with the loss of half a million dollars to ensure a smooth exit from the relationship.
Fast-forward to today, and Justine is the proud owner of her own home as well as an investment property in Doreen, Vic. “I didn’t ever think I’d get my life or finances back on track, but I have. I’ve got a roof over my head and am working to make up for the money that I lost from the separation. I’m very proud of my achievements so far.”
Here is Justine’s story, in her words…
“When we were together, my ex-partner and I owned several investment properties. However, I was trapped in an abusive relationship. To escape it, I decided that I was prepared to lose a lot of money, despite knowing that I might never get back to the same financial position. I didn’t want to put myself through a soul destroying court battle, and so I was prepared to just walk away.
I had always been interested in investment property, but never thought that I would have the confidence to do it by myself. One day I was chatting to one of my colleagues at work about accountants, and he told me that he was working with a good accountant in Sydney, linked to an investment property company called McCarthy Group.
He was highly complimentary about them, and eventually I made contact with Mark Harry, a senior associate with McCarthy Group and a really lovely person. It was the starting point of my investment journey. Why did I go ahead and invest? Well, I had three or four meetings with McCarthy Group people, including a conference call to Sydney where Mark used a remote PowerPoint presentation. It was really interesting, and having worked out all the numbers, I realised that I could do this. It was achievable.
What really convinced me to go ahead was that McCarthy Group said they would take care of everything. They would do it all. That was music to my ears, because quite frankly I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t know anything about builders or building, and I was more than happy to pay their service fee to take care of all the drama. I found it was worth every cent.
The other thing that really sold me was that McCarthy Group conduct very thorough research and they know exactly where to recommend investments. I knew that I didn’t have the time or knowledge to do this, and so at the end of the day, I simply trusted my own instincts, placed all my faith in them, and went ahead. The process was quite daunting, because I had never done anything like this before. There was quite a bit of paperwork, but it all went smoothly, all the way through the financing process and the construction. If there were any problems, I didn’t know about them.
When the home was completed in Doreen, Victoria, it was just before Christmas 2010. Everyone told me that it would be quite hard to get a tenant just then, but with the help of Judi Whiteley at Koala Blue (McCarthy Group’s Property Management company), we soon found tenants, and everything was fine. Judi was fantastic, actually, and even offered to store some of the tenant’s things to make the whole thing possible given it was just before Christmas. She even sent me a 40th birthday card last month. Judi is a really lovely lady. She went through the house carefully, and checked all the little things, and made it sure it was ready for the tenants.
In fact all McCarthy Group’s people have been great. I mentioned Mark, Rod Ross (the accountant) was very pleasant, so was Cam Johnstone, who handled all the finance. Being another Kiwi, it was great to work with Cam. I know that Stephen McCarthy is also a Kiwi, so that’s reassuring in its own right, as it’s easy to work together. Michelle Melville (Client Services Director) was also fantastic. All in all, they are a great team.
Aside from being so friendly, they have been easy to talk to and work with. They would patiently explain anything I didn’t understand, and no one made me feel awkward or foolish because this was my first time. They explained it all in a way that was really easy to understand. Looking back, becoming a ‘landlord’ was never a goal that I thought I could achieve. In fact I never thought that I would one day get to build a brand new home, which I now have done. It feels fantastic! I know that I’ll have no problems with it, and none of the faults that you can have when you buy an older home.
When Michelle told me that it was finished, and ready to be rented out, I was out to dinner with friends. I remember sitting back, letting it all sink in. As I quietly sipped my glass of wine, I said to myself, “Oh, that’s actually quite an achievement. I think I’ll just give myself a little toast to celebrate.”
As for the future, I plan to get my next investment property underway as soon as my equity position allows. I’m not sure how many I want to own – I’m really just looking for a comfortable retirement – but I am definitely going to get more as soon as I can. I have been open about my story and experience because I hope that it will inspire another woman to go down the same road. You don’t have to know anything to implement this investment strategy, and with McCarthy Group, you can feel confident that you are in safe hands.
Right now I feel really positive about my future. It shows that it’s never too late to start over again, and never too late to invest in property.”