Timothy and Pamela Thoo - McCarthy Group Timothy and Pamela Thoo - McCarthy Group

Timothy and Pamela Thoo

Timothy Thoo and his wife Pamela first fell in love with Australia and each other as teenagers, when they came from Malaysia to Adelaide to study at university. They eventually fulfilled their dream to return, migrating to Australia permanently in 1995. Unfortunately their first property investment turned out badly when they bought a Queensland house through a less-than ethical marketeer overseas. They found out later they had paid a lot more than the property was really worth. Despite losing a lot of money, they eventually regained the confidence to try again. With determination and hard work, their growing property portfolio now includes the family home plus three investment properties.

Investment timeline

1992 – Bought Queensland house via an exhibition in Singapore
1995 – Migrated to Sydney, Australia; bought land, built family home
1998 – Sold Queensland house
1999 – Bought Sydney apartment from developer
2002 – Sold Sydney apartment
2003 – Bought Gold Coast apartment with McCarthy Group
2004 – Bought Perth house with McCarthy Group
2005 – Bought Cairns house with McCarthy Group

What first attracted you to property investment?

“My wife Pamela and I had always felt property was a good way to invest and create wealth. Although my parents were not well off, I had seen my uncle start investing in property at a young age and he eventually built a large portfolio. Watching him gave me the confidence it could be done.”

What made you decide to invest the first time?

“We wanted to start young so we could be self funded by the time we retire. Basically, we were living and working in Singapore for a couple of years before migrating to Australia. We saw some Queensland houses for sale at an exhibition and were very interested. We were hesitant about buying from overseas, but we were shown a bank valuation which was the same as the purchase price. This convinced us to buy one of them.”

Were you nervous starting out?

“Yes! We always knew it was important to do proper research, but with the first house we put our faith in the information they showed us. And trusted them. That turned out to be a big mistake. Then when we came to Australia and bought land to build our own home, we were very nervous about the size of the loan. It felt like a lot of money to owe the bank and we were worried about paying off the loan.”

What challenges did you face along the way?

“We were badly misled by the people who sold us the first house. When we got to Australia we realised the bank valuation had been almost 50% more than the apartment was really worth. Even when we decided to sell it 5 years after we bought it, we still lost around $60K. It was a costly mistake and really taught us that doing your own research is really important. It was not a good start.

After a few years, we decided to try again on our own. We did a lot of our own research and eventually bought another apartment from a developer. It did reasonably well and in three years we had made back the money we had lost on the first one, so we decided to sell it. We didn’t really know how to build a portfolio and realise now this was not a great decision, but we just wanted to recover our loss. I guess the biggest thing we learned after all this is that my wife and I are very good at IT but we are not property investment experts. Now we have found McCarthy Group, we trust them to know what we don’t.”

How did it work out?

“When we eventually came across McCarthy Group things became a lot easier. At first we were very sceptical after our previous experience, but we could see the information they showed us was not information they had cooked up themselves. It was solid data from places like the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I did a lot of my own research too and it all added up.

In the past five years we have bought three properties through McCarthy Group and we are looking at another one this year. All three have had solid growth; one in particular has done exceptionally well. We now know we were better off finding trustworthy experts to do what we are not so good at, and the gains have far outweighed the cost. The fear we felt at the beginning is gone – we now feel very comfortable and have no apprehension about the process. And the best part is we are not worried at all about our financial future.”

What are your goals for the future?

“We plan to have eight or nine properties by the time we retire. We will not need to rely on any type of government pension and should be able to help out our kids too if they need it. Although they are learning about investment as we learn too, so I doubt they will need our help!”