Victoria Devine gets “frustrated” when people say millennials owning property is an unattainable dream because, in her own words, “it’s not”.
Instead of being impossible, the finance expert told 9Honey Money buying a home is “different” to how it was 30 years ago, which means our approach needs to change.
“The world was a very different place 30 years ago. The average property in Australia cost four to six times someone’s annual salary, and right now in Sydney property is 27 times someone’s a average salary. So it’s not just that properties are harder to come by, the world is a different place,” she explained.
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Devine details the approach she believes can help people break into the housing market with her third book Property with She’s on the Money.
“A lot of what I speak about in my book is not necessarily jumping straight into your dream property, but reframing and teaching you that your dream property is actually the property you can afford that one day is going to be a really beautiful stepping stone into the bigger property that you want,” she said.
That means we need to set aside the stereotypical dream of buying a home and being able to pay it off with a 9 to 5 job by retirement, and see owning property as a “good investment option”.
“We need to look at what property means for our demographic honestly in 2023, because what is different? How is it different? How do we still buy property and be, excited about it because it still is the great Australian dream. But what does that look like in the grand scheme of things?”
The process Devine sets out in her book isn’t just what she’s used with her clients, it’s also what she used herself to buy her first property.
And as she went through the process she learned even more about breaking into the property market and she included those lessons in the book.
“I did it and I didn’t do it perfectly, and that’s why I wrote the book to be like, ‘Here’s all the things that I learned so that you don’t have to do what I did’. I think I was just feeling not prepared during that process.
“I’d obviously guided so many clients through it and, you know, spoken to them about the professionals they need. But what are they questions that the professionals are gonna ask? What are the questions that I need to ask myself to make sure it’s the right property.”
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Those questions include looking into what renovations are needed on the property you buy and what those will cost, because as anyone who has ever renovated their home will tell you, costs tend to go over budget for any number of reasons.
“I’ve just finished my first renovation of our first property, and since last September we bought our second property. But the renovation has gone double over budget and it’s not because our providers did the wrong thing it’s just that’s the world we live in, supplies were getting more expensive…. everything just got a lot harder,” she said.
“I think that being transparent on my process is really important so that people can learn from the mistakes that I made and then hopefully not make them for themselves.”
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But before you even get to the point of thinking about renovations or even looking at listings, Devine encourages us to get really clear on why we want to own property.
This is what the financial advisor calls “analysing our property money story”, which is a process that will help you work out whether you want to own property because it fits with your values or because it’s what society expects of a successful adult.
“I think that being realistic about why you want property [is important] because sometimes we just want it because we think it’s a status symbol, like at the end of the day, buying property is kind of cool, we still celebrate it, right? Whereas what is actual success to you? Do you even wanna own property? Is that something that does align to your values? If it does? Fantastic. Here’s how I can help you do that,” she said.
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“But if it doesn’t, renting for life is an option and it’s a really good one, you can create very, very good, beautiful financial freedom without owning property. It’s just gonna look different for everybody.
“I think we need to be clear about why we’re doing something before we do it because I think a lot of the property dreams in Australia right now are driven just by assumption, like you assume that buying a house is the next best thing.”
Once you’ve decided property is definitely something you want to purchase, the rest of the book has all the steps you need for every part of the process, starting from researching your options, to the first 12 months of owning a home.
There are also handy tips you might not have considered, such as looking at sold listings to get a more realistic idea of what properties are being sold for in the areas you’re considering.
But because getting into the property market is different now, compromise is something Devine asks us to consider.
“Compromise is a really big part of it and I don’t want it to feel like you’re missing out. At the end of the day you can have absolutely everything, you just can’t have it all at once. So I think that idea of, ‘Well, what does compromise look like?’ and, ‘Let’s make our laundry lists of what we’re looking for’ – I think all of that adds up to you getting the best possible outcome.
“But compromise, it happens in every single situation, like it happens in relationships, it happens at work, it happens in property and I think we need to be more open and honest about it, because we don’t all have the ability to build our dream houses from scratch with unlimited budgets.”
Property with She’s on the Money is available in stores and online from October 3.