The author of a best-selling book on building wealth through real estate has named some of the best regional hot spots for investing - and Armidale is one of those at the top of the list.
Lloyd Edge went from a heavily mortgaged one-bedroom apartment to a multi-million dollar property portfolio in just 10 years, all on a teacher's wage.
He retired by the age of 40, and after 18 years as a property investor and developer, he has accumulated a property portfolio worth over $12 million that is cash flow positive and founded the Sydney-based buyer's agency Aus Property Professionals.
His first regional investment was building a duplex in Armidale.
"Armidale was the first place I built a development," said Mr Edge.
"My company buys properties in Armidale for clients all the time; in 8 years, we have bought 150 in total, and I also own a couple."
Mr Edge says he places importance on achieving equity gains and maintaining a positive cash flow portfolio. He shares these strategies in his book, Positively Geared, which was published last year. In it, he shows how Armidale was one of the first steps on his wealth creation journey and uses it as an example of a solid and stable market.
"It's all about the growth drivers Armidale has," Mr Edge said.
"The hospital, the university, the airport, and the fact that it's halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. The university and the hospital have been a good driver for rental properties, and although Armidale has always been a fairly stable market, this year it has really taken off in popularity."
Mr Edge's company Aus Property Professionals is known as a buyer's agent - a company that helps clients invest in property.
"A buyer's agent works on behalf of the buyer whereas a real estate agent primarily works on behalf of the vendor," Mr Edge said.
"Our job is to take the brief from our client, and then we go and source the properties and negotiate with the real estate agent on behalf of the client. So you have two professionals dealing with each other that represent both sides of the equation."
Armidale is one of the most popular markets in the Northern Tablelands Mr Edge said, because it is a steady growth market.
"Some years when even a market like Sydney has gone backward in growth, Armidale has increased in value," he said.
"It's also at a cheaper price point, and that appeals to a lot of younger investors starting out. Other towns in the Northern Tablelands are affordable, but Armidale also has quite high rental yields, so you can get cash flow positive geared investment. So it's not costing investors anything to hold properties there."
Since January, Mr Edge's company has purchased 400 properties on behalf of clients, which is a 50 percent increase on last year.
"Some of that business is repeat buyers as well," Mr Edge said.
"One buyer has bought three properties in the last year, and another, who has already bought two properties in Armidale, is now looking in the Hunter area to diversify his portfolio."
Of those 400 properties, 50 were bought in Armidale, already a 65 percent increase on the 30 homes Aus Property Professionals purchased in the town during 2020.
"Armidale has always been pretty popular for what we do," Mr Edge said.
"We found in the first few weeks of the pandemic the phone stopped ringing because nobody knew what was going on and then people got used to it, and now even with all these lockdowns, people are happy to buy sight unseen with a virtual inspection."
Because Aus Property Professionals is a buyer's agent, Mr Edge said his clients don't usually see the property before they purchase it, and now they are happy if his company's agents inspect it virtually.
But the most significant change he has seen over the years, he says, is the current (and growing) popularity of 'rentvesting'. Where people rent the home they live in to enjoy a particular lifestyle and use their savings to buy where they can afford.
"There are more people who are happy to rent their own home in expensive markets and invest in more affordable markets now," Mr Edge said.
"Rather than spending all their money on buying their own home, they go and buy a few investment properties."
While Armidale is his pick of New England (including over its larger neighbour Tamworth), Mr Edge also has other investment areas on his radar.
"Orange, around Goulburn; Merimbula and Mirador on the far south coast of NSW; and Queensland's Sunshine Coast and Brisbane are all very hot right now," Mr Edge said.
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