Brutal advice from man with 20 homes

 

Eddie Dilleen attracts a lot of "haters".

The 28-year-old owns 20 properties spread around the country, six bought in the last year, and all up his empire is worth about $5.5 million-$6 million.

It's a trove of properties stockpiled while working some of the country's lowest paying jobs.

He bought his first home while working at McDonald's and subsequent properties were purchased on an income of $60,000-$70,000 a year.

It's not surprising then that the Mt Druitt native's approach to real estate has stirred controversy, especially on social media, but he also gets asked for market tips from first-home buyers hungry to replicate his success.

His advice may come as a surprise.

"People think it isn't possible (buying 20 properties) but it is. You have to stop saving a big deposit, and stop looking in your local area," he said.

With his portfolio now at 20 properties, Eddie Dilleen recently bought his dream car.
With his portfolio now at 20 properties, Eddie Dilleen recently bought his dream car.

Most inexperienced property buyers were unable to capitalise on opportunities in the housing market because they only considered properties they wanted to occupy and only looked close to where they lived, according to Mr Dilleen.

They also clung to traditional methods of getting into the market, he said.

"You're better off using a small deposit and paying lots of mortgage insurance so that you can get into the market quickly. It's better than saving five years for a huge deposit because the growth in value will be faster than your ability to save.

"Buying property should be about making money, not trying to save it."

Mr Dilleen said that expensive housing costs in Melbourne and Sydney meant first-home buyers should consider investing in other locations and continue renting, rather than aiming to buy their dream home.

His properties are spread across NSW, Queensland and South Australia.
His properties are spread across NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

"I see Brisbane as the best place to pick up bargains. It's been held back since the global financial crisis so there are more opportunities for property to grow than in Sydney and Melbourne, which I think are plateauing.

"You can rent much better properties than you can buy. A Bondi rental could cost $700 a week, but will cost thousands a month to buy. If you rent, you can buy somewhere else and still get growth."

Mr Dilleen said buying properties that rapidly grow in value was the key to building a large portfolio of properties.

Growth in each property gave him equity he could draw to fund the purchasing costs for a new property, without having to save a deposit each time.

He only purchased properties where the rents covered most, if not all, his mortgage costs. This allowed banks to continue issuing him loans - even on a low income.

Mr Dilleen got married last year at a ceremony in Italy.
Mr Dilleen got married last year at a ceremony in Italy.

It meant he required minimal income to sustain his portfolio and could use money from tenants to pay down his debt.

His total debts are about $2.5 million, he said.

"I've been stuck many times trying to get financing," Mr Dilleen said. "It was a struggle to get loans when I was on 10 properties earning $60,000-$70,000, and then when I had 12 … if you do a lot of research you can find (the loan).

"What I've learned is you can approach different lenders at different stages. Big banks are useful in the beginning but you can go to second-tier lenders later on."

He added that most buyers entering the market were unaware of their loan options and often thought they needed more money to purchase property than they really did.

"Some people think I only did this with an inheritance, but you have to work for it. I grew up poor. We lived in housing commission. My parents never had money. I invested in property because I wanted to get out of that life.

"The important thing is to do a lot of research. It sounds simple but there are a lot of people giving out the wrong information and it takes work."

His first property was a home in Central Coast suburb Tuggerawong, that he purchased for $138,500 in 2010. The initial rent was $220 per week, netting him a rental return of about 8.3 per cent - enough to cover his mortgage costs.

Still a teenager, he purchased the two-bedroom unit with a $20,000 deposit he saved from working at KFC and then at McDonald's. He was earning about $500 a week at the time.

The home has since tripled in value, he said.

Most of his subsequent purchases were units in southeast Queensland, snapped up for $100,000-$200,000.

Mr Dilleen also has properties in Adelaide and more expensive properties in NSW.

He funded the purchases often while working multiple jobs, including in the admin department of an automotive paint shop in Penrith and later in an IT admin role in the Sydney CBD.

His income from these jobs was supplemented with earnings from bartending work in Western Sydney.

He favours cash flow positive properties in southeast Queensland. Picture: Steve Pohlner
He favours cash flow positive properties in southeast Queensland. Picture: Steve Pohlner

"My maximum income across two jobs was $95,000," Mr Dilleen said, adding he usually only had two jobs while trying to get loans.

Last year was a busy year for him - he purchased six properties, including duplexes in the Ipswich region of Queensland, a townhouse in southern Brisbane and a house in Parramatta - now his principal place of residence.

Some of the properties he bought last year were funded with his super. "I'm probably one of the youngest people to buy property with a self-managed super fund," he said.

Mr Dilleen also got married at a ceremony in Italy and has started a business as a buyer's agent.

He suggested new investors stick to three principles. "Take all the emotion out of it. Always buy existing properties that are undervalued, not new homes. And always focus on getting high rental returns."

Originally published as Brutal advice from man with 20 homes