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Investment inspiration: In 8 years, a young couple builds a $17.3m property portfolio from scratch

June 19, 2018 10:00 am by Upside

Husband-and-wife duo Mina and Scott O’Neill bought their first property – a house with a granny flat in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire for $480,000 – back in 2010. In just eight short years, the couple has built up a portfolio of 28 properties across Australia, including commercial and residential real estate.

Today, their portfolio leaves them with a yearly income of around $700,000 a year (minus costs like council rates and maintenance fees). They’ve used this income to fund an enviable lifestyle, spending at least three months every year travelling.

What’s the secret to their success? Deciding to diversify their portfolio early on and choosing properties with opportunities to add further value.

Two years after buying their first property, the couple bought a unit in Sydney’s Maroubra, where they lived for two years. Not long after, they purchased four units on the one title in Port Macquarie for around $425,000.

They now own a combination of residential and commercial properties across Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, and Perth.

Scott’s advice for buyers is to choose the right type of property.

“We’ve looked at houses where we can subdivide, renovate and add value — we’ve done a lot of renovations” he told

In one instance, they bought one strata title with five units all on the one title. After putting through a council application to be able to sell each unit individually, the value of the properties nearly doubled.

The couple also looks for properties that offer good returns even if they’re in smaller markets.

“There was a difference in how we invested compared with other people I know — if we bought a third property in Sydney, it would still be a good choice but it wouldn’t bring in cash flow, and without cash flow, we couldn’t have retired,” O’Neill said.

We were always focused on cash flow because without it we’d be working indefinitely. It was the only way to generate enough income to get out of the workforce. You can buy a house 35 minutes away from the Brisbane CBD for $325,000. The same in Sydney would be $1.5 million. We chase the value.”

For people thinking of buying a house young, Mina O’Neill believes it’s important to remember that your first home isn’t always your home for life. The couple has only just been able to purchase their “dream family home” – a five-bedroom brick house in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with a swimming pool and views. They’ve been able to afford it by selling two properties and saving on the side.

“Don’t be emotional. A lot of people get emotional when they invest in property, but you have to remember it is not necessarily your family home you are buying,” O’Neill said.

“You can get to your ‘end game house’ through investing — what we’ve done was take a side route to it.”

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