Karen Van Mannen circular

Karen Van Maanen

My name is Karen Van Maanen and I am a Property Mentor at Real Wealth Australia and here is my story so far. 

karen van maanenMy first foray to investing was in March 1999 and it was a 2 bedroom unit in Melbourne’s Forest Hill with zero research and it goes to show the power of capital growth. The initial purchase with $93K and it was then sold in 2005 for $220K, a fantastic 236% growth in just 6 years. 

The next purchase was in Melbourne’s Croydon and then a further seven purchases in regional Victoria.  All of these properties were 2 bedroom units and all were purchased with my ex. 

2007 saw the demise of this relationship and in order to make ends meet I got a second job four shifts a week.  The following year was a carve-up of the assets in which I retained 4 units in regional Victoria and receiving some cash which was enough for a deposit on what was to become my new PPOR and this purchase was made in 2008. 

It was at this point I still wanted to invest in property and thought that I could continue with our plan but as a single, however, after one further purchase in 2009, I was stuck.  I had met Helen and Ed years earlier and at the start of 2010, they began advertising that the intake for that year’s Property Mentoring course was open. 

I had looked at doing the Real Wealth Australia mentoring course when I had been with my ex and finally decided to bite the bullet and enroll and I remember my first day at what they called Boot Camp.  In a room of probably 100 people, I was there alone and one could say I was pretty nervous but having spent so much money (which I never told my family the true cost it out of the fear of them thinking I was totally crazy) I was determined to succeed.  One of the parting comments that my ex had given me was that I would be nothing without him. 

The end of 2010 saw me with a contract on a one bedroom property in the regional city of Horsham but this was a difficult purchase as the broker who was working on my deal went on holidays and did not pass my deal onto anyone else to handle but more importantly the town got flooded in the summer downpour.  Even though the water was nowhere near my property getting finance approved and then insurance was a nightmare but we got there in the end. 

In 2012 I decided that it was time to invest again while still working the two jobs,  was the time to do this as the banks looked more favorably on me.  In my search for a suitable property I located not one but two, however, one was up for auction.  I decided to place one under offer subject to finance and then bid on the other at auction.  I won the bid on this and my broker was able to get both purchases over the line. 

One of these properties became my first development site and in the search for a builder everyone listened to my brief, I wanted to add one dwelling behind the old house.  In asking for referrals my real estate agent referred me to a local builder and after initial phone contact met him on site.  For a moment he gave me heart failure when he said he couldn’t build one dwelling behind the old house and my mind went to what the hell had I missed, he then smiled at me and said he could build two.  It was that conversation that opened my eyes to what was possible.  Fast forward a mere 14 months and I had two new dwellings behind the old home complete with tenants.  Happy days. 

One of my dearest friends watched this development progress and decided basically to copy what I had done and asked if I would hold her hand so 2013/2014 was taken up with the purchase of a suitable property, design, DA approval, finance and building, and landscaping. 

The start of 2014 also had me on the hunt for the next development site as the bug had certainly bitten for this strategy and in the same street as my friend’s development, a block came onto the market and the builder alerted me to this. 

Within half an hour the agent had two enquires on it but I burst his bubble when I said the first call was from my builder as he was hoping for competition. That Saturday after a quick walk through the house I made an offer and by the Monday the deal was finalized. 

Over the next 6 months, my previous development was refinanced to draw out the equity built in that project, the property settled and plans were drawn up. I then put this project on hold as my mother became increasingly ill but towards the end of 2014, she again urged me to progress with the project. 

February 2015 saw me start work for Real Wealth Australia and a new career as such as well as working on the development.  Sadly 6 weeks after starting work, my mother passed away and never go to see this project start or the satisfaction I had in my new job.  

The end of 2015 saw two units completed behind the old home and it was planned to the demolish the old home in 2018 and replace this but due to a number of costly issues with plumbing and asbestos removal my father urged me to do this sooner rather than 2018. So just as I had two new units in the backyard we knocked down the old house and the new unit was then completed in April 2016. This then saw me with a property portfolio of 14, however, I then decided that same year to sell one to reduce debt and increase my buffer monies. 

In the meantime with my father taking an increasing interest in my property portfolio decided he too was going to purchase an investment property and I remember that conversation well. Stop you will buy nothing until I have done the Due Diligence and run the numbers I said.  On the initial property, he was looking at the numbers did not stack up but on a new build they did so we spent the remainder of 2016 and start of 2017 building a three bedroom house that could also double as a home for him in his later years.  

Mid 2017 saw another change in my life and this was meeting a new partner, something that I had almost given up on.  He was in the early stages of renovating his home after an attack by termites and with the bulk of the work he had done being structural here was a blank canvas to work with. 

By Christmas 2017 and after some Due Diligence on the current market conditions and what buyers are looking for in the area we had decided that what was initially planned would not give us the greatest bang for our bucks and decided to up-spec the fittings and rejig the layout of the master bedroom/ensuite/walk in robe. Basically, the only room without major changes being made is the laundry, yikes! 

So here we are in 2018 and we are still working on this major renovation and most weekends you will find me either in the garden, on the end of a paintbrush or maybe just giving my partner a helping hand in paint-stained jeans, no make-up and loving life 😊 

Click Here to Read more of Karen’s Story

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