Chris Gray is one of the most inspirational guys you will ever meet, at the age of 31 he partially retired on a property portfolio that he acquired through sheer hard work and dedication in his twenties. Since then Chris has gone on to amass a property portfolio worth over $10 million dollars which consists of over 13 investment properties. Chris is now the host of ‘Your Property Empire’, on Sky News Business Channel and the Financial Judge on Channel Ten’s ‘The Renovators’. For investors he operates a very successful Buyers Agency – www.yourempire.com.au.
Jason Penna was recently able to ask Chris to share his story with us and provide some insights into what it takes to become a property millionaire. A very inspiring interview that shows you with a little commitment and a bit of acquired knowledge you can partially retire in under 10 years (Chris did it starting at 22 and partially retiring at age 31)
1) Chris, you are the Author of three very successful property investment books, can you tell us where you got your start and what drives your passion for property investment.
“I enjoy property so much that I don’t think of it as work” – Chris Gray
I started investing at the age of 22. My mum had given me a midnight curfew and I thought I was old enough to come back in when I felt like it and so that’s when I knew it was time to move out. After crunching the numbers I worked out a 3 bedroom house was cheaper than a 1 bedroom unit as I could rent 2 rooms out to friends and their rent would pay my mortgage.
I bought a property GBP100k property for GBP80k = 20% under value which equated to 2 years salary. I then worked out how to use the equity to get a free Porsche. So a free house and a free car without lifting much of a finger gave me the passion for property and it was then that I realized there was more to life than a typical 9 to 5 job. (read my Go For Your Life book for the exact details of how this works)
Since then I’ve strived for freedom and choice in my life and so I worked twice as hard in my twenties so I could have more fun in my thirties and onwards. I was fortunate enough to give up full time work at 31 and now 42, spend a lot of my time following my passions: talking property, travelling the world, driving fast cars and hanging with friends on boats on the harbor.
The ultimate goal for me was to get to a stage where I couldn’t tell the difference between work and play. I enjoy property so much that I don’t think of it was work and I enjoy teaching other people how to do it too. (Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life ― Confucius)
2) Going into 2015, what do you see as the biggest challenges for property investors and how do you think they can be overcome?
“I see 2015 as another year of opportunity rather than a challenge” – Chris Gray
The biggest challenge in any year for most investors or non-investors is taking action. Over the last 20 years, every year has had it’s advantages and disadvantages and the ones that have made money and success have been the action takers.
You’ve never going to get all of these five factors at the same time
- Low interest rates
- High rents
- High capital growth
- Easy bank lending
- Easy to source good properties
It looks as if the economy is going through tough times for some people at the moment but we’ve still got low interest rates and an outlook for property growth, so I see 2015 as another year of opportunity rather than a challenge. However there are lots of different property markets in Australia based on geography and price and they are not all going to do well, so education and knowledge is the key
I bought half of my portfolio in the GFC when everyone was negative and complaining. Sure it was emotionally hard to do but I had the best choice of properties and at reasonable prices. Despite what many people think, those properties continued to trickle upwards in value
I’m a firm believer of working out the numbers to analyse the best and worst case scenarios and then taking action. If it does go wrong it’s not often as bad as you thought and if there is a will, there’s always a way forward.
3) Talk about being busy, you host a very successful TV series – Your Property Empire, you are an Author, Public Speaker and Buyer’s Agent how do you manage all these and still have time to manage your own investment portfolio?
“I believe it’s the decision maker that makes all the money ” – Chris Gray
I’m actually very time rich and have so much time, I spend lots of it thinking up new adventures or hobby’s to take up. I’ve just bought a uni-cycle so am learning to ride that in my spare time which will no doubt take me forever.
In 2013 I went overseas once a month and so in 2014 I tried to beat it by going overseas twice a month. I leave on a Saturday and fly back on Friday morning in time for Sky News in the evening. For the last 6 years I’ve taken every Friday off and slept in the afternoon so I’m fresh and alert for the live TV show.
I learnt to delegate and outsource at a very early age. I believe it’s the decision maker that makes all the money and all the ‘doing’ is better done by specialists that do those task all day, every day. So I hire the best accountants, mortgage brokers, buyers agents, renovators, valuers, building inspectors etc that I can. If you hire ‘cheap’ people you have to oversee and manage them. If you pay someone twice the amount per hour you often get the best and they can do it in half the time making it a great investment.
My current portfolio of 13 properties is worth well over $10m and it only takes me 1-2 hours a month at most to oversee it. Last year that grew in value by around $1.5m-2m. You’ll never get that from a salary and that pays for a lot of outsourcing.
Whilst I do run a business, all of my wealth comes from property investing and capital growth, the business is just for fun and for cash flow. That’s why it makes it easier for me to have a mindset of delegating and outsourcing if I think someone else can do a better job than me.
4) Can you explain what the 7 P’s of Property Investment are and how they can help investors build their wealth.
“What the bank valuers see as high value and low risk , I need to buy.” – Chris Gray
Yes this relates to a TV interview I did with a respected valuer who talked about what are the 7 P’s you need to get a premium price for your property. Whether you’re selling or refinancing, it doesn’t really matter, if you buy quality property, chances are you’ll make money in the long term
7 P’s of Property
7) = Premium Price
Readers can watch the interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oMCUTJKcxE. It was done a number of years ago but this kind of advice is timeless.
I get a lot of my knowledge from going direct to the experts and the ‘Your property Empire’ Sky News show has given me that opportunity. I’ve interviewed some of the best experts in the country and it’s often what’s said off camera that gives me the real learning. It’s priceless.
My ability to make money is dependent on the banks refinancing my properties for higher amounts and by me withdrawing the equity and repeating. So what I think of the property is almost irrelevant – what the bank valuers see as high value and low risk , I need to buy.
5) If you were to give a prospective property investor one piece of advice what would it be?
“Just do it.” – Chris Gray
If you never buy, you’ll never make a profit.
Sure you need to do some research and minimize your chances of making a mistake but you’re never going to know everything – even the experts don’t profess to know everything or to have never made a mistake.
As long as you’re not forced to sell, time heals most issues and so whatever you would have bought 10 years ago should have gone up.
Procrastination and analysis paralysis and the biggest demons to most people taking action
6) Can you tell us a little about your services you offer to investors and how you can help the everyday investor achieve their dream of a property empire.
“We only buy a property for a client, if I would buy it for myself.” – Chris Gray
When I gave up full time work at 31 many friends and colleagues asked how I did it so I started to teach people what I had done. Many of those people struggled to implement a similar plan as they either didn’t have the time, knowledge, expertise or contacts to put it into practice. They then asked me to do it for them and buy whatever I would buy for myself, for them.
So I created a buyers agency and renovation company where I search, negotiate, renovate and tenant properties on behalf of my clients. And the golden rule is that we only buy a property for a client, if I would buy it for myself.
We concentrate on the blue chip suburbs where the growth and rental are more stable due to the lack of supply of property and the increasing demand. We often buy similar units in the same blocks, taking over the strata and upgrading the whole building as well as the internals. This is something that individual investors aren’t able to do by themselves.
Due to the volume we buy we often get them as silent sales before they come on the market or in the first few days of a campaign. Our clients are guaranteed of buying at a great price as we always buy based on independent bank valuations rather than paying emotional prices at auction where it might cost $50k – $100k more. So our services pay for themselves.
7) As well as your TV Series where else can our readers follow you and receive updates from you?
The best thing to do is to subscribe to my newsletter at www.yourempire.com.au as not only will you gets my latest tips and ideas, you’ll also get to see when I’m doing seminars around the country. Often I speak at private closed events where the public can’t come and so this will give you the other opportunities.
I’ve also got hundreds of tips on videos on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/goforyourlifechris
You can always catch me on;
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/yourempire,
Twitter – https://twitter.com/chrisgrayempire
Linkedin – au.linkedin.com/in/investmentpropertyexpert
DISCLAIMER: Information here is for general use only and should not be relied upon. One should see an accountant/financial advisor for their own personal circumstances which will be unique to their circumstances, please refer to our full legal disclaimer for more details.