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Updated 23/09/2019

Meet Clare Monkley a successful property investor with her own mortgage broker business called 'Love Finance', who spends her time maintaining the properties currently in her portfolio and assisting owner-occupiers and investors to purchase property and build up a deposit home strategy. Having grown up on a farm without running water in a little town called Morpeth as one of eleven children, Clare Monkley never imagined she, a country girl, would go onto attain such a high level of professional success.

First starting off her career in a field entirely different from property investment as a hairdresser for several years after leaving school as well as various other jobs, she eventually found herself working for a mortgage broker. This was her entry into the world of property and kickstarted her career in property investment.

In this episode of Property Investory, learn about her long-term strategy when it comes to investing in property, the importance of looking a little deeper into contracts and how she bounced back from one of her worst investing moments when a joint venture proved unsuccessful. We will also delve into why Clare Monkley believes education is the key to success and the various properties she has bought over the course of her journey. So what are you waiting for? Click the play button and let's get started!

"I'm more educated and there's more strategic planning that you can put around with where you purchase now. That's the difference. It's the education."
-Clare Monkley

Clare Monkley has a company called Love Finance through which she assists owner-occupiers and investors to purchase property, whether it be buying their first property or finding out what their goals are along their property journey.

I sort of usually help my clients purchase their first property and then we set up strategies to help them get through to their next step for their investment properties or whatever their goals might be along their journey, sometimes even riding to their retirement because I like to sort of plan within maybe one year, five years, ten years, and help them set those goals so that they can get to where they want to be.

As part of her job on any given day, Clare Monkley does a lot of research around aspects integral to buying a property and meets with clients.

I do a lot of research obviously around what rates are, what's happening with interest rates, what's happening with bank policy. I also every day I do some education around investment properties because that is something else as I said that I do with my clients and I like to just be always learning so that I'm at the best that I can be, that I can share with my clients. So that's pretty much what my day is. And then I'm meeting with my clients, working at their strategies and then putting those strategies together and then getting them into a parcel to go off to the lender.

Education for Clare Monkley is very important as only through education can she properly advise her clients on how to invest in property and help them secure a better retirement.

People are just so busy nowadays as you are aware and so they are very, very time-poor. And I think it's part of my role to make sure that I can help them just learn what another sort of strategies are out there for them to help them to have a better retirement. I mean, at the moment, the statistics are quite high on the amount of people that are retiring on $21,000 a year. And that's a little bit scary for me and for a lot of other people. So I really do believe that education is the key to anything that we do around investing. And I actually assist my clients with that education and they can then make an informed decision about where they want to purchase a property. It's not necessarily the best property to buy next door because you liked the house because it could be where you live, it could be at the top of the market, when it's peaked out. And so it might be a little while before you get some capital growth. So, it's sort of giving them a little bit more of an open channel that can open their eyes to what else is possible in other areas in Australia.

Growing up in a little town, Clare Monkley was one of eleven children in her family and lived on a farm where they grew their own vegetables and farmed their own cattle.

I actually grew up in a little town called Morpeth and that's the oldest inland port in New South Wales, believe it or not, and it's quite a little touristy town now. And I'm one of 11 children. We lived on a farm and mum and dad obviously never had a TV as the joke goes. But yeah, eight brothers and I have two sisters. Most of us are probably self-employed. Dad. Dad was self-employed...well, I don't remember him ever not being self-employed to be honest. And I watched them work very, very hard, you know, their whole life as you do, as you could imagine trying to feed and education eleven children. We had quite a good life on the farm. We used to grow our own vegetables, have our own beef, so we sort of were pretty self-sustainable there.

Because her parents had to manage such a large family, they had a lot of systems in place to ensure everyday tasks got done.

Went to the Catholic schools there in Maitland. And that's pretty much where I grew up. That's where I learned, I suppose from my dad and my mom about making sure that you do have...obviously growing up in a family of 11 children, you had to have systems in place to be doing things, whether it was getting dressed on time, making sure the breakfast is ready, the big pot of porridge is ready in the morning for everyone to come out when there's one bathroom, brush their teeth, wash their face, whatever had to be done. And so we did have a plan, mum was quite regimented, how we had our sandwiches and all that done.

So I think I learned obviously a lot of those skills from mum and dad. My father, although there wasn't a lot of money around for us, one thing I was very aware of is that my father bought two other properties and that's where I know that helped them whenever they decided to sell that property at any one time—it was for a particular reason—and that helped him, mum and dad, to probably have a little bit more quality of life in their retirement than perhaps I would have had had they not have done that. So that's when I began thinking about what would it be like to have a number of properties that actually brought me in an income. Mum and dad had land and they had beef cattle on it. So it did bring them more income, but just in a different way.

She then goes on to give us a little background knowledge about the age gap between herself and her other ten siblings.

I hope my mother never hears this. But my two oldest brothers are actually the same age for 20 days. So that's how close they were. So get that. So my second oldest brother was born on the 3rd of August and my oldest brother was born on the 23rd of August, the previous year, so that's a little bit of a joke because they are the same age for those 20 days. And then there's pretty much only about a year between us and then the last two children, so the 10th child, the 11th child, there's five years. That's a bit of an accident. But yeah, we're all pretty close. We're very, very close.

Living on a farm was not easy and was often without many of the modern conveniences we take for granted today. Furthermore, money was not plentiful, especially since her parents went through the 1955 flood in the Maitland area.

We did live on a farm. We didn't have running water, we didn't have an inside toilet, like a lot of people did back then. So our toilet was way up the back, the back shed, and it was digging holes to empty the pan toilet and cutting the clothes downstairs to the copper, I can only just vaguely remember that. But my mom and dad, I wasn't alive at the time, but my mom and dad lost absolutely everything in the 55 floods. Maitland area was very renowned for floods, but the 55 flood was the biggest flood that they've ever had. And a lot of people did lose everything, it was quite horrendous. And my dad had just bought his first truck and he went in to get out...there were a couple of women that were pregnant in what we call Fannies Park, which is the little area we lived in a Maitland and the water came up so fast that dad actually, the truck got covered in water, they had to get picked up in a boat. So Dad lost his truck, which was pretty sad. Yeah, so it was a challenging time. Mom said, you know, a lot of times people couldn't pay them enough money. So that we'd get paid in, you know, pumpkins or potatoes or bread, different ways of, well, the old days of bartering, wasn't it?

Clare Monkley recounts some childhood memories for us growing up on the farm and even though times were hard at some points.

Mom and dad didn't have a car, so we didn't really go anywhere. I can remember my Nana coming picking us up a couple of times to go different places. We walked to school, we walked a fair way to school and when we were quite young that when you're five walking to school, that was pretty huge. I can remember my mother trying to teach me to ride a pushbike and we had a magpie that used to live in the tree in the loosened paddock across from our house. And mom used to take us up onto this little hill and let us go. So we had to either,, you know, pedal or fall off. And this magpie used to chase us, oh man, kick at our heads. I can. Yeah. So I remember that. It was just funny times and hard times, you know? But yeah, it was good. We had lots of fun. You know, but there was tough times. Definitely there was tough times, but it was some fun times as well.

On the farm, Clare Monkley milked the cows and made her own ice-cream, which is a far cry from today's modernised life where everything we get is from the supermarket.

Like to go and milk the cow to get your own milk and to make your own butter. And we used to make our own ice cream, so we did all of that. Our Saturday morning when we were older was devoted to cooking all those things, all the cakes for our school lunches. We did that every Saturday morning. That was the girl's role and mom's role and, and I'm talking slab cakes, homemade sponges and chocolate cakes and apple pies and grandma pies. And mum used to make our own pickles, preserve our own vegetables, that's what it was like as well as you know, mum rearing us. Do you know what I did not even know my mother could knit until I was about 35? And I went to her home one day and she was knitting. I said, what are you doing? She said I'm knitting your father a scarf. And I went, I didn't know you could knit. And she went, well, when have I ever had time to knit? I thought fair enough mum, that's fair enough. I did not know. I didn't know she could play the piano. She learned the piano when she went to school and I didn't know that she could play the piano.

In Clare Monkley's family, as the older kids grew up, they started to look after their younger siblings and she recounts these happy moments.

As more came along, obviously we did sort of take up that role because we had to. I can remember pushing one of my little brothers along in the pram, just taking them for a long walk and we could, we were on a farm road, we would just go and be gone for a couple of hours. Mum, you knew she didn't have to worry about us because to be perfectly honest, nobody ever came down the road where we were. So we could just put whoever in their stroller or the pram and off we go and Mum knew we would be perfectly fine. Dad was pretty strict so we never got up to too much mischief, I can tell you, that I know about. I am hearing stories now of me, even my younger brothers, some of the stuff that they got up to, oh my God, my blood runs cold. I mean, if dad ever found out you did that, he would have murdered you.

One of Clare Monkley's fondest memories was when she would go to one of her cousin's farms.

One thing we used to do is where we lived, as I said, Phoenix Park was a little farming area. And so dad and mom had a farm there and we had cousins that had farms, up and around. And one of our cousins used to grow turnips, so turnip patches, and we used to go over there and I don't know if you like raw turnips but that was one of the things we did like and we used to go over and sit in the turnip patch, and anybody that likes turnips and eats too many of them knows how badly you get a pain in your stomach from doing that. But that was so sweet and delicious. Straight off the farm that you just, that's what we'd do. Just sit there and eat these turnips. I can remember. That's fine as anything.

Providing a perspective on how the lives of different generations change and evolve over time, Clare Monkley recounts something her mother told her the other day,

My mum was telling me the other day,and we forget we have people in our world that to do this, but mum was talking about how her—because mom's the youngest of seven children—oldest brother used to take them to the dances in the Holston Sulky and to hear them talk about going to the dances and you know, taking people around in Holston Sulky and I'm like, oh mom, I forgotten that that's the generation that you grew up in. And it's just fascinating to talk to people that, I don't know, have got a whole different outlook on life as a younger person when they were a younger person to what we do. And as you were saying about your children and even my children and my grandchildren, what their outlook is on life and what it will be when they get older. Do you know what I mean? It's just to think that there was somebody around who was shoeing horses that I know that is my mother and that's what she'd helped do is just fascinating to me. Because I never saw that as a child obviously. And perhaps you haven't either, but that was her world.

Clare Monkley went to high school and during Year 10, was offered two jobs, which then led to various other jobs.

So I left school and went to go into hairdressing. So I did that for a number of years and then I ended up moving to Queensland. One of my brothers moved to there, so I did different types of things up there, bar work, restaurant work, just for a bit of a change. Then I came back, got married and then obviously had children and just didn't work for a while or, sorry, let me rephrase that. My husband and I had our own business so I worked from home and helped him run that business. And then, unfortunately, when we separated I obviously didn't have a job anymore. So then I worked, went and worked for a mortgage broker and that's how I have come into the field that I am in now, and have been myself personally, in my business for the last 22 years.

After working for a mortgage broker, she began to do the structuring for clients to assist them in building their wealth and realised she loved doing it, which led to borrowing money to help herself as well.

When my husband and I separated, as I said, I worked for his company or our companies. So then I found myself out of work and I was fortunate enough to go and work for this mortgage broker, and I was watching him actually assist his clients to build their wealth through property. And I actually was the one eventually that was doing the structuring for them and I loved it. I just absolutely loved what borrowing money could do to help you leapfrog yourself into a better position. Now for me, being a single mother, two young children, my income didn't support and ask for me to be paying my small mortgage. I had to get a mortgage on a house. And so I knew being in the mortgage broking world that I had to work for two years in a casual job before a bank would even take 50% of that income into consideration for servicing.

And I know you understand that servicing the debt and making sure I can repay back the loan that I have. So I actually went and got a second job working in the vineyards and I can remember for two years, I took two days off a month. I worked five days a week in mortgage broking and I worked Saturdays and Sundays, all days in the winery until I could get that income recognized that a bank would take it for servicing for me to buy my first investment property. Now I looked around, I couldn't afford much, but I found this house on the market. So it's in Thornton, again in Hunter Valley, and it's between Newcastle and Maitland. So let's say, it's right in the middle. And it was $119,000. And I took my boss to have a look at it and he's like, oh God Clare, but I said it's the worst house in the best street.

To this day, Clare Monkley still has that property and she also did a couple more projects, such as buying a block of land, subdividing it into two and building two properties on it.

I've been told that's what you buy, that's what I've read about. So I bought that house and I still have that has today and it's gone up in value. I've done not a thing to it. It's not been rented. And I think that's probably worth about $410,000 today. And then from that property, then I bought my first one in Newcastle and I, even though I lived in Maitland, didn't come to Newcastle very much, but my second one bought an apartment here and I think that I paid a $123,000 for that. And now that was valued just recently at $520,000. So they're just a couple. I mean I've got more, I've done the buy block of land, subdivide it off, build two, I've done buy the corner block, put the granny flat on.

So I've got one of those. So I've done sort of different types of things; renovation is not my thing. But I know lots of friends that do that and make quite good money on it when it's a good market. So that's how I got into that, my first property. I had to work really, really hard to buy that first one and that one was the one that leapfrogged me into the rest of the ones that I've purchased from there on in.

This first property Clare Monkley purchased 16 years ago and since then, out of all her properties, she has only sold one, which showcases her long-term strategy. She then goes on to tell us a little bit more about the property which she eventually sold.

It probably is always on long-term strategy, I believe. That's what has worked for me. I mean I know other people buy them and flip, but I'm not handy like that as I said. So my deposit home strategy is a long-term hold and I know I just take the equity out of one and then I go on and buy another one. And that sort of has allowed me to hold the portfolio that I have. What I must actually point out to listeners also is that I ended up selling my little house. So I bought a little house when I got divorced and it was, I'm pretty sure I paid $135,000 for that house. And yes, it was on for 155 and I said to the real estate agent. I've only got $135,000 that I know I can purchase a home for and I can remember his name was David.

And I can remember he said to me, “Clare, they will never accept that offer.” They won't. He said, it's in Lorn. Anybody that knows the Hunter Valley and knows Maitland and knows Lorn, it's a very prestigious area. And I said, “Well that's all I've got. It's an offer. You've got to take it to them.” Well, they accepted it. So that was my buy into that. So I'd really picked up 20,000 equity in there straight away. But I did eventually sell that house because I moved to Newcastle, so I haven't sold investment property other than just that one. But that owner-occupied home, I sold because I was limited by my borrowing capacity because of that. So I started to rent and then I went on and purchased properties. So that was my strategy. I've only just two years ago purchased my next unoccupied. I've rented for, I don't know, 10 years, and then I've just bought an apartment in Riding Newcastle.

You're the typical rent vestor then, that's what I love about it.

That's a new word that wasn't around when I did it.

It does limit us to having that owner-occupied property sometimes. And even every now and then now I think I could be doing so much more, but how much more do you need to be doing really? I suppose I'm not, you know, I'm not as young as I used to be. I can just sit back on with what I've got now and there's probably another property cycle in there, one, maybe two for me in some of those areas because I think the good thing to is when you don't buy in the same area, and I'm sure you're aware of this, different areas go up at different times. So therefore if one area's peaked, you might have one in another area that hasn't. And so that one will peak and the other one that slowed down, you might see another peak come up. So, and that is what I've absolutely witnessed without a shadow of a doubt.

Clare Monkley talks more about what her property portfolio consists of.

Somebody asked me this yesterday, so I've had 9, 10 and I've sold two. So one being my owner-occupied and one being one here on the harbor in New Castle, but I chose to sell that one so that I could have some extra funds to buy the new one that I wanted to live in cause it was bigger.

For Clare Monkley, one of her worst investing moments was when the person she did a joint venture with on property declared himself bankrupt, leaving her unable to settle the property because she didn't have the funds.

So I actually invested some money with a colleague of mine, his brother, who was a developer. So I actually put quite a lot of money into that until this property on the harbor was ready. And the gentleman I invested the money with declared himself bankrupt, so left me in quite I'm talking, this would be 10 years ago, nearly 11 years ago. So it was like 280 odd thousand dollars, which was my deposit for the home I was purchasing. And what happened was I didn't have the funds, I didn't have all the funds that I needed to settle on that property. So this is what can be scary because I brought it off the plan, invested that money for that short amount of time, well, it's gonna be two years until it was to be completed.

So I thought, I'll invest that money there because it's going to do this, this and this. And of course, when I started asking for the money back, it wasn't coming back. And I then learned what had really gone on and that was naivety and my fault as well. You know, I've put my hand up and go, I have to take a hundred percent responsibility for that. However, that was very challenging times because that's when the GFC hit and it wasn't my intention to hold the property. I was going to flip it, couldn't sell it because lots of people put their units back onto the market and nobody could sell. So what I had to do then at that time was borrow an a 97% low doc loan. I was paying about 14% interest when interest rates at that time were about 6 or 7%.

This was a very hard period for Clare Monkley and she felt quite isolated and alone, afraid to tell people about her struggles for fear they would judge her for her mistake.

That was very, very challenging. I can tell you, I had many nights where, I will say, I ate baked beans on toast. What are eating for dinner? And I'd say baked dinner, baked beans on toast. I can tell you, I had nights where I would lie in bed and I'd be sweating thinking, where am I getting the money from for the mortgage, particularly when you're on your own. That's a challenge too. You've got no one that you can just even run your thoughts by around it. And I think to pride that can get in the way too. You think, God, who can I talk to them about this? And I don't want to, they'll think I'm an idiot for doing this. But I tell you what, I survived it.

At the time I didn't ever think I would, but I did. What I ended up doing was I sold half of it. So this was a good strategy and a good lesson for me because I just happened to be talking to someone one day and I said, and I did say, because they were a mortgage broker, and I said to them, look, I don't know what to do, I think I'm going to have to sell this property or sell half of it, I just don't know what to do. And she said, “Oh, Clare, you know, we'd be interested in doing that, we would love to get into a property and we've just not thought about how to go about it.” She said, “But we'd happy to come into this with you.” So I sold 50% of that property to her and that I can tell you was an enormous thing, a relief of my mind worrying about this mortgage.

Luckily, she even managed to make some money from this property and as a result of her learning experience, believes education is the key to success when it comes to property investing.

We went on to actually make a bit of money from that. Not a lot because it was that whole 10 years for that GFC before things picked up again. But I did make a bit of money on it, but to me, that was my worst investment. But it was only because of circumstance, me putting the money where it went and disappearing and the GFC hitting. So they're not things that you can predict, but it's trying to think of the way to come out of it. And this is the odd thing, I never asked any of my siblings if they wanted to come into that property. And I think it was because I was embarrassed or I think they thought I was a failure. And to this day a couple of them say wished you had had asked us.

I felt bad. I always just in a really bad spot and a very bad place mentally I suppose. But I came through it and went on to be, you know, bigger and stronger. And I think that it scared me, but now I'm like, oh well, it's all right. Well, I suppose now I'm more educated and that's the difference. I'm more educated and there's more strategic planning that you can put around with where you purchase now. That's the difference. It's the education.

Using a deposit home strategy

On the flip side, she shares with us one of her best investing moments, where a caveat on the property turned out to be a wonderful deal for her.

I purchased a block of land out at Muggie and somebody was going to buy it—and this is where people just maybe need to look a little bit deeper—and purchase this block of land. There was a caveat in the contract that these particular people weren't comfortable with, but sort of sent the contract off to my solicitor. She looked at it, went through it and she said, “Look, I don't think this will be an issue down the track,” because the whole plan for that block of land was to actually subdivide it. But in the contract, it actually said something like the developer won't allow two dwellings on one block. But there was, I can't remember the exact wording, but it was only while they were developing.

So once they were out of it, my sister said, “Look, this is only why they hold it, but they're long gone so I can't see an issue,” and these other people miss that opportunity. But I was able to get a great opportunity where I went on and built these two fabulous houses that, I know Magi went back, it's probably three hours from Sydney, just to give you a bit of an idea. And so it is mining, but it does have other things. It's got agricultural, horse studs, beautiful country town. My plan was to sell one, one financial year and so on the next, but again, it was the downturn in the coal mine industry. So I rented them, always being rented, positively geared.

And now that was probably five years ago, but they're now sort of coming back because there's been a big announcement. So the values of the properties there have actually come back to a little bit more than when I was originally going to sell them for five years ago. So I'm thinking maybe I might sell one of those this financial year. I'm just gonna see how it goes, but maybe I will. sell one of those, but that was a great “aha” moment for me because I thought, you just got to look a little bit deeper into something before you actually say no to it. Because sometimes it can be our own misconception of what's in a contract. And that's when you have your team of experts around you that actually assist you with those things.

On this block of land that she bought where the caveat in its contract put off other people actually yielded a high return.

It was a large block of land in a subdivision that had been going for quite a while. And I honestly think the reason why this particular block hadn't sold was because of this caveat that was in there, that a lot of people must've thought it was still valid, but it wasn't as I explained, my sister said no, it's only if they, the developers were still part of the development, but they were no longer part of it. She looked into that and that was the case. So I was able to put two homes, individual houses on it. So one was a three-bedroom, two bathroom, one car, and the second one was just three bedrooms, one bathroom, one car beautiful little houses. I've got a local builder who was highly recommended and I have to tell you, he was amazing. When I went out and saw those houses for the first time, I said to him, “My God, you have done an amazing job and you know what his words to me, I'll never forget it.

He said, “Clare, that's what you paid me to do.” And I went, “We are a team but you don't always get that,” it's like a two and a half-hour drive for me to get there. So it wasn't some way we're always going out and having looked at. But I did have a project manager that was keeping an eye on it. So that to me that was a really good deal. And the granny flat one was as well, I have to tell you, that returns us some incredible money. So I bought that one with my daughter and it was a great big corner block, and we just were able to come in... it had an easement, so we couldn't put a separate house on it, but we built a little granny flat and the granny flat costs us about $128,000; and so now that property is giving us about a I don't know, seven and a half percent return because of the granny flat that's on it and where it's situated. It's not far from Newcastle, so it's only probably 15 minutes from the CBD of Newcastle.

Investing For Retirement With Clare Monkley

Clare Monkley has built two properties on a large block of land and talks a little bit about the returns it is yielding.

It's probably about a six and a half because the rent because of the mining downturn went down. However, my real estate agent has just said to me that she thinks that they can go up $40 a week once these tenants go out. Because what has happened and what does happen in these particular towns sometimes is because of the downturn, people don't build. And then if this town happens to pick up again, there's not enough houses, there's not enough supply for people to go in. And that's what's actually happening in Magi. But I'm not recommending everybody run out and buy in Magi, I'll say that. But this is what I'm seeing and this is what my real estate agent is seeing, I've got a great real estate agent out there. She's always looked after the properties and that's a key as well. Again, part of your team, having really good real estate agents that you know are looking after that property like it's their own because I can't be running two properties all-around two states to make sure that they're getting looked after. So I would rather pay that little bit extra to have a good property manager because that is absolutely key to what I believe.

Clare Monkley elaborates on the importance of forming good relationships with real estate agents when you're in the property business and provides a tip for those who are looking to get into property themselves.

When I first started helping my clients buy investment properties, I used to go to open houses every Saturday and I got to meet a lot of real estate agents and I said, look, I'm not looking for myself, but I've got a client that wants x, y, z. And honestly having that relationship with the real estate agents is fantastic because that's how I ended up with the one I put the granny flat on the back of because he found me and said, “Clare, this is a deceased estate. It's coming up. This is the price point they're going to put it on for,” and I still bought it. It still got listed because he's doing obviously the right thing by his client. But he knew what I was looking for.

So that's how I came to get that property. As soon as it was listed I was able to make an offer and they accepted it, and just went on to get the granny flat started. One tip I would like to give your listeners is done it quickly. I sort of sat back a little bit and just twiddled my thumbs for a little while and thought, oh yeah, it'll happen but life gets busy. I was running a business and I should have probably started that granny flat six months sooner than I did because it would have been done faster. Pretty much. That's the only reason. And it's not been rented. It is a really lovely little granny flat and again, we paid, I know you can get granny flats for a 100 grand, 95,000. As I said, we paid 128. We just made it that little bit nicer. And yeah, the tenants that are in it now have got the garden at the home. They just absolutely love it. Yeah, it's amazing.

With the knowledge that every person is different, Monkey does not use a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to finding property for her clients and implements a tool to calculate things. 

What I look for my clients is first of all, if I'm aware that they've got some equity and they're thinking about doing something, or even if they're not thinking about doing something, I try and be proactive and say look, you've got some equity in your property. Have you thought about what your next step might be, what your next stage in life might be? And then that's when I talk about investment property. But I talk about education first because I think that's just so imperative that they understand why they're doing what they're doing and how that can help them achieve their goals. So one of the tools I have is a calculator that actually shows if you purchase one investment property and you can put in what your existing debt is, what your interest rate is, and if you purchase just one investment property when the point of pay off can be.

So in other words, if you are paying off your mortgage and you've got an investment property and it's growing at a certain rate over a certain amount of time, when is that pay off point When you can sell that investment property, should you choose to, and pay off your mortgage so that you have no more owner-occupied debt. So that's a really, really great tool that I sit with, with my clients. And then they understand the power of what just one property can do for them. But the important thing is for them is to know where to buy. And again, as I said, education. So I've partnered with the largest research company in Australia, and that's where I get my education from and that's where my clients get their education from. And then once they've sort of comfortable and clear and understand what it is that they can do themselves personally, then that's when we look for an investment property that fits their needs. So it's not about going, oh yeah, this is going to be a great team development. And it's just here and think you should get that, that might not fit into what is the client's best strategy for where they want to go down the track. So that's the difference. It's just not cookie cutting. It's looking at each individual person because we're all different. We all want different things at different times. So that's how I help my clients.

Fantastic. That is a really, really good strategy. And I think that's your clients probably take on that very, very well because it's simple, it makes sense.

Well, and that's what you're doing Tyrone. You're educating your audience. You're doing this and you understand more than most how important education is.

Yeah. I kinda did this podcast intentionally to want to educate myself as well because I was wanting to learn and I think the best thing I think I gained out of it was to be able to speak to the experts who've been there, done that, and have the experience and just tap on their shoulder and say, look, you can you just share all this? And I thought, why not just share it as well with the world? Because if I'm asking those questions, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would be asking the same things. So it turned into the podcast.

Yeah. Well, thank you for bringing that to the world because I think it's just, we're not taught these things in school. I don't know if we ever will be, but it's common sense that we need, particularly in this day and age, to be looking towards how we're going to support ourselves in our retirement. I had a client in here yesterday and again, I have another particular type calculator that I use when I ask the clients that how much they feel that I would like to retire on. And then we put in where their debt level is if they've got investment properties, what's in their super, and I do all of that. And then yesterday, and they didn't put in a big figure for what they wanted for their income during retirement, but they are $581,000 short of the figure that they need.

So the education now is, okay, what are the strategies that we're going to do to get you to that point of where you want to be? Now some people think, oh, we don't need a lot of money when we're retired, we own a house, we don't need a lot of money. Well I was talking to another client that was in the office recently and she said that they had worked out that their fixed costs, so they own their own home, their fixed costs per week is $560, that's their groceries, their gas, their electricity, their mobile phone, their water, house insurance—they're things that you can't change, your fixed costs, unless you downsize into a smaller property or turn your lights off a bit more. I don't know. But when you work that out, that's $29,000 a year just for everyday living. Sure, not everyone might have that high figure but when you think that, I think the figures are about 84% of Australians are retiring on about $21,000, that's $29,000 just for those people, just a net fixed cost without having a holiday or without going to the doctor or going to the dentist or something like that. So we really, really need to be thinking about how we want to live our lives in retirement. And I think for me, the property's that tool, that's my strategy. And that's what I like to share with my clients.

Clare Monkley cites some reasons for the fact that she decided to invest in property rather than other investments such as shares,.

I did have some money in some shares and I don't understand shares and I've got friends, I've seen them make a lot of money and I've seen them lose a lot of money but like property as well. But I suppose for me, for the property, I understand it, I get it. It's bricks and mortar, you can touch it. I, I think too, and again, this is only my head, so there could be, you know, a shares guy out there that could give you a whole different strategy on it. But in my way of thinking, you know, I know a lady that lost millions in the share market, literally millions of dollars and it was gone. But I think if I've still got a house, sure I might have to reduce the rent and the value might come down for a little bit, but I've still got a house and to me that makes more sense. As I said, that's just my personal view. And that's why I've done property, I just love it. Hence why I'm love finance. I love what money can do for you to get more property. Yeah. And that's where the name came from. That's why I called my company Love Finance.

When it comes to finding the right lender for her clients, it's like having a lot of jigsaw parts that she has to fit together, where she has to match up the client with the right lender.

It's moving parts, and for me, it's knowing the policies of the different lenders that you can fit within the parameters of those policies to put your clients there. So I'll give you an example. I've got a client who has wanted to borrow an extra million dollars. I have been working on this loan for seven months. So those that think mortgage brokers don't earn their money, I can tell you we do. So seven months. And why that has taken so long is because one, all the changes have been happening as we know are around finance. But he's a certain age, he's got a certain debt level, he has a certain income level and all of those things didn't fit one bank's policy at the time. I had to keep looking and keep researching.

I would become accredited with a different lender. I did actually become accredited with a different lender too because he fitted well with their policy and they were on our panel, but I just hadn't become accredited with them. And I did that. And policy changed and this is the thing, policy changes. And so the people, if they say, look, I know I can do that now, but you know I think I might wait for six or 12 months. He waited, he waited three months, policy changed. I couldn't get him the money. So that's what you have to be careful of is policy changing and that's why it's really great to use brokers because we do have so many different lenders as you are aware of and you're not just going to one bank trying to fit all those different elements into their policy.

Does that make sense? The lender that I've now got him approved with, he fits in their age policy, he fits in their DSR, so their debt level, and he fits within their LVR, so their loan to value ratio. So I had to get all these components to work for this client. Then there was a few other complexities in there as well. But definitely for me, because I know those different things that have helped me be able to buy more property because I know in my head, okay, I'm not going to fit there with that lender to buy that property because my debt level is too high to go with them. So then I have to look for another lender that is going to use more of my rental income. Some banks use 75% of the rental income, some use 80, so it's finding the bank then that I fit into the other policies plus that perhaps might take that higher branch will return that I can use for my servicing if that makes sense. I hope I'm not making that too complicated.

Along her property journey, Clare Monkley has had a mentor that stood out for her in addition to attending courses and reading books.

I learned so much from my first boss that was a broker and he really allowed me to be involved. Although I only see his PA, he would get me sitting in on the meetings and that's how I started to learn these strategies. So my first mentor was my boss, who was a mortgage broker. And as I said, he allowed me to sit in on the meetings and that's how I learned what he learned to the point than he actually rang me one day and he said to me and again, I'll never forget this, he rang me, it was a Sunday, and he said, “I'm just phoning up to tell you I'm sacking you.”

And I was like, what? You know, single mother, just bought my first investment property, you're sacking me? You know, it's going in my head. “Yes, I've just left some clients and they've told me that they don't really need to speak to me anymore because you're so good at helping them that they don't need to see me.” And he was tongue-in-cheek, of course. But he said, “I just want to thank you for looking after my clients.” He said, “For someone to say that to me,” he said, “I'm just grateful that you work for me and you're in my business.” So I knew at that point that I'd probably know I'd reached a really good level of learning. So from there I did go on and do a number of courses, I've done Laurel Emar who came out from America, you know, I did her course and I've done, you know, Dipnis course.

I've constantly been doing different types of courses, Steve McKnight, those people that have done all that, read all the books. Absolutely 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'. I mean, what a phenomenal book that was and still is today, been dance and seeing Robert and Kim present on stage, to learn their strategies. So I've invested a lot of time and money into what I know, the knowledge in my head and that I share with clients, that a lot of my clients don't have the time or the money to do that. So they're actually getting that through me. They're getting that education through me.

Clare Monkley then mentions a book she has read which she feels is one of her most favourite books that she has stumbled across on her journey.

I think definitely a book called 'The Leap of Faith'. I can't remember who wrote it, but it's a little paperback book and if you're thinking you want to make a change in your life and you're too scared to take that step, read that book called the 'Leap of Faith'. Sorry, it's called the big leap. Thank you. Beg your pardon. It's called “The Big Leap'. Have you read it Tyrone?

So I'm actually just searching it right now just to see what...oh, here we go. Yes. The big leap by Gay Hendricks.

“I enjoy what I do. I'm on a good path. I'm happy. How do I, as a parent, make sure that my child has the same or similar good experience?”
- Clare Monkley

Yes. Fabulous book. I go back to it many times. It's a really good book. 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'—as I've said, I think that's without a shadow of a doubt a great book. And I'll tell you another book that's really good, and love him or hate him, but Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump, co-authored a book together? Do you know that book? It's called the 'Midas Touch.'

Yes. I do remember that one. I've read it too. I did like it. I mean, I was inspired because it was the two wealthiest and best educators in the world come together. I'm like, wow, this is amazing. I had to read it. Even though Trump has a little bit of a character behind him. It's still someone that you got to admire because he's built such a big empire now that he's the president, there's something that he's done right to get to where he is.

Yeah, but I think one of the things that's interesting in that book is Robert Kiyosaki. Now we know he's a wealthy man in his own right. When you read the beginning of his story in that book and it talks about his first meeting with Donald Trump and how his confidence is rattled because he's thinking, why does this successful man want to meet with me? So I found that extremely interesting and how that is a good point for us to learn, that it doesn't matter how successful you are, sometimes people do doubt themselves and often we ourselves do the same thing. And I think we think that people that are at that level don't, and it's nice to know that they're human as well. And I think that's to me, I was always impressed by that. That one, he wasn't too frightened to share, that he was feeling a little bit intimidated or intimidated is not probably the word, but not as confident as you would've expected him to be. And that he shared that and that shows his vulnerable side. And I think that's just nice to know that he is human, if that makes sense.

That's what I love about Robert in the sense that he's able to share that because when you share that real side of yourself, it makes it more believable and therefore it's much more interesting to read. Whereas if it was just all great who-ha and happy things, I think people would just brush over and go, that doesn't appear to be real. And that's I think the key component of where successful entrepreneurs is just to be open about their failures and also successes and be able to share their mistakes and learnings from it too.

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, I agree.

For Clare Monkley, the best advice she has ever received was something she had to work for as she grew up in an environment where possessing this trait wasn't encouraged.

My father was a very tough man and my father did not really believe that females should be educated. Again, I hope my mother doesn't hate this, but he didn't, and I won't tell you what he used to say because it's not very nice. So I have doubted myself for many, many years. And I know you have Joel McIntyre on your calls, on your podcasts, and Jill and I have known each other for many years. Goodness me, I don't know, 15, 16, 17 years, something like that. And she has been someone that has helped me when I've been having a moment because I'll ring her and she'll talk me through it. It is very challenging when you are trying to, and this is only me coming from the background with my dad, that you're just a girl. My father's words to me were when I separated from my husband was, you'll be nothing without him. He was the making of you. That's pretty hard. And then to go on and struggle and I'm actually calculating, I'm a bit emotional about it, but it was hard. Those first few years was hard. But I've come through it and I've survived it. But I think definitely having fighting yourself and having that courage to take that step to achieve what you want to achieve is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Really. You know, take that big leap. Go for it.

I know people might think that was horrible and it was horrible. It was horrible. But my father had a pretty hard background as well. I often wonder if he just given us a tiny bit of encouragement, how much further we might've been, anyway, he's passed away now and mom says he was proud of all of us. He just never told us. So please tell your children you're proud of them, I tell my children all the time. I'm so proud of them because it's so important to do that because we all want that recognition from our parents, I believe. You know?

If Clare Monkley could speak to herself ten years ago, she would have this to say...

I've been fortunate to... there have been tough times, but I've been fortunate enough to be voted to be president of our local business chamber, one of our local business chambers here in Newcastle. And I've done that for four years. I've been fortunate enough that I've met somebody in America that has helped me buy investment properties over there. I can't believe the things that I have done when I think, and I say this to myself when I'm sitting in a boardroom with people from the port of Newcastle and different, big companies like that.

And I have to pinch myself because I go, how did this little country girl get to be sitting in this room with these people? You know, it just blows my mind that can happen to me. A little country bumpkin if you want to say, and to be in a space of some amazing people, and meet some amazing people and to say to myself, meet myself 10 years ago and say that girl, golly Clare, you can do whatever you want to do. Just have faith in yourself that you can do it. Sure you'll feel frightened, but you can push through that fear and you can succeed. Just go for it.

In terms of what she is most looking forward to in her property journey, Clare Monkley states she is wondering whether she should buy some more properties in the near future.

I'm kind of planning what I'm going to do. I just bought a property in Queensland and I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen with that because I'm just wondering whether I should buy some more because I've just been told the Catholic churches bought all the land across the road from it. It hasn't really done too much in the couple of years I've had it, but I think it's going to go crazy. So in my property journey, I'm a bit stumped at the moment because of my borrowing capacity, believe it or not. And here's another little secret, my age. People think I can put it off and wait to put in the to do later list.

Banks now once you turn 40 banks want to know what your exit strategy is, right? How are you going to pay that mortgage off in this amount of time? Whereas two years ago you could be 60 and still get a 30-year loan. They weren't asking about your exit strategy. Now I'm talking investment properties here as well, that's what I'm talking about. So again, back to the client that wants another million dollars. He has got so many properties with so much equity. They are still asking what is his exit strategy. Okay. What are you talking about? He's got this amount of million equity for, is that not an exit strategy? But it's because he's wanting to buy an owner-occupied home for $1 million and that's what they're looking at.

But I obviously, I can't go into what he's stuff is, but he's got a great exit strategy and that's what's frustrating him. And it's been frustrating me until we finally found a lender that he fits into all those policies. But that's the thing I think is, it's if you're haven't got any investment properties yet and you're sort of getting close to that 40 mark, I'll be saying start getting some under your belt, so my journey for me is I'm going to work out, is it best to sell a couple of my properties to perhaps go on, buy some land and build another couple. 

 I ask Clare Monkley whether her success is due to skill, intelligence, and hard work or just plain luck.

I can't say any of it's been luck. I don't know that any of it's been luck. I've really bought probably on my gut instinct to be perfectly honest, is that luck? Yeah, maybe it is actually, but I've just had a gut feeling and that's when I have purchased property. So maybe I have been lucky cause I haven't strategically planned it. So yes, you're right, it's probably a lot of luck, skill in my education, listening to other people, hear what they've done. See if I can do replicate what they've done. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. Somebody else has already done it. So it's just listening to what their strategies are. I think that's important. I know I keep harping on it, but it's definitely the education because it's just running through my head all the courses that I have done and as much as you think, oh, has that impacted greatly as well? Of course, it has. I'm thinking no it hasn't been, but of course, it has, I can just run through a strategy I'm thinking now that I heard in Laurel Landmark's course and I'm like, yeah, I remember her talking to us about that and I've done that strategy. So I think yeah, it's probably 50/50 because I can't really tell you what I think it is.

It's like hedging your bets with fixed rates, isn't it? When people aren't sure what to do, go, oh, I'll fix 50% of it and I'll do 50% variable. I do think probably more has to do with my intuition. So my, so probably good luck. Yeah. Good luck with where I bought, what I've done. I've been careful, some people say to me, Clare you've got more guts than me. I wouldn't do that. And I just go, well, one of my fears is not having enough when I retire. So I'm more fearful of not having what I want to retire on then what I am fearful of not taking that step. See, so to me it's, it's worse if I don't take the step because I'm scared of what those consequences will be and more scared of that than I am of taking the step.

 One of the reasons Clare Monkley has invested in property is to have enough money for retirement which she share why.

I don't want to be a burden on my children. I had this conversation with a lady actually on Wednesday night and she said, “Clare, I'm married. I've got three children. My mother's been divorced for many, many years,” and her mother actually isn't that much older than me, to be honest. And she said, “I've told her, she's got to make sure she's got her retirement plan sorted because she said, “I can't have her as a burden on me.” She said, “Because I can't afford that financially.” And that's how I feel about my children. I don't want to be a burden on my children, so I want to make sure, sure they mightn't get a lot of money when I'm gone, but at least I haven't had to say to them, I can't afford this, can't afford that or them feeling like because I can afford something, they've got to pay for me to, go on a holiday with them or pay me not to go on a holiday with them. Who knows? But you know, that's my driver. It's not about the money, it's about the choices that having the money can give you is what's important to me.

If you would like to contact Clare Monkley to learn more about her story or help with finance you can reach her on the following...

They could email me at [email protected]. Or they could call me on my mobile, which is 0 418 299 370. I also have a website so they could go there, which is

This episode was produced by Annie Gao with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

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