This episode meets twins Sana and Mona Ali - co-founders of the broking company Property Twins - whose extensive financial experience in the corporate world led them to buy and venture into the property and start their own business sharing their success!
Be inspired as this dynamic duo shares how dreams of owning their own home began their investing careers and led to the creation of their multi-million dollar portfolio!
-Sana and Mona Ali
Sana and Mona are the co-founders of a mortgage broking company called Property Twins. Both left the corporate world to start their business earlier this year. However, their business hasn’t been the first time that they’ve worked together.
We were working both in finance actually, I was in finance the whole time being an accountant.
I have an IT background so I worked for about seven years in the IT division before moving into finance so we were literally on the same floor.
Working amongst the comforts of home, Sana and Mona’s flexible hours allow them to work to their own schedule.
Well we what do we do, we work for ourselves. So that makes things a lot more flexible.
So after waking up we just come to our desk.
We tend to skip our breakfast most of the time, we just arrive at our desk in the morning and start looking at what's on for the day. What are the priorities? What needs to get done and work through it. Typically meetings are often in the evenings and we work late into the night. Our marketing work mostly happens after 9:00 and yeah we just divide our day into what the priorities are.
What client works, loan submissions, and then client meetings in the evening and then the marketing side of things later on or any other you know side of things that we need to look into.
Growing up, their studies gave them the skills they would use in their property investing.
We were born in Pakistan and we were 15 when we came to Australia and most of our schooling was done in Karachi.
We came in the year 2000 to Australia and yeah most of our teenage years, well a part of our teenage years were in Australia we were in year 9 when we arrived here.
We went to school in Wiley Park Girls High and then we went on to university, for myself Sana I went to the University of Technology Sydney and did IT at UTS.
My background is in accounting, I went to the University of Sydney and did Bachelors of Commerce and then I went on to do my chartered accounting diploma and worked at PWC for a number of years and then I went on to work for Macquarie Bank for a couple of years.
Working through university, Sana and Mona were already gaining an advantage in their chosen fields.
We did work through our university so I found a couple of roles in two accounting firms so I tried some auditing I didn't quite enjoy it. And then I went and worked for a small accounting firm in the city. It was law admin based work just so that you know I could get some experience in the accounting industry and to support my graduate roles or applications.
And for myself.
Tyrone whilst doing the IT degree I worked for IBM Australia on a scholarship for 12 months so it was basically just making the resume strong. When we do come to apply for the graduate roles we are able to put ourselves ahead of the line.
When they began their property career, their mother has been both a source of inspiration and support in expanding their portfolio.
Yeah, our mum was in property back in Pakistan, had an interest in the property so that did inspire us.
It's been the encouragement side of things and just a knack for property and the encouragement that came from our mother. It wasn't so much that you know she was into real estate back in Pakistan, it was more around just the ability to pick up on good quality investments and be the sounding board for us while we evolved our own strategy over time but you know the input is invaluable.
Sana and Mona’s movement into the property was inspired by their goal to own their own homes, as well as the security of their careers around the instability of the GFC.
I had been at PWC for about two and a half years or so. It hadn't quite crossed my mind at that stage that we should go and buy our own home.
But you know there were people that we knew all of, our peers and colleagues, who had already purchased their first homes at the time. So you know and one of our brothers’ birthdays we were having his birthday party and he did say if he was working full time then he would have just gone and bought his first home already. So that's what triggered it at that point in time and we felt we needed that security and it just made sense to us to start that journey.
Yeah and for me Tyrone, apart from you know that conversation with our brother and you know the belief that we could change our life. For me personally the trigger was actually in the banking industry around the GFC.
There were a lot of redundancies and just the moment as you know it was a life-changing moment to really realise you can't save your way to wealth or a better financial future.
Sana and Mona indirectly began their investing career as a result of meeting their goals of homeownership.
We bought our homes first. We did not go into investing straight up. So the key thing was buying where we wanted to live really in the Parramatta region so we went really searching within our suburb. And then we opened up to other surrounding suburbs and found some really good value there. So I made a decision to buy close to transport because we used to travel to the city for work.
We wanted train nearby, shops, and overall you know it was a pretty good decision because we realize now as our strategy’s evolved that we do like being close to train or transport and shops no matter where we buy, what city we buy in there has to be fundamentals.
Their goals of financial security and owning their home have always been key motivations in their investing careers, especially in choosing the property as their vehicle of success.
When we came to Australia we didn't have enough resources and life was quite challenging. So we saw other people living really good lives and we really wanted Australia to be home and have our roots here and have a good life. And the eventual goal was to have a home in Sydney and as you know Sydney is quite expensive. Or has been known to be expensive. So we found property as a vehicle to get us to that stage where we could get into our home eventually.
Then why is obviously to help a lot of people and you know just to show people that you can have personal challenges and still build a really good life and overcome personal challenges and that's my driver.
Well for me the property was more about financial security and having that base, having a place to call home which we have achieved now but I still feel we have only scratched the surface. I can say that you know if you are willing to make sacrifices if you are willing to look beyond the limitations that you may be faced with then you know there is a better life possible. And we have made it happen for ourselves. So I’m sure other people can do it too.
Although they have encountered challenges in their investing career, Sana and Mona were able to work through and gain valuable insight into a property.
So off the plan properties is what we considered originally and thank God the bank did not value those properties. We couldn't complete those deals.
Fortunately, we were able to pull out within the cooling-off period and it did cost us our 0.25% deposit and I think that would have been probably one of the worst decisions we could have made.
The new properties did look shiny and attractive but I'm really glad it did not happen.
Their experience has proven to be rewarding in altering their investing strategy to be more sustainable.
Well as a new home buyer or an investor, you do feel, you don't know what you don't know. And you don't have the background in property investing. So we just had to you know we were pretty much going to open homes. The idea was to buy our first home and at that stage, there was a twenty-four thousand dollar grant available for first home buyers and you know if the properties are brand new and stamp-duty exemption so it was quite attractive, and the depreciation side of things because if in future we had decided to make it an investment property then we would get the benefit.
Yeah but fortunately it did not happen. You would find that these properties attract premium pricing and what that means is people are often years behind with their goals when they do get into these so I’m glad it did not come through.
Their most successful moment resulted in realising their ability to succeed in investing.
I would say just you know meeting like-minded investors and finding people who had actually been there and done that and built successful portfolios and the realization that anyone can really invest in properly if they put their mind to it.
Sana and Mona’s inspiration came from connecting to other investors and learning from their successes.
Just finding the Somersoft Property Forum really.
And other people's stories and what they had achieved over a number of years. So there was a lot of inspiration that we gained from those who had previously invested and had been successful.
So we invested a lot of time educating ourselves so when we would come home from work we would read up on the forums literally every day and go to open homes on weekends so there was a lot of time that went into our self-development on the property front. So that's what really helped us.
Although this inspiration has already resulted in major success for them, they are still setting goals and continuing to expand their portfolio.
So the portfolio is just over 5 million or around 5 mill and future plan yes we do intend to buy a lot in Sydney as you know the market is turning or supposed to be turning now.
So in the next couple of years, we are hoping to go on a buying spree between Parramatta and Penrith.
When, Where and How To Buy: Follow the Property Cycle Around Australia with Sana and Mona Ali
So what held them back from initially investing into property?
For me, it was analysis paralysis and just the belief to call the shots. And I personally found when you're looking at way too many options, it's really hard to choose what will work for you. So look at our priorities and go with that.
I don't think that I ever had any issues with it because I did have clients who were high net worth individuals at PWC and I had seen people who had started upping and built their own empires as my clients. So I personally did not have any challenges in going head-on with investing.
Their clients achieved their level of success by thinking beyond their limitations.
Also, you need to think beyond you; like sometimes people may limit what you can or can't do. They may say, ‘Well, this is unachievable,’ but you need to have an open mind. You need to put down the numbers on paper, you need to make projections. And I can understand people may have limitations in say the lending environment today, but what is the one thing that you can do to move forward? If you don't take that action, does that mean that you will be further behind in future? So take that first step and then keep improving on your circumstances.
To overcome challenges such as the limited lending environment, shaping your mindset is paramount to your progression.
-Sana and Mona Ali
I can only tell you about how we work with our clients, which is with a lot of focus on why they're doing what they're doing, because buying property is just one part of it but what's more important is what’s their goal? How will their lives change if they took action and how will their life remain static or go back if they did not take action? And when you do dig deeper, people have different reasons for doing things. Working through that can open up a lot of doors and open up people's mind about what they're doing and how they’re doing it.
And also people should really look at the structures that they have in place from a finance perspective, because often we do find that people do get hung up on say the interest rates and they want the lowest rate. But what if it's the most unsuitable thing for them to do? What if they had a lender which charges them a bit higher rate, but it enables them to move forward with their investing?
Resources which helped Mona and Sana to condition their own mindsets came from personal development experts such as Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins.
It was nothing about the property as such when it came to mindset, but about improving our mindset by looking at different speakers and authors like Jim Rohn. For me, he's an inspiration and just listening to those things to influence your mindset on how you approach things.
For me, it’s Dr Wayne Dyer. I started reading his books in my early 20s and it really made a huge difference for me personally.
When recommending to listeners what they can do to hone their own personal development, they believe it comes from within.
There's no right way of doing things. I would suggest just start looking at what are your limiting beliefs, what’s stopping you from moving forward and examine that and look out for speakers that you really connect with. One, or a few, that influence us were Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins to name a few. And read books, there’s definitely some really good books out there like Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and The Richest Man in Babylon. Then there is Slight Edge, there are a few good books out there as well. Just being very focused on what you want life to look like in the next five years. You don't need a book or a mentor to tell you that, only you can answer that for yourself.
The Alis didn’t seek mentors as such, but were content with extracting information from seminars and forums and then using it to create their own strategy.
We did go on to the Somersoft forums and we read a lot about what other people had achieved and their stories. But in terms of one formal mentor, we never had a formal mentor for a property that is. We formulated our strategy, we listened to what other people were doing and came up with what suited our circumstances, really. We never went to seminars, apart from agencies. We did go to one buyer’s agent’s seminar for a couple of sessions, but we got the value out of it that we needed and applied it to our own journey. We never followed any reports as such or any hot spots of people, you know those experts that say, ‘Well you should be investing here or there’ - we just followed our own research.
Rather than the best advice they have received, a question someone asked made them realise what their rinse and repeat strategy had come to be.
I think it was when we were purchasing in Brisbane and we couldn't decide what was best suited to us at the time and someone asked us, ‘What are you trying to achieve with this purchase?’ And then it really highlighted to us that all our properties have been really well located with infrastructure, shops, train, all those aspects. That really clicked for us and we just repeated that same process.
That's where the population growth will happen and that's where you’ll find you can build townhouses or units. [00:08:36] And it was not really advice I would say, but more of a reinforcement of what we've already done and it's just someone brought it to light.
Having built a portfolio worth over $5 million, some of the key steps that Sana and Mona took to do this was to analyse both the cost and the opportunity at hand.
Buying when we can, where we can, as quickly as we can - that was the key.
And not looking at the cost side of things. I mean obviously looking at the cost-benefit, doing a cost-benefit analysis of what we were doing, but at the same time looking at what's the opportunity cost of not taking action now. Especially before or when the Sydney market started rising, we made quick decisions and jumped in to buy a couple of properties at that point in time. We could have argued that all we have to pay lenders mortgage insurance or rate is a bit higher, but then we would not have made them hundreds of thousands of dollars that we made on those purchases.
So keeping focused on your end goal, rather than little distractions in the middle.
So how did the Alis ensure they overcame their analysis paralysis in order to invest at the right time?
Just having the vision and a drive to make it happen for us. And persistence - persevering towards our goal and just knowing that we had to get out of our own way to achieve something. The reinforcement of why we were doing it, because if your why’s big enough, the how is easy. And keep focus on your end goal.
While there have been no changes to their current buy and hold strategy, they do have plans to further add to their already growing portfolio.
In the future we do intend to purchase in Parramatta and Penrith. These will be development sites where we are able to subdivide properties, so we can multiply our portfolio.
It can be challenging to predict how the market will fare in the future, therefore it can be daunting for property investor beginners to know what to look for. So what can you do?
For those starting out today, they should look at clarifying their goals on whether they want the security of their own home or whether they're OK to continue renting investment properties. Then look at property cycles and see where they’re buying, whether it be Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or anywhere in Australia - where is that particular city in the property cycle and how is it going to enable them to expand their portfolio? Also, look at the cash flow side of things and how the cash flow will impact their lifestyle if they bought in Sydney or Melbourne, or whether they were OK to buy in a city like Brisbane, where their rental yields are much better.
And I'd also suggest like a lot of people in Sydney and Melbourne would have seen the markets have increased significantly, to tap into your equity now before the market turns so you can deploy your funds to another city, interstate where you believe the property cycle is moving and expected to grow over the next five years. Because what that means is you can capitalise from one region, move onto the next and follow the property cycle across Australia.
Most of our Sydney and Melbourne clients are buying in Queensland at the moment. So there is definitely opportunity to extract equities and move forward from there.
I would say Brisbane has the potential, Perth has been falling for some time. I don't know if it's flattened or where it's at right now because we're not following that market. But I do think there are markets potentially in Queensland where people should look.
Some personal habits which Sana and Mona attribute to their success are listening to motivational content and communicating with their business mentor.
We listen to a lot of audios for mindset purposes. We find that sometimes there are influences outside of yourself which may impact you and we have found listening to other successful people very powerful in our own journey. When we were leading up to leave our corporate jobs, some days we were listening to five, six or seven audios at a time and it really helped us shift that mindset and have that expectancy that we will do well, or we are doing well and we are aiming high.
And something else that helps us is keeping in touch with our business mentor, so we talk almost every day. It may not be a phone conversation but we exchange messages every day and just having that sounding board and surrounding ourselves with other successful people, that's been very important in working towards letting go of any distractions which get into our way towards our goals. Just focusing on what really matters takes you to your vision is what's key for us because you’ll find that there will be a lot of people in the world who will believe things are not possible for you, but it doesn't add to your life. You're better off following people who believe great things are possible.
Sometimes we wish we could just go back in time and tell ourselves what needs to be done to do better in the future. So what would Mona and Sana say to themselves from ten years ago?
I’d tell myself I should start saving today, for multiple investment properties, not one investment property. At that time actually it didn't even cross my mind, we were 21 at that stage. So the key advice would be start saving, get a team around you, as our mentor for example. The way we work with our clients and how our mentor has worked with his clients and has trained us it is looking at long term goals for our clients and mapping out that portfolio for the client. Because you may be earning a certain amount today but five years later, you may have greater potential to increase your income. So helping build that road map to move forward.
And for me, ten years ago I would say, ‘Don't hand your power to other authorities,’ be that at work or your peers to tell you what you're capable of achieving and what's really possible for you to build a better life, because you are in charge of what you need to do in life to get to your goals. If you hand over your power to others you've already lost that battle. And ten years ago, I would say you can do anything in life - whatever you want to achieve just go and do it, rather than letting outside voices govern what you can and can't do.
Often it is people and their own limiting beliefs that they impose on you. So it's important to put them aside and say, ‘What is it that I want in life?’
And if they have achieved what I want to achieve and if they haven't achieved what I want to achieve, that doesn't even matter what they're saying.
If you wish to connect with Sana and to learn more from them about their investing strategy, or find out how they can assist you through their broking services, you can do so via phone, email or social media.
As you know, we are mortgage brokers and we do have a big focus on our client goals and where they're heading in looking at the big picture for them holistically, rather than being just transaction-based. And we like to build tailored strategies for our clients when it comes to financing so they have a roadmap to move on from one property to multiple properties. That I think has been one of our key learnings in our own journey, to have an upfront idea of where you're heading and what's really possible for you.
We can be contacted via phone on 1300 976 060 or [email] at [email protected] [or through Facebook at] facebook.com/propertytwins.com.au. [We’re excited about] building the business and impacting as many people as we can.