Meet Jef Miles, a Sydney-based mortgage broker whose passion for business and commerce through school led him to work in both the public and private financial sector while building his interstate portfolio in his early twenties!
Before he helped everyday Aussies realise their property dreams, Miles takes us on his journey from finance to volunteering in Africa and back, as he shares the lessons he’s learnt along the way and advice that you too can use!
Miles is a Sydney-based mortgage broker and has been involved in both investing and banking over the last seven years and his pursuit of travelling took him to his sixth continent last year.
The reason I went to Africa was that I've been to 5 other continents. Africa was to be the final frontier. And for me, the continent has fascinated me from the sort of I'd say teenage years. And from the sense of the wild nature and perception of the place and this sort of diversity as well and going to a place like Egypt having studied Ancient History in high school as well just the history and the natural beauty of the place is amazing. So I would recommend and it's relatively safe as well. You have to be aware of where you're going. And that's important. However yet it's a place I would highly recommend. And there's a lot to see and do there as well.
So what’s involved in the day to day life of a mortgage broker?
Generally, weekdays woke up at five thirtyish. Depending on how many times I hit that alarm button and then what I do is I'm I have a morning routine that I follow which is from the Miracle Morning which is Hal Elrod’s. So I do that, do some exercise meditation affirmations those types of things and then what I do, get to the office and help to enable Australians to really increase their property portfolios or helping owner-occupiers buy their dream home as a mortgage broker. So that can involve calls, it can involve going to meetings and all those types of things. And even on weekends certainly, a broker generally doesn't stop working emails, calls, meetings all that sort of thing.
As busy as he is, Miles continues to find opportunities to work even during his social events.
Opportunity doesn't sleep is a sort of is a cool quote I like to use around that. And look I suppose it starts to creep into other areas of your life in terms of look I was at a property event last night as well. So certainly I'd agree with that. Very much so Tyrone.
Growing up, his passion for business began to develop even during his school life.
I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney in an in a small little place called St. Mary's. Well it's not that small, given probably a lot of people would be familiar with it, it’s five minutes from Mt Druitt. And yes I grew up there born in the late Eighties so I'd say the 80s is probably the best era.
I went to a local school and then went and went into a local school, from seven to 12 went to a selective school St Mary’s Senior that I'd say that that was quite influential in that so I studied business studies and that's what motivated me to then go to study a business degree at the University of Western Sydney which is now Western Sydney University. So I studied a business commerce degree there. Finished it off in 2011, three-year degree.
After graduating, Miles gained experience through various roles and overseas ventures to land in his current broking career.
I was able to secure a graduate role with the tax office. And that was in the business management side of things. Worked there for a year. Fantastic people work there however I wanted to explore the private sector. So I went to go and work in BT Financial which is a sub arm of Westpac and thought I wanted to be a financial planner and re-evaluated that as I sort of worked there for about roughly a year and then went to go and work in risk and compliance at Macquarie. Great place to work, enjoyed that, was a contractor there and last or this year has been a bit of change, I went across Africa travelled for 5 months and was able to cash flow that out of my work and a few other ventures and came back in August and have now been a broker for close to close to three months now.
An ingrained habit of saving was the key tool he used to support his overseas adventure.
Basically I'm a fairly good saver. And that's part of my upbringing and I grew up with had a single mom well had a single mom as a parent. And look I was able to save up in the vicinity of between 25 to 35 thousand from my day job and also I was able to hold my property as well which was cash flow neutral as well. So it was mostly through the employment and I mean there was a very small amount from some small investing but they were non-real estate related.
After his life-changing overseas experience, Miles was able to appreciate his own circumstances and utilise this in the mortgage broking business.
I really was able to appreciate what we have in Australia and the opportunity that we have here and it also taught me that irrespective of your situation like I was able to meet a lot of people in local areas and in countries such as Ghana even somewhere like Kenya or Tanzania was able to meet people and they were. They had business opportunities and they were hungry and they had that drive and desire which I suppose is translated back to back to when I've come back to Australia and is now working relatively well for me as a broker. I've always had that but that hit home that point on number one opportunity and two being able to make the best of your situation as well. And so it was pretty great to volunteer as well up in Ghana for about four weeks as well.
Inspiration from his studies at high school and his values as a first-generation university student drove him to pursue his passion for business and eventually investing.
Look I suppose for me I look I was the first person who went to university on mum’s side of family and you have that that very much I argue blue-collar mindset of work hard go to school get good grades and then go get a job. How it translates to my property journey, I've always been interested in business. And that was influenced as I mentioned from high school my high school studies business teacher, business studies teacher sorry. And look I suppose it was around that 16 or 17 where I started I started to look and say okay I really like this idea of business and it snowballed from there. And around that sort of 21, 22 stage that's where I started to say OK look I'm very serious in this financial planning. And then I sort of drilled down. So I was about 22 23 when I started to really investigate the property in terms of in my family that there wasn't there aren't a lot of property investors in my family.
It’s very much a mentality pay your house off and get rid of that debt, and debt can be a bad thing. So yes I was always taught to save and pay your bills on time and all that. In terms of investing, I started sort of teenage years and early 20s.
Shortly after leaving university, Miles had his first experiences in property investing.
I suppose to carry on from when I first started back in 2012 or 13 I was originally very keen to purchase a place in Mt Druitt, which was across the road from the Westfield's. Five minutes walk from the train station there. And I would have could have been able to purchase there for a bit, low two hundreds. And right now that could have been worth I could have should have would have been worth about 350, upwards of 350. That was the, you could argue the one that got away. So my first venture into the property and my first purchase was in 2015. And that was in May 2015 bought in a place called Zillmere in Queensland and with the assistance of a buyer's agent.
After a missed opportunity in his local area, what motivated Miles to explore the Queensland market?
For me I was I have heard the story of the Queensland market and had seen it mentioned over from probably 2013 onwards and then seeing that the prices and prices in Sydney capital especially in my local area St. Mary's sort of the Penrith and Blacktown district steadily go up and then round the 2015 mark that's when it really really was heating up and prices were. So I thought there was there was far too much competition in that particular market and that I would’ve potentially overpaid. So that's why the Brisbane market offered a bit more affordability and was more of a buyer's market at that particular time which is and the projected growth of that area was predicted. So that was those are the key driving factors to look at that market.
While investing in property has its advantages, Miles is keen to explore his investing options in the future.
I suppose property for me, you're able to generally get a higher leveraged asset which then can potentially increase your returns. Again it's it's a double-edged sword. So either way, if you were to buy in Karratha or somewhere like that you may or a mining town you may. And there's been a few stories out there about that. So I suppose to me it's the leverage and the leverage slash potential return and for me, I’m happy to talk about this later. It's not a property or shares for me or what I'd like to envision is the property and potentially other asset classes as well. But I suppose property given the leverage that was naturally the one I looked towards first.
So what was the most challenging experience Miles has had in his career?
It wasn't the one that I purchased up in Queensland which I still hold. There was actually a sort of a joint venture renovation flip that I purchased up in Newcastle in early 2016. And basically we so we purchased it a bit of chef's numbers. We purchased it for about 303,000. And were approximating it would sell for between 410 and 420. Look and on that one, the numbers did look quite good. We ultimately sold for 386. And look can probably do the maths on that for looking at potentially a 20000 dollar gain each went to losing about 4000 dollars each which to me while I would score that for me is the lowest of the low in my investment journey. Look it's certainly something you can take a lot of lessons from and yeah there is plenty of sort of funny wisdom you can take from that as well.
Breaking down what went wrong is all part of the learning experience.
There was a couple of factors that I'm happy to share. And it was a combination of us probably being a bit very naïve and not doing the research behind the scenes, taking what we were told it at face value, and overcapitalizing on the renovation as well.
So there was probably the three factors I would say is needing to sell the property given I was going overseas and it was part of the particular our strategy to sell, overcapitalizing so spending too much on the renovation so instead of spending approximately 30 we, well instead of spending roughly about 30 we spent around 50000 dollars which then eats into your profit and also not evaluating the local market enough in terms of speaking to real estate agents and understanding realistically what the property would sell for rather than being told an inflated figure if that makes sense.
Along the way, both Miles and his partner learnt several key lessons as investors.
We did part ways in terms of we haven't done another joint venture renovation together. Look it was very amicable and I did a lot of the project managing of it. He was more of a silent partner. So in terms of what we discussed in terms of learnings we discussed as we were going along, that was that those were our learnings that we each took from it and we discussed what we could do in terms of potentially keeping the property which if it was a valid option we may have considered. So we certainly discussed and took a lot of learnings out of it and parted ways very amicably as well there wasn't some there were no horror stories or or anything behind that. In terms of one person wanting to sell the other person didn’t want to, it was discussed and very amicable. And from that what I would say if you're going to get into a joint venture it's important to be able to have a fairly solid understanding of can you work together if something doesn't go right.
Because if you're not able to then I'm sure and I've heard stories that it can get quite messy and communication upfront is vital.
Are there any other tips that you could recommend before jumping into joint ventures or renovation deals like you've just done?
Due diligence is absolutely vital. But we did very very fundamental, very basic due diligence. I would highly recommend actually speaking to local real estate agents for this particular project. And I suppose any investing if you can get an on the ground view and perspective as to what's happening that can only improve your investing decisions and outcomes as well. So due diligence will be number one. And I suppose number two being more being a bit flexible more flexible on the exit strategy which is a subcategory of your due diligence. But if you can come up with plan B and Plan C if Plan A doesn't go according to as you expect it.
Breaking down his most recent experiences, Miles shares his best moments of success in his investing career.
This year has been an aha moment for me in terms of that investing. And that's been a combination of reasons why, like being able to get into broking and to understand the lending criteria.
I suppose the aha has just been on the multiple ways in which you can continue to invest despite not necessarily always having a lot of deposit. So traditionally and over the last three to five years I've been able to develop in terms of how to get the strategies. I suppose the aha moment was, to be specific to nail down to the moment is actually selling on that first investment property up in Queensland and I suppose the realisation that a bank will lend you almost, well in my situation, was able to lend me over 100 per cent for that property and knowing that that investment and that is sitting there in the background is an absolute aha moment that you can then continue to build on, well in my situation. And yeah. So it's it's I suppose the concept that you can borrow, and it seems quite basic but I mean for people who may not have the experience in investing that's an aha moment for me and then to then continue to learn and get the knowledge.
The self-discovery and personal development he experienced as a result of his successes is something Miles looks forward to develop in the future.
I suppose for me I can be a bit impatient. So I'm sure as a lot of entrepreneurs slash property investors would be aware of. And I suppose it's having that knowledge or having that understanding that sometimes you do need to be patient. And it's a balance between being patient and actually going out there and making something happen. So I'm learning, it's a journey for me. But for me spending that time overseas this year has really hammered home that lesson for me. And I suppose being clear and being accountable for yourself have been lessons this year that I continue to keep improving on as well.
Jef Miles Drives In The Property Millionaire Fast Lane
Miles’ first challenge on his property investment journey was to overcome his fear for risk and the unknown.
For me, it was the around mindset of fear. And partially you could argue that you could sort of say that conditioning as I was growing up, about not getting into too much debt so that did hold me back. And I suppose also not being aware of it so as I say you don't know what you don't know. So for me not having that network and not having that strong influence and knowing what you can achieve or what you can and can't do as a property investor.
In order to resolve his fears, Miles started to educate himself and better his understanding of the field.
So to overcome that fear of debt and of investing, for me it's been really important to understand to reach out to mentors who have that education and you can have that through a variety of sources that I found to be really useful. Helped me overcome that.
With no prior knowledge in property investment, Miles looked to podcasts and books to learn about property investment, a few of which he’d like to recommend to other beginning investors as well.
A key one has been a forum called Somersoft or property chat which I'm sure listeners are quite aware of and other ones have been books and podcasts and certainly even yours. Well, this is a great inspiration. I hope you don't mind the up flung show there.
I did use plenty of podcasts and books as well and something like Margaret Lomas and one of the first property books I actually read was Steve McNight’s “0 to 260”, I believe that's the name of the book. And for me it was amazing, that was a moment. I read that probably 2011 2012 and I like that is amazing that you can buy a property, you can keep buying properties based on the cash flow and that strategy. So I'd say Internet forum property chat Somersoft, if you're looking at podcasts such as yours over the last couple of years and also books as well. And there's been many mentors. There isn't one that stands out. Even my accountant as well has been a great mentor. And just I suppose watching what other people have done and even asking them questions. So I'm a big advocate of continuous learning.
By consistently looking to learn more about property investment, Miles has heard some great advice from many experienced people.
I suppose for me if I could sum that up, a quote that I'd love to use is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. And that may seem strange but I think for me that sort of hit home based on my upbringing. Look I've seen, looking at my parents now they're getting towards their late 50s early 60s. And if I was to repeat what they've done then for me I would probably more likely get the same result. So that's really a great piece of advice that I've heard. And I suppose another quote is to not always believe everything that you hear as well. And that hits on that point as well.
Miles’ property investment strategy may be the simplest one yet. Instead of doing everything himself, Miles has found a good buyers agent and invests purely based on his recommendations.
I found it through a buyers agent and I'd say engage a buyer's agent. I did some research before I went to that buyer's agent and decided to go with them.
For me, I was procrastinating too much. I was, as you may remember earlier you mentioned 2013 that property manager, it was almost two years before I actually took action. I thought
I can continue to research and talk about doing it or I can actually engage somebody and get it done. And to me, that has been critical. You sort of find that time can go by so quickly. But if you can shortcut that process and stop procrastinating. That was a key reason deciding factor behind a buyer's agent and also the strategy as well. I think it can offer you a good strategy to build a property portfolio.
Working with a buyers agent is perfect for Miles because it enables him to make the best investment decisions and minimise his risk-taking.
They ask me questions, they asked me how much am I looking to purchase for, what state we’re looking in, did I have a preference for townhouses or houses. It was a fax line and then they went out into the field and looked up properties as well. And then it was about a six to eight-week process in terms of the search and they presented me with properties and then I was also the one who would make the decision based on their recommendations.
I believe it was multiple properties so they would contact me and send me an e-mail with multiple properties and say OK we recommend this one, we looked at this one and we don't recommend it, here’s why we don't recommend it. So they would send me multiple properties with information, the data and all that. So yes then it was up to me to then say “Yes I want to make an offer on this and that” and they would then facilitate the negotiation process.
When looking at the best properties to invest in, Miles is mainly concerned with neutral cash flow, although he is now looking to delve deeper into capital growth in the property market.
For me look it's relatively cash flow neutral. That was part of the strategy, I didn't want it to cost me too much. And also in the longer term I'd love to see some capital growth in it to then continue to purchase. If I’m looking in 10 or 15 years, I have an ultimate strategy, I have put a number on a 200 K residual income. And look, some people would argue that’s ambitious and some people would argue it’s not ambitious enough. So yeah, that’s the rationale behind that strategy.
Miles is always looking to grow his property portfolio and hopes for it to generate enough of an income to support his future family.
The plans are to generate… I've written down how many properties I'd like to purchase in how many years. And so the plan is to build up the deposit for the next one so keep saving and potentially get creative around some strategies on doing some renovation slips which I'm in some conversations with some people. And then buy and hold for long term properties. Ultimate goal is to eventually get to a stage where it sustains itself and that's going to be a process over the next five to 10 and possibly 15 years depending on when kids and family come along as well.
I mean look, my views are that the next purchase is likely to be one that will see more capital growth. And yeah that's a big consideration to be able to make sure you can have that balance between cash flow versus a capital growth because if you can't continue to hold - if it's costing you too much in cash flow than you're getting capital growth then you may not be able to continue to hold the property. I mean in terms of where I would look to buy next, I'm looking potentially at your sort of outer suburbs of Melbourne potentially Brisbane and even considering Adelaide. I know that's a very general description. It's important then to do the research on the area so those are the states or areas I’ve been looking in and I suppose the next one would love to purchase one with large potential capital growth. The one at the moment is cash flow focused and I would love to have a more capital growth focused in property market however it is very self-servicing which is great.
Even though Miles has just begun his investment journey, he has already garnered enough experiences to provide some helpful advice for youths in situations similar to his previous self.
So what I'm saying to my 18-year-old self - I'm 28 now - I would definitely start earlier and advocate that because at that age I was most importantly focused on grades and university and high school.
And of course, it's got to fit your own circumstances. You can't necessarily, it may not be for everybody. But certainly, at least consider it, start researching. Start reaching out to people. And in terms of like the advice, I would like to give myself is to be a lot clearer on what you actually enjoy doing for a job or for a business. And that university may not be the option. Even if you are pressure from parents friends or family as well.
While Miles understands that university is definitely pivotal in securing a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle, he wants others to know that participating in tertiary education is only an expectation and not the only option.
It was very focused on getting a job and getting a stable job and getting high paying job. Given that growing up in Western Sydney in a lower socioeconomic status area, university and getting an education was and is and can be the way to sort of get out of that or not get out of but I suppose have a higher earning potential and more stable future. So yeah I think there was the expectation from parents that you're able to go and get a high paying job.
And that was the key driver there in going to university and pursuing further education.
For the next five years, Miles is simply looking to grow his property portfolio sustainably.
Look for me, over the next five years, it’s being able to purchase more properties. And while that sounds strange, it’s more the reason why over the next time period when kids come along, and for me buying those properties sets up the next 5 10 15 years in striving towards reaching financial independence and financial freedom which gives some options and flexibility which is what I'm most excited about and one of the key driving factors behind the property that's been forming.
Miles advises other beginners to learn as much as they can from the resources available but to also pick and choose what they want to apply and actually take action with.
There are plenty of them. A big one that if you are just starting out as a property investor, I would highly recommend “Think and Grow Rich” and look that's not specific to property. It will help you with your mind, get your mindset in place. And then there's in terms of Australian property, books I would recommend, you're looking at books written by Margaret Lomas, you've got Michael Yardney, Pete Wargent who’s been on your show, actually, they've all been on your show. So look books, they’re great.
And I suppose, once you read those books and then start figuring out what resonates with you, it probably won’t all resonate with you and it’s then reading and taking the pieces that resonate and starting to reach out to different types of mediums and taking action.
For his most effective personal habits, Miles likes to meditate to ensure he understands his goals and also reviews them regularly.
So the one that I look to do on a daily basis whenever I can is meditation and how does that help with my property investing. I suppose for me it helps actually get you focused because we have five to 10 different social media platforms and you get e-mails, you get phone calls, you get all these distractions I suppose once you can get clear on those goals. So I suppose in meditation, setting goals and looking at revising those goals almost on a daily basis. I've got to a whiteboard at home that I've got my short term, long-term, medium-term goals on a daily basis. And one of your previous guests, Taku said he writes them every day. I look at them every day and have them written somewhere as well. And the third one would actually be educating myself and I educate myself, I read forums on a daily basis and make a habit of anything that I find is interesting, I put that into a Google sheet and then I'm able to go back to that at any time. So the free meditation, setting those goals and reviewing them and also looking on property forums and listening to podcasts, all those sorts of things.
For those listeners who would like to know more about Miles and the beginning stages of property investment, feel free to give him a call.
The best way to reach out to me if this is if you want talk property or mortgage brokerage and all of that give me a call on 0414 549 258. That's my business number and even if you just want to connect in general or feel inspired, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn as well which I’m sure Tyrone will have that linked up in terms of my name but it's which is J e f and then Miles, how it sounds.
This episode was produced by Andrew Faleafaga with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.