Dymphna Boholt - founder and educational speaker in the I Love Real Estate community - explains how she kicked off her empire while raising her kids and how her background in accounting enabled her to buy a positive cash flow property with no money!
Building a career based on parties and entertaining as well as successfully investing in property, follow Boholt’s inspiring journey and discover how you can learn from her wisdom.
Boholt is the founder of the I Love Real Estate community, an educator and speaker on smart investment strategies in real estate, primarily focusing on fundamentals and accelerated investment success.
I feel that you know my childhood attitude towards money was very different to what I experienced when I was overseas. My family was not wealthy at all. They probably had a very lax attitude around money. And you know I think that gave me a burning desire that I never wanted to be poor. I never wanted to live in the conditions that I had growing up. It wasn't what I wanted. And I mean I had a good childhood. You know my parents were great and all the rest of it but the money attitude was very very different. I'll give you an example when I was at the University of Canberra and my parents lived up in central London.
Both have passed on now and when I drove home at Christmas time I got home when everybody was down at the yard dipping the cattle and I said to Mum, she was at home getting the afternoon tea, look don't take the old ute down. Take my car go and surprise everybody I'm home. So I'm unpacking my boot which is you know 18, 19-year old I got crap all over my boot.
I had a book lying in the bottom of the boot that I was reading at the time and it was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I can still to this day remember my mother's words she picked up the book read the title she goes you can grow rich. What you are want to be rich for and she threw the book back into the boot and that was pretty typical of the attitude around money that I grew up with whereas I had this rebellious nature that I didn't want that for me.
You know I wanted to live in a better house. I wanted to drive a better car. I wanted to see the world I wanted to do all these things like these you know very strong desires and dreams that I was going to fulfill. So in one way, it was great because it gave me that absolute burning desire that I didn't want to grow up with that lack attitude. You know that book I never finished reading it until my mother died some 20 odd years later. It's remarkable how a lot of these things it's not a conscious decision it's a subconscious decision that you allow these things to influence you. And I think it's something that a lot of people need more understanding and more training to understand how you can reverse that automatic programming that we all run on because of something an idea. Yes, I teach real estate but that is a big part of the training that I run alongside the real estate is the personal development that absolutely needs to be there because without that no matter how much money you make you won't keep it unless you're creating the emotional growth that comes along with the financial growth.
So what does a real estate business owner, who runs everything from her farm do in any given day?
When I'm with my students I'm 100 percent present. So I do a number of training events around the country whether they be one day or three days four they are I've got coming up very shortly.
So when I'm doing those I'm very pleased and that's what I'm doing when I'm at home here on the farm, I have an office where I've got two full-time accountants and other staff upstairs and my day here probably starts at about 8 o'clock normally after I've been to the gym and those sorts of things that I normally do. I'm very structured in my day so I will have a certain time for my own portfolio. I will have a certain time for my property education business and then I run a number of real estate businesses as well, as in more active management properties in real estate, not just passive investments which need a lot more attention. So my day is very, very varied and if I got something that I don't like doing I normally give myself a little reward for getting the job done that I didn't want to go and do and that might be playing in the garden for 10 minutes or something that I enjoys doing.
Every morning I write my To-Do list of what I've got to get done for the day and I prioritize that To-Do list and there will be things on there that will be a lot to do that if you don't have a reward it's very easy to throw it to the end. So at the end and then it'll be on the next day’s to-do list so it might just be well I'll get that done and then I'll go and have a cup of tea or something like that.
In addition to this, Bohol developed some key traits during her formative years that would help her along in the distant future.
I grew up in central Queensland. I grew up on a cattle station. My father moved around a lot when I was a kid.
I think by the time I was in Grade 7 I'd been to five different schools.
So it meant that you know very resilient and quite independent and those sorts of things because you know you when you're moving that often you’re very much on your own.
I mean that's where I grew up. I studied hard. I was very much into athletics. So that was my physical outlet. 400 meters was my best race.
But it wasn’t until Boholt finished high school and had her first overseas experience and taste of business that firmly set her onto her path in the corporate world.
Well that was when I was moving. But then I mean I've kind of settled down a little bit more in high school. And I I got into university. I actually went overseas for a year. So I went overseas and you can imagine growing up only five and 10,000-acre properties and then going to downtown Bangkok and learning to cross 12 lanes of traffic one at a time. It was the biggest culture shock I've ever seen. And when I was going over. I thought I wanted to be a vet. But you get to university and you know you talk to a female vet who came in to talk to all the new recruits and she said well realistically you're going to have your hand up a cow’s butt for the rest of your life I mean that doesn't sound very appealing to me.
So then the opportunity came up me to go overseas on the exchange so I deferred university, I went overseas and when I came back I decided I didn't want to be a vet. When I was over there I stayed with a family, the lady, in particular, was pretty high up in business. And I was fascinated by the business world. So I used to wag school most of the time because I'd finish school here anyway. And I used to follow her around and go to meetings, and take notes and most of it was in time this sort of thing I understand about you know half of it. But it was good fun was good experience so when I came back I started off doing Asian studies which meant I could continue with the language and economics but I quickly switched to accounting and economics. I came back with a double major in accounting and economics.
After university, Boholt had a colourful and diverse array of jobs that gave her the experience and skills she’s used to this day.
Things were very different back then though. I mean there's plenty of job offers around. I think when I finished uni I got about 15 job offers. And I chose to go to Coopers and Lybrand, one of the big accounting firms at the time and I moved to Sydney then because I went to university in Canberra, went to Sydney with that. And for anyone who has been through that formal training, you'll understand what I mean when I say I served my time. I got headhunted from there. I went into private enterprise and I was the financial controller of a number of different organizations. I was in the banking industry at one stage of a French stockbroking firm. The mining industry, a lot of different positions within the mining industry, manufacturing. I was even financial control of a liquor distribution company at one stage and we had the best parties ever.
There was a big bar there that we had to have functions and entertain people and all of these sort of things. So it was a very different financial controller position I can tell you.
I feel that grounding was very good for me because it taught me a lot at a lot of different levels and to be able to relate to people at a lot of different levels whether I was talking in the boardroom or whether I was running a mine of 160 men, and I'm female and all of those things. But you know it didn't take long with it, those guys do anything for me which was really fantastic. But you get a lot of skills regarding leadership and working as a team and those sorts of things which is something that I think is very important for real estate.
Boholt’s path to success hasn’t always been easy. After leaving the corporate world, Boholt returned to Queensland and began her own business amidst juggling the challenges of full-time work and single-motherhood.
And I got out and then I went into small business services with kids and Lybrand and that's where I then got headhunted and I became financial controller then of a number of different organizations. And it wasn't until my 30s when I was going through a very messy divorce that I decided I made a conscious decision that I wouldn't go back into the corporate world. I would move away from New South Wales where I was living at the time and move back to Queensland and I basically drove from the Gold Coast the Sunshine Coast and thought. Where am I going to be, in that belt somewhere? And I chose Sunshine Coast and I was pregnant. I had a baby in arms.
I'd given up the corporate career to try and save the marriage which obviously didn't work and I decided that I was going to set up my own accountancy practice because I figured at least they had all the qualifications I could poke a stick at basically.
And I decided that I would be at least in one spot because I couldn't with the corporate world. I really became the fix it. Now I go on a contract I'd go into an organization that was not doing well or losing money. You know middle-sized companies mostly, I would walk in there I would turn it around. I would put systems into place I would turn the profitability around and I'd train somebody else to come in behind me to take over my position and then I'd go on to another contract.
So I couldn't do that with small children and I decided well I'll set up an accountancy practice and I, literally eight months pregnant you can imagine it like eight months pregnant, I was walking the streets of the Sunshine Coast introducing myself to businesses setting up an accounting practice and getting clients, etc. So it was a hard road and I was really in survival mode because when I walked out of divorce I I had a grand total of forty thousand dollars in my back pocket. Not a lot of money to start all over with two kids on your own and new business.
After her divorce and having to start all over, Boholt was looking for a way out of working 60 hours a week in her business so she could spend more time with her two children.
I bought a two-bedroom fibre shack with an asbestos roof that leaked when it rained and that's where I lived and I bought a seventy-two square meter office where I ran the accountancy practice from. So I mean I was very very good with money management and things like that because that's been my whole career. But it was tough it was really really tough. I mean it hurts when you got to put your six-week-old baby and your toddler into full-time daycare for somebody else to look after but if I didn't work they didn't eat. That was a reality. So that was my life as a single mum and I built my business up and it was really I mean I look back I say you know how come I only end up with 40 grand considering how much money I earnt in those early years.
So it was then a couple of years of just really knuckling down and working really hard, I built the business up. And I remember sitting in my office which faced the western sun and had this big window, had the most spectacular sunsets. And I remember sitting there thinking my life is really hard. Not so much that my life sucked, it was just it was hard. I'm working 40 or 60 hours a week, two small children to look after on my own. You know you take files home from work and play with the kids put them to bed, feed them bath them all the rest of it then you fall asleep on the couch doing work and you get up the next morning and you do it all again and it was just really really hard. And I'm sitting there looking at this sunset thinking I don't want this for the rest of my life.
Her experience in the corporate world lead her to property, and through her own research and priority of fast financial returns, it resulted in her own portfolio of thrifty successes.
I looked at the share market given that I've been educated older stockbroking firm I know what happens on the other side of the stock market industry and I got to tell you I am very negatively biased to them, particularly the Australian stock market and how manipulated it is but that's my personal opinion.
And then I looked at multilevel marketing and you know all of the multi-level marketing work they absolutely do. What didn't work was me. It didn't fit my personality at all. So I thought no that's not me. And then of course at least property and I thought well you know I can't afford to negatively gear. But everything that I had ever been taught from you know school onward with all of the training and everything else. A client comes in to see you and they whinge about paying too much tax and you say you need to negatively geared investment property you know this is how it works. There's a save tax on all these things but when I looked at it for me I thought this is a mug's game. You know I can't afford this negative cash flow because you know in the hope that things are going to go up in value because things were pretty tight back then so I thought well maybe there's another way maybe if I bought a property that even looked after itself does that even exist. And then, of course, I gave myself another couple of weeks to come up with a business plan because you know what's a business plan is going to work and I know I did research I did analysis paralysis. I think I did feasibilities upon feasibilities and I came up with a business plan that I figured for me was going to work and that was really creating a portfolio of properties that were positively geared. But my trouble, of course, was that I had to start with no money because I didn't have any, you know all of my money had been tied up in that in the two properties. I didn't have any deposits to go and buy a property. So I thought that's great. I need to buy a positively cash flow property without any money. And you know the first three properties I bought were all positive cash flow properties without any money at all.
This wasn’t the only challenge Boholt would encounter, and discovered the importance of emotional protection, especially in the workplace.
First of all, I must confess I bought a negatively geared investment property.
But I'll tell you why I bought it which is what is really quite interesting. I was going through a time where a lot of people were coming to me you know students coming to me and you know they're basically coming and dumping their stuff on me. This has gone wrong and my business has gone wrong and something's happened over there and I've got some property and whatever else. And I was energetically not protecting myself from other people's stuff for want of a better word. And I felt I was taking on their burden. And at a subconscious level, I felt I I slipped back into a lot of childhood attitudes around money and those sort of things. And at the time I went out and bought a property which was a luxury property and obviously negatively geared and all of these things so you know it was the heartstrings that bought it not the. And you know it's I think I still own the damn thing.
But know but it obviously had an effect on cash flow. It was a big mistake. You know I lost money on it or whatever but the reasons behind it I think are important that you know you can allow yourself to take on other people's stuff. And it's something you need to protect yourself from. And even in workplaces a lot of us work in very toxic environments and things like that which the negative attitudes if you haven't thrown at you enough you absorb some of that. You have to have a regime every single day to raise your own energy levels and to remain focused on what it is that you really want and what's right for you and keeping in mind your bigger picture which is very easy to allow life to kind of take over that position and get you sidetracked and you turn around two or three years later and you really no further ahead than you know you were except you two or three years older. So I think the focus is very important with that sort of thing and it reminds you of a story of a. I was actually talking to a friend of mine about a counselor who counsels cancer patients and she was talking about how ironic it was that now she has cancer and it was the same kind of scenario with me you know I'm counseling people on debt reduction and you know all of these things and not negative gearing and etc.. And I ended up doing exactly the same thing at that time because of that protection mechanism not being there.
Despite all this Boholt’s most successful moment came at the back of one of her most challenging ones.
For me, it was more of a slow burn because when I made that decision sitting in my office looking at the sunset it took me 18 months to totally replace my accountancy income. I was working 40 to 60 hours a week for previously. So within 18 months, I had totally replaced my accountancy income with passive real estate income. And I remember that the first three deals I had to do no money down just to get going. So I don't think there is that oh my god that's amazing. It's is very much a slow burn. My whole life has been really more about that because I am constantly learning I'm constantly educating myself. I am constantly working on myself so that I can be a better leader, a better teacher for others as well. It's an ongoing journey. I don't think it's something that ever stops. And if you stop learning you die. It's
something I will continue to do. I mean I have a goal that I speak on stage when I'm over 100. I do have to actually fix it. We'll see if I can meet that target.
So, inspired by this story and what Dymphna Boholt is excited about today, we will keep the conversation going in a future episode on Property Investory Podcast, where we talk about how to apply the strategy of positive gearing,
So you know to be able to do feasibly be able to do reverse feasibility and do it standing on their head and to be able to know what these costs and that cost and that strategy in and analyze deals.
The significance of belief and self-confidence.
The biggest thing is belief system believe in yourself and getting out there actually just turning up and getting out there talking to people.
How I Became A Real Estate Millionaire: Turning A Negative Into A Positive
Boholt’s movement into property investing was spurred by challenges of spending time with her children while working full-time, and she was encouraged by her own self-confidence and belief.
Well, I think the biggest thing is belief system, belief in yourself, and getting out there actually just turning up and getting out there talking to people. Real estate is something that everybody thinks you know you can do behind a computer. You can't. It's very much a people business. And the more people you connect with the more opportunities present themselves. And I always had a very core belief system that you know if that's what I decide to do I can make it happen. I have no idea how I was going to replace my income in 18 months when I first started it wasn't even really that I planned to do that. It was just that I knew I needed to make passive income because that's how I was going to have more time with my children and time with my children was my overarching why. Because when you're working 40 60 hours a week you're a lousy mother. And I knew that. And I needed to do something in order to recreate that kind of time with kids. So passive income was definitely the vehicle, the exact how I didn't know. I knew it had to be passive positively cash flow property. But beyond that back then I really didn't know.
Despite these challenges, Boholt was able to use positive gearing and the financial climate to start her portfolio with no money.
There was really a matter of taking one step at a time and having the belief system that something would show up. One way or another I'll make it happen I don't know how but I'll make it happen. And the first three deals, I mean there's a longer story to it. But basically I found a seller who was in need and my seller was a guy who had committed into a shopping centre site and he was a builder and developer. The banking industry had turned where it was quite tough to get loans and the market had turned so it was a bit hard to sell properties as well. Now I picked his cheapest properties which was two little townhouses side by side. And what I did was, first of all, I got in front of the developer directly because I wanted to negotiate myself.
Now that's not cutting the agent out. My agent was there.
I just wanted to create a deal that I could do because it wasn't just a price deal. Price was actually less important to me than the terms were, to cut a long story short what I negotiated with him to do was to basically lend me the 20 percent deposit on a personal loan agreement. And I had the personal loan agreement all done up. I actually negotiated it to be an interest-free loan for five years and I could pay him as and when I could out of my business. So he thought I was going to pay him in dribs and drabs this 20 percent. Obviously I borrowed the other 80 percent and I paid him that money because I had serviceability. I didn't have any cash. So that's how I got into the first property. I didn't pay in dribs and drabs what I did was I waited till the fourth year. If the properties went up enough I would refinance those properties and paying out the rest of the money.
Boholt’s strategy also protected her from financial pitfalls.
If they hadn't gone up as much as I would have liked it gives me a year to sell that property, but whatever they have gone up in my pocket, meanwhile I've got four years worth of passive income and then I pay him out the other 20 percent so I didn't negotiate in price. I actually paid list price for the properties which was over what he was expecting because everybody negotiates but I got the terms that I wanted and effectively he vendor financed me the 20 percent deposit. He had no intention of doing that. He had no intention of structuring a deal that way. But there wasn't a lot of buyers around, it wasn't a hot market and if he wanted to sell the properties this is a way I could make it happen. Any other way I couldn't buy those properties. And you know everybody won. You know Bruce, my agent, got paid. He got the price he wanted eventually and I got a property that I didn't have to put any money in to actually buy. And it was positively geared. So everybody wins in that scenario.
But when I paid him his money out towards the end of the five years he was very happy. He didn't think he was going to get his money but he did.
Although the obscurity of positive gearing as an investment strategy meant that she had to rely on her self-confidence, she did have some guidance.
You know more than the education I actually think it was guts. But back when I was doing this was not something that was common. I mean even the word positive gearing I don't think it was in the dictionary. I really tried it and it was not something that anybody else was doing. Somebody that I had listened to that I thought made a lot of sense was someone by the name of Dr. Dolf de Roos. Now we actually became friends. And I spoke on stage with him many times. I actually had him on one of my US tours when he lived in the States and we’ve spent some time together since then but he was somebody I respected with you know his attitude around positive gearing and things like that.
Boholt has since gone on to train her own mentors within her own company, as well as enlisting external help.
I have my own people within. And that's where I bring my leaders up through that and I've got some you know one amazing guy who you know I call him the mini Anthony Robbins because he's fantastic from a motivational perspective. And you know he'll be out doing things very shortly on his own.
But you know on this topic I've got some fantastic trainers who are really fantastic at varying strategies. And you know they will continue to change and educate those strategies themselves. So I really nurture from within.
I guess there's you know there's one old friend that I've kind of roped in because he's been in the industry a million years and he has a lot of experience to the whole world.
His name's Kevin Dewdney and he really started a lot of you know the smaller spaces and he’s the future housing task force leader and a lot of people have copied what he does but he is the originator very much and he is I guess one of the only ones I kind of bring in externally. Who I just know adds a lot of benefit to the community.
Boholt’s strategy during the early stages of her career allowed her to rapidly expand her portfolio through planning ahead and ensuring her financial security with each addition.
So I think it's the earlier years when I first started out that I think are more important and I think a big part of growing your portfolio is actually you need to be balancing income and growth. Now I don't keep anything apart from that one mistake that was negatively geared.
I mean if at the end of the strategy, I might buy it negatively geared but I’ll do things to it to turn it into positive and it was a strategy you can use to do that. If at the end of the deal it's not positively geared but I've elevated the value I'll sell the property you know take my chump money and put it back into the next deal. But all the time you're balancing off income and growth and I think it's something whenever you buy or sell a property you need to step back, don't get emotional about and go okay and it's a really good question to ask and something your listeners should take on board is what does my portfolio need next. It's not what you want, what you like or anything else it’s what does my portfolio needs next. Because every deal that you do the next deal needs to strengthen your weakness. So for instance, if you got low equity you don't have a lot of money then your next deal needs to be a chump deal. You need to do a deal we elevating the value of the property in some form so that at the end of the deal whether you refinance or whether you sell that property you're in a stronger position for having that property than before you bought it. Conversely, if you're low in serviceability, you've got the low job you don't have a job you need to buy properties that are strongly positively geared because that next property needs to strengthen your position and you always should be thinking two deals ahead.
Otherwise you've chosen the wrong strategy. It doesn't work because you need that momentum to be able to keep investing and that's what replaces your income.
It's the ongoing consistent investing with the underlying rule that you don't keep anything that's not positive. And every deal needs to strengthen your weakness. And at the end of every deal, you need to be in a position to go into the next one.
The success of her investing strategy allowed Boholt to continue balancing running her business whilst spending time with her family, and her property investing.
Well, I didn’t actually close the accountancy practice.
I'd already replaced my income with real estate. So it wasn't the income I needed to work on. It was just the practicality of how can I evolve this business into something that will continue to generate me a salary and income as well as look after all the clients and grow.
I kept the accountancy practice going and because I decided I couldn't be a full-time mum either and I continued to invest. But
It gave me the luxury then of basically being able to choose you know what I wanted to do and I can't remember the number of years they kept that business going then for a number of a number of years thereafter. But what I did do is I put into place a retirement plan. So I didn't want to close the practice. I mean you know I liked my clients, I like talking to my clients, I respected that they didn't want me just shut up shop either. So I brought other people into my business with a view to replacing myself in the business. And that took about two and a half to three years where I was in a position that I could actually step out of the business. I still own half of it. I could step out of the business still get paid from the business as well as my property income but not have to work in it. But that was two to three years in the planning to be able to do that.
It's not something you do overnight.
Meditation and self-reflection allow Boholt to focus and plan her goals consistently.
Look I think that 15 minutes a day is all it takes. 15 minutes a day just focusing on you. Now whether you do that you know eyes shut to music or whether you sit down with just a piece of paper and really write things out and you know spend a little bit of time daydreaming about you and what you want in life and the way you want your life to pan out and things like that I think is very important. Fifteen minutes is all it takes but needs to be every single day and it will change your life forever. It honestly will. Something else that I think is very important is consistency and being regimented in that consistency. I mean you know if you go to the gym, going to a gym once is not going to change your body. But if you are consistently doing things, your consistent application and termination that's what will make the difference that's what gets results. And it's just the application of that over a long period of time which is why little techniques like a reward system even on a daily basis., you know something that would get this done. And then I'm going to go and do that or get this done and then I'm going to go and do that, just those little mind games that you play with yourself throughout the entire day make such a big difference. You know it's really about having respect for yourself, that you don't let yourself down by saying you're going to do something and then not do it because little by little what that does is it chips away at who you really are and you will only achieve who you see yourself being. You were only put into practice what you see yourself doing and it’s really keeping that self-image protected, keeping that self-image is very very secure because that is your life. That is your destiny because you will become that person.
So what books would Boholt recommend for her fellow or future investors?
Obviously Kiyosaki with his Rich Dad Poor Dad book but I mean whilst it was a great mindset book and it's really changed the mindset of a whole generation it's a fantastic book to get your children to read and things like that it gets their head in the right spot which I think is you know 80 percent of the battle.
It doesn't have a lot of how to. There's not a step by step process which for me probably became the easy part because of all my business training because of all my you know my logistics training and analytics and all of those sort of things the how-to I could work out, the motivation I needed and the belief system I needed. But the how-to, that's where I had my strength where you know the likes of Robert Kiyosaki is a lot of strategy doesn’t work in Australia for starters. And he is not a technical guy, it doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of exactly how it has to be done and in particular how it has to be done in Australia. But that was my strength. I already had that once I worked out the formula I already had the logistics I had the strategies I had the how-to because that was my training and whether it's the business training you know or everything that I've ever done in the past kind of really set me up to go, that's what we got to do.
After she worked out the formula, Boholt went on to share it in her own books that provide help for investors in many key areas of investing.
Look I've written a stack of books I mean my story is Confessions of a Real Estate Millionaire but then I've gone on to write specific books on certain things so I've got Asset Protection Secrets of a Real Estate Millionaire, I got Tax Secrets of Real Estate Millionaire, I’ve got 101 Ten Top Tips in Real Estate. I've got the Peg in the Sand Journal which is basically a how-to step out two years of investing in the true goal setting and things like that.
I've got the Finance Secrets of a Real Estate Millionaire due to come out very shortly. I've got the Real Estate Millionaire Within which is all about mindset and getting yourself market ready from an internal perspective, not just financial perspective, that will be out very shortly. Writing a couple of other books I'm writing a kids book at the moment.
So if she were to meet her past self from 10 years ago, what would she tell her?
Ten years ago I would say you're in for a wild ride.
You know everything you do creates who you are, good and bad experiences create who you are.
And I really feel it's not something that you go back and say I wish I'd done this I wish I'd done that. Because you know even the mistakes are benefits to you if you learn from them.
To help other investors navigate their own property investing journey, Boholt has many resources available across several platforms.
Look I do a lot of free stuff. I think the first thing is to go to my website which is www.Iloverealestate.tv. There is a bucket load of free stuff on there. I've got articles, I've got blogs, I’ve got podcasts, I got all sorts of things on there that people can consume and at their leisure but something I do on a regular basis is I do a podcast myself on iTunes and it's free.
And you know they'd like to get onto iTunes and subscribe to that I'm normally in the top 10 podcasts in the finance section. And again it's just I love real estate what you've got to look out for, subscribe to that they come to you automatically. And if they like to leave a bit of a post and email me through there’s some details there about emailing me through their ranking of my posts. Then I select somebody and I send them out as a gift. This is one of my books normally so that I've got that going on and then, of course, there's the I Love Real Estate Facebook page which a lot of things go on there as well. And I have a range of free events around the country on a regular basis. I don't have any coming up at the moment but I will have next year. So get on the website and keep an eye out for all of the free stuff that I do.