Jessica Berrell

12 Months Of Property Growth: Investor Guide in Real Estate

A full-time paramedic, university lecturer and seasoned property investor, Jessica Berrell shares with us how she got started in real estate. While maintaining a busy work/home life balance, Jessica and her partner have utilised buyers agents in order to expand their portfolio inter-state, and have plans to continue on in the future.

Join us in this episode of Property Investory where Berrell shares both the best and worst moments in her property investment journey. Despite the difficulties, Berrell also remembers a positive moment that gave her the confidence to feel comfortable investing in property and has inspired her to have her sights set on the next property purchase.

“It’s really good to see growth and when you can see some type of outcome from it you’re like “yes”, we’re doing this for the right reasons. “
– Jessica Berrell

Working primarily as a paramedic, what does the typical day for Jessica Berrell look like?

I guess at any given day just at work would be assisting people in a time of need. 

So anybody’s emergency as soon as they dial triple zero and for whatever reason where they’re assisting you know, it can be anything from car accidents to elderly who have fallen and anything in between. So anything high acuity and also a combination of low acuity as well. 

In case you don’t speak paramedic, Berrell describes what high and low acuity means.

Your high acuity is something I guess what you would deem as a serious emergency say something like a cardiac arrest or somebody who’s unconscious go down to your lower acuity which could be something as simple as a trick for a Common cough cold. 

Berrell grew up on the outskirts of Southern Sydney, an area that has continued to grow and change ever since.

I grew up and I’m still living in Camden just out of Sydney. 

Ah yes, I know that place my sister was actually on there so I remember going about 20 years ago or longer we’re now 30. So it was a completely different place it was mostly um yeah it’s big spacious land in you to try passing to see empty grounds and stuff. Is that the case still has that changed a lot over the last few years. 

It has changed a lot. 

You know I’m like you were just saying when I was a kid that’s what it sounded like what you’re explaining you know the big open areas next big farm rural area and I guess we were always right on the outskirts of Sydney which seemed so far away from everything because there was really nothing in between here and I guess at Liverpool it was all I can say. However, now there’s a lot of development going on out here and I guess from Liverpool onwards or through Leppink in an Orange Park and even out around Camden as well. So it has changed a little bit but it still does have quite a nice country feel out here and there still where we live. Lots of nice open space which is lovely. 

Having lived there her whole life, she attended both primary and high school around these small towns and suburbs just outside of Sydney.

I went to elderflower High School which is just a little suburb next door to Camden. 

I did Primary School and High School in this area and I guess it was just quite nice when we were growing up. It was obviously again quite a long time ago that I was at school. It was just a nice community feel and it didn’t feel too busy. You where you know I guess out more on the land and all them lived on farms and it was really nice environment to grow up and grow up in. 

I can imagine so much has changed and because yeah sort of become more suburban and see like you know it’s become a community so it’s hard and lost there unfortunately due to the fact there’s just so much to so many people in the area nowadays. 

Yeah exactly I know just because of the growth which I guess is inevitable and it has to happen. But yeah it does tend to lose that a little bit doesn’t it. 

Like many young people out of high school, Berrell wasn’t certain on what she wanted to do, and eventually changed her study and career path completely.

I had left school and I was studying business majoring in marketing and I worked in that for quite a few years post finishing uni and then I went back to uni to study paramedic’s when I decided I want to get a change in career and decided I’d head on dark skin paramedic’s was going to be my future. 

So yeah so and I finished uni now I’ve been a fulltime paramedic for about three years now. 

After finishing her first degree, and working in marketing for a number of years, she made the big change to follow her passion.

I worked in marketing for about seven years it was. 

Wow, that’s quite a long time to get a career. What kind of triggered the change because this is getting very interesting. It’s a big change in not just dumping for marketing into like you know the different company you’re changing completely in your career. 

Yeah yeah, it was quite a big change. I think I wanted something where I was working more one on one with people and feeling like I was helping people I guess but making a change in their lives I thought of a number of health care careers. Initially when I finish school however I kind of went down the marketing business path instead. The things I don’t regret at all and I enjoyed my time doing that. However, I had kinda gotten to that point I guess it was like that crossroads and I thought I really don’t want to do this anymore I don’t want to do the nine to five deaths I really wanted to change. I’m very happy I did the change because I yeah I thoroughly enjoy my job now. 

Investor in Real Estate

Becoming a paramedic was drastically different to the 9-5 jobs she was used to working.

It’s not a nine to five and that’s something that I did find hard initially not having. I guess that set routine of Monday to Friday and it is weekends and public holidays and birthdays and Christmas so that can be hard but I think it’s really good. Within the service, it’s quite flexible in regards to swapping shifts and changing shifts. And also it’s nice because we do have quite a few days in between our sheets. So even if you don’t get the weekend it’s nice to have a few days off during the week.

Yet such a big decision was not made without the influence of the people around her.

I guess by the time I go back to uni the second time I had obviously consulted my parents and some of my extended family were already in health care and my partner’s family so I guess I’d had a chat with all of them then spoken to them and discussed what their lifestyles like etc. and what I wanted to achieve later on in life. 

So I feel like it was a bit of an influence for everybody around me and my friends family yeah everybody kind of contributed to that. 

Moving on, we now start to delve into Berrell’s property journey, and how she initially started close to home.

It’s myself and my partner, James Jones. 

We initially purchased a home in Camden in around 2012 and that’s I guess how we started. Well that’s how we got into the property market initially so we’d found this little home it was a little cottage it needed quite a bit of work done to it but we love the location of it and we thought it had a lot of potential so we purchased it and it that’s really where it all started from that Camden property. 

This first property was purchased with tenants in place, which caused a bit of a headache for these first home buyers.

It was to live in though we had initially purchased it and we did have some renters in here initially and we all we were hoping to have them in the I guess a little bit longer than who had planned out and then we were I think we were overseas and they’d called and said oh no the renters want to move out. 

So it kind of changed all of our plans. So we ended up deciding that would actually come and move into the property. 

That worked out really well I guess in this sense. 

Yeah yeah exactly. 

I know I think in the long run it all kind of panned out. 

Like many couples who decide to become a real estate investor together, there is often one person more hesitant than the other. In this case, Berrell was the one nervous to take the plunge.

We have this discussion and I think Joel with a lot more keen than I was initially so nervous I was thinking I’d really what did this and Joe’s family. So his parents had purchased property in the past and had been a really big encouragement and I think an import from Joel’s point of view you know encouraging him to do it. So he’s kind of the one that I guess coerced to start the whole property journey. So which now looking back with great but I think at the time from my point of view I was just really quite nervous then I guess taking that next step of getting another property it was like oh no you’re so comfortable just with the one that we’ve got. So yeah I guess from that point of view it was really just Joel who put me in including me I guess. 

That is great. 

It’s always one party that I hear that comes in and they go let’s do this then they’ll sort of like I’m not sure it’s like oh what I do and then I guess once you see the results of it and start to see great things happen. 

Oh yeah actually works. 

Exactly I know and you think why didn’t I do that earlier. 

So after some consideration and convincing, the couple bought their second property together.

We purchased our next one up in Queensland in 2016. And that was in Deception Bay. 

That’s a lovely area. 

Yeah yeah. 

So we’ve heard just there which is it’s good. 

You know we’ve had constant tenants there which is great and we’ve been able to use the equity from that home and Mitchel’s out sorry our home here in Camden to now purchase a property last year down in Geelong. 

Being such busy individuals, they didn’t exactly have the time to research in-depth for their inter-state property purchases, so they enlisted the help of a professional company.

With the assistance like I said I’m very busy my schedule can be quite hectic and that’s also the same with Joel. Know we can generally bypass one another for a week or so which makes it a little bit harder. So we actually reached out to a company called your property your wealth and the director there named Daniel he was just awesome in assisting us to find the correct. I guess initially target the correct area where we should be looking and then help us find the property and really with the whole process.

Berrell said she found these services through old-school word of mouth referrals.

So Daniel is also from around this area as well. So we had actually known him through a friend of a friend. 

And I guess he got in touch with him that way. 

That’s great. So through word of mouth referral help you find a property and give you that kind of strategy. Strategic advice to help you get to that point where you are now. 

Now they’re going so well we’re seeing them everywhere. 

Like it is for many, investing isn’t always a walk in the park, and particularly for Berrell who’s had to face multiple damages and maintenance issues across her properties all at once, causing financial strain on them.

In the ways quite hard when there are multiple things that go wrong with your property. So I mean you know the hot water system goes at the same time the stove wants to break off the air conditioning needs repaired and there’s a storm that’s coming in and ruined you know some of the tiles on the roof. 

So I do feel like sometimes it all comes in waves. And at that point, I think you probably know that you’re regretting it but it’s just a time of frustration with thinking oh my gosh so much money is going to be for you what do we know. We’re just yeah we’re just continually repairing things. I guess that’s like anything you need to look after the properties. 

So I yeah I wouldn’t say the worst moment but I think it’s difficult at times when those things do occur. And it’s full at once. 

When things all go wrong at once, Berrell believes you almost have to laugh at the situation.

It was actually both of the investment properties it was just I think a hot water system went in at one the oven broke in the other. There was something wrong with the shower and the air conditioner in her house. 

Well, then there was one other thing too. Yeah. So it was quite funny it was all within this month period. You just think oh my gosh what else can really go wrong. 

So you know but apart from that we really can’t control. 

And I guess this is the thing that we all take risks involved in purchasing any property that you can expect these things as well to happen eventually anyway and then how did that how did you manage that as well that would be very interesting to know because you know things like that do happen but you don’t know when. 

Exactly. 

Well, I guess we always like just to keep us their kitty of money. We tend to just put away a little bit of money each week just for our investment property so that when Scuse me when something like that does happen we’re not trying to dip into our savings and frantically trying to get money in order to pay for it. So we’re really quite prepared in regards to that aspect just knowing that these things can happen in accidents and it’s overtime and it’s nothing that anybody fault so it can happen quite easily. So I think knowing and preparing beforehand for that when it does happen it’s not going to ruin your lifestyle and change everything in order to try and get together all this money to pay and repair the property. 

Despite the difficulties, Berrell also remembers a positive moment that gave her the confidence to feel comfortable investing in property and has inspired her to have her sights set on the next property purchase.

It was probably after we bought our home in Geelong that I think we saw quite a bit it was really good growth. 

We’ve only had it for about a year and it’s been really good growth and I think during that time it’s like oh well we can make money from the whole property business. So I think it’s really been over the last year. 

It’s taken quite a while for us to get very comfortable with the whole property game we’d say and you know knowing the lingo in everything that we can do within the property market and just seeing that grow then that equity from that home that we’ve built now over the last 12 months has been great just knowing that probably within the next 12 months we’re going to have another property because we’ve used all of that. 

So it’s really good to see that that growth then I think yeah when you can see some type of outcome from it you like yes we’re doing this for the right reasons. 

Berrell shares a little bit of background of this purchase, which changed her mindset on investing and gave her confidence.

So we had bought a preexisting home in a new new-ish suburb. 

I think it was only built in 2016 and the whole Geelong area has just continued to have an increasing growth and I think over the last year we’ve had about a 25 per cent growth rate for that home. Yeah, which is great considering I think there’s been a downturn in other areas so it’s been really good. And again just to Daniel from your property your wealth in just I guess directing to that area because we would have had no idea otherwise.

How to Overcome Investing Nerves with Jessica Berrell

Jessica Berrell Investor in Real estate

Thinking back to our last conversation with Berrell, she described how her strategy to utilise a buyers agent, to help start off her investment portfolio around her busy schedule. She describes how her strategies developed over time.

I think they came along more as I purchased the property. I think at the start. Like I said I was very nervous and apprehensive about even purchasing a property so that has definitely taken a bit of time to feel more comfortable and to think more into the future I guess than to what we do want to achieve. So yeah that definitely did not come at the start. We were not that well prepared at all. 

That being said, instead of thinking in terms of strategies, Berrell works closely with her buyer’s agent in order to reach certain goals.

I guess I don’t even really have much of a strategy. I think we have goals and things that we’ve just personally set but again using the buyer’s agent. 

We’ve just we will chat about everything with them and what we do want to achieve and then they can help us make it more of a strategy from there. Yeah. Initially, I was just really happy we’d won one home and one investment property out the cape that’s perfect. But then after sitting down with the buyer’s agent and going Alright Daniel you know we’ve been thinking that maybe we can branch out a little bit further and then he would tell us you know what options we’ve got where he’s looked growth etc. that we’ve got I guess somewhat of a strategy in place now. Yeah. Yeah just to continue moving forward. 

She shares with us why she and her partner Joel have decided to start their property investment journey.

I think Joel ultimately to retire it. 

There’ll be number one. And I think they were two preparing ourselves for the future I guess it look in the long run thinking okay where do we want to be and I guess we don’t want to be working till we’re 65. It would be nice to know that we can use the leverage of these properties and hopefully finish work a little bit earlier and possibly travel and have a little bit more comfortable life not having to worry so much financially because we have I guess done the hard yards. 

“In the long run it all works out for you and I’m definitely glad that we started the investing journey when we did and we didn’t continue to hold off and wait.”
-Jessica Berrell

When we were younger. 

It’s really really good to start thinking about now as the early invest into it the more time you have in the market the more things can move. 

Yeah exactly and I have even noticed just from when we purchased our first home in Camden the growth in the whole Sydney market since then it’s been crazy. So you think oh my gosh that was only what like 5-7 years in the line and we did that. So it’s interesting how quickly it all moves and like you said at the time it goes very quickly. 

As we heard in our previous conversation with Berrell, she currently has 2 inter-state investment properties, on top of the home she owns and lives in.

So I think these are only rough numbers in front of me. 

I think our portfolio at this stage is around one point two million and at the moment just in regard to equity because we’ve had quite a lot of growth in the property down in Melbourne. 

So I’m thinking it’s around the 60000 mark at present. 

Berrell shared with us that she was apprehensive to become a real estate investor initially, and now describes other hurdles she faced at the start of this journey.

No I don’t really think so. With more luck I said Just nerves from my end to her just thinking oh my gosh what happens if this goes belly up or we’re going to have this big mortgage la la la land. But I don’t think there was really much else I think. I guess along with that as well there is there was a little bit more financial strain at that time. 

We were both working in different jobs to where we are now. Obviously we’re on a little bit less money than we are now. We purchased mill at the Camden property which was good so we did have equity here but it was still you know getting together other monies in order to purchase the Queensland property. So I guess it was like I’d said from my end just the nerves of purchasing another property and I guess a little bit of financial strain as well. Well, not strain it was just more that we’re having to do a little bit more financial input then possibly we would have had I would have liked. 

True it’s just is really really interesting. 

And how do you think you overcame the I guess the possible nerves and the fears that you felt inside. Was there anything that you did together with Joel to overcome these or you just took action and went back to it. 

No. I guess it’s like Joel and I would just openly communicate and I guess that’s where it kind of comes in. Some of those goals that we were wanting to achieve for the future and it’s realizing okay we need to do these things now in order to help us out in the long run. So

I think it’s like you said you kind of then just get to the point where you’re like okay we just need it you take the lead because really it’s only going to help us not hinder us even though. 

Apart from the buyer’s agent, Berrell can thank members of her and Joel’s family for helping her get started.

It was just assistance from family-like, in particular, Joe’s Joel’s dad who was previously also interested and had to undertake some investing as well. 

And Daniel as well he was really probably our go-to Ben who was most definitely sick of all my take on things and probably by the end of it just trying to clarify everything which was awesome. 

Like I said I was nervous. This is the first time we were purchasing an investment property and he was really just able to listen to all of my concerns and insert any of my questions which were great because it kind of just put my mind at ease realizing okay we are doing the right thing we can do this is fine going from there. 

Being so busy in her daily life as a paramedic, Berrell left a lot of the research up to her partner Joel and buyers agent, Daniel.

I put a lot of trust in Daniel and his team. My partner has, so Joel has read a few investment books. I know one in particular from a fellow named Chris Gray is he. Yeah, he really enjoyed that. That book he had for it a few others. Sorry, I can’t remember what happened to him when he tells me about them but I personally haven’t read it but he did find it interesting just to try and say things and I guess other people’s point of view and experience as well as to what they have done and how they’ve done it along the way. 

Daniel Walsh the buyer’s agent was easy to trust with all of his experience.

The fact that he’s been through it all like you said he’s done the journey. He knows those feeling that you’re having because he’s already felt which is great. It’s great having that advice from somebody who’s already been there done it. 

Berrell shares the best advice she’s ever received in regard to investment:

Probably just take every opportunity that you can because you’re really not going to, I guess from the investing point of view everything’s always moving forward and you know like I said before you have highs and lows but in the long run, it all works out for you and I’m definitely glad that we started the investing journey when we did and we didn’t continue to hold off and wait.

And that’s really really good advice because everyone does the same thing. It’s very easy to procrastinate because you go home not sure that’s going right is the right time. You don’t know when the right side is going to be so that is fantastic advice. Thank you so much for sharing that. What about personal habits. 

Do you have a personal habit that you think might contribute towards your success in this journey? 

Well, it’s probably a personal habit but we just like to try and plan. 

Like I said earlier we just tend to plan. 

And I guess planning for worst-case scenario how I was saying about everything kind of went wrong with our investment property. So we like to make sure that we’ve got money put away. So I think from that point of view we’re really quite organised and I think that has. I don’t know if it’s contributed to our success but I just think it’s it’s helped us on our journey knowing that we are quite organised and planned in regards to all of the properties that we do have and it’s just one less stress I think in our busy lifestyle that we don’t have to worry about knowing that everything’s on spreadsheets then we’ve got people who manage everything that we can call and contact if we need you know everything’s in place. So there really isn’t too much of a stretch for us.  

If Jessica Berrell could meet herself 10 years ago, she’d tell her not to be so scared to get started.

Well, I think I would have said relax everything will be fine. 

It will work out in the long run. 

Just go and investigate. 

Yeah, I think just from the investment point of view it would have been yeah. Go ahead start doing it now. It’s all going to work out okay. Maybe even though at the time it seems stressful and it feels like you know you’ve got no money and you’re you know you’re under the pump and it’s so much pressure but now that I look back and think gosh that was great. You know I’m glad that we did all this. 

Having spent the last few years getting her portfolio started, Berrell looks forward to expanding on this in the next five years.

I think for us for Jolan just to continue to grow our property portfolio. I think now like I was saying we’re feeling a lot more comfortable with it and even though we don’t have a particular strategy I guess in play at home we kind of have a few goals and things of our own that we want to achieve and it’s nice knowing that we’ve got the support of people like Daniel and the managers who look after our properties and we’ve got all those plans in place. 

So it does seem a lot easier now for us to just continue to purchase property over the next few years. 

In terms of luck versus skill, Berrell thinks both played some part in getting to where she is now.

Joel and I have both worked extremely hard in order to save. I guess he pointed in the right direction. So I don’t think any of it is from luck but I do think that it’s from the people that we’ve met along the way and the people that have really helped us out. 

So I think we would not have known where to purchase and the best place to buy ah if we weren’t in touch with people like your property or wealth. So I think we’ve kind of done the hard yards in regards to the financial side of things but then it’s great everybody else that we’re in touch with who can lead us to a point in the right direction. 

So maybe luck into it a little bit. 

But apart from that yeah I think yeah I guess like I said in regards to financial but everybody else in regards to where we should be buying all of those details and information about suburb’s etc. 

To wrap up our conversation, Berrell leaves a testimony to her buyers agent, in case anyone else needs help getting started just like she did.

I really can’t thank Daniel and his team enough and I probably have mentioned them every time throughout the podcast. But like I said you know we there was only so much knowledge that we had in regards to where we should be purchasing and the whole process. And he just made it so easy and streamlined for us. That’s why we’ve gone and seen him so many times now. So your property your wealth

You guys should all get in contact with them because they really do put you on the path for your whole property investing journey and really help you out throughout. 

She expands on why she would go with this service again.

I think they have a really great open communication and just a great way of explaining things to cure. And I really feel like it was more of an educational process I think along the way. So learning from what they’ve done in the past him and his wife Sophie but also they’ve been educating us then you know-how. Well, what we have done what we can do and where we can go into the future which is really good at making us feel very comfortable and confident throughout the process as well. 

This episode was produced by Ashlyne Ocampo with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.