What a year it has been

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One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity to talk to so many different people as we put each issue of API together. Investors of all backgrounds and levels, leading experts in various fields and a few of the guys you see on TV each night.

Do you remember this time 12 months ago? What a vastly different environment we were in back then. Property markets were still very sluggish, to put it kindly. The Reserve Bank’s rates reduction cycle had just kicked off. Forecasts for 2012 weren’t terribly merry.

Personally, I’d just finished a renovation and was winding down for some time at the beach and visit home to see the folks. I was in a totally different job and just months away from a somewhat life-changing experience that saw me return to journalism.

As the year draws to a close and we prepare to switch off for the holiday period, I’ve found myself in a reflective mood. It’s been a hell of a year, that’s for sure. In that spirit, here are some of the intriguing people I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to this year.

Craig James

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I was fairly star struck talking to CommSec chief economist Craig James at first. He’s a dynamo of economics commentary and regularly pops up on TV to give his impression of the fiscal state of play.

He’s helped me with a bunch of stories, from interest rates to the year ahead for the Australian economy. Keep an eye out for his thoughts on property markets in 2013 in the January issue of API’s eMagazine.

Dean Zarif

He describes his first property deal as “an absolute horror story” but that didn’t stop this 36-year-old from bouncing back in a massive way. In mid-2011, Dean and his brother Chad set out to snap up bargain-priced but flood-affected properties across Brisbane’s west and in Ipswich.

Things have gone so well that he quit his job in the fitness industry to devote all his attention to their $3.29 million portfolio, comprising 10 properties. It’s an inspirational story of getting back on the horse and arming yourself with education and a sound strategy.

Breece Gevaux

I first came across this Melbourne-based town planner when I was writing a feature about property loopholes that work in an investor’s favour. He was telling me about local provisions that make it possible to develop even the smallest or most unconventional site. Even a few old, disused car parks could be turned into a small residence.

Breece has also leant his expertise for stories on development and planning, including a profile of a project of his own. It involves transforming a former, derelict industrial site just 315 square metres in size into a complex of five townhouses. Yes, five. It’s pretty remarkable.

Dean Grima

I spoke to Dean for one of the first features I wrote for API. He’s a Sydney-based investor who was helping his 23-year-old daughter get started in property. After looking around at various options, they settled on a National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) unit.

We chatted about the benefits and considerations of a NRAS investment, his background and the raw numbers of this particular purchase. The thing that stuck out most though was this bloke’s determination to help secure his kids’ futures. Each of his children was equally enthusiastic about real estate and its potential to be a wealth creation tool.

It was inspiring. And, being my first yarn after an extended absence from writing, it’s a conversation I won’t soon forget.

What are your memories of the past year? I’d love to hear them. I’ve got far too many to name. On a final note, have a happy and safe festive season. Here’s to a prosperous 2013.

Shannon Molloy is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine www.apimagazine.com.au