Meet the IT professional who can show you how to retire early on property - Ironfish

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Meet the IT professional who can show you how to retire early on property

For many Australians, the dream of owning a home, let alone buying an investment property, seems increasingly unachievable. However, for IT professional, Vaughn Bell, who started investing in property at the age of 19, building a strong property portfolio was at the top of his priority list. Fast forward to 2017 and he has now bought nine properties through Ironfish in addition to his existing portfolio. So how did he do it – and why did he choose to invest with Ironfish? Vaughn can share plenty of great property investment tips to help guide new and experienced investors alike.


  • IT professional
  • 9 properties purchased through Ironfish – over 6-year period
  • Diversified across the major capital cities
  • Hoping to semi-retire at 45




Vaughn’s early start in property investment meant that he was already an experienced investor when he first discovered Ironfish. His investments, however, were entirely in Sydney and he knew he wanted to diversify across the other major capital cities but lacked knowledge of other markets. He also lacked the time to do the sufficient research to buy with confidence.

Vaughn also knew that he wanted to buy more off-the-plan (OTP) properties to leverage time and grow his portfolio faster, having had an experience buying one OTP apartment through another company. But he wanted to ensure he would be given the first opportunity to purchase as a true VIP customer. He also wanted to gain a better understanding of the associated tax depreciation benefits of buying new, so he knew it was time to talk to a professional.


A simple Google search of “where is best to invest in property” led Vaughn to the Ironfish website, where he downloaded our My Property report

“The report was very detailed, and contained a lot of useful information about all the states, beyond Sydney or NSW, which I was already familiar with,” said Vaughn.

Following this, North Sydney branch, Chief Investment Strategist, Priscilla Cheung, contacted Vaughn, and arranged a meeting at his home. Their first meeting was about 3-4 hours where Priscilla talked through Ironfish’s services, as well as her own personal investment experience, after which Vaughn asked for details on suitable properties to consider.

“Priscilla was very relatable, as she came from a very similar corporate background to me. I was impressed by her professionalism and her own achievements in property investment. I asked her a lot of questions – and once she’d explained how she had managed to build up a substantial portfolio, I knew I could work with her to achieve a similar result for myself.”

Vaughn meeting with Ironfish Strategist, Priscilla Cheung at the North Sydney offices


Vaughn knew he should diversify his portfolio to include the other major cities as well as Sydney, because he wanted to take advantage of all the different property market cycles.

“The reality is that people stick to what they know. When I was investing on my own, I invested in Sydney, because that’s what I knew. The great benefit of Ironfish, is that they have offices and people on the ground in all the major Australian capital cities. Local people with local knowledge of what the next great areas will be to invest in, ahead of time.”

Priscilla was able to provide Vaughn a comprehensive overview of the property market, including all relevant data relating to housing values, capital growth and leasing conditions across all the five major capital cities in Australia, which provided him the confidence to invest beyond Sydney. Vaughn has since purchased nine properties through Ironfish: three in Queensland, three in Victoria, one each in Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.

“One of the important things I’ve learned from investing with Ironfish is how important it is to take a long-term view and stop being fearful about short term market fluctuations. I sold my first property which I bought for $130,000 quite early on because I was fearful when the market dropped, and so I missed out on significant long-term growth. The property market works in cycles and will continue to do so, but if you employ a buy and hold strategy, you will be less affected by these short-term movements in value during the property cycle.”


In 2014 Vaughn purchased an off-the-plan one-bedroom apartment in the EQ Tower development in Melbourne. The property appealed to him because of its central location – within walking distance of the CBD, Melbourne Central station and Flagstaff Gardens. He was also a fan of the building’s architects – Elenberg Fraser.

“I’m really interested in architectural design, and the design concepts of EQ Tower are quite unique, particularly in the use of glass in the building. Now that it is built, EQ Tower stands out in the Melbourne skyline,” said Vaughn.

EQ Tower, Melbourne designed by Elenberg Fraser Architects

“There were a lot of articles in the media at the time, about oversupply of apartments in Melbourne, but at the Stage 1 launch of EQ Tower, over 200 people turned up and were literally clamouring to sign up as tenants for any of the apartments, not even their preferred floorplan.

“Given all the negative media coverage in the period leading up to settlement, I was actually quite worried about this investment and whether I’d made the right decision. Priscilla played a key role in helping me to stay focused on the big picture; she sat me down a couple of times to help me clarify and reiterate my long term strategy and goals.

“And now, I believe the rental vacancy in Melbourne is 1.7%, even lower than Sydney, so I’ve really learned that it’s important not to be swayed by sensational headlines.”

Vaughn has since settled on this property, and is enjoying an excellent rental yield above market average. He is very happy overall with his investment experience and performance so far.

“The Ironfish settlements team were great in keeping me up to date throughout the construction period, and gave me plenty of time to organise finance.

“People are often concerned about the rental yield of apartments, but in my experience, including EQ Tower, the off-the-plan apartments I have purchased through Ironfish have all been good yield,” he said.


Along the road, Vaughn has encountered challenges in his investment journey; for example, when he purchased a property “Balmoral Gardens” off the plan in Sydney suburb Waitara. When Vaughn went for his pre-settlement inspection, being a very detail-oriented person, he was initially disappointed to discover that the floorplan had changed from what he had originally signed up for.

“Priscilla was great in talking me through this; when you buy a property off-the-plan, there could be a chance there will be minor changes in the floorplan, size and inclusions. But as Priscilla helped me understand, these changes are really quite minor and should not be a reason to walk away from the property. These changes haven’t affected the significant capital gain on the property in question, as the market has already moved so much. And in 10-15 years from now, the person who buys this from me will never even know there was supposed to be an extra storage cupboard in the apartment. The main features of the property – the location, surrounding infrastructure, the quality of design – haven’t changed.”


At Ironfish, our mission is to help our investors achieve long-term financial security by acquiring a diversified property portfolio. For Vaughn, this goal is very much in focus.

“In terms of my portfolio goals from hereon it would be great to have the flexibility to semi-retire at age 45! But I would more than likely work till at least 60. Either way, having the flexibility to be able to take a career break for a few months or a year is really valuable.”


  1. “Work with a team of professionals who can help you achieve your goals – which means a good mortgage broker, accountant, lawyer, and strategist. Working with Priscilla, and leveraging the Ironfish platform has played an instrumental role in my success as a property investor – and has allowed me to achieve much more than when I was investing on my own.
  2. “Just get started: look for what you can afford now with your 10% deposit and don’t wait, as by the time you have saved a bigger deposit the market will likely have increased by more than you have saved.
  3. “Consider buying off-the-plan – it helps you to buy time to save and also gives you time in the market. There are also many benefits of buying new in terms of tax depreciation.
  4. “Work at building your portfolio as quickly as possible to maximise your time in the market. I bought nine properties through Ironfish over about six years. I achieved this by working hard on my career progression and saving as much as possible along the way: every time I received a pay-rise, I continued to live on my previous income. And this approach can work for anyone. The key is to live below your means not above them, so if you’re on 50K in your first job and your next job is $70K – simply continue living as if you’re still only earning 50K. You won’t feel like you’re making a sacrifice or missing out on things you don’t have because you didn’t have them before your pay rise anyway!”

If you’re inspired by Vaughn’s achievements and want to kick start your path to early retirement through buying investment property in Australia please get in touch with us.

After becoming an Ironfish customer and experiencing first-hand the benefits of leveraging the Ironfish platform, Vaughn has since joined Priscilla Cheung and the Ironfish team as an Investment Strategist. He now loves helping others to achieve the same success in developing a diversified property investment portfolio.