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How do I choose the right investment property?

Ask any experienced investor and they will advise you that choosing the right investment property essentially comes down to being as well informed as possible – which means doing your research.

Of course, that is easier said than done. With so many factors to consider and assess, it can be hard to know where to start and what to look out for.

With new and off-the-plan property, this can be even more challenging, as you are dealing with property that is yet to be built and a process that is unfamiliar to many.

At Ironfish, we specialise in off-the-plan (OTP) and have been helping Australians invest in this market for over 12 years. 

One of the major ways we differ from your average agent is that we do not take on any and every property listing we’re offered.

Our in-house property and research team works hard to identify great up and coming locations, and great properties within those locations.

choosing the right property investment

Whether you’re a first home buyer looking to take advantage of the many government incentives on offer or an investor looking for a contemporary property that will suit the lifestyle needs of a future owner or tenant; there are many reasons why OTP may appeal to you.

To help understand what types of factors to consider and assess before purchasing off-the-plan, our Head of Property, William Mitchell, has kindly shared some insights into the property selection process Ironfish undertakes for our investors.

How do we select properties?

Ironfish has a national footprint, which means offices –  and property recommendations – in all the major cities of Australia. The property and research team, therefore monitors all the major Australian capital city markets to identify:

  1. Which suburbs we believe will outperform the wider capital city market

There are many factors to monitor and assess to be able to identify a suburb with strong growth potential. Some of the key factors we look at include:

  • Is this sub-market undervalued?
  • Is it undersupplied?
  • How affordable is this sub-market?
  • What types of infrastructure projects are planned which may benefit the area?
  • Is jobs growth strong?
  • Are there any major demographic shifts occurring which will affect the sub-market?
  • Is population forecast to grow significantly? If so, why?

Once we’ve established a strong location, we next look to identify:

  1. Which developments are likely to outperform within that suburb?

Once a target suburb has been identified, it is then a case of analysing each development within that area, and determining which development we believe will outperform within that suburb.

“Having a point of difference in the market is key to this. If we can find a project that has an “X-factor,” we get very excited,” said Mr Mitchell. “This might be really strong integration with retail and transport, or a new product type that the market hasn’t seen before, or a location that will benefit from spectacular views. If a project has a strong X-factor, it will usually separate itself from the pack, and we believe is likely to have stronger appeal long term, both from tenants and owner occupiers.”

  1. Quality is paramount

At Ironfish, a commitment to quality is part of our core values as a business. This not only means providing quality service, it also refers to working with quality brands and being associated with so many award-winning properties.

ironfish brisbane melbourne

So when we’re looking for a development likely to outperform within a suburb, we want to make sure the developer has a legacy of delivering quality properties. This means a developer with a strong track record and a shared commitment to delivering quality products and services.

A quality property is much more likely to appeal to a high calibre tenant, experience minimal maintenance issues, and will also have strong future owner occupier appeal. This is an important factor, when it comes to selling the property in future and is also one of the reasons why we like to do ‘The Floorplan Test.’

“If a developer can’t tell me straight away where the TV and sofa should be positioned on a floor plan, that tells me that they really haven’t put much thought into how people will live and occupy that space. We look for properties with an owner-occupier appeal, which means they must be designed with the end-user at front-of-mind,” said Mr Mitchell.

Behind the scenes

In addition to the developer’s track record, we also investigate:

  • who is financing the development
  • who is the builder; some developers have their own builder and some use one or more contractors. We like to know the builder is a preferred builder, rather than a second, third or fourth choice.
  • what kind of pricing; is it too expensive? Or is it too cheap?! When it’s too cheap, it may well be ‘too good to be true.’

Property factors

In terms of the property itself, we research the following key factors:

  • Affordability

As much as we’d all love to buy a harbour-view penthouse, this is simply not a reality for most of us. So another of our criteria is that the property is affordable and represents, in our opinion, good value for our investors

  • View lines

This is quite important with off-the-plan property, as it’s not simply a case of being able to see the view for yourself.

  • Inclusions

What types of inclusions are being offered to our investors.

  • Terms of the contract

Again, are these terms favourable for our investors?

  • Transport and other convenience and lifestyle appeal.

“These are just some of the main factors we look into when selecting properties to take on and recommend to our investors. There is a lot more detail, and a lot of what we call ‘off-market intel’ that helps us identify opportunities that others simply don’t have,” added Mr Mitchell.

Want to access our list of recommended houses, townhouses and apartments? Register here.

Need to do some more research? Start with some of our great investor resources:

The one critical step to getting started in property investment

Experienced investors would all agree that there is one critical step to getting started in property investment: research.

While we all love leafing through glossy property magazines and brochures or viewing listings and floorplans online, it’s important to remember that ‘searching’ isn’t ‘researching’.

Buying investment property

Wherever you’re planning to purchase – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, or Sydney – it is important to understand the big picture of the city to ensure you are well informed prior to purchase.

If you have a strong understanding of each city’s unique market drivers and characteristics, it will give you a better idea of where you’re best placed to invest. Most people tend to invest where they know – their local area or suburb they’ve lived in, but this may not be the right decision from an investment point of view or depending on your investment goals.

So, before inspecting properties, reviewing suburb-level data, analysing local demographic statistics, or checking out floorplans, we recommend investors first equip themselves with an overview of the city’s macro-level details, including economy, infrastructure, and population. Because, at the end of the day, these are the factors which will underpin demand.

Investors need to know if there are strong employment opportunities nearby; or if the area’s population is forecast to grow significantly; or is there new transport or public infrastructure being built which will deliver great benefit to the area in the next few years. All these will make an area and a good property in that area much more desirable and therefore add pressure to prices or rental demand.

Our 2018- 2019 research guide for property investors

For over a decade, Ironfish has helped Australians invest into our major capital city markets.

We pride ourselves on delivering research-driven value for customers, based on the Ironfish Portfolio Approach. We have an in-house research division which continually monitors both the property market, as well as the macro-level factors likely to impact demand.

Our research team draws data from over 50 sources, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Corelogic, SQM Research, Reserve Bank of Australia and Deloitte and presents key findings and analysis in a range of investor resources in print, digital and video formats.

how to choose an investment property

New Ironfish My City research reports

Our annual ‘My City’ reports are an in-depth industry-leading primer on each of our 5 major capital city markets. This series of educational, magazine-style publications form an essential guide for investors to gain a comprehensive understanding of each major capital city.

We delve into the unique qualities and fundamental characteristics of each city, leveraging our combination of research, experience, and data-informed insights.

With many markets now ripe for opportunity, we are excited to officially launch the new 2018/19 My City reports for each city, to help you invest with confidence and build a strong property portfolio.

These reports will provide you all the key fundamental drivers of the property market, with highly visual and engaging insights across each city.

We explore key factors such as lifestyle, population, demographics, infrastructure, employment, transport and education. We also include all the relevant data and insights relating to property market performance, for both houses and apartments in each city.

Request a report

Simply contact your strategist for your copy of the newly minted 2018/19 edition of our My City report.

New customers are welcomed to request a free copy of our My City report by contacting your local branch office.

Please also feel free to download our ‘MyMarket’ report – a concise quarterly market update of all the 5 major Australian capital cities or watch our latest property market update videos below.


As always, we look forward to providing you with more tools and resources to help you achieve your property investment goals, as you continue to build wealth for generations to come.

Finding the human connection at work

Bringing together HR and business leaders from Optus, Assetlink and Bay Audio Australia, Ironfish this week hosted a panel discussion on overcoming HR challenges in 2019.

financial wellbeing

The event was attended by HR professionals from a diverse range of industries and companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Hollard and Children’s Cancer Institute. Attendees had the opportunity to build new connections amongst peers as well as gain valuable insights from the 4 panellists about new HR strategies, innovation, initiatives and challenges faced by their respective organisations.

As an HR service provider – offering a financial wellbeing program for the workplace – we are keenly interested in following new people and culture trends as they emerge, particularly in the mental health and wellbeing space.
What we’ve found is that according to lead researcher of global HR think-tank Reventure Dr Lindsay McMillan, there are 4 key trends which organisations will need to address as a priority: 

  1. Increased focus on health and wellbeing
    74% of workers believe that workplace wellbeing programs, which cover everything from flexible hours to fitness programs, are worth the time and money.
  2. Technology overhaul
    The prevalence of artificial intelligence and automated systems to streamline processes will continue to rise.
  3. More than just a job
    More employees are looking to their job to provide a sense of purpose – 44% of Australian workers said a sense of meaning was important to ensuring a high level of personal wellbeing. Further, 77% of millennials said that they were looking for purpose and meaning in their work.
  4. Employee expectations
    85% of Australian workers believe that the onus is on employers to create an environment that proactively addresses stress in the workplace.
    More workers are looking for meaning in their jobs and it is one of the most common reasons employees leave their current workplace.

At Ironfish, we were very interested to note that 3 out of these 4 trends were related to personal wellbeing and over the course of the evening’s discussion, it became apparent that many organisations are now looking to bring that ‘human connection’ or ‘personal’ element back into the workplace. This is especially important as technology plays an increasingly larger role in all aspects of our lives.  

financial wellbeing

“At Optus, we’ve undergone an employer branding project; because we noticed that the ‘sense of Optus’ was something we were missing. We’ve now also identified that our sense of ‘why work for us’ – our mission or purpose for our work has also not been clearly articulated, and we’re planning to launch this soon too,” said Optus Head of HR Consumer, Ronan Carolan.

For Assetlink, a national organisation of about 2,000 employees their challenges are different. With a large, remotely deployed staff of cleaners and security guards – some who work 24-hour shifts – Assetlink has not only managed to secure an Employer of Choice award, the company also enjoys low staff turnover, with 90% of their employees saying they “love coming to work each day”.

“Unless you’re in the industry, you wouldn’t have heard of Assetlink the way you would know a brand like Optus. But our focus has been to stand out in our industry by giving our employees a sense of purpose and achievement in their work. We don’t want our people to be invisible, we want them to engage with people. Our managers actually reward kind behaviours; from saying hi to an elderly lady who could use a bit of conversation to more extreme cases where our security guards have actually saved a life,” said Internal Communications and Engagement Specialist, Samantha Lynn.

“Our business started with a husband-and-wife team and this ‘family-feel’ is something we actively promote. Our managers undergo continued training to ensure they fit in with our culture, which is all about making our employees feel like valued and respected equals,” Ms Lynn said.

Bay Audio Australia is a hearing solutions retail organisation that has grown from 1 to 68 stores in the past 11 years, and 20 stores in the last year alone. Francene Keane, former Coles Express Regional People & Culture Manager is now their National Human Resources Manager. She points out that language also plays an important role in helping employees feel that a sense of personal wellbeing and satisfaction at work.

“Before, the word ‘sales’ was used a lot in our business, but we’ve changed that language now to ‘a life changed’. Because that’s the truth. We’ve had clinicians brought to tears witnessing people hear the voices of loved ones for the first time; this is a truly life changing moment for our customers. So now, we refer to our top performers as those who’ve changed X number of lives, not made X number of sales, and that makes a real difference,” Ms Keane said.

financial wellbeing

At Ironfish, personal wellbeing and finding meaning in the workplace go hand in hand also.

“We’re a property investment services company, but property is just the vehicle for us,” said Ironfish CEO, Joseph Chou. “Our underlying mission is helping Australians improve their personal financial wellbeing – and this applies just as much to our staff as it does to our customers. At Ironfish 86% of our staff around our branches in Australia are property investors – including many young ‘rent-vestors’ who have managed to get their foot on the property ladder.

“Financial education, learning how to build wealth for the last phase of life – this is the value-add we offer, because we know how important it is. For most people their superannuation balance or pension won’t be enough. Many people (of all ages) need help with very basic concepts – budgeting, managing credit card debt, knowing the difference between good debt and bad debt. This type of financial education doesn’t exist at school or in the workplace – until now.”

Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Progam

Ironfish offers a ‘Lunch and Learn’ series of financial wellbeing educational workshops both in the workplace and at our offices.

If you’d like to attend our next Lunch and Learn, or if you’re an HR professional, who would like to hear how we could help you bring the ‘personal’ or ‘human connection’ into your workplace, please contact our Financial Wellbeing Program Co-Ordinator.

Ironfish is the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Event Partner of the Australian HR Awards.

With thanks to Ronan, Samantha, Francene and Joseph for sharing your insights and experiences at our event.

Highest wages, lowest cost of living – introducing our most affordable capital city

With a median personal income that’s 10% higher than the nation, low cost of living and an affordable housing market, Perth is well positioned to attract an increasing number of migrants seeking the great Australian dream.

As many Australians find themselves priced out of the housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne, we have seen more and more people packing up and moving to more affordable cities.

Brisbane has been the front-runner so far in interstate migration, however, the Western Australian capital is becoming an increasingly attractive option as well.

“Brisbane is known for its great lifestyle and weather, but many people don’t realise that Perth is actually our sunniest capital – it even nudges ahead of the Sunshine State capital. The city consistently ranks amongst the most liveable cities in the world, and with the resources sector ramping back up, big infrastructure projects underway and a recovering housing market, astute investors are keeping an equally close eye on Perth,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

Highest income

At $728 a week, Perth has the highest median personal income of all the major capital cities in Australia. It’s 10% higher than the national average as well.

The cities compared: weekly median personal income


The nation’s most affordable city

Not only are wages strong, Perth also boasts the lowest cost of living out of the 5 major cities, when ranked on an index of overall affordability. According to a study by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Perth was revealed to be the most affordable out of the 5 major cities, with Sydney being the most expensive, followed by Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“Perth actually ranks relatively well on a broad comparison of living costs with other capital cities across Australia, counter to the popular perception of Western Australia being one of the most expensive places in the country to live,” said BCEC Director and report author, Professor Alan Duncan.

Economic and employment indicators are strengthening in Perth as well, with growing demand for Western Australia’s mineral and natural resources.

World’s largest LNG exporter

Western Australia’s annual merchandise exports grew by a massive 7.7% over the 2018 financial year. This was driven by a 3% growth in exports to China which will continue to demand the state’s exports.

According to Deloitte Access Economics, Asia’s demand for gas will shortly make Western Australia the world’s largest exporter of LNG.

Capitalising on the Global Lithium Boom

The Western Australian Government has also recently established a Battery Taskforce to take advantage of a once-in-a-generation lithium and battery minerals boom.

Lithium and other commodities found in WA such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite and copper are key ingredients in the lithium-ion batteries that drive electric cars.

property investment perth battery electric car

Mines Minister Bill Johnston noted that the global demand for lithium and battery minerals would result in thousands of new, highly skilled, high-paying jobs in the state.

$60 Billion infrastructure pipeline

Australia has more cranes at work right now than the USA – with the infrastructure sector being the star performer. Western Australia alone has a $60 billion infrastructure pipeline which is set to stimulate the local economy and deliver thousands of jobs. The infrastructure pipeline is headlined by major projects: Metronet, Perth City Link and the Airport Link.

“The recent interstate migration figures from the ABS show that fewer people are now leaving Western Australia for other states compared to last year. This is a trend we expect to continue and strengthen over the medium term, and one we will continue to monitor,” Mr Mitchell said.

Property Investment Perth

Experienced investors – including our own CEO – are investing in Perth now ahead of the boom. If you would like to find out more about this market, watch our Perth market update or download our latest quarterly market report.

“If I had to do this by myself, I wouldn’t have the time”


Sarah Wu


“My strategist is very, very patient. When I have questions, he takes the time to help me understand everything. Any problems I have, he finds a solution for me. He fixes everything. I’m a single mum, I work full time. If I had to do all this by myself, it would take a lot of time.”


ironfish reviewCase in profile:

  • Single-mum raising a 6-year-old
  • Full-time chemist and small business owner
  • Wanted to invest, but lacked time and confidence
  • Purchased 2 houses with Ironfish
  • Planning to diversify with next purchase

The most precious asset

For Sarah Wu – a single mum raising a 6-year old and working full time in the laboratory as a chemist – time is the most precious asset. Sarah was planning to buy an investment property and spent quite a few Saturday mornings at inspections, but stopped as she simply couldn’t find the time to continue. After attending a property expo and connecting with Ironfish Brisbane strategist Richard Chai, things changed pretty quickly.

“Richard would call me to invite me to events, for example when Ironfish CEO Joseph Chou was in town. But I live in the south of Brisbane and the events are all in the city – I couldn’t make it. Eventually Richard offered to come to me and talk me through everything; he actually met me at my son’s school one afternoon, which was very convenient – I work full time, I have a young child to look after and a small business as well, I really don’t have any time!”

How can a single mum build a portfolio?

When Richard explained Ironfish services and portfolio building strategies – Sarah was initially unsure she could build a portfolio on her own – it seemed pretty intimidating. But once she learned a little more about the possibilities, Sarah gained a lot more confidence.

“I was keen to purchase a house, so Richard explained the process of buying a new house and land package, for example the time frame is not too long, build time is fairly short after the land settles. He presented all the data about Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, then showed me a selection of properties to choose from that would fit my criteria. I didn’t know a brand-new house and land package could cost less than $400,000 – so that was a good starting point. My first purchase was in Ipswich, South East Queensland, which shows good signs for growth in the short-medium term, and it’s only taken a couple of weeks to find a tenant – though I have rental guarantee in place anyway. My next purchase was another house and land package, this time in Redlands. It’s close to the beach, without a lot of houses in the area – this one is about having a healthy cash flow.

From trust builds confidence

Sarah wasn’t sure she’d be able to invest in a second property relatively soon after the first. But the trust she’d built with her strategist Richard, and the success of her fellow investors, helped greatly.

“I approached 2 other companies as well, but they were quite different – very short term in their approach, or focussing purely on one city, e.g. Sydney. Ironfish people are so passionate about investing. One by one, Ironfish was able to give me lots of examples of their customers, people like me, who had managed to build a portfolio of 2-3 properties. Joseph (Ironfish CEO) owns many, many properties, and yet he still continues to invest today. This gave me the confidence that if someone else can do it with Ironfish, then I can do it too. I also appreciate the cultural connection; Richard and Joseph are both originally from China, like me. It’s nice to have that in common, it’s reassuring and just more relatable.”

Help at every step

Above all else, Sarah has been most impressed by the ease and convenience that has made investing possible.

“From buying to renting it out, Ironfish arrange everything. If any problems arise, I don’t need to spend time resolving them myself. Richard helps me with everything and is very patient with my questions – this is really different to the usual real estate market.

“If I need a loan, he’ll suggest a broker. Today, I have a tenant moving in, so I need to have electricity connected and landlord insurance in place – Richard has helped me organise that. He came with me to collect the keys at settlement, he checked the defects with me, he found a property manager. When I needed some financial advice, he could help me find a financial planner. Literally every step of the way, I had help. This also gave me a lot of confidence to invest with Ironfish again – and Richard was able to help me develop a strategy to build my portfolio further. I’m now saving my next 20% for the next deposit, maybe an apartment in another city, but I’m still some years away.”

Sarah’s property investment tips:

  1. Consider new or off the plan property. Previously I was looking at second hand houses, but inspections, choosing locations and so on takes a lot of time. The depreciation for new properties, especially in the first 6 years helps you save on tax. New houses don’t take so long to settle and build, and mine didn’t take too long to rent out either. For me it’s also great that new houses just don’t have much maintenance and are more hassle free.
  2. Find someone you trust to help you invest; it will save you a lot of time, from choosing the property all the way to renting it out!

Do you feel like you are a long way off from being able to buy your first home or first investment property? One of our Strategists can help you reach your goal, just like Richard helped Sarah. Book a complimentary appointment today and find out how we can help you build a portfolio.


*A very big thanks to Sarah for sharing her inspiring story. Sarah would prefer not to include a personal photo, so in respect of her privacy, photos in this article are from our stock image library.



The surprise benefit of taking responsibility

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

For many people, taking responsibility feels like a terrible and heavy burden; blame that you must accept and be punished for; decisions that feel too overwhelming to make or too difficult to carry through.

But for me, taking responsibility has been liberating – exhilarating even. Taking responsibility has given me a sense of freedom. It gives me the ultimate power; it puts me in the driver’s seat; it means I am solely responsible for whether I succeed or fail at something.

Life will inevitably be full of challenges but, as the saying goes, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react that matters. How you react will give you the upper hand.

So what does taking responsibility really mean?

To me, responsibility is setting a goal, taking the initiative to find out more and to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. It means taking action based on your goal, staying the course and then holding yourself accountable and taking ownership for what happens. Whatever happens – whether you get the outcome you were planning for or whether the outcome is less desirable.

Responsibility is not leaving things to chance; it is not making excuses; it is not blaming other people.

The responsibility mindset

When something goes wrong, it’s a common enough reaction to look for somebody else to blame. The responsibility mindset, on the other hand, is very solutions-focussed. When you can’t make excuses, when you can’t be on auto-pilot, when you can’t blame your neighbour, colleague or boss – it’s up to you to be proactive, to learn from any ‘failures,’ to grow, improve and find a better way forward. Holding your vision or goal close in mind, you will do what’s necessary and persist until you achieve it.

ironfish property investment

When you are proactive, when you take ownership, when you seek knowledge in abundance and when you hold yourself accountable, you will inevitably draw good people to you. This will also position you as a natural leader – and leadership qualities are so important if you are pursuing success in your career. Taking leadership responsibility also means helping to elevate your team and support their growth and achievements.

I love the saying that a great leader takes responsibility when things go wrong and gives credit to their team when things go well.

This is the approach that I have endeavoured to hold myself to in my career and I credit much of my success to taking full responsibility for myself, my actions, my pursuits and my goals in all aspects of my life.

At school – taking my education into my own hands

For me, taking personal responsibility started at a young age. When I was in high school, I had my heart set on pursuing a career as a violinist and didn’t want to go to university, so I chose to stay in a local school instead of a selective school. But when I realised that going to uni was a better choice for the future, I knew I’d have a better chance of success if I got into a selective school.ironfish joseph chou

Rather than accepting the situation and leaving my education to chance, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I approached the principal of the selective school that I wanted to attend – a process entirely outside the norm – and managed to convince him to accept me as a student.

Once I started, I quickly found that whilst I was a top student at my local high school, I was now far below my new selective-stream class. Again, rather than blaming anyone else or feeling sorry for myself, I accepted the new, higher yardstick and worked harder, with more focus than any of the other students. As a result, within 3 months, I had become the top student again. I went through the same process again at university.

As a migrant – working harder, waiting longer

I made the decision to give up a good job as diplomat and immigrate to Australia with my wife. As a new migrant, without any transferrable qualifications, the job I landed was far from glamourous: earning $7 an hour as a pizza delivery guy.

At no point did I complain that Australian society was unfair, or that my English was holding me back. I never went to my old contacts to ask for help or a handout, and neither did I regret my decision to leave China. The responsibility approach meant that it was up to me to learn, to be prepared to work harder and wait longer for my success.

And if I was going to be a pizza delivery guy, then I was going to be the best pizza delivery guy, knowing this was just a stepping stone on my way to building a new career and finding a way to excel again.

At home – my promise to my wife

The decision to leave China also affected another significant person: my wife! When I proposed, I had made a promise to my wife that I’d look after her and give her a good life. But my expectation of ‘good’ was a lot higher than many. When we came to Australia, I set myself a goal of earning $1 million a year – an arbitrary figure that represented a lot of money. A figure that would give us complete financial security, it would give us more choice in life, including the ability to help others.

By making it a goal, it meant it was not wishful thinking, and something I had to work towards and it was up to me to make it happen.

Some years later, when my wife was expecting our first child, she was keen to be their primary carer, which meant giving up her own career, including her 6-figure salary. I decided then to take responsibility for our family’s income – so she wouldn’t ever have to work if she didn’t want to.

ironfish joseph chou

This included responsibility for the kids’ education: private school, extra-curricular activities and the best opportunities.

As a business-owner – doing the right thing every time

When I first started Ironfish, I said to my colleagues who were joining me that our company would never go under. When companies go under it’s either because business owners don’t know how to do it, find it too hard and give up too quickly, or run out of money.

In starting Ironfish, I was both in a financial position and was personally prepared to put in what was necessary.

Of course, I ensured my wife and family were taken care of, but the rest was for the business. I know many people start a business without necessarily being able to do this – and while I salute their courage, to me it is irresponsible to your customers, your staff, your partners and yourself.

Because taking responsibility in business also means doing the right thing by your customers and staff – every time, not simply when it’s convenient. This is so important for the long-term success of a company.

As an investor – learning from setbacks

Pre-GFC my stock broker convinced me to take on margin lending to build up a serious portfolio. But then the GFC hit and I was faced with a margin call, whereby I either had to put in more money, or sell my shares.

I chose the latter, and my $1 million portfolio was suddenly only worth $12,000.

I could have blamed my broker and given up on shares forever. But at the end of the day, it was my decision to take her advice. So, I was responsible for the loss. And I learned a lot from this experience. I now continue to invest in shares, but have taken a much greater interest in it, conducting my own due diligence and employing a different investment strategy.

In 1998, I bought property which I sold too early. I lost faith during a market downturn and missed out on the longer-term gains. I learned from that too; I don’t sell anything anymore!

I know many investors are drawn by discounts, free stamp duty or other bonuses – but these are only the side benefits of property investment. There is no point accepting these if the fundamentals aren’t right or if you can not settle your property when it comes time. I know other investors who are excited initially, but then, during a perceived change in the market, they don’t want to settle, or sell too early at a loss. Unless you really need to sell because your circumstances, health, work or so on have changed substantially – selling too early, to me, is irresponsible.

Your future, your responsibility

Living in the ‘Lucky Country’, we are very blessed to have so many things freely available to us. But this same luck makes it so easy to become complacent about our future. We expect to be taken care of in retirement or if something goes wrong – if a rainy day ever eventuates.

But the reality, as we know, is that the pension falls far short of what we need to live a decent life, the average super balance is not nearly enough to fund retirement. So, unless we take retirement into our own hands, we’ll be at the mercy of someone else in our most vulnerable times.

superannuation ironfish

While we are younger, capable and able, with working years ahead of us, we need to act and prepare now for our future. At Ironfish, this is our underlying mission; we want to help more customers take the responsibility approach in life, to build assets for the future and to take ownership of their own success.

If you fall into the habit of blaming others when things go wrong, leaving important aspects of your life to chance or finding excuses not to do something, then you’re not giving yourself the best chance to succeed. You will limit your opportunities to learn and grow as a person; you’ll alienate the people around you and you’ll likely under-achieve.

My personal belief is that in many cases it may even be better to take the wrong action than to take no action at all. If you don’t do anything, you won’t have a chance to learn anything, build anything or gain some more wisdom for next time.

People go their whole lives playing it safe – but what is safe? Successful people take calculated risks all the time. Challenges will always be a given, regardless of what you do; but if you don’t lose sight, if you stay the course, if you hold yourself accountable, then you and you alone will be responsible for your success. And that is a powerful thought.

Ironfish property investment

Joseph regularly travels the country presenting at a range of events, workshops and property investment seminars. Many of our own events are free to attend – find out where Joseph is next speaking here.


More cranes than the USA: Australia’s infrastructure boom

The number of cranes along Australian skylines is currently higher than all of the US combined – but it’s not because we’re building more apartments.

Australia’s surging population growth, particularly across all the 5 major capital cities, has accelerated the rate of delivery for new housing and infrastructure.

However, according to the RLB Crane Index – which measures building activity by counting the number of fixed cranes in capital city skylines – residential construction is slowing down. On the other hand, work on commercial and infrastructure projects is booming.

Residential vs Non-residential building activity


The RLB non-residential crane index rose by a staggering 42% compared to 6 months prior, with an additional 56 cranes. Meanwhile, the residential index continued its downward trajectory, with a 10% drop compared to 6 months ago.

These insights are further supported by recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, which revealed that the value of residential building activity fell by 2.4% in 2017, with non-residential activity growing by 7.8%.

The total number of cranes across Australian skylines has now reached a new record of 735 – a number that is more than double the United States.

Australia’s crane count eclipses the USA


Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell, said this data tells an important story for investors.

“What this shows us is that Australia is clearly in an infrastructure boom. We’re now seeing less and less new housing being built, and at the same time, increased spending on infrastructure projects which leads to employment and economic growth. Meanwhile, Australia’s population continues to grow at unprecedented rates, so this will ultimately put pressure on property prices, particularly in locations which will benefit most from new infrastructure projects.”

Infrastructure the ‘star performer’

Sydney and Melbourne accounted for the lion’s share of cranes, accounting for 74% of the total number of cranes. Work on infrastructure projects such as Melbourne Metro Rail has bumped the Victorian capital up to a record 192 cranes in the past 6 months.

“The infrastructure sector has been the star performer of the past 6 months,” RLB Global Chairman Stephen Mee told AFR.

“With the announcement of many significant infrastructure projects by both federal and state governments, the anticipation is for civil cranes to maintain current levels or rise further.”

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What is the new design change affecting Brisbane developments?

Brisbane rooftops are about to get a green boost, as developers are encouraged to include rooftop gardens and communal spaces in new apartment buildings, as part of new city planning changes.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the changes formalise Council’s support for rooftop gardens and green spaces in new residential developments.

Currently, any roofed structure on an apartment building rooftop is defined as a storey. Having an additional storey has the potential to be financially unviable. The proposed changes to Brisbane’s City Plan will allow new developments to include a rooftop communal area, without listing it as an additional storey – and therefore provide a strong incentive to include it in the design.

“Council will also have the ability to ask developers to incorporate and maintain green spaces on the rooftops and walls of new apartment buildings, to support our vision of a clean, green and sustainable city,” Cr. Quirk said.

Designer rooftops

Gone are the days where apartment buildings were built with either no resident amenity or just a pool and a small gym.

The trend of increased facilities is here to stay through unwavering demand from residents for more luxurious, social and useful spaces that form an extension of residents’ own apartments.

property investment Brisbane

Communal rooftop space in Aria’s The Melbourne Residences, South Brisbane

Leading developers are continually raising the bar with stunning rooftop pools, garden breakout spaces, barbecue areas, private dining rooms and cinemas for residents.

Brisbane City Council says the proposed changes to the Brisbane City Plan will now make it easier for developments to include shared rooftop spaces as part of their design.

Award-winning developer Aria Property Group agrees and has welcomed the new changes.

“The new planning changes will make it easier for developers to deliver higher quality and more comfortable and useable spaces,” Aria Property Group Design Manager Simon White told Urban Developer.

“We think the roofscape of high density buildings is a huge opportunity to deliver world-class amenity for residents.”

Property investment Brisbane

Want to find out more about Brisbane property trends, drivers and market performance. Watch our latest property update video or download our latest quarterly market report.


Ironfish Property Investment – Brisbane 2018 Market Review and Outlook from Ironfish Media on Vimeo.

Migration wave to Queensland grows

Queensland population growth has gone from strength to strength, with the latest net interstate migration figures up by nearly 50% in 12 months.

According to population figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Queensland regained its status as the number 1 destination for people moving interstate.

In the 12 months to March 2018, Queensland recorded a net interstate migration gain of 24,000 people – a further increase on its net interstate migration gain of 16,100 people in the 12 months to March 2017.

Victoria was the next most popular state, with a net interstate migration gain of 15,100 people.

“During the previous 4 years, Queensland came second to Victoria in terms of net interstate movement, so these states have swapped,” said ABS Demography Director, Anthony Grubb.

Queensland’s relative housing affordability compared to the southern states, as well as its prevailing lifestyle appeal and strengthening employment opportunities are key reasons for people choosing to make the move.

“The most common move between states was from New South Wales to Queensland with 52,000 people making the move north,” said Mr Grubb.

The most common move between states: NSW to QLD 


Victoria and Queensland were the only 2 major capital city states to record net interstate migration gains. However, there was a positive result for South Australia and Western Australia as well, as the number of people leaving these states has dropped significantly, compared to the previous year.

Of the 5 major capital city state markets, only NSW recorded more people leaving for interstate in the 12 months to March 2018, compared to the previous year. In the 12 months to March 2017, NSW had a net interstate migration loss of 14,200 people. In the 12 months to March 2018, NSW recorded a net migration loss of 20,500 people.

Net interstate migration – 12 months to March 2018


“This is a trend we’ve been observing for some time, with more and more people priced out of the Sydney property market looking for more affordable cities to live,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“We expect this wave of interstate migration to Queensland to strengthen further in the medium term and this continued population growth will underpin demand for property in Queensland’s major cities, namely, Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” he said.

Overall, Australia’s population grew by 380,700 people to reach 24.9 million in the year ending March 2018.

Victoria recorded the highest overall population growth of 2.2%, followed by Queensland (1.7%), New South Wales (1.4%), Western Australia (0.8%) and South Australia (0.7%).

Property investment Brisbane

If you would like further information about the Queensland property market, watch our latest property market update video, or download our latest report.


Tips for buying off-the-plan property in 2018

First home buyers have made a strong return to the market; a trend largely attributed to the many government incentives on offer, such as first home owner grants or stamp duty savings.

Most (if not all) of these incentives are available exclusively for the purchase of new or off-the-plan property. Even for a seasoned investor – let alone a first home buyer – buying new or off-the-plan property can be challenging, with so many factors to consider and assess.

At Ironfish, we specialise in off-the-plan property, so we understand these challenges. We also have plenty of experience and expertise to share in order to provide some insights into this often less-understood market.

What is off-the-plan property?

Buying a house, apartment or townhouse ‘off-the-plan’ means signing a contract to buy a property that is yet to be built. You can view the developer’s plans, designs and renders for the property, but can’t view a physical building.

Typically, purchasers pay an initial 10% deposit, with the balance of funds not due until construction is completed. Construction time varies, it could be only a few months or some years – with houses generally completing faster, and apartments taking longer.

What are the benefits of buying new or off-the-plan property?*

First home owner grants and stamp duty savings may be the first draw card for many, however, there are other significant factors which greatly increase the appeal of off-the-plan property, particularly for investors with a ‘buy and hold’ strategy.

  1. Design

New or off-the-plan property features cutting-edge architectural design which suits contemporary lifestyles and trends. Maximising space, natural light and wired for high speed internet or digital media, new property tends to have better environmental credentials as well.

With off-the-plan property, you also get choice. Being able to choose from an entire development and get your preferred view, level, floorplan or design is ideal. That said, the best view might not offer the best yield. Each purchaser’s goals are different, so it’s good to have options.

  1. Amenity & Community

We are now seeing more and more luxury resort style facilities in new developments. Apartment buildings now feature rooftop infinity pools, private cinemas, private bars, expansive gyms, grand entrances and downstairs retail and dining experiences. Residents are treated to free yoga classes, rooftop gatherings or exclusive access to a luxury car via car-sharing facilities.

property investment tips off the plan

The stunning wrap-around roof-top infinity pool at FV, Fortitude Valley

These shared spaces and events also serve to build a sense of community. With more Australians opting for higher-density living, developers are aiming to create the neighbourhood vibe traditionally found on an old-fashioned suburban street.

  1. A quality tenant

For investors, having a great tenant – someone who is reliable and who is going to care for the property – is really important.

With beautiful designs, luxury lifestyle facilities and a great location with convenient access to key employment and transport hubs, new property can attract a higher calibre tenant, and cater for the demands of a future tenant or owner-occupier – what residents will come to expect in a property 10, 15, 20 years from now.

property investment tips off the plan

Great downstairs retail in an apartment building has strong lifestyle appeal for residents

  1. Affordability

Government incentives to tackle housing affordability are an obvious example of the affordability appeal with new property.

There are also potential tax benefits that can help. The difference between the tax depreciation claimable for second-hand versus new properties is substantial; representing potentially thousands of dollars-worth of depreciation entitlements each year, particularly in the first 5 years.

New property can also offer an affordable entry point into an unaffordable suburb. For example, a new apartment building being built in a great suburb that currently only has houses. You might not be able to afford a house in that suburb, but you could afford an apartment.

The timing of settlement with off-the-plan property is also something that can appeal to both first home buyers and investors. In a market like Sydney, saving your 20% immediately can be tough. With off-the-plan property, you put your 10% down first, with time to save the remaining 10% of your deposit.

  1. Convenience

New homes meet much higher standards in building technology along with the security of a Builder’s Warranty against defects in construction for consumer protection.

New property is not going to need the levels of maintenance or repairs an older property often needs, particularly in the first 5 – 7 years. This not only represents potential cost savings, but it also means a longer hassle-free period compared to older properties.

Quality ‘turn-key’ new properties should be rent-ready. For investors who have no desire or time to roll up their sleeves and deal with a costly renovation or multiple repairs, new property offers a more convenient alternative.

*The big asterisk

The advantages we describe are by no means present amongst any and every new development on the market. The quality of new developments varies greatly, along with confidence around the developer, architect, builder, delivery, timings, price, location, fittings, contracts, inclusions and much, much more.

At Ironfish, we are very selective about which properties we decide to take on and recommend to our customers. Our property selection team assesses all the above factors, starting with location; looking for a great area and then looking for a stand-out development within that area. We’re also looking for properties with strong owner-occupier appeal.

best suburbs to buy in brisbane 2018

Great developments seek to build community – whether it’s a housing estate or apartment building

We partner exclusively with leading developers – whether they be amongst the best publicly-listed or private developers from across Australia and indeed, the world. We are looking for developers who share our commitment to quality.

We also have great people and great support services in place to assist our customers with purchasing off-the-plan. We can talk you through the typical process and buffers to be aware of – for example valuation, understand the types of variations that may occur in your finished property and generally answer all your questions. We also send our customers regular construction updates, so you know exactly where your property is at in terms of completion, and have a full checklist, timeline and support to prepare for settlement.

There are many benefits of off-the-plan property which may appeal, however the confidence around not being able to see the end product can hold some people back. We’ve been in this industry for a long time – we’re looking for opportunities that other people don’t have, so that our customers can rely on us.

Ultimately, our aim is to help people to purchase with confidence, so more Australians can get their foot on the property ladder sooner and get closer to achieving their longer-term property goals.

Property investment tips

Got some more questions about buying an off-the-plan property? Throw them our way! Request a free call or meeting with one of our Strategists via this link. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Or, if you’d like to see our recommended properties list, you can register here.

When recognition matters…

Over 850 HR professionals attended the 2018 Australian HR Awards, sponsored by Ironfish, at The Star in Sydney on Friday. The Awards recognise the HR industry’s best companies, individuals and teams from all around Australia.

For the second year, Ironfish – Financial Wellbeing Program was the major event partner of the Awards. The evening was hosted by Logie-winning actress and presenter Natalie Bassingthwaighte, with Ironfish Co-Founder and Director of Operations Susanne Anderson providing the opening address.

financial wellbeing

In her speech, Ms Anderson noted that the Awards serve an important role in the industry and have a great impact, not only as a career-defining moment for an individual, but also for their organisation.

“When outstanding achievements and behaviours are recognised and awarded, this has a huge impact – not only in helping to know your contribution is being valued, but also in the flow-on effect to your organisation’s culture. As a 2018 HR Award winner or nominee, you’ve set a very high bar, which your colleagues will inevitably work hard to meet,” Ms Anderson said.

“This is great news for your organisation, which will receive all the benefits of a committed team who are pursuing new heights of excellence. But it’s also great news for Australian employees, who will be supported by the right culture, by the right structures, by the right benefits and support services that will help them perform at their best.

“At Ironfish, this is our objective as well. We want to support HR leaders in providing the right benefits and support services for their staff, and our Financial Wellbeing Program is designed to help you achieve this goal.”

Ironfish Head of Marketing Lu Nan and Ironfish Head of Property William Mitchell together presented the award for Australian HR Team of the Year ( > 1000 Employees). The winner was TAL Australia.

“We’re excited to present this award, because at Ironfish, we often talk about the importance of having the best team around you. It’s the only way you’re going to get the best results,” said Ms Lu.

financial wellbeingColin Lee, Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Program Co-ordinator and Head of Strategic Property Services presented the award for HR Manager of the Year, which went to Merlin Entertainment’s Katie Dunn.

“HR Managers have to wear so many hats in their role, and the decisions they make are so important. To support the individual needs of each team member, and ultimately each employee is a real challenge, so this is a terrific achievement.”

On behalf of Ironfish, a big congratulations to all 2018 HR Award winners and finalists. Also thanks to our guests for the evening from Royal Rehab and Panthers Club, as well as our Financial Wellbeing clients Children’s Cancer Institute and CPB Contractors.

For the full list of winners see: HRD Magazine

Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Program

If you would like to find out more about how the Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Program could benefit your organisation, please contact our Program Co-Ordinator.


financial wellbeing sydney

financial wellbeing

financial wellbeing sydney

financial wellbeing sydney

financial wellbeing sydney    



Do you own property in Adelaide? New tax cuts affect you.

The latest South Australian budget was delivered on Wednesday, announcing new tax cuts and initiatives which will benefit Adelaide property investors and owners.

Land tax cuts

In a bid to encourage more investors into the state, the land-tax-free threshold for all investment properties will rise from $369,000 to $450,000. (This threshold refers to the land value only, not the property value).

Over 50,000 property investors will also benefit from nearly $100 million in land tax cuts as the Marshall Government lowers the land tax rate from 3.7% to 2.9% from July 1, 2020. This applies to land tax ownerships valued between the existing top threshold (currently $1.2 million) and $5 million.

Emergency Services Levy reductions

650,000 South Australian home owners are set to benefit from reductions in the Emergency Services Levy.

This Levy funds the provision of emergency services in South Australia and applies to all fixed property. This tax is calculated based on a home’s price.

Reductions in the Emergency Services Levy means South Australian home owners will share in a total estimated annual savings of $90 million for the 2019 financial year. This represents close $150 in extra savings per year for a median priced home.

$11.3 billion infrastructure boom

The property industry has welcomed news of over $11 billion in infrastructure spending, which will benefit the local property market for years to come.

Budget papers indicate $2.3 billion will be spent on roads infrastructure, $1.3 billion for education facilities, $1 billion for public transport, $854 million for health facilities, amongst many additional projects.

$100 million for renewable energy home solutions

South Australia is well known for leading the charge in renewable energy solutions. As part of the new State Budget, the Marshall Government also announced $100 million in grants for 40,000 homes as part of its innovative renewable energy storage scheme that will deliver cutting-edge home battery storage systems to the people of South Australia.

This forms part of the broader $184 million Energy Solution package which will see more and more locals enjoying renewable energy solutions at reliable and cost-effective rates.

2019 Forecast

The Budget forecast a surplus of close to $50 million for the 2019 financial year, with this figure expected to rise to over $100 million by the 2020 financial year.

Overall, the Budget has been widely regarded as good news for local home owners and property investors.

South Australia Property Council Executive Director Daniel Gannon states: “The message coming out of this Budget is very clear – it’s about positive new infrastructure spending without punitive new taxes.”

Property Investment Adelaide

If you would like to learn more about the Adelaide property market, please download our latest quarterly market report.



“I wanted to get my foot on the property ladder as early as possible”


Dickson Wong

Electrical Engineer

“Some people are surprised I choose to live with my parents, but I don’t mind because I like spending time with them. It’s also about how do I want to spend the limited amount of money that I have? Do I want to spend it on rent? Or do I want to invest it so that I can buy my own home when I’m ready?”


property investment tips



  • 25-year-old beginner investor
  • Purchased 2 properties with Ironfish
  • Purchased investment before first home
  • Planning to build a portfolio of 4 properties in 10 years


Beyond university: setting life goals

Dickson Wong graduated from uni in 2014 and has been working as an electrical engineer for a major consultancy firm based in Brisbane for about 4 years. He had built up some savings over this period by living at home and being very careful with his spending. He knew he wanted to invest his savings and that it was important to start as soon as possible.

“At uni, without even realising it, you’re meeting goals and expectations that have been set for you each semester. After you leave, there’s no one setting goals for you anymore, it’s your own responsibility. So, I set myself a plan of what I could expect for myself over a period of time – and that’s why I decided to invest straight away.

I started exploring my options; I attended seminars, I talked to as many different people as possible, and what I found was that property kept coming up as a wealth building path. But it definitely takes time, so I wanted to start as early as possible.”

My options were based on my limitations

Dickson first encountered Ironfish at Property Expo, where he attended a presentation by our CEO Joseph Chou. He was invited to attend a follow up workshop at our Ironfish Brisbane office, after which he was keen to schedule a strategy meeting straight away.

property investment tips

Dickson had a series of meetings with our Brisbane-based strategist Jade Cattanach, who spent some time helping him to clarify an investment strategy that could help him achieve his personal goals. Since Dickson had a limited amount of savings, it narrowed down the fie

ld for what Dickson could afford to buy. It also meant that every dollar counted, so if he could avoid any extra service fees and charges then that would help a lot.

“My options on which property to invest in were based on my limitations – how much I had saved up! The fact that Ironfish is providing a lot of extra services at no direct cost to me makes me feel a lot safer as a customer as well. I knew exactly what I was getting into and I wasn’t potentially losing any extra service fees on top of the property cost.

“I’ve been in touch with other companies, some of which charged a one-off fee per property as well as an additional fee for managing the construction phase of the property. There are other companies that do a similar service, but the level of service they provide is quite different – the approach, the level of detail, the attention they can provide you as well as the type and quality of properties they could offer. With new properties it’s hard to gauge the end product. But from what I could see from Ironfish print materials, descriptions as well as the time my strategist Jade spent talking me through all the many details and coaching me in terms of mindset – all this gave me a solid idea of what I could expect, and the confidence to go ahead.”

Portfolio foundations

With affordability at front of mind, Dickson’s first purchase was a house and land package in Ipswich, priced under $400,000.

“House and land seemed like a good starting option from my point of view. The location of this house is what appealed; the growth potential of the area seems conducive to growth of the property – and I didn’t realise before that it was possible to still buy a house under $400,000!

It’s not a remote purchase either; it’s local-ish to my place, so I could very conveniently visit the site area and understand for myself what was happening and how this is talked about in the research materials I was reading. It was a great to get involved as a new investor and learn more about the process. This property is now fully constructed, a tenant was found faster than I had expected, and Ironfish Property Management co-ordinated the whole process well, with good communication and correspondence.”

Fast-tracking my goals

Dickson’s second purchase came quicker than he’d initially expected, but as a result of Jade’s regular updates and ongoing portfolio review service, it helped him understand how it would be possible to build his assets in a shorter than expected time-frame. Ironfish’s relationship with multiple-award-winning developer Aria Property Group also provided Dickson a unique opportunity to invest in a stand-out development.

“My second purchase was a 2-bedroom apartment in The Standard, an apartment development by Aria Property Group in South Brisbane. My sister and I invested in this one together. I wasn’t expecting to make this purchase, but when Jade let me know about the opportunity, it was a very attractive option given the timing and completion, and the growth potential of the area.

“I work in the same area, so I can see for myself this area is growing and changing quite a lot. I was also able to see Aria’s other buildings in the same area; the quality of their previous developments was very impressive and gave me a lot of confidence to invest right now, off-the-plan. The completion timing also means that we have time to save up the remaining deposit.”

property investment tips

Brisbane’s iconic Fish Lane street-art – Dickson’s apartment in ‘The Standard’ enjoys a Fish Lane address.

10-year property investment plan

Although his first 2 purchases were able to come fairly close together, Dickson now plans to slow down a little, but his goals are still clearly mapped out.

“My short-term goal is to pay down my existing mortgage and build up some equity. I also want to make sure I’ve got enough saved to act as a buffer for my investment properties; for any unexpected costs that may occur along the way, such as repairs, or vacancy.

“I’ve now got what I believe are 2 ‘bluechip’ properties and I plan to accumulate a portfolio of 4 of these types of properties in the next 10 years. Subject to market conditions, over 10 years may seem conservative to some investors, but I want to give myself a realistic goal. I’m still young and just starting out in my career – I’ve got my investment foundation laid down but then I still want to have the freedom to do things outside of work and investment, such as travel. I don’t want to miss out on any of those experiences.”

Dickson’s property investment tips:

  1. Investment requires 2 main things: money and the mindset. Your mindset drives the decisions. To make the decision you need the capital. These are the only 2 things you can really control! Ironfish has helped me a lot in terms of developing the right mindset as well.
  2. Actively go learn stuff from anyone who offers that knowledge and expertise. This may be reading or going to seminars or talking to people. If I knew Ironfish earlier it would have been even better, to be honest. Ironfish helped fill my knowledge gaps and give me confidence to invest.
  3. I usually allocate a third of my salary to normal expenses and save the remaining two-thirds, which I manually transfer into a higher interest savings account. I try not to touch my savings but I don’t automate it either, because it keeps me thinking about what I’m saving for.
  4. What I do automate, I track via an app called ‘Pocketbook’. This links to all my bank accounts and helps me understand what I’m spending my money on. There are lots of apps that have this kind of functionality.
  5. Consider investing before buying your own home. Based on my own current situation, buying an investment property has more attractive tax benefits. This may change in future, and I’ll reassess it then. Plus, this way I still have the freedom to move around, to travel, without being tied down to a home or a big home mortgage.

Need some help getting your foot on the property ladder?

Book a free appointment with one of our experienced property investment strategists to see how you can get started.

  • Draw on our collective pool of experience as investors and first-home-buyers – have all your property questions answered and any jargon explained
  • Visualise different cash flow scenarios for a property
  • Consult a comprehensive and up-to-date list of available government incentives and benefits on offer for first home buyers
  • Create a strategy that’s right for you, targeting affordable properties in great locations


What does success mean to you?

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

My definition of success has changed a lot over the years.

Initially, success for me meant having a great job and career, and this is why I became a diplomat.

When I decided to quit this profession and migrate to Australia – with little money and no job – I wanted to achieve financial success. By earning a good income, I hoped to validate my decision to leave China and make my parents proud of me again. I also wanted to be able provide for my family.

Once I started to earn a reasonable income, my next definition of success was to be able to have a little extra – to have more choices in life and the ability to give more to my family, friends and to charity.

Today, the way I define success has changed again. Now I believe that success is having the ability to do what I love to do; know that what I do gives value to a lot of other people; and be able to share my happiness with friends and family and continue to share my success with others.

property investment seminar success

Success is being able to share not just money, but also time, knowledge and expertise for the benefit of others. Sometimes even just your presence or endorsement can have a great impact.

Recently, I found out that an old school friend in China was suffering internal bleeding in his brain and required emergency surgery. His wife was dying of cancer as well, so his daughter set up a crowdfunding page to raise the 300,000RMB needed for his treatment.

When I found out about it and saw there wasn’t a lot of money being donated – and time was of the essence – I contacted my friend Michael Yu, a billionaire and household name in China. I told him “this is real, and this is happening to the school captain of my old high school. I’ve donated 100,000RMB and have shared the post in my own social circle. You don’t need to contribute anything, but could you please share it in your circle?”

Michael responded saying he’d pledged 50,000RMB and had also shared the link. Our acquaintances, including Ironfish colleagues, also chipped in and the money was raised successfully.

Success can be defined in many different ways. Some people may define success purely in financial terms, or getting into a global 500 company, or progressing to a management position. For others it may mean getting a PhD or having influence in the community.

But what I’ve learned is that success is a journey, not a destination or a point. Success is constantly challenging ourselves in pursuit of our next dream.

I also know that success can be achieved by anyone and everyone, and while our pursuits may differ, the process we each have to go through is the same and can be roughly broken down into 6 steps.

Success in 6 steps

1. Desire/Deadline

Most people have good intentions, they have the skills or the potential to develop those skills, but most people are not definite about what they want. If you’re not definite, you’ll negotiate with yourself or with circumstances.

Identify what you want to achieve. You may have an ultimate goal you’re aiming for, but work out what’s the next step towards that goal – what’s your next level of success? Then, put a deadline to it. When you put a deadline to a dream, that’s when it becomes a goal, as opposed to just wishful thinking.

2. Mindset

Know your desired goal is possible to achieve. If someone else has done it before, then you know it’s possible. People who embrace possibility thinking are much more likely to be able to do the impossible.

property investment seminar

3. Find a coach or mentor

Many people overlook this step, but it’s an important one: learn from someone you respect and who’s done it before. Most successful people are willing to share their insights, because they know there’s no point taking it with them to the grave. But they’re only willing to share with the right people.

When I talk about this at my courses, I often have people who are very excited and ask to buy me a coffee afterwards. But when I say, “Sure, how about next time I come to town?” many give up because they didn’t get what they wanted immediately. To me, this shows they’re not really serious about it. If you truly feel this person can help you at the current stage of your life, then you’ll keep at it.

4. Put a team around you

It’s hard to do it alone. Work with as many people as possible who can help you achieve success.

In your early stages, when you’re pursuing your next level of success, the people you associate with will also have a huge impact on your mindset. I know people who never smoked, but when they started associating with cigar smokers, before long they were smoking cigars themselves. You become who you associate with!

5. Plan and take action

Your mentor or coach will help you put a plan of action into place and then it’s time to get to work!

Whatever level of success you’re aiming for, you will need to match it with equal levels of effort, learning and growth. If you’re not willing to pay the required price, you may need to compromise on the level of success you can achieve. As they say in investment: ‘higher risk, higher return.’

You will likely need to take some time building up some personal skills as well: people skills, leadership skills, communications and sales skills. I believe everyone needs sales skills; you will need to be able to convey how you can benefit others.

6. Persist!

Why did the African tribe’s rain dances always work? Because they would keep dancing until it rained.

The difference between truly successful people and those who fade away are those who persist. It may take some people longer to get there, or be much harder for some compared to others, but it’s possible. And the view from the top will be just as spectacular, whichever road you took to get there.

property investment seminars

Failing your way to success

I love the saying: “don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better,” because success doesn’t come easily. Obstacles and challenges are part of the game, and you will need to overcome many of them along the way.

But if you can stay focussed on your goal, rather than your obstacles, and keep the faith, you will be able to keep going even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the people who stay till the end. Success takes time.

Keep the attitude, keep your dream alive, keep learning and growing, and listening to the right people, and working hard. And keep at it! If you can guarantee those things, then I can guarantee you success.

property investment seminar success

Your best self

When you think about human lives; every day we have a routine. We wake up, eat breakfast, take the kids to school, go to work, sit on the train, do some reading, watch TV, go to bed, wake up and do it again.

If you don’t have anything more exciting to look forward to, then life becomes a simple repetition of what you did before. And it can become pretty boring. Or if the most exciting thing you have to look forward to is a holiday or perhaps just a weekend, then you’ll find yourself depressed come Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Not everyone aspires to become a millionaire or a CEO or develop a cure for cancer. But at the very least, we all want to become the best possible versions of ourselves and achieve our own next level of success. We all hope to live a life that has benefited others in some way.

Ultimately, I think, success comes when you wake up in the morning knowing that people’s lives are better because of the kind of person you are or because of what you do.

When you can be safe in the knowledge that you are leaving a legacy or have made an impact, and then you know that it has all been worth it.

Ironfish seminars

Joseph Chou presents regularly at a variety of events, workshops and property investment seminars across the country. Many of our own seminars are free to attend. Find out where Joseph is speaking next in your city and book your seat today.


2018 property market update

Planning to buy or sell your home or investment property in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide in the second half of 2018?

Find out what’s been happening in the housing and apartment market in all the major cities of Australia in the last 6 months, and what to expect in the next 6 months. 

This concise summary and analysis, presented by Ironfish Director, Property and Research Grant Ryan, covers economic performance and population growth in your city, along with key property market data for houses and apartments including:

  • vacancy rates
  • capital growth
  • rental yields 
  • median values.

Gain an overview of the major trends likely to underpin market demand, and the market outlook for the short to medium term.

Given the market drivers differ from city to city, we trust our investors will find the location-specific data and outlook valuable in developing your investment strategies for the second half of the year.

If you would like some more information about the property market in your city, please feel free to download our latest market report.

Sydney, NSW

Melbourne, VIC

Brisbane, QLD

Perth, WA

Adelaide, South Australia

Your property investment guide

At Ironfish, we support our investors in acquiring a diversified property portfolio backed by the confidence of the latest research, personalised strategies and ongoing investment education.

We conduct our own research in-house, drawing data from over 50 sources including the ABS, Corelogic and SQM Research.

Our property and research division is continually monitoring the markets across all the major cities of Australia to identify great areas and investment opportunities for our investors.

If you’d like to see our selected properties list, please register your interest here.


Adelaide poised for growth as confidence in SA booms

With world-leading innovation and city-shaping projects underway, Adelaide is well poised for growth, according to property industry experts.

Results from the latest ANZ/Property Council of Australia (PCA) Survey showed a record-high level of confidence for South Australia. PCA attributes this to the state’s economy, buoyed by growth in industries such as health and defence, as well as potential for future industries.

The PCA survey results follow a study last month by BankSA, which found that business and consumer confidence in South Australia is also booming.

Business confidence has jumped 19 points to 119.2 — where 100 is neutral — which is the highest level since the end of the global financial crisis in 2010.

Consumer confidence is also strong, rising 7.7 points to 109.4, its highest level in 4 years.

“Businesses are feeling like the climate’s going to be fantastic, 19 points up is a significant jump, and it’s flowing on to intentions to employ more people, spend more money, bigger purchases,” BankSA Chief Executive Nick Reade told The Advertiser.

Adelaide leading the way

Adelaide has long enjoyed a reputation for being among the world’s most liveable cities and currently ranks in the top 10 of The Economist’s Global Liveability Index. Known for its great food, wine and festival culture, as well as excellent health care, urban design and infrastructure, Adelaide also offers an affordable housing market especially compared to Sydney and Melbourne.

And despite being one of our smaller capital cities in terms of population size, Adelaide is also a world leader in innovation, with strong environmental credentials and ‘smart city’ infrastructure.

World’s largest virtual power plant

South Australia has raced ahead of the country to turn to renewable energy sources. Last year, Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium battery at a South Australian wind farm, to be able to store the energy for summer months and bring down energy prices for locals. A second battery is due to start construction within weeks.

property investment adelaide

The world’s biggest lithium battery was delivered by Tesla in Adelaide. Image source: AFP

And now, Tesla, with support from the South Australian government is developing a network of at least 50,000 home solar PV and Powerwall battery systems across South Australia – all working together to form the world’s largest virtual power plant.

The new 250-megawatt virtual power plant is designed to further lower energy prices, improve stability to the grid and continue the state’s commitment to reducing fossil fuels. The $30+ million project will be rolled out over a 4.5 years program, starting with 1,100 Housing Trust Home. The first stage of installations have already occurred and will continue through 2018 and 2019.

Smart City

 Adelaide has also been first off the mark in becoming one of the world’s ‘smart cities’ with a globally connected economy. The city has rolled out a number of ‘smart’ projects, most notably, ‘Ten Gigabit Adelaide’ – Australia’s first 10Gbps fibre optic network. 

The Ten Gigabit Network enables Adelaide businesses to share and receive high volumes of data at 10Gbps data speeds; up to 1,000 faster than the national average.

The network will particularly benefit data-intensive industries such as creative, biomedical, finance, defence, advanced manufacturing, information management and cyber security – and is designed to attract more businesses in these fields to take up residence in Adelaide.

Adelaide is also the first and only international city to join the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities Program, which links cities together to foster the development of applications and services that require advanced gigabit networks to run.

City-shaping projects – tourism, health and retail

Alongside these world-class developments in energy and communications, there are also a number of city-shaping projects underway in Adelaide.

Casino expansion

A $330 million redevelopment of the Adelaide Casino has commenced. The project is expected to create up to 800 ongoing jobs as well as attract more new visitors to the city.

“The South Australian tourism industry has so much to offer interstate and international visitors, and the introduction of this new facility, complete with luxury hotel accommodation, outstanding food and beverage offerings and world-class entertainment spaces will help to attract high-end visitors to the vibrant Riverbank Precinct and to the state,” said Adelaide Casino General Manager Luke Walker.

$3.2bn BioMed Precinct

Adelaide will have a new addition to its $3.6 billion BioMed precinct, which is located in the CBD. Designs have been unveiled for a second South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute building – dubbed SAHMRI 2. This $273 million project will house Australia’s first proton therapy unit for cancer treatment and deliver the most technologically advanced radiation therapy in the Southern Hemisphere.

The centrepiece of the BioMed precinct is the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, which opened last year. It’s expected a new women’s and children’s hospital will be added to the precinct in future as well.

property investment adelaide

Adelaide BioMed Precinct

Retail and commercial

Adelaide’s signature pedestrian shopping destination, Rundle Mall has undergone a $30 million upgrade, with retail spending along the strip up by 3.3% in the last year.   

The iconic GPO Adelaide is now undergoing a $250 million makeover, including the construction of a new commercial tower, retail outlets and a laneway ‘lifestyle precinct’.

With so many innovative and large-scale projects underway, it is perhaps unsurprising that confidence levels are so high for South Australia, with some analysts predicting Adelaide property prices will be affected.

According to the latest NAB Residential Property Survey, Adelaide house prices are expected to have the highest forecast growth of all the major cities in 2019.

“Our research shows that confidence in the South Australian residential property market over the next year has lifted, while confidence over the longer-term is also strong,” NAB South Australia General Manager, Gregg Harris told

Real Estate Institute of South Australia President Alexander Ouwens agreed. He said that Adelaide is on track for sustainable, solid and steady growth over the coming few years and is playing catch up to the Eastern property boom.

“Eastern states investors are increasing, open homes are well attended … and business confidence is on the rise,” Mr Ouwens said.

Property Investment Adelaide

Want to find out more about the Adelaide market? Download our latest Property Market Research report.


Feature image source: Woods Bagot

The impact of Australia’s international student boom

Education is big business in Australia. We are now the fourth most popular country in the world for international students, coming in after the US, UK and France – a considerable achievement for a country of our size.

Australia’s international education sector contributed a staggering $28 billion to the economy in the 2017 financial year and continues to be our nation’s largest services export.

In fact, this largely overlooked sector is now so big, it is not only a significant driver of the national economy it is also a key underlying driver for housing demand.

International students driving growth

It’s no secret that Australia’s population is growing – and fast. A primary contributing factor for this growth is net overseas migration, which has been influenced by the rise of international students.

An ABS study recently found that the highest concentrations of Australia’s newest migrants were commonly found around university campuses and the inner suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney.

According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, international students are not just an influencing factor in immigration growth, they are the driving force. 

“There are around 200,000 more foreign students in Australia today than there were a few years ago,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the ABC.

“That is the single biggest driving factor (of immigration growth).”

International student enrolments on the rise



The influence of the rising Asian middle class

Growth in international student enrolments and education exports have been rising with no signs of slowing down.

Students from China make up the largest proportion of students at 31% followed by India, Nepal, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The rising share of Chinese students is a trend that is expected to continue alongside the growing number of middle class Asian consumers.

The rising share of Chinese international student enrolments



The OECD forecasts 3.2 billion middle-class Asian consumers by 2030, a massive upshot from only half a billion recorded in 2009.

The rise of the Asian middle class will add strong demand for international services sectors such as travel and education, with Australia set to be a major beneficiary on both accounts.

Australia’s strong reputation for education, relative value for money, high standard of living and strategic location within the Asia Pacific rim, make our universities a particularly attractive proposition for international students.

International students also bring in significant tourism dollars. Deloitte estimates that visiting friends and family of international students have added $222 million to the economy and supported the employment of almost 2,400 jobs.

Universities spending big on upgrades and expansion

You only need to look on campus to see evidence of the international student boom. Construction fences and cranes are out in force, with many Australian universities spending big on new and innovative buildings in a race to attract more students.

The University of Technology Sydney recently commissioned world-renowned architect Frank Gehry – of Guggenheim fame – to design their new ‘Dr Chau Chak Wing’ building in the Haymarket campus. The building forms part of a $1 billion-plus city campus masterplan.

property investment australia

UTS Business School, Dr Chau Chak Wing – designed by Frank Gehry

Up north, Gold Coast University Hospital – one of Queensland’s largest clinical teaching and research facilities – has just undergone a $1.76 billion development.

Monash University in Melbourne has been investing in a series of new design-focused learning and teaching spaces. Last year, they unveiled an innovative new Biological Sciences Building. Earlier this year, the University opened its new $225 million Learning and Teaching building on its Clayton campus. Construction is also underway for a new Biomedical Learning and Teaching building – which is set to be open to students as of 2019.

Over in South Australia, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia have announced they’re considering a merger in a bid to join the ranks of the world’s top 100 universities.

And in Western Australia, the government has just committed $2 million to develop an international education plan, as well as announcing a new skilled migration program for graduates – both strategies designed to encourage more international students to study in the state.

Education accelerating Government infrastructure projects

The growing international education sector is not only driving infrastructure spending on campus, it’s also putting pressure on the Federal Government to accelerate transport infrastructure across key education hubs.

In Melbourne, a notable case is the $475 million commitment in the most recent Federal Budget to link Monash University’s Caulfield and Clayton campuses via a new rail line.

property investment melbourne

A new rail link will connect Monash University’s Caulfield and Clayton campuses

The rail link will not only enhance travel options for the tens of thousands of Monash students, staff and visitors, but it will also benefit a wider portion of South East Melbourne residents and commuters.

“What all these numbers show is that the impact of Australia’s unprecedented numbers of international students is far reaching. As Australia’s population grows, bolstered by a rising cohort of international students, so too does demand for housing, particularly around key university belts.

“This has had positive flow-on effects for the property market as well as surrounding infrastructure, demand for local services and tourism, contributing to broader economic growth” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

Ironfish Property Investment

At Ironfish, our property and research team work to identify great properties in great locations. If you’d like to find out more about our selected properties and top locations, please register to access our list.


Sydney’s future looks west: $5bn smart city kicks off

In March this year, all 3 levels of government together announced a $20 billion plan to create a Western Sydney Aerotropolis, which would deliver 200,000 knowledge jobs in the region.

Last month, the centrepiece of the plan – a new airport at Badgerys Creek – kicked off, with contracts awarded to start earthmoving works by the end of this year.

Sydney Science Park

Now, the first major development around the new airport is underway, with a sod-turning ceremony signalling the start of a new $5 billion project – Sydney Science Park.

property investment sydney

Sydney Science Park is expected to deliver 12,000 ‘knowledge-based’ jobs to Western Sydney

Located approximately 3km from the new Western Sydney Airport and set over 280ha, Sydney Science Park is designed to create a world-class centre for research and development in the heart of Western Sydney.

Sydney Science Park is expected to deliver over 12,000 knowledge jobs and cater to over 10,000 students.

Partnership agreements have been formalised with CSIRO, the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP), Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), and the Westmead Health Precinct’s 7 health, education and research organisations.
Sydney Science Park is also set to house NSW’s first ‘pre to post’ (preschool to beyond Year 12) STEM School, in collaboration with the CEDP.

Australia’s first smart city

The project is being delivered by Western Sydney-based property group Celestino, with the goal of creating Australia’s first ‘smart city’.

“We’re creating an ecosystem that will house some of the nation’s leading scientific institutions and providing educational opportunities for Western Sydney, such as our STEM school, that haven’t been seen before,” Celestino chief executive John Vassallo said.

“Our project is a real example of the types of opportunities that are going to open up within the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and we’re proud to be the first to turn our vision, into a reality.”

NSW Minister for Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres said, “Sydney Science Park is a microcosm of the wealth of investment happening across Western Sydney and will continue to attract like‐minded businesses and organisations and generate an innovation ripple‐effect across the rest of the region.”

Celestino anticipates that the first of its commercial buildings along with the STEM school will be operational by 2021.

Property investment Sydney

Keen to expand your portfolio into Sydney’s growing west? Register to access our select properties list in Western Sydney, or book an appointment directly with one of our experienced Strategists who can talk you through the opportunities and help you visualise the various cash flow scenarios with our custom Property Portfolio Analysis software.


“Everyone was investing with Ironfish – now I know why”


Mario Patino

Marketing professional

“I never invested in property before, because I didn’t have the right information, education or someone I could trust to guide me through the process of how to make my first investment.

 “I am now very happy with my first purchase and looking forward to increasing my portfolio over time through Ironfish. They have the right people, information, knowledge and passion for property investment.”


ironfish review


  • Marketing professional working in IT industry
  • Purchased 1 investment property with Ironfish
  • Planning to expand portfolio over time


Seeking a trusted property investment guide

Mario Patino is a marketing professional working in the IT industry. He moved here from Mexico over 10 years ago and is very happy to call Sydney home. Mario had been thinking about property investment for a while but was facing a major hurdle.

“I didn’t know where to start; I simply didn’t have the tools or a trusted guide to help me assess the different opportunities – without the push of selling.”

It’s not just a coincidence that everyone was investing with Ironfish

Mario had a meeting with North Sydney based Strategist Ilinna Avni, who explained Ironfish’s portfolio approach to property investment, and shared some of our selected properties that might fit his criteria.

“After I talked with Ilinna, I found out that one of my friends bought a property with Ironfish. A month later, during a casual chat at friend’s BBQ, another friend shared with me that he’d recently bought a property from Ironfish. Then, when I was talking about investment properties with some colleagues at work, it turned out one of my colleagues was buying her first investment property with Ironfish.

“It made me think that these aren’t just coincidences and gave me the confidence that I was on the right track to invest.”

A great source of inspiration

Ilinna invited Mario to a range of Ironfish workshops, events and property investment seminars – which he found very rewarding.

“Ilinna took the time to understand my personal circumstances and goals and introduced me to other professionals who could help me to understand my investment potential. She invited me to various property investment seminars and events, including the inspiring Bicycles to Bentleys event, along with a few property presentations.

The events were a great source of inspiration and knowledge-building that have helped me form my investment strategy.”

A personal touch 

We know property investment is a significant commitment, so Mario – understandably – wanted to feel completely confident with his intended property purchase. Ilinna helped him liaise with the Vendor to address all of his potential concerns.

“Ilinna presented multiple investment options and we met a few times – she was extremely flexible to accommodate meetings – to discuss the pros and cons of each investment opportunity.

“After shortlisting 3 properties in Melbourne, I decided to fly down to see the location where the property was going to be built, inspect one of the display units and check the nearby amenities and the future growth potential.

“Ilinna facilitated all my meetings and inspections and I came back 100% sure about the property I was about to purchase.

“Ilinna then helped me in finding the right solicitor in Victoria, providing me with a few recommendations. After reviewing the contract, she engaged with the head office team and the Vendor to address and solve my concerns. She also explained everything to me step by step, from signing the contract to settlement of the property. Since then, the Ironfish team has been contacting me regularly to give me updates on the progress of the development.”

Going above and beyond

Mario says what he appreciated most about his investment experience with Ironfish was the service provided by his strategist.

“Illinna Avni is a fully committed and passionate strategist. She provided a highly professional service and went above and beyond my expectations. She treated me as a VIP investor, she represented me with the Vendor and solved any and all of my concerns on time.”

Mario’s property investment tips:

  1. Gain a strong understanding of the market before you invest.
  2. It is fundamental to have a strategist that can take you through all the processes, from understanding your needs to making recommendations and representing you and your interests with the Vendor.
  3. You need to find someone with experience, someone you can trust and who can provide the right guidance and investment opportunities.

Ironfish property investment

If you would like to find out how an Ironfish property investment strategist could help you invest, feel free to book a free appointment here.

You can also find out more about the Melbourne market by downloading our latest property market outlook report.

Or for more Ironfish reviews from our customers see the articles below.

VIC overtakes NSW, but Sydney remains #1 economy


Victoria has taken the top spot from NSW as the nation’s strongest state economy, however, Sydney remains the nation’s top performing city economy.

State of the State Rankings

Victoria now leads all states for economic performance according to the release of the latest CommSec ‘State of the States’ report.

It’s the first time in the report’s 9-year history that Victoria has taken the top spot; a result largely driven by construction work undertaken to accommodate the state’s booming population.

Victoria’s population grew by close to 400 people per day throughout 2017, translating to a rate of growth of 2.3% – the highest of all the states in 2017.

At current rates, Melbourne is expected to be the most populous Australian city as early as 2031.

Victoria’s population growth: 2010-2018


The CommSec report takes into account major indicators including: economic growth rates, population numbers, retail spending, employment and construction work undertaken. It measures each state’s overall performance based on historical decade averages across these indicators, and ranks states and territories accordingly.

Capital city economies: Sydney & Melbourne

While Victoria has pushed New South Wales down to second place in the State of the States report ranking, the capital city of Sydney remains in the number 1 spot.

According to a report by SGS Economics and Planning, Sydney is the top performing economy, growing by 3.3% during the 2017 financial year. In the same period, Melbourne’s economy grew by 2.8%.

Gross Regional Product for Sydney was recorded at $417 billion and for Melbourne, $324 billion in FY 2017.

While there has always been a lot of healthy rivalry between the two cities, both capital cities continue to drive the national economy, accounting for over half of the entire nation’s economic growth in the 2017 financial year.

Ironfish property investment

Want to know more about Sydney and Melbourne’s economy and other fundamental property market drivers? Download our latest market report.


Is the property market crashing…?

It’s hard to read a paper at the moment without finding an array of negative headlines about Sydney’s declining property market.  While media reports paint an overwhelming gloomy picture for the market, a closer look at the data tells a more nuanced story.

Sydney’s top end dragging down the averages

The Sydney residential property market as a whole recorded negative growth in the first quarter and for the year to April 2018.

However, the latest data from CoreLogic shows this result was largely driven by the premium end of the market.

The most affordable 20% of dwelling values recorded gains in these periods.

In fact, the more affordable half of Sydney dwelling values recorded an uptick in prices when averaged out over the year to April 2018. However, a pullback at the more expensive end caused the overall average to be weighed down.

The top end of Sydney dwelling values ($1.4m-$1.8m+) experienced the most significant decline. These properties suffered a substantial 7.2% decline over the 12 months to April 2018 which dragged the average down to -3.4% for the market overall.

Affordable property at the medium-low price ranges (under $875K) has been far more resilient.

“We often tell our investors to read the numbers, and understand the data, not the sensational headlines, and this is a typical case in point,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“Sydney has been an incredibly hot market so we do expect the overall market to trend sideways for a period. However, as the data demonstrates, there are sub-markets which can outperform the wider market, and these are the markets that we are looking for when it comes to selecting property to recommend to our investors.

“Though there will be a pullback in prices in pockets of Sydney, owners need to remember the market has increased significantly since the boom began in 2011, so a small adjustment is not a ‘bust’.”

Melbourne property market continues to perform

Like Sydney, the headlines for Melbourne property have focussed on the negative; specifically, Melbourne’s marginal decline (-0.7%) in residential property values for the first quarter of 2018.

Yet the data reveals that the Melbourne market has continued to perform, with the vast majority of price points recording positive growth over the 12 months to April 2018.

The affordable end of the market again recorded the largest gains. Properties priced $803K and under recorded an average gain of 9.87% in the year to April 2018 – a very strong result.

Only the most expensive dwellings (i.e. the top 10% of prices) recorded a negative gain in Q1.

The return of first home buyers



The outperformance of more affordable product has been much attributed to more first home buyers returning to the market. This is a trend we’ve seen not just in Sydney and Melbourne, but also across all the 5 major capital cities.

First Home Buyer mortgages on the rise

In Melbourne, strong population growth coupled with the increasing appeal of apartment living has further underpinned demand for the affordable end of the market.

Melbourne apartments recorded the strongest capital growth (6.8%) compared to apartments in any of the other 5 major capital cities for the year to April 2018.

Given Melbourne house prices have increased up to 70% since mid-2013, apartments continue to offer a significantly more affordable alternative to buyers.  At current median values, a Melbourne apartment is about 33.9% cheaper than purchasing a standalone house – providing a very strong incentive.

“With the tighter lending environment at the moment, affordability is definitely the flavour of the month. As a result, we are seeing more buyers turning to apartments and this market is expected to perform well in the medium term,” Mr Mitchell said.


Want some property investment news with substance?

We publish relevant, quality property investment news, data and updates weekly, and will deliver all the top stories directly to your inbox once a month.  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

You can also download our latest quarterly property market report covering all the major cities here.

Or talk directly to one of our Ironfish property investment Melbourne or Sydney specialists by booking a freee appointment via our online link.


Employment meets rail in Melbourne’s growing north-west

Approximately 10km north-west of Melbourne’s CBD is Sunshine, a one-time industrial heartland that sits at an important intersection point for 2 major Melbourne city planning initiatives – initiatives which are making many Melbourne investors sit up and take note.

National Employment and Innovation Cluster

As Melbourne’s population continues to boom, the Victorian government is planning for multiple economic and employment hubs in suburban areas closer to where people live.

These ‘National Employment and Innovation Clusters’ (NEICs) are areas with concentrations of businesses and institutions that provide a diversity of employment opportunities, typically centring around major universities and teaching hospitals.

The Sunshine region has been designated as 1 of only 7 NEICs under Plan Melbourne. There are currently around 2,800 business located in the Sunshine cluster, employing around 14,600 workers.

property investment melbourne

Renowned artist and Sunshine-raised John Kelly’s sculpture was unveiled in November 2017 and stands in Sunshine’s main street. Photo courtesy: VPA

The vision for the Sunshine NEIC is to become a major jobs centre in Melbourne’s west, providing teaching, healthcare services, medical research, education, transport, business and retail services.

“The cluster is recognised for its specialised activities and leading education, health and research facilities and the proximity of major transport infrastructure (Sunshine train station is on the Sunbury line and the regional rail link to major western regional areas such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong).

“While these existing strengths have helped establish the area as a cluster, they will also act as a catalyst for the still significant untapped potential of the area, while providing for future business, institutional and residential growth.” – Victorian Planning Authority

Sunshine NEIC suburbs are set to benefit from over $2.3billion in infrastructure investment necessary to accommodate significant growth in the number of businesses and jobs (13,800 new jobs by 2036) as well as better transport and improved open spaces, and upgraded services and facilities.

New $10billion rail line connecting the CBD to Melbourne Airport

Sunshine already sits at an important rail junction, providing a connection to regional services as well as metro services on the Sunbury line.

It has now also been revealed that Sunshine is the preferred route for the new and much anticipated train link between Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport and the CBD.  

The Sunshine route, which is the preferred route of both the State Government and the Australian Pacific Airports Corporation, would run fast trains from Southern Cross to Tullamarine through the western suburbs with the potential to link Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo into the network. The ability to connect the airport with these regional areas is of particular advantage.

property investment melbourne

Melbourne airport chief executive Lorie Argus told The Age that while the business case should consider all options, she and her colleagues believed that the Sunshine route was best.

“For us, we’re looking at how to safeguard a rail [line] to be able to extend beyond the airport or to be able to extend the network to the west,” said Ms Argus.

“That’s why, for us, it looks like Sunshine would make sense to be the front running route because it has access to regional, it has access to the west where the major growth is.”

The long-awaited rail connection will soon be a reality with a $5billion funding commitment in the recent Federal Budget, which has been recently matched by the Victorian State Government as well.

“The Sunshine region is strategically located at the junction of major rail services, with planning well underway for over $2bn of new infrastructure to support further jobs growth, said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“The addition of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link makes this an even more enticing area for economic investment, which we expect will drive property values in the area as well.”

Property investment Melbourne

Want to know more about where the growth areas are in Melbourne? Download our latest quarterly report, or request a MyCity report from your local Strategist for more in depth property market data and analysis.


Why are we ramping up when others are slowing down?

When the property market goes through a period of adjustment, many property companies look at reducing their footprint. But we’re doing the opposite.

At Ironfish, we’re preparing for growth and expansion.

If you’re a job seeker, you’ve probably already noticed that we’re running a major recruitment initiative across our branches.

What you may not know is that we’re also investing heavily in the training and development of our strategists at a national level. Last week, for example, we conducted a training program for all our newly hired strategists.

The training took place at Ironfish HQ in North Sydney and brought together all our new strategists from all our branches across Australia. It provided a valuable opportunity to help our new recruits become ensconced in our company values and vision as well as enhance their knowledge and skills base to better support our customers.

“Ironfish is the only property services company in Australia with offices across the 5 major capital cities around Australia and we felt it would be powerful for all new local strategists from our branch offices to fly into our Sydney HQ for a 3-day intensive,” said Ironfish Co-Founder and Director of Property and Research, Grant Ryan.

“What better way than for them to see, touch and feel the extent and track record of our Ironfish platform and at the same time to thoroughly understand both how important their role is, and to understand how their local office is part of a wider, professional network around Australia.”

ironfish property investment

Ironfish Property Investment Strategist Training Program July 2018

Ironfish property investment strategists play a vital support and servicing role for our investors, so it’s important for our strategists to be across all aspects of property investment as well as the specific services we have available for the benefit of our customers.  

Our 3 company directors and departmental heads guided our new strategists through their various services and divisions, such as our stringent property selection process and why our investors get to pick from some of the most iconic developments across the country. Strategists also gained insights into our extensive customer care team and processes we have in place to help our investors to settle their properties successfully, as well as specific training in our custom investor tools and software.

Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.

“What really stood out to me was the passion that the founders and the Ironfish team demonstrated during all the time we were there. You can see when people are genuinely engaged to an ideal and to the core values of the company,” said Pina Brandi, Property Investment Strategist, Ironfish Burwood.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much directly from the Ironfish Directors and the wider HQ team. Ironfish truly has an enviable platform which enables us to provide customers with comprehensive, research-backed property investment support and services. I now fully comprehend Ironfish’s strength in the market and our responsible, customer-centric approach to helping more Australians build wealth for the future through property,” said Liya, Property Investment Strategist, Ironfish Melbourne.

Your success is our success

Over the last 12 years our strategists have helped many thousands of Australians build a brighter future through property investment and we aim to help many more thousands achieve financial success in the next 12 years and beyond.

We are proud to stand out in the industry for our long-term vision and long-term relationships with our customers – so many of whom have purchased 2 or more properties from us or are referred to us by family and friends.

None of this would be possible, however, if we did not invest in talent acquisition and training and development events such as last week.

If we want our customers to succeed, then we need to ensure our customers are supported by the right people, with the right values, knowledge, skills, attitude and experience.

ironfish property investment

As our CEO and Founder Joseph Chou says, “We know from experience that most people don’t feel comfortable doing something when nobody else is doing it. For example, it’s only when the market is already very hot that most people want to jump on the bandwagon for fear of missing out. But the people who make the most gains are those who get into the market early, in the right pockets, before the next wave of the cycle. It’s also those who have the ability to last the distance.”

At Ironfish, we’re busy preparing our staff and our business for the next wave because we want to keep giving our investors every advantage and edge we can, to ensure they last the distance and achieve their goals.

We know investment is a long game and our strategists are here to support and service our customers every step of the way.

ironfish property investment

Want to find out how an Ironfish property investment strategist can help you?

  • Read some of our customer reviews and success stories to see how we’ve helped others – including new investors and experienced investors.
  • You can also book a free appointment with one of our experienced strategists at your local Ironfish office in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide, or at your home or office. We can visit after hours or at weekends.

How do you find someone you can trust to help you invest in property?

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

Something I always say to anyone who asks is that Ironfish is a people company not a property company.

And this is our crucial difference in the industry.

Because while we may operate predominantly under a real estate license, we are different to your average real estate agent or property company. For starters, we don’t simply list every property we’re offered, sell it to someone for the highest possible price and move on.

We are in fact extremely selective about which developers we work with and which properties we decide to take on. We also negotiate pricing on behalf of our customers in advance of taking on a property.

The reason for this is our customer is number 1 in the Ironfish ‘value chain.’

We believe that if we go above and beyond in looking after our customer, if we take the time to build a relationship with our customer and if we provide a valuable service to them – then our customer will stay with us for life.

And if we create lifetime relationships with our customers, then we are also able to maintain great partnerships with some of the best developers in Australia.

In turn, we can then offer our customers preferential access to great properties in some of the most iconic developments nation-wide.

Building a community of ‘lifetime customers’ also enables us to provide a platform for a growing team of talented people within our own organisation. People who we nurture, train and support to reach their full potential.

People who have stayed with us for the last 12 years and people who will grow with us in upcoming decades.

We respect our people, we are grateful that they choose to believe in our vision and grow with us. We believe this approach is what has helped us to attract and retain so many talented people at Ironfish.

Much like property, however, we are quite selective. We want to ensure that we are picking the right people with the right attitude and fundamental qualities that will align with our core business values.

People who have a passion for service, who know the sky’s the limit, and that the minute you stop dreaming is the minute you stop learning.

With the right people, we know that we can make a genuine difference in the marketplace, and in the lives of our customers.

property companies

There are 3 key qualities we look for in hiring an Ironfish property investment strategist.

  1. They already have a great job or career (not necessarily in property or sales) and are full of ambition – but they may be feeling stuck and need a change.

Some companies feel threatened by ambition, but our culture is dream-driven. We encourage our customers to dream bigger and achieve more in life – and we want our people to do the same. If our strategists are successful individuals in their own right – then they’ll be better able to inspire others to achieve their own success. If our strategists come from a range of professions, senior management positions etc – then they will be able to relate to all our different customers, understand where they’re coming from and service them better.

  1. They have a passion for people and are service-oriented.

We are customer-centric; we see our customers at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make. So we want people in our organisation who have a high EQ, who are empathic and committed to exceptional service. We believe it’s not just about doing the right thing by a customer when it’s easy to do so. We want to help our customers and do the right thing by our customer all the time.

  1. They are property investors themselves.

Because we’re experienced property investors, we know first-hand the agony, the heartache, the pause, the consideration that comes along with making your first property purchase. We want our customers to be able to lean on the experience of our strategists and guide them through the process. We want to simplify investing to help people turn their vague plan to invest in property into a confident decision and definitive action.

Property investment made simpler

We know there are plenty of people who are financially qualified and want to invest in property, but just didn’t get around to it. In the last 5 years alone, there are so many people who missed out on capitalising on the Sydney and Melbourne property cycles, because it was too difficult to find the time or the right person to help make it happen.

I am the same. I’ve been meaning to open an international share trading account for years. I started looking into it a while back, but it just looked too time consuming. I hate filling out forms – I know it sounds ridiculous, but I do. And the form on Commsec looked complicated, and their service staff didn’t provide me any guidance at the time.

So, I missed out on investing in Google and Alibaba. And that’s my loss.

However, this week, I finally got around to it. There’s a new stock I don’t want to miss out on this time around and because Commsec has simplified the application process, and a customer service consultant guided me through it step by step – I finally got it done!

What I’ve found is that there is a generally a 5-step process to success – it’s applicable to most things, including investing.

  1. Awareness – developing the knowledge that it’s possible for you to invest
  2. Motivation – developing the desire to start taking some action
  3. Action – making the decision and starting to invest
  4. Continuing Action – creating a strategy to build your assets further and hold onto them long term
  5. Determination & Tenacity – having the ‘staying power’ to commit to achieving your investment goals.

Each step takes a lot of time and effort – and we know this is a big ask for an individual to do on their own.

That’s why we do what we do, and that’s why we work so hard to ensure we have the right people at Ironfish to help our customers make their goals achievable.

There are so many times business associates have told me how impressed they are with our people. I hear it all the time.

“When you meet Ironfish people, you just know. They’re different.”

Ironfish Property Investment

We’re running an intensive training week at Ironfish HQ for all new property investment strategists. A warm welcome to all our new strategists who will be returning to their branches full of energy and enthusiasm ready to serve our customers next week.

If you’d like to book a complimentary appointment with one of our talented team members to talk through your property goals, you can click this link to book online.


Coffee, food, art and music – Melbourne at its best       

Melbourne Art Week kicks off next week with an exciting line up of exhibitions, events and performances including the headline event: the Melbourne Art Fair at the Southbank Arts Precinct.

With over 500 artists exhibited over 30 venues, there will be plenty to do and see after work, with live music and DJs performing at key events across the week.

While the other capital cities are certainly catching up in the arts and culture stakes, Melbourne still leads the charge. The city is home to some of the best galleries in Australia, including the dedicated Southbank Arts Precinct which is soon to be home to Australia’s largest contemporary gallery as well.

Melbourne is also well-known for its iconic laneways and street-art, along with its many small bars, great restaurants and café culture. In fact, Melbourne is one of the best coffee cities in the world – ranking alongside the likes of Rome and London.

We get plenty of opportunities to sample the best of Melbourne, because we know that the ‘lifestyle factor’ is important for people when they’re choosing where to live. For apartments particularly, a top restaurant or coffee place downstairs can add significant value and appeal, so this is one of the factors we look into in our own property selection process.

So if you’re planning to wander through the inner city next week and take in a bit of art, music and culture, here’s some of our favourite places to stop, recharge and refuel.

Ironfish Melbourne favourites


Aunty Peg’s, Collingwood

property investment melbourne

More than just a good coffee – this is an education! Ranked Number 1 by Beanhunter, Aunty Peg’s will serve you up an amazing coffee brewed by your one-on-one barista.


Top Paddock, Richmond

property investment melbourne

A lovely relaxed venue for breakfast or brunch, where the food looks too beautiful to eat (but that shouldn’t stop you) and the coffee is perfect.


Higher Ground, CBD

property investment melbourne

Impeccably styled interiors, excellent coffee, super-modern, bespoke menu with twists on the traditional (think confit lamb sausage roll, cucumber pickle, garlic, anchovy mayo). 


Entrecote, South Yarra

property investment melbourne

Stop for a drink or stay on for dinner at this chic little French bistro set right across from the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. ‘Apero Hour’ is every day from 4pm-6pm.


Thirty-eight Chairs, South Yarra

property investment melbourne

An amazing authentic Italian restaurant, with daily home-made pasta and shared antipasti. A perfect spot for a cosy winter meal.

­Melbourne Art Week runs from 30 July to 5 August. Find the full line up of events, talks, workshops here.

Property investment Melbourne

If you’d like some more info on how the lifestyle factor impacts your property investments or would like to know more about the Melbourne property market, its fundamental market drivers and performance data, please download our latest market report.