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University of Sydney announces new campus

Australia’s oldest university, the University of Sydney has announced plans to open a new campus in Western Sydney.

The move reinforces the rapid expansion of Sydney’s west and its growing significance within the Greater Sydney Region.

The new $500 million, 25,000 student campus is being delivered in partnership with the NSW government. 

The campus will specialise in artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and data.

The exact location of the campus is yet to be confirmed by Sydney University, however the proposed site currently is within the heritage precinct within the Parramatta North growth centre. Negotiations between Sydney University and the NSW Government will continue over the coming months to finalise the exact location.

“The entry of our oldest, and arguably most prestigious university into the heart of Western Sydney signifies the breadth and depth of investment going into this region. Western Sydney is already expanding at a rapid rate, and with more quality employment, infrastructure and education options, the region will become an even more attractive place to live, study and work,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

Phase one of the new campus is expected to be complete by 2030, with capacity for 6100 students, as well as creating 3100 local jobs, and more than 1000 affordable housing places and social infrastructures.

The second phase, to be completed by 2050, is expected to attract 25,000 students, create 20,000 jobs and inject $13 billion to the state NSW economy.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said the announcement crystallised a “once-in-a-century opportunity to create an economic, intellectual, social and cultural asset in the heart of greater Sydney.”

The announcement also comes amidst an infrastructure boom in Western Sydney, including kick off on earthworks for the new airport at Badgerys Creek along with important new rail links.

Badgerys Creek and surrounding suburbs have been identified as a 3rd city of Sydney, complete with its own CBD (along with Parramatta and the traditional CBD in the east) according to the 3 cities plan unveiled by the Greater Sydney Commission late last year.

Property investment Sydney

If you would like more information about Western Sydney please request a copy of our ‘MyCity’ report  – a comprehensive guide to Sydney’s demographics, population, major infrastructure projects and property market performance. 

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“We wanted to invest again but this time in a systematic way”

Vivian Ma

Public Servant (Federal Government)

“I purchased one investment property in the past. But I was fully aware that I lacked long-term planning or strategy. I didn’t know how much I could afford to borrow, I didn’t know what kind of property I should invest in. I needed a professional I could trust to help me take the next steps.”


  • Some experience in property investment
  • Lacked clear strategy
  • Purchased 4 properties with Ironfish
  • Full trust and confidence in Ironfish strategist and services
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Vivian and her husband, pictured with Ironfish Melbourne CBD Managing Director, Jimmy Yan

“I got lucky”

Ironfish customer Vivian Ma is based in Melbourne. She works in the public sector; her husband is a mechanical engineer and together they are busy raising 2 young children. Before Vivian connected with us, in many ways her situation was not unlike many others in Australia who dabble in property investment.

“In 2008 my husband and I invested a small apartment before we had our own home. At that time we already believed property would be a good investment, but we didn’t have any professional knowledge about property investment at all. Luckily our first investment turned out to be very successful, so we realised we needed to treat it more seriously. We wanted to invest more, but this time in a systematic and professional way.”

Getting beyond the first investment

Vivian and her husband were fully aware of their shortcomings – their lack of knowledge and long-term strategy as well as their limited experience in property investment. In order to build on their first success, they knew they needed some professional guidance.

“Around 2009 I was invited to attend a seminar “From Bicycles to Bentleys” presented by Ironfish CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou. The seminar was quite inspiring and motivating. We totally agreed with Joseph and Ironfish’s investment philosophy. We gained a lot of confidence and motivation from this seminar and it gave us a very good first impression of Ironfish.”

Much more than a strategist

After the event Vivian connected with our Melbourne team and was eventually referred to Ironfish Strategist Jimmy Yan (who is now our Melbourne CBD Managing Director).

“I not only appreciate Jimmy as my strategist, but also as a person; he has become a close friend. We are both about the same age and back in 2008/09 when we first met, both of us were at the early stages of our career. Jimmy is a very positive, genuine and practical person. He answered my every question in a detailed and professional way. I remember him saying, ‘Ask me whatever you want to know. If I don’t know the answer, I will go ask my supervisor, my managers, until I get the most accurate answer, that’s what I MUST provide to you.’

“Today Jimmy is very successful in his career, but he remains modest, hard-working, and sets a high bar for himself. I truly trust and respect him – so much so, I hope my own son will grow up to be just like him!”

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Finding the right property, timing and location

With Jimmy’s help, Vivian has now built a portfolio of 4 properties with Ironfish – 3 apartments and 1 townhouse in Melbourne.

“Jimmy knows my situation so well that each time he’s able to recommend a property that exactly meets my criteria, expectations and my financial needs. The purchase timing, the property itself, the professional team support, everything is tailored for me.

“I truly believe Jimmy offers the best service possible, and I believe a company that has someone like Jimmy on their team will surely be thriving. I have been happy to introduce many friends and relatives to Jimmy and to Ironfish as well.”

What happens after a purchase?

While Vivian can not speak highly enough of Jimmy, she’s also very grateful to our many service support teams especially at settlement.

“Ironfish’s ‘after-sale’ service is incredible. I was deeply touched by the efforts the Ironfish team made for me at settlement. In 2015, I experienced some mortgage issues during the settlement process. If I couldn’t get the finance, I wouldn’t be able to settle, which might have incurred a penalty from the developer. The Ironfish team did all the communication with the bank, the developer and myself. Eventually I was able to settle, and it turned out to be a quite successful investment. It made me feel so much better to have a whole team back me up.”

Vivian’s property investment tips

  1. You may have heard this a thousand times, but I still want to say it: get onto the property ladder as early as possible.
  2. There is no such thing as “bad timing”. Any time is a good time for you to enter the market if you’re thinking long-term. Property values tend to keep on rising while other people are still hesitating.
  3. Trust your strategist, keep an eye on new projects and review your portfolio regularly.

Ironfish reviews 

You can find more customer stories and reviews here or via the links below. 

If you’d like to talk to one of our experienced strategists about your next steps in investing, please feel free to book your free appointment via this link. 


What are the seeds of success?

At the heart of Ironfish is family values.

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.


In 2006, Ironfish began with a single office, 12 staff and a mission to help people achieve long-term financial wellbeing through strategic property investment.

We had a vision to build a property investment services company that would be loved by staff, complimented and trusted by our customers, and admired by our industry peers.

Today, we have over 14 branch offices and over 300 staff, as well as significant property development, mortgage broking and property management arms.

Through our expansion, we have been able to help thousands of customers set and achieve their investment goals – and look forward to a brighter future.

We are privileged to partner with some of the best developers in the industry – great brands who share our values and our commitment to quality.

Over the past 12 years, we have also managed to attract and retain many talented people to service our customers. We enjoy a happy and harmonious working life here; our people are kind, inspiring and infinitely generous in their ability to share their time, knowledge and skills for the benefit of colleagues and customers. 

ironfish property investment

The truth is, in this industry, there is a very low entry point to get started. But to grow to the scale that Ironfish has managed and to have won the trust of so many customers, I believe, lies in our service approach.

We are genuinely committed to do the right thing by our customers – every time. Not simply when it’s convenient to do so.

The values that underpin Ironfish are the same values that have shaped the way I live my life and the way I do business. These are values that have been instilled in me from a very early age (like many people) by my father and mother. And I am eternally grateful to them both for everything they have taught me.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing. At this significant milestone, I can not help but reflect on just how much my mother has influenced my life and my work. I admire her beyond imagination and her guiding principles have made me who I am today. For this reason, I would like to share some of these principles with our investors who have placed their trust in us; a responsibility we at Ironfish do not take lightly.

ironfish joseph chou

A spirit of sharing

I grew up in Beijing, China; my father worked in the military, and my mother worked as a medical doctor, so we were lucky to be financially better off than the average Chinese family. My parents were always very generous. My father sent his entire pay-check to support our relatives in Shandong who would otherwise be living in poverty. My mother’s income also helped to support her sisters, as well as my uncle who lived with us for some time.

Their generosity extended beyond our family as well. My mother gave out many ‘loans’ to neighbours and friends when they were experiencing difficult times – money she never expected to have returned. I remember clearly one occasion when a young military officer passed away leaving a widow and son, my mother paid for his son’s entire university fees. All this my parents did without ceremony; only kindness and genuine desire to help. This spirit of sharing has instilled in me my own sense of responsibility to give generously – and to share my time, knowledge, skills for the benefit of others. 

Putting others first

When I think about generosity, it’s not simply in terms of wealth or finances; it’s a mindset. Whilst having a strong sense of self respect, my mother showed me the importance of always putting others first. For example, in China it’s not uncommon to find that mothers-in-law don’t get along with their daughters-in-law – with daughters-in-law feeling like outsiders in the family. But my mother worked hard to make sure her own daughters-in-law felt like part of the family. So much so, that she actually treated her daughters-in-law better than her own kids. “They’re on their own, without their own parents or siblings around them. We have to make sure they feel loved and welcome in our family,” my mother would say. 

My sister has a great story about this. When I went to study in America, I bought a really nice coat for my sister – a rarity and luxury in China at the time. My sister was ecstatic, and absolutely loved it. My mother, on the other hand, insisted on her giving it over to our sister-in-law, so she wouldn’t feel left out. My sister wasn’t thrilled – unsurprisingly – but she did it, and today, regards it as an important learning.

Treat the underdog better. And always do the right thing – even when it feels really hard.

Sowing the seeds of ‘possibility thinking’

At Ironfish, we talk a lot about having the right mindset. As a kid, I always had dreams. I went through various phases of wanting to be a soccer player, or a concert violinist or a table tennis champion. My mother supported me in all these pursuits. She didn’t mind that I kept changing my mind on what I wanted to be. As long as my pursuits were good and my intentions kind, she was behind me 100%. She made me feel like it was all possible and I could do anything I put my mind to.

When I was in the thick of my table tennis obsession, I’d lose track of time, coming home late for dinner. My father would sometimes scold me: “Do you know what time it is? The food is cold!” (This was a time before microwaves, before we even had gas stoves.) My mother, on the other hand, would never react. On another occasion, I was carrying a stack of dishes into the kitchen a little carelessly and they fell and smashed onto the floor. Again, no reaction from my mother.

ironfish joseph chou

Only a few days later, would my mother sit me down to talk to me about what happened and how I could do better next time, and why it was important. She told me much later on that she did this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because every time a child makes a mistake, they’re nervous. Your anger is a predictable response and they won’t learn when they’re in a heightened state of nervousness or anxiety. Secondly, when you’re angry, you often say and do things you don’t really mean. Sometime later, when everyone is calmer is when you can consider what you really want to say, and the message can get through more effectively.

Finding inner-strength – and leading by example

Watching the way my mother handled everything in life and seeing firsthand the calm and considered approach she took to setbacks and challenges has had a lasting impact on me. In my relationship with my wife and kids I’ve endeavoured never to react with anger. At work as well, my ability to handle any business challenge calmly is due to my mother.

All this, I have learned from my mother, but I can safely say she never once ‘preached at me’. My mother told me lots of stories and she also showed me the importance of leading by example.

Instead of telling us to give, she simply gave herself. Instead of telling us not to judge others, she never judged others. She never told us to treat everyone equally, she treated everyone around her with the greatest of respect.

In China, it is not uncommon for professionals to have a driver, housekeeper or nanny. Unlike many Chinese families however, we called our nanny ‘Grandma’ and she was a true member of the family. In fact, for a long time, we actually thought she was our grandma. She and my father’s driver (supplied by the military) would eat with us at home or together with us at a restaurant when we went out for special occasions. Later in life, my parents had a carer to look after them in their older age. When I treated mum and dad to their first experience of a stay at a 5-star hotel, my mum told me not to forget their carer and to make sure I had a room booked for her too. My mother’s kindness was universal and not affected by what was the cultural norm or what others do or expect.

While we don’t tend to have the luxuries of a driver or housekeeper here in Australia, I can see every day how these principles apply here. People might treat me better, being the CEO, than they would someone less senior in a company or even the cleaning staff at the office or waitstaff at a cafe. I had coffee in the same café across the road at our old St Leonards office for many years. The café staff there eventually became Ironfish customers. In my experience, when you make a genuine effort to treat everyone with the same respect, to act with integrity, to keep your own feet on the ground and know that however successful you are – you can always be better – people can feel your sincerity and are drawn to it.

My mother’s legacy

When my mother became sick, she had so many visitors and so many wishes of goodwill. Her actions throughout her life won the respect and admiration of everyone around her. Today, she is missed by many – not least by me.

ironfish joseph chou

But I take heart that her legacy lives on today in my brothers, sister and myself. In the calm, secure and loving home-life my wife and I endeavour to create for our kids, for the habit of charity which she instilled in me, and in our commitment at Ironfish to always do the right thing, every time.

We will continue to uphold that commitment to our investors. Thank you for coming with us on this journey.

And thanks also to my mother for showing me the way, always.


Joseph Chou shares his thoughts on the Ironfish blog on the last Friday of the month. He also travels regularly around Australia, speaking at a range of events, workshops and property investment seminars. Book your seat at his next event here.


Brisbane’s newest river-front destination

Brisbane’s premiere new river-front destination is officially open, with stage 1 of the $110 million Howard Smith Wharves redevelopment now complete.

The first phase of venue openings includes 2 major event spaces: the Rivershed and Howard’s Hall, along with craft brewery Felon’s Brewing co, an old-world over-water bar called Mr Percival’s as well as parklands and a lift that travels down the cliff face from Bowen Terrace to the riverside and new event spaces.

Once the project is complete the historic site will include 2.7 hectares of public open space, an array of restaurants and cafes and a new luxury 164 room Art Series Hotel. The majority of venues are expected to be open before Christmas, and the new hotel is due to open in March 2019.

The Wharves are set to become a vibrant river-front venue for locals, as well as a major tourist destination for Brisbane’s growing international and domestic visitors.

“Ultimately what is being produced here is something that will add to the Brisbane experience… Two years ago we had 7 million visitors to our city, both internationally and domestically… Today that figure is around 8.4 million per year,” said Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

The most luxurious Art Series yet

The $60 million flagship Art Series hotel is the first to be developed since becoming part of the Accor Group.

Described as the most luxurious Art Series hotel yet, the stunning 6-storey hotel is carved into the cliff under Story Bridge. It will feature multiple drinking and dining outlets as well as an impressive rooftop pool boasting spectacular views of the Brisbane River and CBD, bar, gym and 3 conference rooms.

property investment brisbane

Brisbane City Council also announced this month that it would build a new ferry terminal to service Howard Smith Wharves – expected to open in 2020.

“With regular events planned at Howard Smith Wharves’ exhibition centre, as well as the restaurants, bars and public parkland expected to attract large crowds, the terminal will provide convenient public transport to the site,” said Brisbane Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner.

Howard Smith Wharves CEO Luke Fraser welcomed the terminal announcement as a great addition to the vibrant Howard Smith Wharves precinct, which he says “is at the heart of the city’s transformation into a New World City.”

Find out what’s happening this month at Howard Smith Wharves here.

If you’d like more info about investing in Brisbane – take a look at our latest market report or watch our Brisbane market update.

Banks now offering steep discounts for some investors

With lending criteria tightened, leaving a smaller pool of property investors shopping for home loans, major lenders including the big 4 banks are now vying for investor market share.

As a result, some are now providing very attractive discounts to win the business of new investor customers with strong financial profiles.

‘Mortgage rates remain low and there is strong competition for borrowers of high credit quality,’ RBA Governor Philip Lowe said earlier this month.

Mortgage comparison website, RateCity, recently announced Australia’s largest lender, Commonwealth Bank, had been increasing the discount on some of its lowest home loan rates.

HSBC, and Westpac were all also lowering their rates in an effort to acquire new customers.

“Ask and you shall receive”

A recent mystery shopping exercise into home loans by mortgage comparison website, Mozo, revealed that getting a better mortgage deal ‘may be as simple as asking for it.’

When pressed, lenders such as CBA and ANZ offered a discount which would result in savings of up to 0.95% – a much higher discount compared to last year’s 0.13% offering by major lenders.

According to Mozo, investors who were able to negotiate discounts with the banks could save $9,500 every year on a $1,000,000 interest only loan.

First home buyers could save up to $2,001 per year on a $300,000 loan and refinancers could snag discounts equating to $3,145 in savings each year on a $500,000 loan.

In addition to discounted rates, banks were also willing to provide other incentives such as cash back and frequent flyer points.

“This is a great example of the unique opportunities available right now for investors who are in a position to buy and can secure finance. Lenders are competing for the business; it truly is a buyers’ market,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

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When was the last time you looked into refinancing your loans? With mortgage rates low and discounts on offer, now is the time to consider your financing options!

Make some time to chat with your mortgage broker. Or feel free to talk to one of our experienced investment strategists, who would be happy to recommend a broker to you.


Capital cities Vs regional towns – where should I invest?

When it comes to price growth in capital cities vs regional towns, one has far eclipsed the other over the last 5 years.

Market analysis by independent property research company RiskWise reveals that residential properties located in capital cities have in fact greatly outperformed their regional counterparts over the past 5 years.

Capital city houses achieved a 5-year average return of 52.2%. Houses in regional area achieved less than half that result, at only 23.5%.

Capital growth: Capital city houses v regional city houses


More of the up and less of the down

According to a study by ANZ Research, major capital cities not only far outperformed the rest of the state in terms of price growth in the past 15 years, they were also less hit by periodic downturns. When compounded over an investment lifetime, the return for investors is significant.

Source: ANZ Research

The weaker performance in regional cities, according to RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg, was driven by slower economies and poor population growth. Factors which are unlikely to change dramatically into the future.

“Investors should not rush into unnecessary adventures in remote areas just because the market in Sydney and Melbourne have cooled as they will face needless risk and poor returns,” Mr Peleg.

Population – city vs regional

Put simply, population growth drives  demand for residential property. All things being equal, greater population growth means greater demand for homes, which in turn puts upward pressure on price growth.

Currently, our 5 largest cities – in terms of population – are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The 6th largest is the Gold Coast, with a population of over 650,000 people.

These cities are not only the most populous, they are also some of the fastest growing cities in Australia.

Melbourne, for example, added in excess of 125,000 people in the 2017 financial year. This is the equivalent to adding a city the size of regional Ballarat in the span of 12 months.

Due to a large population base and very strong rate of increase, the population increase across our major capital cities trumps all regional cities – as the visualisation below shows.

5-year population increase across capital and regional cities


Economic growth and the infrastructure boom

Capital cities tend to enjoy stronger and more diverse economies than regional cities – making them more resilient and robust over the long term.

For example, unlike a capital city, a regional city’s economy tends to be heavily reliant on just 1 or 2 industries. If that particular industry hits a downturn, then the city’s overall economy will slow significantly and this will directly impact property prices in that city.

Captial cities are where most of our industries and jobs are located and where the bulk of our population resides. In fact over 63% of Australia’s population lives in our 5 largest cities alone.

As a result, public investment decisions tend to centre around capital cities as well. This means capital cities enjoy the prioritisation of major infrastructure projects.  


Infrastructure investment is an important driver for local property markets; stimulating jobs creation, economic and population growth.

With all states now in the middle of a ‘once-in-a-generation’ infrastructure boom, the multiplier effect of major infrastructure investments such as Sydney’s Second Airport, Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel, Brisbane’s Second Runway, Perth’s METRONET, and Adelaide’s Future Frigate program, are expected to be significant.

“There may well be periods of high capital growth in regional centres, but ultimately, capital cities are where we expect to see strong and relatively stable performance over the long term,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“Some investors will look to regional towns for stronger cashflow, however for those looking for long term capital growth, the big cities are a no-brainer. That’s why at Ironfish we advocate a sensible long-term buy and hold investment strategy targeting great locations in our capital cities with robust economies,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

Property investment Australia

Want to know where to invest in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide?

Take advantage of our free investor resources:

  • Watch our latest market update videos for key trends and stats
  • Download our latest quarterly property market report
  • Explore our trove of research articles, case studies and property news

“You don’t have to compromise on lifestyle to invest”


Tony Ng 

Chartered Accountant

“A lot of people feel they have to compromise big time on their lifestyle to become an investor, but in my experience, it wasn’t the case. As a young professional, it’s completely do-able.”


  • 29-year-old Chartered Accountant
  • Purchased 4 properties through Ironfish
  • Portfolio of 6 properties in total located between Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne
  • Has since come on board as an Ironfish Property Investment Strategist

A conventional start

For a long time, Tony Ng lived what he describes as a conventional life. He studied hard at school and afterwards chose accounting at uni. because it seemed like a ‘safe’ option. Then after graduation, he went into full-time work straight away with an accounting role at Coca Cola Amatil and got stuck into climbing the corporate ladder.

“I took a very traditional path; I come from an Asian family and my mum always told me: work hard and you’ll do well in life. That’s why I was so focussed in my studies and afterwards in my career. After starting at Coca Cola, I quickly went on to get my CA (Chartered Accountant). I made solid progress in my career, changing roles every 1-2 years, initially at Coca Cola, and subsequently moving to Woolworths, where I led a small team as the Finance Manager.”

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Tony travelling with his mum in Spain

Why property investment ‘fell on my lap’

Apart from being a bit of a high-achiever, Tony also happens to be the nephew of Priscilla Cheung – one of our long-serving Strategists, and highly successful investor in her own right. By having access to Priscilla’s expertise and insights, Tony made one slight and quite crucial deviation to his otherwise conventional path.

“I bought my first property when I was 20. I still remember clearly; I was at Priscilla’s house, she hadn’t started working for Ironfish yet, but she was already an experienced property investor. Priscilla had just decided to purchase a property off-the-plan and suggested that it might be a good buy for me too. I was 20 – I had no idea about anything! But Priscilla had already had some good results to show for her investments and Mum was very supportive and happy to pay the deposit. It was an off-the-plan purchase and settlement wasn’t for another year, coinciding with me working full-time. And as a first home buyer, I was able to access some government incentives as well.

“But without Priscilla, it wouldn’t have been done. I wasn’t thinking about investing; my sole focus at the time was getting into my career. Priscilla’s knowledge gave mum confidence that it was the right thing to do for me long-term, even though I was just starting in my career. And given she is family, we had complete faith and trust in her guidance. It was the ideal partnership.”

What did I compromise?

Tony is quite adamant that for a young professional such as himself, property investment really doesn’t require any compromise to your lifestyle and shouldn’t be something that holds you back.

“When you take out a big mortgage it seems very daunting and I think there’s a big misconception that this has a major effect on your lifestyle. But I realised very early on that it didn’t really affect my lifestyle at all. Because I had a tenant paying off my mortgage, what was left was relatively little. And at tax time every year, I’d always be excited because I knew I’d be getting a nice return. I did live at home – which helped. But I also had a good social life and went out a lot – probably more than many of my friends.”

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Tony pictured with his family, along with Priscilla and her family

A little pot of gold

After his first property purchase, Tony subsequently built a portfolio of 5 properties, 3 of which were purchased with Ironfish. Tony’s first purchase, with the benefit of hindsight, was his first ‘pot of gold.’ Market timing happened to work in his favour, which allowed him to refinance and have a deposit for his subsequent investments.

“After my 1st property, I still had no interest in investing, but after the first 2 properties started to perform, that’s when I started to get a bit more interested. That’s when I realised just how important it was to build assets, as early as possible.

“And I had only been able to achieve this because of Priscilla, because of having the support of Ironfish and a good team. Priscilla put a good broker around me and a solicitor. (I do my own tax – so I didn’t need an accountant.) So, I never really had to think or stress about my investments. I could concentrate on progressing in my career. And that’s what I’ve learned – if you have a company like Ironfish and their services, you can be a successful investor without any property investment knowledge or time.”

Earning my customers’ trust

Earlier this year, to Priscilla’s great surprise, Tony took a second unconventional step in his otherwise traditional / ‘status quo’ path. He decided to apply to join Ironfish as a property investment strategist.

“The turning point for me was when I attended [Ironfish CEO] Joseph’s ‘Active income, passive investment’ workshop. He said, to be successful you need the right platform, industry and team. You also need a purpose. And this is something that really resonated with me. Because when I worked in the finance industry, it was all very numbers driven. I lived in the world of Excel and lacked meaning and satisfaction in my work. Ironfish’s company mission to help others, like me, build assets, build wealth for the future – this has been very meaningful and motivating for me. I didn’t really have a greater purpose before.

“Priscilla always says this industry is very fair, because you get out what you put in. Earning the trust of your customers comes back to how much time and how much energy you invest in your customers. At the end of the day, people can sense whether you’re being genuine and whether you are really there to help them. I really like that, because I know I’m now in control of what happens with my career.

“I’m still investing as well, alongside my customers. My original aim was to purchase my 6th property before I turned 30 and I’ve just achieved that. I signed a contract just this Monday to purchase an apartment in Melbourne, within the ‘Aspire’ development!”

ironfish review

Tony with his colleagues at Ironfish North Sydney. Property Investment Strategists: Gagan Bhardwaj, Kush Naidu and Andrew Koleda

Tony’s property investment tips

  1. It’s never too late to get started

I get feedback from my friends – you’re so lucky, you started 8 years ago; we’ll never see that again. But markets tend to work in cycles, and I’m still investing today.

  1. Work hard with a purpose

Know your end goal otherwise the journey can become misdirected and inefficient. I have worked with professionals who lacked clarity with their career and they become very reactive to their environment.

  1. Building wealth can be as easy and as hard as you want it to be

It’s easy once you associate with the right people and know the fundamentals. It’s hard if you are not willing to find out and think it’s unattainable or wanting to take shortcuts.

  1. Act on the info you get

We have a world of information out there, so this is not the issue. But having the ability to put everything together and take action is the crucial part.

  1. Have faith in the market

Understand that building wealth through property investment takes time. I did get lucky with my first investment, but I chose to re-invest the gains and build a portfolio, which is what has helped to build real wealth for my future.  I feel very fortunate to be in my current position due to the success of my portfolio. I was so happy to be able to buy mum a BMW after all these years. Hard work, keeping faith, taking ongoing action does pay off!

ironfish review

A special gift for Mum!

Ironfish Property Investment

Inspired by the possibilities and achievements in Tony’s story? Why not take advantage of our free strategy session for new investors? Have an opportunity to sit down with one of our Strategists, like Priscilla or Tony and feel free to ask as many questions as you like about investment, strategies and property selection. 

Book your free appointment online via this link.

Not ready to invest?

Come along to one of our educational events or seminars – there’s plenty of great info and insights to gain as well as the opportunity to chat to some of our specialists. You can also read some more Ironfish reviews from our customers in the articles below.


Australia’s annual economic growth highest in 6 years

Latest figures reveal that Australia has achieved the strongest annual GDP growth in 6 years.

The June quarter result represents the fastest rate of growth since September 2012, during the height of the mining boom.

“This exceptional result bodes well for the property markets, with economic growth accompanying Australia’s rapid population growth which is concentrated in our major capital cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

This 6-year high growth rate was driven by a combination of factors, including accelerating demand for property which surged off the back of strong population growth, with Sydney and Melbourne adding over 100,000 people each respectively over the 2017 financial year.

Furthermore, the roll-out of multi-billion infrastructure projects across major capital cities was another key contributing factor, with thousands of jobs being created across diversified streams of industry including transport, health, and education.

ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman said: “Public investment remained at elevated levels reflecting continued work on infrastructure projects across the nation.”

The June quarter result exceeded the initial 3% the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had forecast as well as outpacing Federal Government projections used in the recent budget.

“Australia’s economy is strong, the fundamentals are good, momentum is continuing and these are encouraging numbers,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.


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Sharp drop in new Melbourne apartment supply

Melbourne’s pipeline of new apartments has dropped by a massive 50% year on year, new figures show.

The drop reflects the broader trend of a slowdown in new residential development across the country.

Source: JLL and Australian Financial Review

Recent figures from JLL reveal that the city’s rolling 5-year pipeline of units completed, under construction, in marketing, approved or submitted for approval have declined by 50% for the September 2018 quarter, compared to the same time last year.

Key contributing factors include rising construction costs, increased planning restrictions, a tightened lending environment for both investors and developers as well as higher taxes for foreign buyers.

With the Melbourne vacancy rate already a very tight 1.7%, there has been growing industry concern about a future housing shortage in Melbourne with new supply unable to keep up with Melbourne’s rapid population growth.

“The substantial decline of new apartments is expected to add upward pressure to rents and capital growth,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

“Melbourne’s population is booming, jobs growth is strong and the Victorian economy is the best in the country. At the same time, more Australians are choosing urban-apartment living than ever before – all these factors will strongly underpin future demand for the Melbourne  apartment market.”

Melbourne apartment performance

Contrary to popular headlines decrying oversupply, Melbourne apartments have been the strongest performer by far compared to all other 5 major city apartment markets. Melbourne apartments achieved 6.3% annual capital growth to June 2018.

This strong demand for apartments is expected to maintain and grow as affordability continues to be a key factor in the Australian residential market. Currently, apartments offer a significantly affordable alternative to a detached house in Melbourne. Melbourne investors are forced to pay the highest premium out of the 5 major cities (49%) for the luxury of owning a standalone house over an apartment.

In recent times, however, we’re seeing Melbourne apartments begin to catch up to houses – with the price gap between houses and apartments closing as apartment values have strengthened over the first half of 2018.

The last super-tower?

As new apartment supply continues to decline, industry experts, including our own property and research team are keeping a close eye on the site market – particularly in prized inner-city locations.

The 64-storey tower ‘Aspire’ designed by award-winning architects Elenberg Fraser and delivered by EQ Tower developer ICD Property has been a stand out for us, with some ear-marking the building as the last remaining iconic super-tower in Melbourne.

Situated in the New York end of Melbourne’s CBD, adjacent to Flagstaff Gardens, Aspire residents can take in sweeping views of the world’s second most liveable city. They will also be able enjoy excellent access to Melbourne’s economic epicentre and jobs, transport, top universities as well as the world-class dining, retail and lifestyle that Melbourne has become famous for.

Elenberg Frasers exquisite design aesthetic both inside and out takes ‘a leap into the future’. Apartment interiors are designed to be next generation homes which offer an elegant sanctuary for cosmopolitan urbanites seeking to recharge from their busy lives.

“Premium residential apartments in Melbourne’s CBD are becoming incredibly limited. We see Aspire as an exceptional opportunity to own an iconic piece of the Melbourne CBD while it is still at an affordable price point,” Mr Mitchell said.

Aspire – within walking distance to:

  • King Street Tram Station: minute
  • Flagstaff Station: minutes
  • Southern Cross Station: minutes
  • Queen Victoria Market: minutes
  • Marvel Stadium: minutes
  • Spencer Mall and Coles Supermarket: minutes
  • Future Victoria University New School Building: minutes
  • RMIT University: 14 minutes
  • University of Melbourne South Bank Campus: Tram 16 minutes

Aspire – luxury residents’ facilities:

  • Indoor pool
  • Gym with outdoor personal training area
  • Private dining rooms
  • Hot and cold spas
  • Steam and sauna rooms
  • BBQ facilities

property investment melbourne

Property investment Melbourne

If you’d like to find out more about Aspire, including pricing options, please register your interest here or make an appointment with your local Strategist. 


Jobs boom in Melbourne’s New York end

Melbourne is a city that compares favourably to the iconic cities of the world. Consistently ranked in the top 3 most liveable cities, Melbourne has a thriving arts and music scene, 24-hour nightlife and world-class restaurants and bars.

Locals would say it’s a city not unlike New York – except with better coffee!

The comparison to New York isn’t a new one. In fact, in Melbourne’s CBD, the area west of William Street is often dubbed the New York end of town.

Juxtaposed against the ‘Paris end’ east of Swanston Street, with its heritage buildings, boutiques and sidewalk cafes, the New York end is Melbourne’s financial epicentre. It has flourished over the past 10-12 years as many national and international businesses have chosen to relocate to the western end of the CBD to new, first class commercial buildings.

indicative areas only

“The New York end of Melbourne’s CBD is not only the economic heartbeat of Australia’s fastest growing city with a booming economy and abundance of white-collar employment. It is also home to a growing ‘nouveau-riche’ population – who enjoy the hustle and bustle of urban life,” said Ironfish Melbourne CBD Managing Director Jimmy Yan. 

This part of town has been a key driver of Melbourne’s surging jobs growth. Over 80,000 jobs were created in Greater Melbourne over the 12 months to August 2018 alone. This rate of growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with the Australian Government estimating over 230,000 jobs to be made over the 5 years to May 2022.

Growing pressure for premium office space in Melbourne CBD

With the Victorian economy booming, so too is demand for premium Melbourne CBD office space. The current office vacancy rate for Melbourne CBD is only 4% – the lowest it’s been in 30 years. This is placing increasing pressure on commercial rents.

In the New York end, Mirvac is responding with its new 38-storey Olderfleet office development Tenants include law firm Lander and Rogers, as well as anchor tenant Deloitte, which has committed to more than 22,000sqm of office space in the building for 12 years.

Charter Hall Property Group has also made a substantial acquisition in the New York end of the CBD, spending $140 million on a prime Collins Street site, which once complete could house 70,000sqm of commercial office space, valued potentially in excess of $1 billion.

One Melbourne Quarter – Image: Lendlease

The first building at Melbourne Quarter officially opened last month, with Lendlease now moved in. It is the first commercial tower to be delivered as part of the $2 billion precinct at Collins Street. The building will accommodate 2,500 workers and feature other major tenants such as Arup and AMP. The precinct’s next commercial tower, Two Melbourne Quarter, is currently under construction. The 50,000sqm building is pre-committed by EnergyAustralia, and is expected to complete in mid-2020.

These projects re-affirm the New York end’s status as the economic and commercial epicentre of the Victorian capital, boasting some of the country’s most recognised companies. These include banking heavyweights Commonwealth Bank and NAB; insurance giants QBE Insurance and Medibank; top tier law firms Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Minter Ellison; media companies Fairfax Media, Channel 7 and Channel 9; energy businesses BP and AGL energy; consulting multinationals KPMG and Capgemini, and even government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Further down, in the Paris end of Collins Street, technology giant Google established its Melbourne base in July 2018. The company is just one of a number of major global tech companies investing in Melbourne, including Alibaba, Amazon,, LiveTiles, Mimecast, Slack, Zendesk and Square.

“These companies have been attracted by Victoria’s healthy investment climate and strong economy as well as its wealth of tech talent and vibrant tech ecosystem,” Victorian Minister for Small Business; Innovation and the Digital Economy; Trade and Investment, Philip Dalidakis said.  

The largest investment in City of Melbourne history

Coinciding with the surge in jobs growth and commercial office demand, is a surge in infrastructure investment in and around Melbourne’s CBD.

On the culture, entertainment, and lifestyle front, the City of Melbourne’s quarter-billion dollar investment into the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal represents the largest investment in the City of Melbourne’s history. The renewal project is expected to complete by 2022.

In April 2018, the Victorian Government announced a $225 million spend to upgrade the Docklands stadium. Just one month later, it was announced that Disney won the new naming rights of the former Etihad Stadium, to rebrand as Marvel Stadium for 8 years.

Football is an important part of Melbourne’s cultural make up and it’s also big business – the AFL alone is said to contribute $3 billion annually to the Victorian state economy.

“It’s an investment in the sports infrastructure that we need, the stadiums … that we need in order to stay number one,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne.

property investment melbourne

The $11 billion Melbourne Metro Tunnel is another example. Works are now underway on this massive infrastructure project and when complete, will greatly increase the appeal of areas within walking distance of the new stations.

Similarly, the long-promised Melbourne Tullamarine – CBD Airport Rail Link is finally becoming a reality. The Sunshine Route is the state government’s preferred route for the rail link and construction is expected to begin by 2022.

Fourth-fasted growing developed city on the planet”

The Greater Melbourne population grew by 2.7% last year, faster than any major city in the United States, including the likes of New York, Boston and San Francisco.

Revised estimates have Melbourne set to surpass Sydney as Australia’s biggest city as early as 2028. Fast forward to 2050 and the city will have grown to 8 million – the size of New York or London today.

 “It’s the fourth-fastest growing developed city on the planet today,” said demographer Bernard Salt.

Sydney and Melbourne population growth

property investment melbourne

Source: ABS and ABC

With a growing population and a housing market that has become unaffordable for many, more and more Melbourne residents are choosing inner-city apartment living. The Melbourne apartment market, in fact, outperformed all the other major capital city apartment markets over the 12 months to July 2018, recording a 4.2% gain. Rental yields are a healthy 4.3%.

“Living in the New York end means easy access to jobs, restaurants, bars, sporting games – the vibrant inner-city lifestyle that Melbourne has become famous for. For professionals who don’t want a long commute or need a big backyard, a premium inner-city apartment becomes the obvious choice,” added Mr Yan.

Ironfish property investment – Melbourne

Take a look at our selected properties in Melbourne’s New York end. Register here for exclusive access


Is your property manager doing this for your asset?

You’ve just achieved a major milestone and purchased your first, or perhaps even your second, third or fourth investment property. Contracts signed, settled, done – congratulations!

But if you’re planning on holding your investment property over the long term, your investment journey is really only just beginning. So, you need to make sure it’s managed well and by someone who understands that it’s not just about managing the property – it’s about managing your asset.

Your property manager or property management company is an essential element to your success as an investor – and should therefore never be an after-thought in your investment strategy.

What could possibly go wrong

Imagine if you hadn’t received any rental payments from your property management company for 11 months. Or no one had ever informed you about landlord’s insurance – and you were left out of pocket after a tenant damaged your property. Imagine you were sued by your tenant, because your property manager never responded to a tenant’s repair request.

These scenarios seem extreme, but they are some of the ‘real life’ reasons why some of our own property management clients decided to jump ship from their old management company and come on board with us.

“One of our daily jobs is to fix these problems and any loss caused by irresponsible property agents. To avoid these kinds of obstacles in your investment journey, it is very important to put your investment property in good hands from the very beginning,” said Ironfish Melbourne Property Management Managing Director, Christina Tao.

What services does a good property manager offer?

A property manager provides professional representation for you as an investor, and acts as a third party between landlord and tenant, giving you peace of mind. They look after a whole host of services including:

  • Managing income and expenditure records
  • Compliance management
  • Arrears management
  • Qualified tenant selection
  • Insurance and warranty claims
  • Managing repairs and maintenance
  • Dispute resolution
  • Rent collection
  • Lease renewals and rent increases
  • Routine inspections
  • Professional entry and exit condition inspections including photos
  • Maximising rental returns
  • Risk management.

If you’re looking to appoint a property management company to look after your asset(s), here are some considerations you’ll want to research before making your decision.

  1. How many properties are they managing?

Essentially, the more properties they’re managing, the less attention your properties will be getting. In Melbourne, for example, the average property manager manages 300-350 properties at the same time, which means they would be dealing with more than 700 clients simultaneously. Ironfish Melbourne property managers manage less than half – usually about 140-150 properties.

  1. What’s the vacancy rate for your properties?

Find out how your property management company’s vacancy rate compares and what kinds of marketing strategies are in place to deal with vacancy. Our property managers currently enjoy vacancy rates well within the tight to healthy range and in our most active suburbs, we even have results which are less than the overall average. For example in the Melbourne CBD our vacancy rate is only 1.23% – the city average, according to SQM Research, is 1.6%. Our Brisbane CBD vacancy rate is currently 0%!  

  1. What’s the level of knowledge and experience of your manager?

More than ever before it’s important for your property management team to have in-depth industry knowledge and experience. Our high performing teams, across all cities, have been carefully selected through a strict recruitment process to ensure we have excellent staff managing our clients’ most valuable assets.

The more experienced the staff is, the more likely they will be able to solve problems before they happen. They can pre-empt any pain points that might occur and manage risk effectively.

The latter is particularly important, according to Ironfish Brisbane Property Management, Senior Property Manager, Lisa Williams.

“One of the biggest issues facing landlords is the legal implications, as risk management is now an important part of property management. It is important to have an experienced agent who has an in-depth knowledge of the tenancy laws to ensure our client and their property complies with legislation and effectively managing complex tenancy issues mitigating any potential losses,” she said. 

  1. How will they communicate?

Excellent communication with landlords and tenants is one of the most essential qualities of a good property manager. Our teams go a step further, offering multiple platforms of communication including email, Wechat and Whatsapp, as well as multi-lingual services – whatever best suits our property owners.

And while a property manager may promise great communication at the outset – how well will they follow through? That’s why it’s always good to know what their existing clients have to say.

property investment tips

Ironfish Property Management clients Rob and Paula Licuria

“Communication with us throughout has been great. We really enjoyed getting regular updates and photos of the construction stages. Then we received information about a tenant within just a few days, it seemed. We barely blinked and it was done. Now we have this tenant living happily in this place we bought and we don’t even have to think about it. We basically just get emails from Ironfish that we need to approve. It’s always a collaborative process between us and them, and we all want the same outcome. It’s just so easy. We literally don’t have to worry about a thing,” said our investor and property management client Rob Licuria.

  1. What level of service will you be getting?

Are your managers prepared to do what it takes to get you the best tenant? Will they conduct inspections after hours or weekends? Can they offer any specialised services for your property type – or offer additional services to you as an interstate or overseas investor?

Our property managers, for example, offer tailored service for newly settled apartments and house and land purchases.  If you’re an interstate investor, it’s even more important that your property manager is keeping you well informed and up to date on what’s happening with your property – and also what’s happening in the local market.  

  1. What is their approach?

At Ironfish, we think this is perhaps the most crucial consideration – and it’s what sets our own property management services apart from the rest of the industry.

For us, property management is not just about building up a rent roll or managing a property day-to-day. Our property managers take a wholistic service approach.

This is an essential part of our commitment to look after our customers over the lifetime of their investment journey.

At Ironfish, we want our investors to experience the benefits of building and holding a portfolio of properties over the long-term – and we work hard to help investors achieve this goal.

Property management is therefore a continuation of our investor services. Our unique understanding of a client’s investment, means we know exactly how important strong rental returns are. We understand how important your asset is, how carefully it needs to be looked after and how you need to have a quality tenant.

Ultimately, we want to give you the best chance of success as investor, and to ensure you enjoy a positive customer experience throughout.

Ironfish property management

If this doesn’t sound like the type of service and commitment you’re receiving from your current property manager – it may be time to put your asset in better hands.

Ironfish property management services are available nationally, so you can experience the same level of service and spirit whichever city your investment properties are located.

Feel free to contact our team via the links below to see how we can help look after your asset – so you can achieve your property goals.  



Want to know what an award-winning apartment looks like?

We are proud to announce our Adelaide-based property development arm, Starfish Developments, has taken out 4 prestigious industry awards for its apartment building ‘Bohem’.

Located in the south-western corner of Adelaide’s CBD, the 22-storey building received the following accolades from the Urban Development Institute of Australia – South Australia (UDIA SA):

  • 2018 High Density Award
  • 2018 Urban Renewal Award
  • 2018 Design Excellence Award
  • 2018 Innovation In Development Award.

Starfish Developments has an established track record of award-winning residential developments; Starfish has now won the UDIA SA High Density Award – 3 out of the past 4 years.

“We are thrilled and humbled to accept 4 UDIA awards for Bohem on Whitmore Square, which represent the pinnacle of success for our industry,” said Starfish Developments and Ironfish Adelaide Managing Director, Damon Nagel.

“Our team strives for excellence, working closely with our external partners and suppliers to break new ground in quality and standards.”   

At Ironfish, we work exclusively with developers who share our commitment to quality – whether they are industry-leading public or private companies or our own partners, such as Starfish Developments. This ensures we can continue to deliver genuine value to our investors, providing preferential access to premium developments and properties Australia-wide.


Life at Bohem

An urban renewal project, Bohem was designed to address the growing demand for city-living, the increasing trend towards smaller households and related need for higher density accommodation.

Designed by Enzo Caroscio, architect of the iconic ‘SAHMRI’ building in Adelaide, Bohem blends with the adjacent park square (Whitmore Square) and exudes an inner-city ‘oasis’ feel , with its 22-metre green wall and use of hanging plants and seasonal foliage. Luxury amenities for residents include a heated pool with recreation deck and gym.

Bohem allows residents to enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life with laneway bars, Central Market and China Town on doorstep – with considerable government and private sector investment in the immediate local area of the city. Other new commercial activity includes new cafes and a microbrewery, with businesses and creative industry relocating to the area.

UDIA SA CEO Pat Gerace said, “Bohem reinvigorated and re-energizes a previously neglected site creating a ‘vertical suburb’ integrated with commercial units, acting as a positive catalyst for the surrounding community space.”

Mr Nagel said urban renewal projects play an important role in helping to grow Adelaide as a great place to live, visit and do business.

“Effective urban renewal will continue to attract residents and commercial enterprises to historically under-developed parts of the city including the south western corner and very importantly, Port Adelaide, where we look forward to continuing our success with Dock One,” Mr Nagel said.

We congratulate Starfish Developments once again on the big win. We also congratulate our investors in Bohem – we are sure you are as proud as we are to be associated with such an outstanding development.

property investment adelaide

Property investment Adelaide

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Adelaide Property Market Update

Why invest in property in Australia?

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou

In 1998 I made a decision that would change the course of my life. I went to a property investment seminar, and as a result of what I heard and subsequently learned under the mentorship of an experienced investor, and the help of a dedicated team, I was able to build a portfolio of 7 investment properties within 12 months. Properties, which have long since been positively geared, have appreciated substantially in value and some of which I still hold today.

Since then, I have also invested in many more residential and some commercial properties, as well as making other investments, including listed stocks and tech start-ups.

What I have learned from my personal investment experience – and from about 20 years of working in the property industry – is that it is no accident that so many Australians hold most of their wealth in property.

Composition of Assets in Australia

why invest property in Australia

Residential property dominates all forms of investment in Australia. It has a current collective value of $7.5 trillion, more than triple the value of our listed stock market ($1.9 trillion). When you think about this from a global perspective; Australia has only about 8% of the US population, but our residential property is worth nearly a quarter of the US!

Furthermore, residential property in Australia is quite stable – only about 5% is traded each year.

So why do we love residential property so much?

There are many reasons why Australians love residential property. Home ownership remains a strong Aussie dream, even amongst younger people today. It’s also very tangible; it’s an investment that is easy to understand.

For other Australians, residential property investment is part of safeguarding their retirement; to ensure they can be financially free to enjoy the last 30-40 years of their lives.

At Ironfish, this is very much part of our mission, because we know how important a project this is in your life. The average superannuation balance of Australian men and women at retirement age is $157,050 for women and $270,710 for men[1]. The age pension in its current form will pay a maximum of about $25,000 per year for a single person, and $37,000 per year for a couple.[2]

Yet, ASFA, Australia’s peak superannuation body, tells us that the cost of a comfortable retirement is roughly $43,000 per year for a single person, or $61,000 a year for a couple.

Either way, the shortfall is obvious.

Building wealth for your future

Building wealth to safeguard your future is a worthy and necessary goal. But it’s important to note that buying an investment property is not the same as building long-term wealth through property investment. Understanding the power of leverage, having an effective investment strategy and the right team support along the way is essential.

If you’re considering property investment or building wealth for your future through property investment, here are some key points you need to know.

  1. Track record

I read in the paper about a small 2-bedroom unit in Mosman that was purchased in 1964 for £8,754 (about $17,500 equivalency). Fifty years later, in 2014, slightly before the height of Sydney’s last peak, over 100 buyers turned up to the auction, and it sold for $1.46 million – which was $210,000 above the reserve. The property had been largely unrenovated in 50 years, but the combination of time and its great location led to a result 83 times higher than the original purchase price.

5/3 The Esplanade Mosman was held for over 50 years and sold for $1.46 million. Image source: Daily Telegraph

While there will always be market fluctuations, the Australian residential property market has a 100-year track record of growth. People will always need somewhere to live – and while we don’t know how government policy or other factors may change into the future, we do know that our current population growth, particularly in our big cities is about 30 years ahead of schedule. And though Australia is a huge land mass, the majority of people live in our capital cities where there is a limited supply of land and which will therefore limit the supply of housing.   

  1. Accessibility

Much like banks may be more likely to lend you money for a business franchise, with an established brand, business model and track record – banks are prepared to lend you up to 80% of the value of a property. This signifies a lot of confidence from lenders around this asset class. And while there is now a greater and necessary emphasis on prudent lending practice and serviceability, it’s worth remembering that we’re still talking about the ability to borrow up to 80% of the purchase price – making it a very accessible investment option for many Australians.

  1. The real return

The power of leveraging finance from the bank to build a property portfolio is something people often don’t understand. When capital growth is calculated it’s based on the property price. But as an investor, you only put in 20% of the purchase price. So, for a $500,000 property, which may have doubled in value to $1,000,000 after 10-15 years, you only put in $100,000 as a deposit plus costs, which means the return on your initial investment has actually been x10.

When I first started investing back in 1998, I bought two 1-bedroom apartments near Central Station in Sydney for $195,000 each. I was more aggressive back then as a new investor, so I borrowed 90% – 10 times the leverage. Today, the market value of these apartments is around $700,000 – $750,000 each. They bring in about $500 – $600 a week in rental income. All of this compared to my initial investment of $19,500 is a testament to the power of leverage!

  1. Leveraging time & knowledge

When I talk about the power of leverage, it is not simply in terms of leveraging finance from the bank, it’s also the ability to leverage other people’s time and expertise. Many investors spend countless weekends viewing properties only to end up failing to act, wasting a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, Ironfish customers, for example, can leverage their strategist’s knowledge and experience; the research of our property and research team; the local knowledge of our national branch network; the support of our customer care team and our group buying power in pre-negotiated pricing.

ironfish property investment

  1. Help from your tenants and the ATO

I have a personal theory about property investment: it’s almost like going into business with the bank. They will put in 80% of the cost but won’t ask you for any shareholding in your ‘business’. You need to pay them interest, but any growth and any rental income you receive is yours to keep.

Meanwhile, your tenants are paying much or even all of the mortgage. We have a growing population of renters in Australia who will provide rental income and keep the banks happy. This rental income will also become a form of passive income for you.

The tax office helps as well, a unique legislation advantage here in Australia. You also don’t pay capital gains tax until you sell a property, and you don’t need to sell a property to realise the gains – you can simply refinance and use your equity to build your portfolio further.

  1. Commercial or residential?

For commercial property, the value tends to be pegged against the rental yield, which is not necessarily the case for residential property. Commercial property is also more likely to have longer periods of vacancy, which will make it harder to hold long-term. I started investing in commercial properties, only after I’d built a substantial portfolio of residential property – I believe that residential property should be the foundation of your portfolio.

  1. Think long-term

Warren Buffet famously said: “If you aren’t willing to own a stock for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for 10 minutes.”

The same can be said for property investment. If you’re not willing to hold property for at least 10 years, don’t bother. Property is a long game and at Ironfish we recommend our Portfolio Approach, and buy and hold strategy.

Time in the market is ultimately important, but it also makes sense to invest in line with property cycles. Many people buy when everyone else is buying – which is too late to take full advantage of that particular market cycle (though not necessarily the next cycle). Others lose faith during market fluctuations and sell too early.

The truth is, the challenges with property investment are entirely in your hands: it’s either a cash flow issue or a loss of faith. Ensuring you have the capability to hold the property as long as it takes to achieve the capital growth you’re targeting is down to you. Keeping the faith is also up to you.

What’s interesting is that of all the many thousands of customers we’ve helped over the years, loss of faith is much more likely to make investors give up on property rather than a cash flow issue. There are some investors who have experienced major life changes which required them to sell their property. But more often, it’s because they’ve lost faith along the way and have decided to give up.

Who is on your team?

This loss of faith is understandable when you consider that property investment is a long journey. That’s why it’s so important to have a good mentor and a supportive investment team – consisting of your strategist along with the right accountant, solicitor and broker or bank manager. Your team will be working hard to keep you on track to ensure you achieve your long-term goals.

property investment team successThink about a highly successful athlete. Roger Federer, for example, doesn’t become a champion on his own, he travels with an ‘entourage’. They’re not there to look good; they have been carefully selected with the specific purpose of giving him the best chance of success. He has his tennis coach to help him perfect his technique; his psychologist to give him the mental edge; a physio to support him through injury; a physical trainer to keep his body in top shape and a family member or friend for crucial emotional support. With the right team – a supportive and expert team – success becomes much more achievable, whatever you may pursue in life.   

With all my years of experience in property investment, this is the most important tip I can share with any new investor. Don’t buy because everyone else is buying or sell because of a sensationalised media headline. Have a strategy or plan in place; think about why you are investing and what you want to achieve financially, in 15, 20, 30 years’ time. Find yourself a mentor and surround yourself with the right team who can help you develop and execute your plan until you achieve it.

‘Financial freedom’ is a phrase people love to throw about, but few manage to achieve in their life time. If you want to give yourself the best chance of success: be strategic, be persistent – and don’t feel like you need to do it alone.

Joseph Chou is the CEO & Founder of Ironfish, a seasoned property investor and qualified financial planner.

He shares his thoughts on the Ironfish blog at the end of each month and also travels regularly across Australia speaking at various events, workshops and property investment seminars.

To book your seat at his next speaking engagement, visit our property investment seminars page.


[1] ASFA, October 2017.

[2] Human Services, October 2018

*All views expressed are those of the author, Joseph Chou. Investors are expressly recommended to do their own due diligence in relation to any investment decisions they make and/or seek independent financial advice.

Melbourne house premium driving apartment growth


The price gap between Melbourne houses and apartments has ballooned since 2014. But now, the apartment market is playing catch up, off the back of accelerated capital growth and an ever-growing population.

Melbourne: apartments vs houses

Apartments currently offer a significantly affordable alternative to a detached house in Melbourne.

According to the latest figures from Corelogic, Melbourne houses attract a premium of 49% compared to apartments –  the highest premium out of all the 5 major capital cities in Australia.

Melbourne house premium


Over time, the house and apartment price gap has ballooned, rising from $54,000 to $286,000 over a 10 year span. Most of that growth occurred in just the last 4 years.

In recent times, however, we’re seeing Melbourne apartments begin to catch up – with the gap flattening out over the first half of 2018.

Melbourne house and apartment price gap

property investment melbourne

Source: CoreLogic July 2018

“We expect the price gap to narrow further in time off the back of accelerated growth in apartments and more moderate growth for housing, particularly for properties over $800,000,” said Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell.

Melbourne apartments – highest capital growth

Over the 12 months to June 2018, Melbourne apartments delivered the strongest rate of capital growth, outperforming all major capital city apartment markets by a significant margin.

Apartments – annual capital growth


Melbourne apartment rental growth has similarly been very strong rising by almost 4% over the 12 months to June, translating to a $16 per week increase.

Melbourne – oversupply or undersupply?

Melbourne continues to record some of the tightest vacancy rates in the country, sitting at only 1.6%.  Despite concerns of an oversupply, Melbourne’s vacancy rate in fact indicates a significantly undersupplied market, characterised by strong rental demand.

These tight figures correspond with Ironfish Property Management team as well, which has similarly reported a very low vacancy rate of only 1.2% in the Melbourne CBD for October 2018.

Ironfish property investment melbourne

Prospective tenants queue out the front gate at the first inspection at “Kings Domain” in South Melbourne

Forward projections of Inner Melbourne supply show a significantly reduced pipeline of new housing; adding further pressure to rental growth from Melbourne’s growing population.

Australia’s fastest growing capital city

In FY2017, Melbourne was crowned our fastest growing capital city, adding an impressive 125,000 in this time.

Population growth FY 2017


The Victorian capital is set to overtake Sydney as Australia’s biggest city in the not-too-distant future in terms of population. In terms of economic performance, Victoria has already toppled NSW – coming in first in the latest CommSec State of the States report – driven largely by Melbourne.

property investment melbourne sydney

The Greater Melbourne area added over 80,000 jobs over the 12 months to August 2018, with the current infrastructure boom driving a substantial portion of this jobs growth. Big budget Melbourne projects include the $11 billion Metro Tunnel, $15 billion Airport Rail Link and $2.3 billion High Capacity Metro Trains.

“When you compare the cost of houses vs apartments in any of the other major cities in Australia, it becomes quickly evident that Melbourne apartments are currently great value for property investors. As Melbourne’s population continues to boom driven by a nation-leading economy and strong jobs growth, and new supply of apartments into the Melbourne market diminishes, it is clear to see what the future holds for the Melbourne apartment market. The key is identifying the right areas and property to invest,” Mr Mitchell added.

Ironfish property investment – Melbourne apartments

Our property and research team have identified a select list of premium Melbourne apartments. If you’d like to view our list, simply register your details here.

You can also view our Melbourne property market update below:


Ironfish: walking together for homeless Aussie kids

Last Friday, 26 members of the Ironfish HQ team participated in a challenging 15km hike to raise funds for homeless and at-risk young Australians.

The ‘Tour de PIF’ is a fundraising walk organised by Property Industry Foundation (PIF), which supports homeless young people in Australia access safe housing, support and employment pathways to help them build a brighter future – a mission we share and support, here at Ironfish.

Walking alongside many of our colleagues in the industry – from GPT, Lend Lease, Frasers, Urbis, Knight Frank amongst many others – our collective efforts enabled PIF to build a secure and safe house for homeless young people in Australia – and provide vital counselling and support services.

ironfish property investment

This tremendous achievement would not have been possible without the contribution of our amazing team. We’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank our top 5 individual fundraisers: William Mitchell, Lauren Allcott, Lu Nan, Ritty Choi and Genevieve Hines.

We’d also like to thank the rest of our team who took the time and effort to raise funds amongst family and friends – and also to our Ironfish colleagues who sponsored our team members – it has made a real difference!

ironfish property investment

Ironfish is a National Corporate Donor of PIF and added further support through sponsoring our HQ team members in the Tour de PIF event and kicking off the team’s fundraising efforts.

Thanks to this support, Ironfish managed to raise $11,597.25 (including an offline donation of $1500) – and we are proud to report that we came in 3rd place overall.

ironfish property investment

The Ironfish generosity of spirit and enthusiasm was out in full on the day, with our lovely team members all shining brightly in orange caps, offering help, support and encouragement to each other over the steep inclines and final stretch. Two of our staff – Annabel Leung and Chris Teixeira – took their enthusiasm to the next level and decided to run the entire length of the course!

ironfish property investment

But ultimately, whether they ran, walked or limped – our team all made it across the finish line! A big congratulations to all of our team members for this achievement and for your support of PIF’s great work.

All kids deserve a fair go in life, and we are so pleased that more of our most vulnerable young Australians will be able to have a secure place to call home and access to the vital support they need to grow, thrive and fulfil their potential in life.

Not a bad day’s work!

ironfish property investment


Ironfish property investment

Ironfish is a National Corporate Donor of Property Industry Foundation (PIF).
For more info about PIF’s great work see:

Saving the ‘Brisbane backyard’

Brisbane City Council has voted to amend the city plan to stop townhouses and apartments being built in areas for single homes.

The move comes in an effort to “protect Brisbane’s backyard and unique character” in accordance with the recently released ‘Brisbane Future Blueprint,’ which contains 8 guiding principles for the planning of the city.

Industry experts are predicting that this restriction of housing supply could drive up Brisbane property prices in the short to medium term.

“With the restriction of new housing supply, we do expect additional pressure on Brisbane property prices – which is good news for our Brisbane investors today, however it will affect affordability in the future,” said Ironfish Brisbane General Manager, Irene Liu.

University of Queensland Urban Planning expert Dr Dorina Pojani agrees. In an interview with the ABC, Dr Pojani said that restricting the type of housing in certain neighbourhoods would actually drive prices “through the roof.”

Better community outcomes

Brisbane City Council voted in the proposed amendment to its city plan last month. The changes to the ‘Brisbane City Plan 2014’ will remove the current provision that enables townhouses and apartments to be developed on low density residential zoned land on sites of more than 3000 square metres.

The proposed amendment is designed to address a key action from ‘Brisbane’s Future Blueprint’ which was formed by the $2.1 million Plan Your Brisbane survey. This survey invited 100,000 residents or 1 in 5 households to help plan the city’s future.

“Although the proposed amendment will mean less supply in some areas, it also means better city planning in alignment with what residents want and therefore, ultimately, better outcomes for the local community,” added Ms Liu.

Brisbane City Council’s planning change proposal is now with the Queensland State Government for approval.

Ironfish Brisbane property investment

Want to find out how this planning change affects your Brisbane investments? Make a free appointment with one of our experienced strategists today.


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.