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Sydney real estate: How the mortgage broker built a $5.2 million portfolio of properties amid rising interest rates

An ordinary Australian family has turned a humble salary and a strict budget into a multi-million dollar investment portfolio that now spans several states in Australia.

Justin Zhu, 36, and his wife, Ning, 35, have spent the last decade slowly building a $5.2 million worth of property portfolio while also working full-time with the couple who now own six properties in New Wales. South, Queensland and Western Australia.

The couple bought their first property in 2013, a $550,000 one-bedroom apartment in the inner Sydney suburb of Zetland, while Zhu earned less than $70,000 a year as an intern at a psychology clinic.

Now bitten by the housing market virus, Mr. Zhu left psychology to become a mortgage broker and started his own brokerage business. GG Loans.

The son of blue-collar Chinese immigrants, Justin Zhu (left) and his wife, Ning (right) have spent the last decade building a portfolio of six properties in Australia worth $5.2 million.

The son of blue-collar Chinese immigrants, Mr. Zhu credited his parents with his ability to work hard and save.

“My parents came from China in 1991,” Zhu said. news.com.au.

‘Dad worked in a factory and mom worked in childcare. From a very early age I learned the importance of saving.

“They taught me to save very well… A lot of my friends ended up going to Schoolies after year 12, but I worked in a cafe right after school.”

Learning from his parents, Mr. Zhu and his partner stuck to a strict savings plan to buy their first property.

The Zetland apartment skyrocketed in value after the suburb quickly gentrified and became a sought-after area.

The skyrocketing value allowed the couple to use it to cover a deposit on a second interstate property, all while Mr. Zhu was still working in psychology and his partner in technology.

The couple looked outside of Sydney for their next purchase, snapping up a three-bedroom house in Logan, south of Brisbane, for $250,000 just one year after entering the property market.

Logan’s property was so successful that the couple purchased two others in the area.

Mr. Zhu credits his humble beginnings with teaching him how to save efficiently, allowing the couple to purchase their first property on an intern's salary of $70,000 in 2013.

Mr. Zhu credits his humble beginnings with teaching him how to save efficiently, allowing the couple to purchase their first property on an intern’s salary of $70,000 in 2013.

The couple began monetizing, the practice of using a tenant’s rent payments to pay a mortgage, on their original Zetland property in 2017.

Her ownership journey then slowed down after the birth of her first child in 2019.

However, the couple saw another unexpected boost in their four-bedroom portfolio during the Covid pandemic.

“From 2020 to 2022 (the property market) went crazy, all of our properties doubled (in value),” Zhu said.

‘We ended up buying our fifth and sixth properties, within six months of each other.

Both have done very well.

During the boom, the couple bought their forever home in Marsfield, in north-west Sydney, having sold the original Zetland flat to help cover the deposit.

‘Real estate investing as a strategy is relatively simple, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. We have been doing this for 10 years,” Zhu said.

‘It allows people to increase their wealth steadily over time.

It is a long term game.

Although he faced 10 consecutive interest rate hikes, Zhu said he is still in good financial shape as the rent on his properties more than current mortgage payments.

“As a landlord, I don’t move my rent to the market rate,” he added.

“As long as the tenant has been paying the rent on time, it’s not fair to increase it all.”

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