Successfully established, Luke’s ambition now is to help other investors to grow significant wealth through property, helping them to fulfil their own dreams and ambitions through his business, The Property Mentors.
He remains a highly active property investor, is a sought after coach, educator and author, and his books ‘Let’s Get Real’ and 'Property Fit' can be found in book stores across Australia. And he still finds the time to run a business, appear regularly on television, radio and podcasts, not to mention writing his next book!
More about Luke
As a young kid growing up in suburban Perth, I was always thinking of creative ways to make money. I was full of ideas! The difference between me and my friends was that I did something about it, using my time on weekends and after school to try to bring my hair-brained schemes to life.
My first side hustle was when I turned 12. It was a ‘swap meet’ in a carpark, based at my local Warwick Grove shopping centre, where I used to take bits and pieces of hard rubbish from people’s curbsides and sell them for a profit. It took me hours to drag things home during the week; I couldn’t believe people were throwing out perfectly good stuff when I could sell it and make a dollar or two.
So from a young age, I learnt an invaluable life skill. I learnt how to negotiate with people – adults – because a lot of the people I was dealing with were used to bartering competitively. I thought it was fun to get the win and a good deal. So, there I was, 12 years old and learning how to drive a hard bargain.
Ever since I was 20, I’ve been into property. I’ve always loved the thrill of searching for, finding and buying a property that I know will be a perfect fit for my portfolio. Back then, my ambitions were big. My dream was to swan around in a Lamborghini, sipping lattes all day.
At the time, I didn’t know any other way. I didn’t have anyone in my corner: no friends, family or work peers who were experienced in investing, let alone anyone I knew smashing goals with excellent results.
At 16, I’d been working at Hungry Jack’s for two years. I wanted more, so I decided to reach out and see a careers coordinator while at school to help me find me a job. At the time, I was really hating school and hungry to experience the real world (and start taking it over, or so I thought). I wanted to be an electrician (again, so I thought), so I sent out 80 or so letters trying to find a job. I’ve still got that list of places I sent letters to!
In the end, I left school at age 16 to do a traineeship with a company based in Carine, in the northern suburbs of Perth, one suburb over from where I was living in Marmion.
It was incredible, and it did teach me resilience – a lot of it! I left after about a year – the traineeship wasn’t being run properly, and I considered it slave labour given that my Hungry Jack’s job paid more.
This opened the door for me to seek work elsewhere, and I found it in West Perth, at a security company called Securus. I began to realise that I could work faster and more effectively than my colleagues. The job was for better money, and the company paid for my fuel, bought roof racks for my car and threw me in the deep end with complete autonomy. I was going out on my own to install security systems. But because I was always thinking one step ahead, I wanted to speed things up and investigate how I could make more money. I worked there for a while before becoming a contractor, taking the opportunity to increase my income.
I focused on growth and learnt how to build a business, I named it A1 Secure Solutions, and at one point I had three vans on the road and owned a new Monaro, which was my pride and joy. I was killing it and life was good.
It was 1999 and I was about to turn 20, and ready to make my debut on the Australian property market. I found the right place, too: a four-bedroom, one-bathroom property on a 682-square-metre block in the Perth suburb of Duncraig. The house was small but solid, and as it was my first, I didn’t care about pools or double storeys. I just wanted to get started. It cost me a grand total of $157,500.
To save for the deposit, I worked harder than I ever had before. I
employed staff, secured extra tools, ran advertisements in the local paper, did
letterbox drops and whatever else I could to get my business any work that was
out there. I finally managed to scrape together about $20,000, and I had my
deposit. But as I soon discovered, there were pitfalls to being self-employed,
because the banks didn’t like my employment status.
Luckily, Mum and Dad stepped in and went guarantor on my loan, which caused me to miss out on the newly announced first home buyers grant of $7,000. This would have gone a long long way back then! But I didn’t care, I just wanted to get started.
Looking back, I think I was the only one in the street to have garden lighting, which were little LED things that would fade out after two hours. They were quickly replaced by proper 240-volt lights. It looked great. Not to blow my own trumpet here, but it soon became the best house in the street, and I was proud to come home every day.
A few years later, in 2003, I sold my electronic security business, rented out the Duncraig property and moved to Sydney to take a full-time job on a good salary. Now 23, I just wanted to invest in more property. But I was hitting brick walls with the banks because it was tough securing finance as a business owner. I was getting a taste of how bank policies could affect lending ability. I had equity, but it wasn’t enough. For me, Sydney offered job stability and borrowing capacity, which the banks love, plus the opportunity to progress my investing career.
Three months after I’d finished my probation with my new Sydney job in security, I had a finance application to buy property number two back in Western Australia. I was 24. Like a lot of investors, I bought in an area that I knew and as, easy as that, I was officially a ‘property investor’ with a ‘property portfolio’. How fancy!
To continue growing my portfolio, I bought a house in Bonbeach, Melbourne. It wasn’t beachfront, and it had an old granny flat out the back. The whole property was so run-down the agent wouldn’t even walk through it. There were rats running around, and it was full of asbestos too.
I also bought a property in Seaford which was a development site. I wanted something I could knock down and build two units on. Like a lot of investors, I wanted to ‘fast-track’ my portfolio. Thinking this was the best way, I went out there to find a property in an affordable location where there was a precedent for this type of small development.
Fast forward a few years and another property or two, and I realised I was aiming for things that were completely unrealistic – the superficial wants of a naïve 20-something-year-old with no life experience. I was making big decisions without looking at the long-term and figuring out the big plan and the right strategy – the right property fit.
It was a bombshell moment for me. Suddenly, I could see it all laid out in front of me. What I wanted was a lot simpler than I’d thought: my own house to live in, a handful of investment properties providing me with enough income to give me the lifestyle that I wanted, and the time to help others along on their own unique property investment journeys. A chance to pass on my hard won knowledge. Now this was an achievable and meaningful dream; a five-million-dollar income wasn’t unachievable, but it wasn’t what I needed to live the lifestyle with the meaning I desired.
The revelation also kickstarted a fresh mindset. I’d gotten real about what I wanted out of life. I finally knew my ‘why’.