Buying Property – An Interview with Canberrian Gal PJ Aguilar

Posted: 08.13.2012

Name PJ Ann Aguilar
Age 31
Profession Public Servant
Canberra ACT

Tell us a little about yourself (personal, professional, fun, family) so we can get to know you a little better!
I’m currently on maternity leave from my part-time position at the Australian Government’s Office for Women, I run a microbusiness Simplicity Retreats, most recently became the Canberra Coordinator for 10thousandgirl and I’m also a Property Investor. However my most fulfilling (& demanding!) role is being mum to my two little boys, 3 year old Jacob and 4 month old Matt.

When did you buy?
We settled to build our residential home in November 2007, then was fortunate enough to build some equity to let us buy some investment properties.

Did you buy alone or with someone else?
All were bought with my husband Greg.

When did you first think you wanted to buy?
Probably a couple of years before the first purchase.

How did you know property was for you?
After reading a lot of books on property investing, I felt it was something very tangible, a type of investing I could easily learn and give a go.

Who did you talk to during the buying process (professionals/family/friends)?
For the first purchase, our mortgage broker was great support emotionally and technically (though soon after he sold his firm and became a church minister!) Since then I coordinated financing directly and don’t use a broker anymore. Also for the first purchase, we felt very overwhelmed and my dad helped us crunch the numbers to put our minds at ease. More recently I rely on great advice from my accountant and solicitor, and we learnt extra strategies from a property investing course we did.

What other research did you do?
With our residential home, we went to a lot of open houses and building displays. With the investment properties, I do a lot of “window shopping” online – look at certain areas, properties within our budget and how much similar properties are rented for (rather than relying on advertised ‘potential rents’). I also talk to agents to get local knowledge, which is very important especially if buying interstate.

How did you save for the deposit?
I was fortunate enough to stay at home until I was in my early 20s which let me save. My husband and I also saved together leading up to the purchase. We then used equity in our residential house to pay for the deposit (and purchase costs) of the investment properties. So while we didn’t have to save for the other deposits, we do have to live within our means and regularly save to build a buffer to support our investments (and allow us to sleep at night!)

Where did you buy?
Our residential house is in Canberra, other properties are in regional areas in NSW and QLD.

What was the most difficult or challenging thing during the process?
The first purchase was the hardest. We went through the building process and had no idea what we were doing! Our solicitor at the time was more trouble than helpful – I did a lot of the work myself. But it all worked out and we feel very fortunate to have a homely-home for our boys. Buying the investment properties were easy in comparison. I feel our confidence build with each purchase. Though we still have to work on our negotiating skills!

What was the most fun or rewarding thing during the process?
I really enjoy the shopping part! Researching and seeing what’s on the market. Once an offer is accepted I also like learning the administrative process and see the purchase come to life.

What was the most important thing when looking at the mortgage?
Borrowing only what you can afford. But also just biting the bullet, it may seem like a lot of money but it is less than what it will be if you keep putting it off. Also don’t be afraid of mortgage insurance, even if you add it to the overall loan – because if it means you’ll be in the market earlier then it’s worth it.  Our first purchase was a 95% loan, but there was no way we could’ve saved the amount of equity we earned in the short time we acquired it.

Do you have any other property related goals?
Yes we’re planning to keep purchasing property, but holding off for now while I’m off work and we’ve saved some more. Being home with the boys while on maternity leave has been very motivating – that having our properties earning us passive income will give us more choices in the future and more time together as a family.

Any tips you would give other 10thousandgirls who are thinking about buying?
Be focused on your goal, keep an eye on your spending habits so you can save as much as you can. Know what you can afford, get across the fine print. Whatever you purchase you need to be able to sleep at night. So read a lot, ask a lot. Then just go for it! Because what you don’t know, you will learn along the way. Good luck!

As our Canberra Coordinator, PJ loves connecting with, and encouraging women to support each other about personal finances. She can be contacted at, or if you’re located in the Canberra region, come and join other local 10thousandgirls at the Personal Finance LinkUp this Saturday 18 August:

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