In this series, we ask investors from all walks of life to chat about what it was like to make their first ever investment. We spoke with property developer and share enthusiast Kurt Gibbons to get his take on investing and buying a house in today’s market.
Divide and conquer
Paving the road to success through investment required the courage to make some tough decisions, and a few sleepless nights along the way.
Although Kurt’s main business is property development, he’s also learned when it comes to investing, not to put all your eggs in one basket, and has found shares were a great way to diversify.
“I would say put away whatever you can afford weekly and buy some shares. You can invest, forget — and let the funds build up.”
He tells us how he went from leaving school after year 12, to purchasing his first investment property and offers some sound advice on buying shares.
Can you tell us about your first investment?
My first investment was 14 years ago, when I was 18. I saved $10,000 through working. At that stage it was enough for a deposit, so I bought a rental property for $190,000 with two, two bedroom flats on one title. I looked after it, added value to the property then when I’d gained enough equity, used that to buy another property.
What’s the key to becoming an investor at such a young age?
I’ve been an investor all my life, ever since I was a kid I’ve been thinking of ways to make money. I used to pick up golf balls in the weekend and sell them. I left school after sixth form and went into a sales role at L V Martin, then worked at Vodafone. That’s how I saved enough for the deposit.
I didn’t go big to begin with, I bought a rental that basically paid for itself—I didn’t actually buy my own home until years later.
“Rather than sitting back saying ‘I only want a house in Oriental Bay’, look at a more affordable suburb for your first investment.”
People often think you need loads of cash to invest? What do you think about this?
The risk you’re willing to take depends on how much money you are willing to put in and what shares you invest in.
At the moment, the amount needed for a deposit is a lot more than in the past. Shares are a great way to take a small amount of money and build it up. If you did want to buy a house you could invest and let it grow, over five years it may have gone up in value and could help with buying a property.
It’s a long-term game, if you see a spike of 10% tonight, it doesn’t mean you should pull your money out right away.
What do you like about having an investment and why should people try it?
My parents have always invested, and I wanted to build wealth, I found that was a pretty big driver for me.
Before diving in, I read a few really good books to build confidence. I think of investments as a way of saving, it’s quite hard to just put away money, so by having an investment it’s like a compulsory method.
Tell us how you felt after becoming an ‘investor’ for the first time?
Petrified—thinking what have I done? I got over that pretty quickly. But for years and years after I bought property and signed the contract I’d worry.
Do the pillow test—if you lie awake all night thinking about it, it might not be the right investment for you.
What is the best piece of advice you have given (or been given) about investing?
I believe with investments you need diversity. Shares are a great investment because over time they provide a passive income. Whether it’s $10 or $10million you get dividends with shares. Invest for long-term holds and create passive income. Reinvest dividends if you can and create a snowball effect.
By the same token bad debt will multiply over time—so you need to know your limits. It’s a long-term strategy—what is your 20-year-old self going to do for 30-year-old self?
Thanks, Kurt 🙌
If you (or you know of anyone) who has an interesting investing story to tell. Or there is a particular part of investing you’d like to hear about—let us know.