Can I invest my way into a first property?

The simple answer is yes you can, and a recent report from one of the leading banks showed that almost 10% of home buyers are investors who haven’t bought a first home.

Known as “rentvestors,” these first-time buyers are opting to secure an investment property first, while concurrently renting a home. Typically, the rental home is located in an area that appeals to the rentvestor whether it’s closer to their jobs, the beach or other lifestyle attractions.

Rentvesting often appeals to expats working overseas, who have longer-term plans to call Australia home. Buying an investment property first also attracts those who have longstanding home ownership plans, with many rentvestors moving into the property at some point in the future. Tellingly, many rentvestors are buying houses rather than apartments, which is possibly a nod to future family plans.

First and foremost, rentvesting is a valuable way of building wealth. And like any buyer; you must start with some research. Seek out a hidden treasure suburb in one of our capital cities or a booming regional town that seems to offer the prospect of long-term capital growth. Maybe the government is investing in improved local public transport, schools, hospitals, universities and other amenities.

At the same time, as you need decent cash flow from your investment, seek out a first property that produces the best rental return possible. If you buy an apartment as part of the strategy, maximising cash flow will also involve weighing up the strata costs. Therefore, it might be best buying into older apartment blocks that don't have gyms, lifts or swimming pools.

As a rentvestor, you can claim the ownership costs as tax deductions. These expenses include interest repayments, property management fees, strata levies, landlord insurance, and depreciation.

Where these expenses outweigh your rent, the current tax laws allow you to offset these losses against other income such as your wage or salary. This strategy is called “negative gearing.” Unfortunately, if some politicians get their way negative gearing will go. The end of negative gearing will cut off yet another avenue for many first-time buyers considering a rentvesting strategy to help them into a first home.