Alesha Capone, Property Journalist
First published 29 Jun 2023, 6:30am
Wealth Through Property director and former tradie, Scott Levoune has built a property portfolio of 10 homes.
When Scott Levoune left school in year 10 to become an apprentice, he never dreamed he would end up owning 10 properties which earn $100,000 a year.
Now the director of the real estate consultancy Wealth Through Property, Mr Levoune said hard work was the reason he was able to purchase his first house.
After completing his apprenticeship to become an airconditioner refrigeration mechanic at the age of 20, he went on to become an electrician.
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Mr Levoune spent years studying to obtain additional qualifications — including in gas fitting and plumbing, security, solar, data, telecommunications and CCTV.
A renter since 19, at age 26, he decided to work more hours to help save for a house.
However, his employer did not have the capacity to give him overtime, so Mr Levoune started his own business outside his full-time tradie job.
He spent up to 16 hour days working, seven days a week.
“I was probably working 90+ hours every week, I was getting up at 5am and not getting home until 10pm-11pm,” Mr Levoune said.
He spent about two years doing these hours, with his then-mortgage advisor continually urging him to build up his bank balance.
“I think I was saving about $60,000 a year, I was working so hard,” Mr Levoune said.
Scott Levoune bought his first house when he was 26 years old. Picture: Kevin Farmer
He bought his first house in Sydney’s west, where he still lives, for about $560,000.
Not long afterwards, Mr Levoune and his ex-partner purchased two investment properties under a cross-collateralisation loan, in which the equity from one property is used to purchase a second property.
But Mr Levoune said he would not advise most people to use this loan type, as it could involve considerable risk and made getting future loans difficult.
He went on to buy his former partner out of their properties and found he was earning $2000-$3000 per week from renting them out, after expenses.
This prompted him to purchase another two investment properties – using the equity in his existing investments to do so – but afterwards, Mr Levoune found that banks’ policies prevented him from getting new loans to add more homes to his burgeoning portfolio, due to the limits imposed by cross-collaterisation loans.
Properties in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia are among those in Mr Levoune’s property portfolio. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
“I was earning money from rent, but the banks would not lend to me,” Mr Levoune said.
In order to buy five more homes, Mr Levoune came up with a “very complicated” solution which cost him about $100,000.
The process involved selling his existing properties back to himself and special purpose vehicles, subsidiaries created by a parent company to isolate financial risk.
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Nowadays, Mr Levoune’s 10 properties – including his own home – are located in multiple Australian states and are valued from $160,000 through to $1.1m.
The properties have a combined value of more than $6.5m and earn more than $100,000 per year once he has paid mortgages and other expenses.
Mr Levoune used cross-collateralisation loans to purchase some of his investment properties.
“I took on a data approach to find properties,” Mr Levoune said.
“I looked at what you call immediate pressure (a local market showing signs of growth, such as a low number of days houses are on the market and rising prices), followed by long term characteristics – you want both”.
Mr Levoune said that as he began investing, he was fortunate to have a lawyer friend who advised him about property laws and tax, and other friends who with property portfolios to act as mentors.
He worked 16 hour days, seven days a week, to save up for his first house.
Mr Levoune said his 16-year-old self “never would have thought it was possible” to own 10 properties.
“I never thought I’d buy a house,” he added.
Mr Levoune’s advice to people wanting to buy a house it to upskill or pursue a different career, perhaps by returning to tertiary study, if they are not earning enough to save for a property.
“I think anyone can do this, what I have done,” he said.
“Buying property can be a leap of faith, but taking smart risks is the building block to long-term wealth.
“All it takes is a good strategy, the right knowledge and a lot of hard work.”
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Alesha Capone, Property Journalist