Property Investory
Dawn Fouhy on Future Proofing and Gaining $280,000 Equity in 3 Years
April 23, 2023
Fouhy is the founder of Future Proof Property Advisory and an ICU nurse who took her life from the Irish countryside and transplanted herself into Home and Away— or so she thought! In this episode she shares her incredible journey of working various jobs as a teenager and traveling the world before settling in Australia, soon discovering the reality of working in remote hospitals in the outback. Despite being thrown in the deep end, she developed the skills and resilience necessary to succeed both personally and professionally, helping her to achieve the Australian dream.
00:52 | Intensity
03:31 | Closer Each Day
07:27 | Going With the Flow
11:15 | Micro Moments
13:52 | Everybody Has a Story
17:48 | Tight Quarters
22:36 | Peter Pan Mindset
26:33 | The Team With the Dream


01:13 | Go West
04:58 | Partnerships
07:10 | Spreadsheets and Equity
11:02 | Fantasyland
15:54 | Changing Mindsets
17:55 | Turning to YouTube
23:30 | Looking to the Future
27:19 | Average Aussies

Resources and Links:


Dawn Fouhy:
[00:25:02] We were outside on the balcony and we heard an auction happening. Now we'd only been together a year. And we were like, 'Oh my God, that sold for, like, $300,000. That would be cheaper than the rent we're paying'. So we were in our mid-20s, I think. And that was the real lightbulb moment for us that everything snowballed from.


Tyrone Shum:
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors to find out more about their stories, mindset and strategies.
I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode we’re speaking with Dawn Fouhy, the founder of Future Proof Property Advisory. With a passion for helping people in property and through all the ups and down of life, her story has taken her across the world and Australia. Now a Melbourne local, she can’t wait to help others in her line of work make the most of their opportunities.




Tyrone Shum:   
Dawn Fouhy is Irish by birth and has called Australia home for the last 14 years. Living in Melbourne and working as an intensive care nurse, she divides her work life into both nursing and property investment. Also a founder and director of her own buyer’s agency, she’s passionate about helping others in nursing achieve their property and financial goals.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:00:52]  [I'm] doing both part time. So I work 60 hours a fortnight as an intensive care nurse. So I've always done that. I manage one of the intensive care unit pods. And then [I] work really hard on the buyer's agency part-time, helping other nurses find financial freedom through property.
[00:01:39] The shifts are 12-hour shifts. So we do a rotating roster. I do 50% nights and work that around our son's childcare. He's two [years old]. So my partner Melissa—she's very supportive. She works Monday to Friday. I do shift work. So we just make it all work.

Tyrone Shum:   
She grew up in the rural Ireland countryside, a childhood many of us can only dream of. While she loved the experience, she had somewhere away from home on her mind.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:02:36] I'm one of four. I'm the oldest kid. [I] went to [the] local village primary school. Went to a convent secondary school. I had a very lovely upbringing, but very sheltered. So then, Irish people in general want to chase the 'Home and Away' dream. 
[00:02:59] That's what we would watch every day after high school; go home and watch 'Home and Away'. And so then, that's what led 10 of us traveling together to Australia. You know, it wasn't anything like 'Home and Away'.

Closer Each Day

Tyrone Shum:   
Her dreams of Summer Bay didn’t quite match up to reality, but this was far from a negative for her.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:03:31] I think my first impression was there was just so much to do and to see. And it's such a young country in so far as being a settled country. But before that, there's so much rich history with the First Nations people and learning all about that. I did a lot of work in the outback [during] my first few years here in Western Australia and Queensland, and doing some Outback nursing there helping an Aboriginal community. So that was fantastic.

Tyrone Shum:   
As for her childhood in the Emerald Isle, much of it was spent outdoors in the fresh country air.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:04:42] I felt like we never wanted for anything. And we didn't necessarily grow up wealthy. There was nobody in our family who ever did property investing. My parents worked really, really hard. We never really had, like, a lot of stuff. 
[00:05:02] We played outside a lot. We played a lot of sport, building our own cubby houses. And there was a lot of focus on going to university and getting a good job. It was always to follow that trajectory.

Tyrone Shum:   
Her father works in construction, so working long hours certainly runs in the family. In that same vein, she followed her mother’s footsteps in regards to her career.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:05:30] He would work away a lot. [He was a] really, really hard worker, always working real physical, labour jobs. And my mother then—she's the best. She was actually a care assistant. So she would go around to people's homes, helping them get dressed and shower and sort out their meals. And she's such a caring person. She'd been doing that job for 30 years. So yeah, she's a real inspiration—my mum.
[00:06:13] To be honest, so how nursing came around— So I actually was trying to pursue radiography and I didn't get the points for it because I didn't pick up standards. I just didn't achieve the max to get it. So then my second choice was nursing. 
[00:06:29] So I kind of fell into nursing, moved away from home to go to university, lived in share houses, and then followed intensive care nursing, because I just really wanted to level up on my nursing and to care for some of the sickest patients and learn how to care for them.

Going With the Flow

Tyrone Shum:   
When it came to figuring out her life path after school, there wasn’t much figuring out to do.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:07:27] I guess I didn't know any better. Nobody was doing anything different. Everybody was just following the same path that was laid out for you. This is the '90s in Ireland. It was just kind of you just follow what everyone else does. And everybody goes to university, and everybody gets married and has babies. And that's just, you know—that's what life is. Right? Or is it?
[00:08:37] We were always encouraged to work when we were young. So my first job was when I was 14. Just, like, helping out in a hairdresser’s, sweeping floors. And then I went through a whole range of jobs from working in a factory. I was a phone operator in a taxi office. So those [were] the days when you would use a handheld microphone to call out, you know, 'Charlie, Charlie [unintelligible]'. It was like two-way radio.
[00:09:09] I worked in, like, supermarket[s], bakeries—a whole host of different jobs. But I think, in hindsight, that's what gave me a real interest in people and then looking after people and knowing and learning how to talk to people. Because I think I was forced from a young age to just get out there and get working and give things a go. 
[00:09:37] And because I was the oldest of four, then I'd work every weekend before college, just to pay for my way through university. And that was never the expectation, but it was something that was always instilled in us—[it] was to work hard, and that everything else will follow. 

Micro Moments

Tyrone Shum:   
Her degree took four years to complete, and involved a lot of hospital-based training to prepare her for what was to come.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:11:15] So I was having to work, getting paid very little, if not at all, and going to university as well. And even when you're talking about the resilience piece. That there's something I remembered from when I was 16. And, people can't talk this way now. But I've done a really terrible job of baking these scones. And the owner came down and was like, the scones were so hard, he was able to just bang them off of the counter and was just basically like, 'If you're going to keep doing this work, you can find another job'. 
[00:11:51] But it's all those micro moments that really build up your resilience that, like you said, I feel like that doesn't happen nowadays. I feel like it's very different to when we were growing up, definitely. 
[00:12:30] You have to be accountable. You have to be accountable for yourself and your actions. And that's something that I really hold in high regard—it's accountability.

Tyrone Shum:   
When she finished studying, Fouhy went straight into full-time work on a medical ward, taking care of the elderly.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:13:08] Years ago, we would do 7- [or] 12-hour night shifts in a row. And we would [have] only just finished our nursing and you would be in charge of the ward with an agency nurse. Again, lots of resilience-building in nursing in Ireland. 
[00:13:22] We just didn't have a choice. You were thrown into the deep end. So I think, all through my life, I've always been thrown into the deep end and had to learn how to swim very quickly.

Everybody Has a Story

Tyrone Shum:   
Fouhy’s transition into nursing was definitely emotionally challenging, but also a rewarding experience.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:13:52] I guess it's being like a 20-year-old with no real life experience, having to be with people when they're dying and making sure they're comfortable and they have dignity. And it's a real privilege to be able to care for patients like that. It's something that is a really important part of our job. And because all of these people have a story and, right at the end, it's really important that we give them the most dignity and care possible.
[00:14:41] It's a lot to take on. But more so it's the emotion of the family in the room that you take on, because they're grieving somebody. They're about to lose their loved ones. So they're having the worst day of their life in your workplace—where you work. And it's your job to look after them. So that's a pretty unique job. 
[00:15:03] But then, it also gave me an extremely unique perspective in that time is a nonrenewable resource. Then when we had our son—he's 2 [years old]—we really wanted to try and figure out how we can get as much time as possible. And then that's how [it] was our real kind of foray into property investing.

Tyrone Shum:   
When she arrived in Australia in the mid 2000s, she didn’t come straight from Ireland.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:15:50] On the way over, we did a lot of travelling. So we traveled all around South America, did the Inca trail. So we were a bunch of nice, young, naive Irish girls who didn't know that the Inca Trail was a real physical feat. We thought it was a little hike. And so, I just had a pair of Converse and, at the time, I was smoking and it was—oh my god. 
[00:16:07] Anyway, I managed to complete—made it to Machu Picchu with my Converse on, somehow survived the altitude sickness and made it. But so naive, like ridiculously naive. Crazy. That sounds so— [it's on so] many people's bucket lists, and they train and they do this and that. And I think we'd been out the night before and [we] got straight on the bus. And there we were. I had all these llamas overtaking me on the Inca Trail, and I was, like, barely able to breathe.
[00:16:44] I think maybe the alcohol from the night before maybe kept you on the high. So that's why you couldn't really do anything.
[00:17:19] We had a great time. We did a lot of cool things. South America is an amazing place.
[00:17:26] And then [I] came to Australia. Landed in Sydney.

Tight Quarters

Tyrone Shum:   
Much like many young people arriving in Australia from overseas, Fouhy and her friends didn’t have any concrete plans other than the one to follow their hearts.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:17:48] We got off the plane, and we stayed in a backpackers in Coogee. And then, we eventually got a rental place on Bondi Road. So I think at one time, there was seven of us in a two-bedroom apartment—not even an apartment. It was actually beautiful, thinking about it now—it was like this art deco. It was almost like a house that had been turned into a whole section of rooms. 
[00:18:17] It was beautiful. It was a really nice place. But yeah, that was just how we lived—all of us in together. There was four of us in one room at one stage—all single beds or double beds—and it was like 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
[00:18:42] I don't remember meeting a property manager. I remember it being like [laughs]— I remember it being just a thing that was passed, kind of, through Irish person to Irish person, you could rent this place. And I think it was all just done directly through the landlord. And they made a nice profit.
[00:19:04] It was a great location: Bondi Road. It was fantastic.

Tyrone Shum:   
Once she was settled in one of Australia’s most prestigious locations, she went off to work in various hospitals in the area before moving on.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:19:26] We were really in the mindset of wanting to experience life and experience Sydney and everything Australia had to offer, so we wanted work to come second to that. But six months in, we were partying a lot, going out a lot. So we all decided to go off and do our own remote and rural nursing contracts. 
[00:19:45] I went on my own to a place called Meekatharra, middle of WA, [about] 4 hours outside of Geraldton. And also, [I] was in a nursing post in Cue. So I was, in my early 20s, and I was the only nurse manning this, you know, clinic basically in a town of 300 people. So it was just me. The nearest hospital was hours away.
[00:20:21] Well, at the start, I didn't feel anything. I think I was so naive. And then it got more overwhelming as time went on. The responsibility and, you know, we would have to run clinics for children and expectant mothers and people with, you know, like mental health conditions and anything. 
[00:20:41] We could have someone come in, and they would be having heart attack symptoms, and I would have to triage them and try and find some way to get them out of this little village so they could live. And that was only in my early 20s. So yeah, it paid really well, because, obviously, nobody wanted to do it, except for like [laughs], you know, young Irish nurses.
[00:21:07] It was an amazing experience.
[00:21:11] And the hospital I worked at in Meekatharra was fantastic. There was a few nurses that live together in like kind of like a boarding house, and the hospital was literally like 50 metres away. So we would just do shifts, go back and yeah.
[00:21:26] I was there probably four months, all up in between those two locations. So I managed to save up a lot of money and then met up with the rest of my friends in Darwin. And we traveled all down along the east coast. Campervans. I remember packing in like car parks and the Gold Coast in, like, our campervan or camping on the beach, and just a very live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle—just a real day-to-day 'work hard, play even harder'. And we survived that somehow.

Peter Pan Mindset

Tyrone Shum:   
Life continued on the same trajectory from there, travelling around before she found a reason to settle down.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:22:36] A real kind of Peter Pan mindset, same kind of thing. We moved to Melbourne again, almost like a rooming house, eight of us together in a two-bedroom apartment. 
[00:22:50] I was doing a lot of agency work and meeting a lot of different people. And I guess I only really started to see a future and a pathway to my life in Australia when I met my partner. So, she's Australian. So I think that was the real moment for me that I saw a future in Australia. 
[00:23:11] The plan was always to come here a year as working holiday. Leave it off. But life had other plans.

Tyrone Shum:   
She had been in Australia for a year before meeting her partner and reaching the turning point that made her realise this was home.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:23:52] I really enjoyed the lifestyle here and just the freedom. And to me, Melbourne in particular was a very liberal city at the time. And it felt more and more like home. The longer I stayed here, the working conditions, the wages, the opportunities as a woman in nursing and in the medical field, there was a lot more progression here in Australia than in Ireland. And I just felt like I could really be 'me' in Australia.

Tyrone Shum:   
Once Fouhy understood the opportunities that were available to her here, her property realisation and dream started to fall into place.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:24:51] So for us, we were actually renting an apartment at the time in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. We were outside on the balcony and we heard an auction happening. Now we'd only been together a year. And we were like, 'Oh my God, that sold for, like, $300,000. That would be cheaper than the rent we're paying'. So we were in our mid-20s, I think. And that was the real lightbulb moment for us that everything snowballed from.
[00:25:26] Because, Melissa, my partner— she's the numbers person; she's the data person. And she was like, 'You know, it's going to be cheaper for us to buy somewhere. Why don't we do that?' And then we started on the usual, you know, looking around. And we want a little dog. So we were trying to factor in—we had a little dog—we're trying to factor space into that. And we ended up moving farther out to kind of a Bayside suburb. 
[00:25:54] We got a villa, [which] unbeknownst to ourselves, it was really good decision at the time. So it was two-bedroom villa. Really nice outside. And it was the front unit. It was one of, I think, one of 12 in a really nice suburb in Melbourne. And at the time, I still remember all of our friends thinking we were crazy. Why are we moving so far away? Twenty minutes down the road. And, you know, like, we're still young, we're going out, like, why are you buying a place? And there there seemed to be, because nobody else that we knew are in our life was doing that. 

The Team With the Dream

Tyrone Shum:
Taking risks has always been up her alley, and became even more so once she had her partner in crime— and in life— by her side.

Dawn Fouhy:  
[00:26:33] And I think that's how we always operated and have operated ever since. We like to not follow the herd. If anything, we will go against it and just really trust ourselves. And so we sat in that place for about three years and saw the property prices going up and up in Melbourne. We were like, 'Oh'. So we were trying to think long term. And we really wanted to start a family. 
[00:26:59] But before you have kids, you don't know the type of home you need, right? So we then ended up getting a townhouse. So you moved from the villa to the townhouse. But in those three years of having that villa, I think we've made upwards of $280,000 from that in that time.  

[00:27:18] So we were able then to bring that into a townhouse and we only moved the next suburb over. But we got a townhouse, a three-bedroom, three-bath, and one living space— knowing now having kids need more than one living space. 
[00:27:39] And we've been here ever since. In the townhouse. But the real thing that got us into investing was that point of going from villa to townhouse to what's next. So we were like, 'We're running out of space. Our son needs more space; you know, we probably need to buy a house'. And then this is like, end of 2021 Melbourne, [we were] looking at house prices, going, 'There's nothing that we really want within our budget. And, 'What are we going to do? Like, do we just sell off now and settle for something?' 
[00:28:20] And then we had started watching different YouTube videos on property investing [and], you know, listened to the audiobook of 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'—like everybody was learning about leverage. And the more and more we consumed this content, we were like, 'What are we doing? Why are we so obsessed with getting the house?' And, you know, like, 'For who? Who are we getting the house for? Are we getting it for ourselves? Or are we getting in for other people? Are we getting it for our son? Who is that far?' 
[00:28:58] And so we really had to examine, like what family meant to us. And for us, the bricks and mortar has nothing to do with it. As long as we're all together, that's it. So it was just changing our mindset around that [that] was huge for us getting into investing.

Go West

Tyrone Shum:   
Fouhy and her partner have purchased four investment properties so far, along with their principal place of residence. Their first investment property is in Port Kennedy in Western Australia, which they bought in early 2022. They were able to pick it up before the West coast market started its latest price rise, nabbing a deal at just $420,000.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:01:13] [It’s a] classic bricks and mortar, four by two and plenty of room to update it. Side axis. If we needed to ever put a granny flat out the back, it has so much opportunity, this property. And really close to the beach. A good part of Port Kennedy. 
[00:01:32] It rented out before settlement even happened, we had someone ready to move in, $500 a week. Last year, obviously the interest rates were 3%. So it was positively geared. And we were like, 'Wow, this is good'. And for our very first property. 
[00:01:54] I remember being on my tea break on a night shift. So I actually bought this property on a tea break on a night shift, because [of the] Perth time difference. I was saying to the agent, 'I want the home open cancelled. We want this property. This offer only lasts for 12 hours'. And she's like, 'Okay, okay, I'm going to talk to the client and really try and get this deal done'. 
[00:02:16] So if this was before everybody was trying to buy there. And got the deal across the line, at the time, it was under the median. You can call it beginner's luck, but you could also call it that I was just really ferocious and wanting to have success with this because I had seen the freedom that investing in property can give people and I was like, 'We need to really knock it out of the park with our first few properties to really keep building the portfolio'. 
[00:02:48] So why we went to Perth was for just the capital growth prospects in the short term and also the positively geared aspect. Now, when we told people we're investing in Perth, they were like, 'What are you doing? Isn't that all mines? What if something happens with the mines?' And I was like, 'Oh, that's old news'. Industry is far more diverse there. Healthcare actually is one of its number one industries.

Tyrone Shum:   
Being on the opposite side of the country to Port Kennedy, she relied on her batch of resources to help her make the decision.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:03:59] So it was really just watching lots of YouTube videos on different people who invest around Australia and then learning about data. 
[00:04:09] So when we first started, we didn't know what equity was. We didn't know the significance of days on market, of government investment in areas. And then we became almost, like, addicted to researching the data. And we're on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, and I was like, 'Wow, there's so much information out there that can translate into finding a good bit of equity for yourself'. 
[00:04:36] Because even after we bought that property in 2022, and we went back to look at that only a few weeks ago, it's grown $100,000. And that was the first property. And I think... 
[00:04:51] Because that was only our first year of investing, it just gave us more confidence to keep trying to propel the portfolio.


Tyrone Shum:   
[00:04:58] And since purchasing that, what's been the next thing that you've done?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:05:02] So we got another one. And so this story is interesting insofar as talking about trying to navigate your investing journey with your partner and you both being on the same page, because... 
[00:05:17] Not only are you partners in a relationship, you're now partners in a business. Because investing is business. So how do you work on the same page of mindset? And so it took a lot of... not convincing. A lot of robust discussions to decide to go back to Perth again. 
[00:05:35] Melissa was keen to diversify. And I was very headstrong in being like, 'No, no, we need to go back to Perth again, this is just too good'. It's just learning to navigate those discussions as a partnership, and still having a partnership at the end of it. 
[00:05:52] But yeah, so we were back to Perth again, Secret Harbour, this was two months later, we paid $440,000. Again, built into the contract that the property could be viewed during the settlement period. So we had a tenant ready to go on settlement day. And that rented again for, I think, $520.
[00:06:16] And really, really good quality of tenants, offering a year's rent up front. Like, such high demand. And this is at the start of 2022. Really nice property, really new, so good bit of depreciation in that, and close to the primary school, really good suburb. We were really, really stoked with that one.

Spreadsheets and Equity

Tyrone Shum:   
She takes a step back to explain just how much of an Aussie she is and divulges a little more on her nursing career.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:07:10] I became an Australian citizen when we were living in that first property, that first villa. And when I came to Melbourne, after one year was when I stopped doing the agency work and got employment. That's my employment, I have been working in intensive care for over 10 years. And so had long term employment. And full time or part time, but nursing can give you really good serviceability, and even then, like, we had a lot of equity in our townhouse.
[00:07:51] Melissa was always good at encouraging us to save. So she's like a spreadsheet queen, she would just set us off, she's always forecasting, planning, finding ways to make our money work better for us. Whereas my phrase is always: Money comes, money goes. She really is the brains of the operation. Let me just say that.
[00:08:19] With our deposits we used half equity, half cash, some we used full equity. So then that enabled us to get good yields, and also enabled us to make our savings work for us. Sure they were sitting in the offset. But we want it to be able to leverage as much of the bank's money as possible to get ahead.

Tyrone Shum:   
With one in the relationship a saver and the other a spender, it can make for some interesting dynamics. However, they always come to the same conclusion in the end.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:09:11] One, two, skip a few, we end up in regional Queensland in Bargara. So this story actually is... people will hear this and be like, 'What are you doing? Why did you do this? You're so naive. Why would you do this?' 
[00:09:28] It sounds unbelievable. I was out for a walk. Melissa messaged me on a property and she was like, 'Oh, look at this property. It looks great'. I was like, 'Yeah, it looks great'. So [I] rang the agent. And he was presenting offers in an hour to the owner of the property. [They] had, like, 20 offers on the property. 
[00:09:51] And so [I] managed to figure out what the highest offer was, but they had a lot of contingencies on it. And I was like, 'Okay, we'll offer you that price but no contingencies'. So, you're like, 'What the hell? There's like alarm bells going off across Australia. No'. 
[00:10:16] So in retrospect, would I ever do that again? No. Was it luck that it paid off? Yes. Would I ever recommend it? No. 
[00:10:25] So we put an offer, no finance, contingency, no building and pest, for $480,000 for a property. But the property is like 700 metres to the beach, it's three by one. [A] huge property, 700 square metres in Bagara that has grown by $90,000 in eight months. And it rented out for $550. Like, straight away. 
[00:10:49] [The] quality of tenant in that property is unbelievable. But yes, would I ever make an offer with those conditions again? No. Was it stressful for our mortgage broker? Yes.


Tyrone Shum:   
[00:11:02] What was so attractive about this particular property that you had to get it? That's what I'm trying to also understand. What was the logic behind it?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:11:11] I think for us, it seems like somewhere that we would live, or somewhere that in the future— 15 [to] 20 years' time— we always had this fantasy of being in a caravan. We're not, like, caravan people, we're more like cabin type people. I don't know why we ever thought we would be  hitching a caravan and taking off. But I think most people assume that until they've actually been in a caravan.
[00:11:38] It just seemed like a property that was going to be kind of a generational property for us. And we couldn't believe the value of the property in the location. The Bundaberg area just appealed so much to us, but all of the government investment going in there, and it's just a beautiful spot in Queensland.

Tyrone Shum:   
With such an action-packed approach to their portfolio in 2022, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was time for a rest. Fouhy had other plans.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:12:31] So we're on this trajectory, and we're in our, like, mid 30s. We're like, 'We've missed so many years of growth'. In our heads, if we had to look at ourselves 10 years ago, would we have ever bought that villa? No, we would have stayed renting, and we would have bought properties around Australia. And we would be done by now, we would have had the passive income. But hindsight is a great thing. So we said, 'No, we're on this train now. Let's keep moving'. 
[00:13:07] So, the caveat to this is that we did have a cash buffer. So we did have savings that if the interest rates went up, which they did, and if we needed to replace an air conditioner, which we did, we had the funds to do that. 
[00:13:22] Would I recommend this strategy without a cash buffer? No. 
[00:13:30] We were tapped out with the big four banks. And we asked our broker, we were like, 'What about, like, the third tier lenders?' And he's like, 'Are you sure?' And we were like, 'Yeah', because we're looking at this long term. 
[00:13:40] So we took off to Townsville, like everybody else is doing now. And we bought in Kerwan. So we bought another four by two, 700 square metres. And yeah, again, that property was rented out again before settlement. We paid, we negotiated post the building and pest stuff of that one, we got it down to $425,000, and I've rented out for $520.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:14:08] So pretty much neutral to positive cash flow from day one, which is great.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:14:14] Yeah, correct. 
[00:14:15] So that was the four properties in one year. So then we took our total portfolio value, including our PPOR, which we will turn into an investment, to over $3.5 million.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:14:31] Wow, congratulations. That's a huge achievement in such a short period of time. So wow, and what kind of equity have you currently got sitting in there at the moment?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:14:40] So there's over $1 million sitting in that, and that's from our first year, and that includes PPOR. So again, what we were talking about, talking about that being together as a family is much more than about the bricks and mortar. So for us, we're like, 'Oh, we can rent, like, a sick house in Melbourne for cheaper than we can buy one. So you could spend $2.2 million to get the dream home. Or we can just go rent somewhere, rent out our townhouse, and then keep building the portfolio'.

Changing Mindsets

Tyrone Shum:   
While many people are hesitant to jump in, Fouhy is proof that it’s still possible to purchase properties to build a portfolio in this market— even if you have to make a mental adjustment. 

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:15:54] Again, with the interest rates, we've had to work on our mindset a lot. So this mindset shift did not happen overnight. So we were before, I think like a lot of people would have [a] fixed mindset of, 'This is going to go bad, and I don't want to pay tax on property' and whatever preconceived notions people have in their head about investing in property. 
[00:16:18] So we have to fully change our mindset into a growth mindset of thinking, like, 'No, this can happen. We're educated, we've gotten the right advice, we trust in the process, and we trust that people will always need shelter, and there's not much supply coming on at the moment'. 
[00:16:34] So insofar as how do we get onto property number six? So at the moment we're going to look at using self managed super. So we're going to use that as a vehicle to really, again, try and get in some growth areas, hold one property in the super for whatever, five to seven years, sell it, recycle that again, and buy two, whatever. So keep recycling properties through the super until we come to retirement, if we're lucky enough to see that. And then use some of those funds to pay down the portfolio would be the ends plan.
[00:17:22] We're not stopping. We're just gonna go for it.

Turning to YouTube

Tyrone Shum:   
Online resources like YouTube have always been among her mentors, but it’s not all screens, all the time.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:17:55] So as far as mindset, I think it's just training yourself to think that something bad is not always going to happen, and surround yourself with people who have achieved what you want to achieve. 
[00:18:13] So for us at the stage in our portfolio we're at, we're looking for mentors that have, like, eight properties or 10 properties and how they got there. And it's trying to find those people who have done what you want to do. And I wouldn't take advice from somebody who hasn't invested. So we really just try and surround ourselves now with people who think like us and that are on the same path as us.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:19:23] If you took yourself, say, 10 years ago, looking back at 10 years ago, what do you think you would have said to her?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:19:31] Oh, that's a really good question. 
[00:19:34] I would have said a lot of things. Things that I can say on this podcast. I would have said, 'Just trust your gut'. And, 'You don't have to follow everybody else'. So just because everybody else is doing something doesn't mean that you have to do it. And I would tell her to buy a lot of property in Brisbane.
[00:20:09] Hold on to it. And in Melbourne. That's a really interesting question. I don't think knowing what I know, now I wouldn't change anything that's happened to my life, in my life, because I think it's all led me to this point. And we just love the hustle. We love to try and achieve as much as we can. And I think that was a big reason behind [it]. 
[00:20:46] And I'm sure you're hearing this a lot nowadays. And maybe everybody is becoming a buyer's agent. But in the nursing space, it's not talked about. So in regards to talking about your finances, and especially as a woman as well. So only 27% of investors are women. It's a very male dominated industry. And it can be quite intimidating for a lot of women. And even talking about super, men at the end of retirement have so much more money in their super than women. So still, nowadays, women are at a disadvantage when it just comes down to knowledge. So knowledge is power. 
[00:21:26] And for us, we just want to be able to help people now in a different way, and help other nurses realise that their pathway to retirement isn't slaving away when they're 65. It can happen in 15 years' time, if they just choose the right properties in the right locations.

Tyrone Shum:   
She has advice aplenty, and not just for nurses. For people who tie emotions to properties, she has a way to approach making needed changes.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:22:26] And I think the big thing that I want to convey as well is that rent vesting is not a bad word. So a lot of people tie memories to a PPOR but those memories are with the people that are within that house, not the house itself. 
[00:22:43] And those memories are going to be diluted now, if you've maxed out your borrowing, and you're sitting in a $1.8 million house, which the interest rates where they are. So what's the payoff? So you're 25 and you're thinking, 'I can't afford to live in Richmond, I have to move out a lot further'. But again, you don't know what you want or need until you have children or until you do get that space. 
[00:23:12] So just give yourself time and consider investing in property and renting where you want to live. You can still achieve great things, but have your flexibility of lifestyle and not have to sacrifice that.

Looking to the Future

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:23:30] What do you envision yourself to be wanting to do and most excited about in your journey in the next five years?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:23:41] I'm just excited to keep leveraging, like, leverage is our favorite word in this house. Because I think when we realise that we could put, whatever, $50,000 into shares, but that's $50,000, right? Or we can take our $50,000 to the bank and get $500,000 for that. 
[00:23:57] And so we just want to keep leveraging, keep educating, keep growing and help people in different ways. But I think the biggest driver for me is my son. So my son obviously has two mums, and we want to show him that there can be powerful women in business and we just want to be able to inspire him that life is not all about university and getting the big house and punching out a few kids, that you can design your own life. That you can design your own life, whatever that is, you can make it happen for you. 
[00:24:36] And just don't worry about what other people think. I read something recently that I was like, 'Oh, I just wanna live by this'. You can stop other people from sucking the life out of you if you don't give them the straw.

Tyrone Shum:   
Fouhy surrounds herself with positive people with the right mindset not just when it comes to property, but in her personal life as well.

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:25:17] And life is short.
[00:25:23] My mother, who I was telling you about, is a real inspiration to me. So she's only 57. So she's very young. This is just unfortunately one of those stories where she's very fit, very healthy, very active woman, never smoked, but she has terminal cancer. And she's not going to see retirement. 
[00:25:45] So you can wait all you want for your retirement and your super, or you can get busy living now. And just do what you want to do now, like, don't be a slave to your mortgage. Make money work for you, and start investing your money, not letting it sit in the bank for inflation to take it away. And just think about how you can get yourself and your family ahead in a sustainable way, because nothing is promised. 
[00:26:14] So not only have I seen that in nursing, now unfortunately, I'm seeing that with my own mum. But she is just... even since her diagnosis, like, she's so inspirational. She's just living life to the max. She's actually off in Rome at the moment. And she's still travelling around. And her biggest lesson to us is be kind. So that's something that she's always just taught us, is to be kind. And that's just something that we always try and be. 

Average Aussies

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:27:19] How much of your success do you think has been due to intelligence, skill and hard work? And how much of it do you think has been due to your luck?

Dawn Fouhy:   
[00:27:30] That's a hard question.
[00:27:32] If we had bought in 2020, I would have said luck. But we bought in 2022. It took a lot of research to be able to confirm what we thought about the areas we were buying in. And because even before Melissa had sent me the Bagara property, we had discussed that area a lot and looked at all the data. So even though yes, we bought it off a whim, we had researched that area heavily. 
[00:27:59] And intelligence can be measured in so many different ways. I think what's really helped is my ability to form relationships with agents or property managers. Even with our different conveyancers. And I think that's really helped us to succeed, as well. 
[00:28:19] And I think just that not giving up and not thinking in my head or buying four properties in a year is ridiculous. When we're both just average Australians on average wages, we're not on, like, $300,000 plus. I'm not in coding or IT. I'm a nurse. So you can achieve that as well. You just have to educate yourself. 
[00:28:45] So we would dedicate time every evening, we would spend hours together, learning about property, everything about property, because we're really passionate about it.
[00:29:22] The interest rates don't bother me because we haven't gone with that big PPOR. Like, sure we're paying more interest now with third tier lender on one of our properties, but that's short term. We'll be able to refinance in a few years and we're always looking long term. We're always looking a few properties ahead or a few years ahead. And I'm sure you saw the Westpac article like everybody else did. And I'm sure there'll be some big changes coming in 2024, and if you're holding an asset in 2023, I think you'll be pretty happy moving into the next few years, especially in Perth or regional Queensland.


Tyrone Shum: 
Thank you to Dawn Fouhy, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.