Property Investory
Leveling Up with Justin Zhu
July 30, 2023
Justin Zhu is always geared up for a good game, or a good chat about property. As the founder of GG Loans, he’s blended his passions and makes the most out of every moment with his laidback attitude and friendly approach.
Hailing from Campsie in Sydney’s southwest, Zhu has had his fair share of experiences as both a psychologist and a property investor. He shares the pivotal moments that led him to where he is today, how gaming isn’t so different from property investing, and how he uses his expertise to help others achieve their dreams.

01:17 | From Psychology to Property
03:54 | CEO of Campsie
12:33 | It’s Not My Thing
16:33 | Leroyyyy Jeeeenkiiiins
18:12 | For the Horde
22:17 | Helping and Empowering
35:37 | Good Game
27:51 | Zooming to Zetland


00:33 | Passing on Pay to Play
04:23 | The Runner
10:32 | Bet on Needing a Buffer
05:26 | Who, Me?
17:56 | Double It
20:50 | Property Chat
25:25 | Making the Most of Mindset
31:05 | Poker Face

Resources and Links:


Justin Zhu:
[00:23:12] But I was investing pretty much as soon as I started working a full time job. So, yeah, so I was living this secret double life. And I was like, 'If I wasn't doing psychology, what would I be doing?' And I knew I loved property. So it had to be probably something in the real estate sort of thing.


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 Justin Zhu, the founder of GG Loans. The gaming enthusiast owned 6 properties by 35 years old, and even though life is now on ‘pay to play’ mode, he’s happily levelling up! He shares the impact he had on young minds in his previous career, and the impact a colleague had on him that ultimately changed his life.



From Psychology to Property

Tyrone Shum:   
Based in Sydney but working with clients across Australia, Zhu’s learnt a lot over the past 10 years of investing. His main aim is to help first time and established investors and homeowners, which means that his days are as varied now as they were in his previous career. 

Justin Zhu:   
[00:01:17] Most days can be quite dynamic, depending on what's going on. But I think on a broad sort of point of view, I think the main thing is we help empower our clients to solve some of life's biggest problems. With the main one being figuring out a place to live and raise their kids, or their fur kids! And to grow their wealth, so that they have the time to do what makes them happy.
[00:01:42] Oftentimes, we look at where clients are at now, where they want to go, and then we map out the journey and the potential options that can help get them there. 
[00:01:54] Besides that, I love property. So [I'm] always talking to people in property, whether that's investors or other sorts of brokers and bankers and stuff like that, just to stay on top of what's going on in the industry. And to make sure that we have the best sort of things for our clients.

Tyrone Shum:   
Zhu’s wife and four year old son motivate him to do all he can both at home and at work.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:02:40] So I have one son, I have an amazing wife, she works at a big IT company, and [is] very well known and she works in... she's a lawyer, trained as a lawyer. And they are like my two sort of guiding lights, and they inspire [and] motivate me to do what I do and get up every day. It's really for them.

CEO of Campsie

Tyrone Shum:   
He grew up in Campsie, in Sydney’s southwest. While he had some less-than-stellar experiences there, he can see how it helped shape him into who he is.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:03:54] When I was growing up, certainly, it definitely wasn't the highest socio economic sort of area. 
[00:04:00] I remember my parents coming here as migrants to Australia, [my] mum was a physics teacher, and my dad was an engineer. But they both did blue collared sort of work when they both came here. And we started out in Campsie, and in 10 years, we moved five times. And every time it was in Campsie. So you could say that I [was] the CEO of Campsie when I was growing up.
[00:05:10] Sometimes I still go back. Well, I go back quite regularly to see my parents. And the main thing— they're still in Campsie— the main thing is when I was growing up, it was very different. I remember we were renting, and then one of the places we were in, we got robbed twice in the same place in the same year. 
[00:05:30] And I remember, I was, like, five or six, and I came home one day, and I remember, like, everything was a mess. I think my mum, she walked through the door, and I was like, 'Mum, are we moving?' And she's like, 'No, what do you mean?' I'm like, 'Oh, how come all the clothes are strewn everywhere? All the furniture is upended', and stuff like that. And then she figured out that we got robbed. So, yeah, it wasn't definitely the best area. 
[00:06:03] But certainly I think, growing up there, I learnt so much about people and dealing with a whole wide range of people. And I think there's absolutely amazing people that I grew up with and went to school with and so on. So, I think these days, like you said, yeah, it's much better than before.

Tyrone Shum:   
He went to Campsie Public School and Canterbury Boys’ School until he finished year 10, where his mum had other plans for him.

Justin Zhu:     
[00:08:12] And then, you know, with our culture, my mum was like, 'Hey, you should go to selective school'. I was like, 'I should?' So I sat the selective High School test I think in year 10. And then went into Sydney Tech, to finish off my high school in year 11 and 12.
[00:08:49] Looking back, it was... I'm not sure. Maybe it was the right decision. Maybe it wasn't. Because I grew up with all my friends in year[s] seven to 10 and built a really good friendship with them. So it was a bit of a disconnect, moving to a different school. 
[00:09:07] Luckily, I knew a couple of people there, and started to make friends there. So, I mean, the biggest difference was [it] being a selective school, surrounded by 90% Asians, I think. It was a very competitive sort of school. And back then, the fact that we were doing quite well HSC ranking wise, we were definitely top 20, maybe top 15 or top 10 even. These days, I've had a look, we've really fallen down the ranks. I don't know what happened.
[00:09:41] So it was a very competitive environment at Sydney Tech, being [a] selective school. But you learn from it, you grow from it. And I can't say I've any regrets going there.

Tyrone Shum:   
Selective schools typically start at year seven, but Zhu had to wait thanks to a mistake any twelve year old could make.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:10:21] I do remember, I think, sitting the test for year seven. And then I remember I made a big mistake during the test where you're supposed to fill out the answers in the dotted whatever form, you're meant to circle them. And I bloody answered the questions on the actual question form. 
[00:10:42] [It was a] traumatic experience for me until one of the supervisors came over and was like, 'You know you're meant to be putting your answers in these?' I'm like, 'Oh, no'. So I think that contributed to big reason why I didn't get into selective in year seven.

Tyrone Shum:   
Despite the hiccup, he finished high school as planned.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:11:11] Straight after high school, actually, two things. I went into work, I went into working part time. And a lot of my friends were... it's very popular to go to Schoolies or go travelling and stuff like that. But growing up as I did, I wanted to get ahead as much as I [could]. So I started working at a cafe that my friend was also working at.
[00:11:38] It was at this cafe at the airport, and doing airport hours, I had to get up at 3 am to go open at 5 am. And I remember I was getting paid something, like, ridiculously low. But it was a really good first sort of work experience, you can say. And [it] definitely helped me kind of get my foot in the door of getting a job, because you need to get a job to get another job. 
[00:12:10] And then in terms of studying, I applied and got accepted into doing a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology at Sydney University.

It’s Not My Thing

Tyrone Shum:   
While his parents’ first choices for him looked more like doctor or lawyer, he was determined to break the mould.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:12:33] I think when I first got into it, it was more like, you know when you finish [the] HSC, you have all these options, right? But then not really, because your parents, you know, being from an Asian background, they love to kind of prod you down the doctor, lawyer or sort of finance sort of route.
[00:12:56] But I think back then it just didn't... those sort[s] of fields didn't really interest me as much. I was really... I don't know, I just had this natural sort of curiosity about how minds work, how do you read someone else's mind? 'Do a psychology degree', said no one ever! 
[00:13:17] It was really interesting, and something different and alternate, I guess, to your sort of more mainstream sort of things. Definitely out of all my friends at that time, I was the only one that ended up doing a psychology degree.
[00:13:31] But I thought it was absolutely amazing. It helped set me up in terms of relating to other people, being able to understand how the brain works, how emotions work, and why we function the way we do, I guess.
[00:14:26] I think the basic principles are pretty straightforward. And even if you spend a couple of hours understanding yourself— because I think we're often our own worst sort of enemy. So I think understanding that in itself is a huge sort of bonus.

Tyrone Shum:   
He enjoyed his time at Sydney University, even with having to fight— with words— to defend its honour.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:14:55] It was great. It was one of those experiences that, you know, you always have this competition between Sydney Uni, UNSW, and maybe UTS. So there was all this sort of competitive camaraderie between my friends and I, some who went to New South [Wales University]. 
[00:15:14] But in general, the uni experience, I think I remember doing, uh, because I was doing a Bachelor [of] Science.
[00:15:24] Some positives [were that] I met a lot of really, really great people. And obviously, [it's a] really beautiful campus. And on the flip side, we had 8 am math[s] lectures Monday to Friday, or something like that. Looking back I'm like, 'Who on earth devised that timetable?' Because it was literal torture. 
[00:15:48] And I think I attended maybe for, like, a month or six weeks, and then I started dropping out [of] a lot of the classes because it was ridiculous. It was absolutely ridiculous.

Leroyyyy Jeeeenkiiiins

Tyrone Shum:
It was then that he discovered World of Warcraft.

Justin Zhu:  
[00:16:33] I remember I enjoyed the PvE and the PvP part of it. So I think being a naturally competitive sort of person, I just got really into it. And I think my claim to fame was... I think when arenas were out and stuff like that. I think we ended up at one of the top, I think, number one on our server. 
[00:17:02] That's my claim to fame. [But] I think my marks definitely suffered as a result. So I think I managed to catch back up in maybe, like, third or fourth year, but yeah, [the] first couple of years was a bit like minority uni, majority gaming.

For the Horde

Tyrone Shum:   
Playing World of Warcraft was more than just a hobby for Zhu. Although most people think of it as nothing more than a game, he found that it taught him a lot about real life.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:18:12] I think later on in my career, I ended up working in schools and stuff like that, so I'm talking to those people. It's almost like talking to my past self. Like, dude, the HSC is important, do your best. But really, who talks about their ATAR after they finish high school? Like, literally no one. I was like, 'What was I stressing out for?' So yeah, I can completely relate to them.
[00:19:03] Your school time, your first 18 years, it's like your demo in a game. It's your demo. Free to play. You pass 18, you pass year 12— mate, welcome to taxes. Welcome to jobs and real life. It's stuff like that. It's all pay to play from there.

Tyrone Shum:   
In his welcome to jobs and real life, he tried his hand at several different roles.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:19:35] I was working whilst I was at uni. So I did [the] cafe job, I worked at a computer shop, I worked all sorts of odd jobs. I did a medical receptionist job for a couple of years. And then I even worked in Centrelink. 
[00:19:56] And the reason I say that, I just read on the news someone got stabbed at Centrelink. So that has reminded me, I'm like, oh, yeah, I do remember that. That wasn't the best sort of clientele sometimes you see there. But then eventually, I did my registration as a psychologist and got my registration. So [I] got my big boy piece of paper. And I started working in NGOs and in private clinical practice.
[00:21:01] We definitely need more psychologists in the field. It doesn't help that I've kind of transitioned out! But I think you definitely need more in the field. And yet, it's a long journey. It's like, four years undergrad, two years post grad. And then you've got, like, now I think two years of supervision post grad. So it's like [an] eight year degree. 
[00:21:18] And it's a lot that you're doing. But I think the work that you do there is super meaningful. And I think getting to help people at their lowest, or being able to help people who are travelling okay, but just need to take it to the next level. It was one of the most rewarding jobs that I had.

Helping and Empowering

Tyrone Shum:   
His current career as a mortgage broker is worlds away from his time as a psychologist. As a result, it’s something he’s asked about often.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:22:17] I worked for about just over 10 years, maybe 11 years, as a psychologist. And I think the value of helping people and empowering others was always my 'why' [in] terms of doing the job. I had some really amazing experiences along the way. I worked in, like I said, I worked in some schools later on in my career, and some very well known schools like Knox Grammar. And I learnt so much from that experience. 
[00:22:51] At the same time though, after 10 years, I think it was a long time listening to other people's problems and stuff like that. And also, I was living this secret, double life. And most people [are like], 'What's the drama there?' 
[00:23:12] But I was investing pretty much as soon as I started working a full time job. So, yeah, so I was living this secret double life. And I was like, 'If I wasn't doing psychology, what would I be doing?' And I knew I loved property. So it had to be probably something in the real estate sort of thing.
[00:23:37] It was very funny. I ended up talking to my mortgage broker who helped me along the journey, and I was sussing out the options. At one point, I was like, ['Should I become a] buyer's agent?', but then I didn't really like that process of trying to sell someone something, essentially. 
[00:23:56] So after talking to my broker, I got into knowing what he had built up and how he did it, and how he had helped me. Like, my portfolio wouldn't be where it is today without him helping me. So I decided that I was sold. I was sold. 
[00:24:18] And coincidentally, he had a spot that opened up at where he was working, at his company. So I did my internship there. Really great people, amazing team there as well. And then at the end of [the] internship, I decided to go, 'You know what? This is for me. Now I'm gonna hop out and balls to the wall, get in there and shoot for the moon'.

Good Game

Tyrone Shum:
Remaining loyal to his gaming roots, once he started his mortgage broking company he knew exactly what to call it.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:35:37] I think there's two sort[s] of meanings. First, GG stands for great people, genuine loans. So I want to build a business and want to work with great people. And at the same time, great loans. So you want the loans to work for your goals and be matched up to what you want out of it. 
[00:36:02] And with genuine people, I think I'm a genuine person, and I'd like to build up a team and work with people who are genuine. And that's our sort of values, you can say. 
[00:36:13] But, of course, the funnier side is GG is what you type in after a good game. And I think for people who have played games out there, that's my more sort of nerdy or geeky side coming out. We say that to our friends all the time, GG, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's good.

Tyrone Shum:   
A whole wave of people chopped and changed careers during COVID-19, so Zhu wasn’t afraid to join them.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:25:24] I think the main thing was just being able to help people, that was my main sort of 'why'. And I remember talking about it with my wife, and she was like, 'What?! You're going to cut your income by more than 50%?!' I [was] like, 'Yeah, but I think we've built up our portfolio to a place where I think we could make that sort of a move'. 
[00:25:45] And if it wasn't for property investing, I probably couldn't make that sort of a move, I probably would have had to keep on doing what I was doing. And there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that. But I think it gives you the options of investing. 
[00:25:58] But yeah, it was a huge change. And I think no one... I didn't see it coming. It was just like, 'You need to talk to my broker'. Like, 'Oh, hey, what else could I do that?' 'Oh, hey, have you thought about mortgage broking?' I'm like, 'Oh, okay, well, yeah, yeah, sure'. And so that's how it really came about.

Tyrone Shum:   
The switch to become a mortgage broker happened in the second half of 2022, when he’d just picked up his sixth property.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:26:51] I remember talking to Michael and making those changes, and then handed in my resignation. And they were like, 'You're gonna be a what?' 
[00:27:04] I never really told... certainly not colleagues, maybe a close few friends that I was investing all these years and investing in property. And I think for a lot of people who I didn't share that with, it was a big shock. It was [a] very big shock.

Zooming to Zetland

Tyrone Shum:   
He’d been investing since he started working, but despite his strong ties to Campsie, he didn’t start there.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:27:51] I remember I was doing my internship as a psychologist. I think that's when we bought our first property. It was an owner-occupier apartment. So we bought it because it was close to where I was working. I'm pretty sure I was on like something like $60,000 [to] $65,000 a year. Obviously I bought it with my then girlfriend, now wife. But yeah, that's how I got started.
[00:28:29] My parents were like, 'Why not just buy in Campsie?' I was like, 'Well, no offense, I've been here for like 24 or 25 years, I'm ready'. And actually, I remember I'd moved out already with my girlfriend back then to kind of test the waters. So we're out at Wolli Creek so that gave me the thing that was like, 'Oh, there are places other than Campsie to live in, and you can survive and do okay!' 
[00:28:56] So we ended up buying in Zetland, because I was working in Rosebery, and my wife, girlfriend back then, was working in the city. So Zetland, I think for the audience that don't know, it's like this sort of inner south sort of suburb, very close to the CBD. And it's very happening these days, like, amazing. 
[00:29:21] But when I was moving in, it was just like, there was nothing there. It was just, like, a couple of apartments, a lot of warehouses. There was no Coles, there was no, like, the shopping centre, whatever. That wasn't there. But it was close to work, five minutes' drive. So that was really, really good.

[00:30:07] Zetland, Green Square, Rosebery, Waterloo, it's crazy. Like, it's so dense there now. So it's very, very much changed since when we first bought there in, like, 2013.

Tyrone Shum:   
His portfolio contains five investment properties plus his principal place of residence.

Justin Zhu:    
[00:30:33] I haven't purchased any since 2022. So our last two purchases was in 2022. And since then, it's just been sitting on the sidelines and watching because some of those areas really went up quite a lot. So if a great deal comes along, I'm not going to say no, but I think for now, it's just really sitting back and helping other investors get in there and do it right.
[00:31:17] Our own occupier is in North Ryde. And then we have three investment properties in Logan in Queensland, and then two in Perth.
[00:31:36] All fully detached houses. 
[00:31:44] We bought our place first in Zetland and then lived there. And then it was pretty crazy. Because between that and the first investment property, I met a colleague at work. Her name's Marin, I call her Mez. And I remember talking to her, and she was like... I don't know why the conversation started. But somehow I learnt that she had six properties. And I was like, 'What?' Like, we just bought one, but like, how? 
[00:32:22] And she wasn't that much older than me, and she was in the same field as me. So it's not like she had 10 times my income or anything like that. So she taught me so much. She, I guess, was my first mentor you can say, and taught me about property and whatnot. So that's how we ended up. 
[00:32:43] Later on, I talked to my broker. And because Zetland started getting built up and stuff like that, the price started going up. So I guess we got kind of lucky, to a certain degree. And it was gentrifying and all these shops were coming up. So we ended up tapping some equity and getting into our first property in Logan.

Passing on Pay to Play

Tyrone Shum: 
Zhu’s portfolio started with an investment property in Logan in Queensland. At the time he was also working and doing a psychology internship, so between the three, his schedule was jam-packed. However, he still had time for a monumental realisation.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:00:33] It was tough work. You had to hear about a lot of problems and a lot of things with depression, anxiety and trauma, homelessness, substance, all sorts of things. 
[00:00:46] And then we have to still do our research and stuff on the side. So it was intense. I gotta say. And then I was like, 'You know, what?' I'm like, 22 [or] 23, something like that. 24. And I was like, retirement age is what, 65 back then? I think it's like, 68.
[00:01:14] It keeps getting higher every year. Like, 40 to 50 more years of working like, that sort of existential moment hit me. Remember, first 18 years free to play. This pay to play part sucks. And so I was like, 40 [or] 50 years, I can't really do it. 
[00:01:43] And then I think the reality was talking to people. A lot of my colleagues, they're not that happy. And there's no real other sort of options to get ahead. And so, like I said, luckily I met Mez, who really taught me some of the basics. And then I started researching, and, you know, what's this thing called investing? 

Tyrone Shum:
He came across Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and took note of its main takeaway.

Justin Zhu:  
[00:02:14] Essentially, what it boils down to is we want to invest to control our time, at the end of the day, because it's the only resource that's truly, truly limited.
[00:02:26] And so I learnt about that sort of concept. And then I think the other concept I really learnt about was about how inflation works, and how [the] monetary system works. Basically, where the value of money decreased. Well, because of how the fiat money system works, essentially, the value of $1, it doesn't buy the same thing. And we're seeing that right now with the rates going up and all that sort of stuff. 
[00:02:56] So I remember my parents back then stressing out about, I think their mortgage was somewhere like $150,000 to $200,000. And they were stressing out about that. And this was, like, maybe 20 years ago, something like that.
[00:03:18] But I think the main thing, I was like, you see that inflation, you know, debt is also being inflated away. And these days, if I could buy a freaking place with only a $200,000 mortgage, you know, to me, I'd be laughing. Like, you can't even get a one bedroom studio with that sort of mortgage. It's just crazy. 
[00:03:41] So, I think that essentially what I learnt was property as a hedge against inflation. And so that's how I came to that sort of realisation. I was like, 'You know what? Let's get into this investing thing. Let's do something that's passive, then that helps'.

The Runner

Tyrone Shum:  
Along his investment journey, he came to many more realisations.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:04:23] I think the most recent one, in terms of, like, a horror story you can say, was so we had this property, we have this property. It's in Waterford West, which is a suburb in Logan in Queensland. And this was our second investment property, sorry our third property that we bought, and basically we tapped the equity from the Zetland and Marston, which was our first investment property.
[00:04:55] 2015 to, I think 2021 [was] smooth, smooth sailing, in terms of, like, tenants [were] really, really good, paid their rent on time and stuff like that. 
[00:05:05] It was always one of the properties that had a lot of repairs, like [a] decent amount of repairs. So that's a potential downside, but I think most property investors should know that. And if you're looking to invest in properties, that's definitely something to keep in mind, maintenance requests. And the more properties you have, every week [a] property manager's like, 'This is broken, hot water system's gone'. Or, 'The aircon's not working'.

Tyrone Shum:
Then, a week before Christmas, one of his long-term tenants gave him an unexpected present that wasn’t on his list.

Justin Zhu:
[00:05:49] I noticed the rent stopped coming in, which is odd, because they always paid their rent on time. 
[00:05:56] And then, like, a couple of days later, my property manager gives me a call. And, she was like, 'I'm gonna clock off for Christmas. So just wanting to wish you a merry Christmas and stuff like that'. And then [she] was like, 'I got a Christmas present for you'. I'm like, 'Oh, what is it?' And she was like, 'Well, you know Waterford West?' I'm like, 'Yeah'. And [my] spidey senses were tingling. She was like, 'Well, the tenant's kind of gone and done a runner'.

[00:06:34] I was like, 'What do you mean, they've done a runner? They've been paying rent all this time' and stuff like that. And she's like, 'Yeah, like, they've literally cleaned out the whole place, vacated the premises. And didn't tell anyone. Like, it was like, they just disappeared'. That would explain why the rent hasn't been coming in. And then she's like, 'Yeah'. So that was the first part of the horror story. 
[00:07:06] So the second part was like, there was a bit of damage. I don't think it was intentional. But maybe they were moving out in a hurry. I still don't know why they... like, if you're listening to this, tell me why you moved out in a hurry. I really want to know, what was so urgent that you literally disappeared? One of life's biggest unsolved mysteries. 

Tyrone Shum:
His next Christmas present to arrive was the bill, which was for $20,000 worth of damages.

Justin Zhu: 
[00:07:52] Because we've got to shop for our presents for our friends and family. Like, well, our budget just down by $20,000.
[00:08:03] And the icing on the cake. And I think any listener that's out there right now, make sure you have a good property insurance. I didn't at that time. I had insurance through a bank, through the lender that I was with, I'm not going to name them. But it was one of the big fours. And then so we got the insurance for that. And I thought I was good. Rental damage and loss of rent and stuff that was all covered in the policy, right? 
[00:08:34] But because we hadn't reviewed our rent, like, in the insurance policy, I didn't update the rent as it went up over time. So we were still bloody insured for, like, it was like the amount when we first signed up the tenant, which was, like $100 less or something. So there was that. 
[00:08:52] And then this insurance company was, like, just the worst, like literally the worst. Every time I'd get in touch with them, you get this auto email that they'll reply in, like, 10 business days. So every communication was 10 business days in between.
[00:09:13] So by the time I got the rent back, it took me six months, to cut a long story short, six months to get that rent back that was missing in that time. So we were out of pocket. No rent was coming in. We had a $20,000 expense, and yeah, it was a bit of a shocker. Bit of a shocker.

Bet on Needing a Buffer

Tyrone Shum:   
There was a lot of back and forth with the insurance company over the $20,000 bill. In the end his insurance covered most of it, but Zhu paid for the renovations out of his own pocket.

Justin Zhu:  
[00:10:32] Because at one point I was like, 'Am I ever gonna get paid for this?' So yeah, I think the biggest lesson I learnt was make sure you have a buffer. And the more properties that you have, you've got to make sure that that's covered, and make sure you have a good insurance company. 
[00:10:49] And these days, I found a good one. And I did a claim last year, and it took me one month to get everything resolved. And it was super easy, super easy. So, definitely get an insurance company that specialises for property investors, that's my advice.

Tyrone Shum:   
His biggest aha moments were when he learnt about the differences between good and bad debt, and how leverage works.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:11:45] I think, if you understand these two sort of concepts as you're starting out, or you're thinking about investing, I think those two things are very golden.
[00:11:57] And what I mean by that is good debt is basically a debt leverage against an asset that's giving you some sort of return. And we're on a property podcast, so I'm going to talk about property here. But I'm going to when I met Mez. And this was the example that she gave me, and to this date, this is what I explain to our investor clients.
[00:12:21] Let's say, as an example, you have $2 million worth of assets. And you have $1.6 million worth of loans secured against those assets. So about 80%. 
[00:12:36] Essentially, in property, what tends to happen is about every seven to 10 years, it's what we call a property cycle. And in that sort of timeframe, if you look back at the data over the last 50 years or so, property tends to double. 
[00:12:51] Sydney is a good example of that, Brisbane in the last couple of years has done that. And now I think Perth is like going through that sort of phase. But basically, yeah, $2 million assets, $1.6 million debt. After one cycle, that's about $4 million in assets. 
[00:13:06] And if haven't paid back any of your debt— which is unlikely, you probably would have paid down some of it. But even if you don't, it's still at $1.6 million. You would have made $2.4 million equity. And that number actually means different things to different people. But it could mean getting more of your time back, opening up options to do something else with your time instead of working. It's, like, endless possibilities. And the math behind it is actually very, very straightforward.

Tyrone Shum:   
He eventually came to the same conclusion that many investors do. 

Justin Zhu:   
[00:14:27] It's mainly around leveraging debt to work for your goals. 
[00:14:32] And I remember when I was just starting out, I was, like, $65,000 or something like that. And I think my wife was slightly higher at that point. But our total income would have been, like, $140,000, maybe a bit less than that. So, it wasn't, like, a lot. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't a lot either. 
[00:14:51] But I remember setting a goal that I really want to have $100,000 in passive income. And then so all you have to do you is work backwards from that. If you get $2 million of assets, unencumbered, returning 5%, there's your $100,ooo. And once you work that out, then it's more about just how do you get there along the way. 

Who, Me?

Tyrone Shum:
10 years after his initial aha moment, he found himself on the front page of However, Zhu remains as humble as ever.

Justin Zhu:  
[00:05:26] Obviously, we're pleased with ourselves, but I don't think it was that big of a story.
[00:15:38] It's an okay story, but I think there's so many people out there doing really amazing things. And other investors, a couple I know, who have done even, like, much, much better than I. And I'm like, 'Wait, why are we on the front page?' 
[00:05:54] But I think that really cemented it, that it was very surreal. And it shows [the] main message I want to send [which] is if you set a goal, and you dream big, go for it. And you make the actions that's attached with that goal. That's how you ended up getting there.
[00:16:59] Just like how I saw my colleague with the six properties, I was like, 'This is possible'. Like, you don't have to earn a crazy amount. If you do, that helps. But I think the main thing comes down to that sort of mindset of believing yourself and believing you can do it.
[00:16:59] If I had to tie it down into, like, a sort of saying or slogan, it's really about learning from your past. Living in the present. And investing for your future.

Double It

Tyrone Shum:   
With six properties in his portfolio, Zhu has blown past his initial goal.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:17:56] I think [our] initial goal was to get $2 million unencumbered. So the goal was always to get to that sort of $2 million sort of mark, hold it for a cycle, and then that becomes $4 million, sell down, blah, blah, blah. 
[00:18:10] The latest round of bank valuations we did put us at about $5.2 million. So we're ahead of that sort of curve. So I think in terms of, you know, do we want to keep buying? Yeah, I mean, if a really, really great deal comes up. And we've hit a bit of a income servicing wall ourselves. But once we get past that wall, I think we possibly could. 
[00:18:36] But I think our energy— my energy, especially— is very much focused on the mortgage broking side right now, growing that as a business and being able to help our clients get to their goals. 
[00:18:48] Just like as a psychologist, I was helping people get from here to there. It's the same sort of process. And I really take a lot of enjoyment, especially for those clients who are a bit more newer to it, or have one or two properties. I love doing that sort of work.

Tyrone Shum:   
When it comes to mentors, he doesn’t restrict himself to just one or two— well, maybe one or two hundred.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:19:52] There's different resources around property and around mindset and things like that. So I think with the property side, I think the biggest time for me was finding a community. 
[00:20:02] I don't know about you, but when I was first starting to look into investing and building that portfolio, I looked around me and none of my friends were into property that I knew of. So I ended up finding this community as I was doing my research called Summer Soft. Or back then was known as Summer Soft and today it's known as Property Chat. I'm sure it's been mentioned on some of the podcasts here as well. 
[00:20:31] But it's a great group of people around you. And I think why that works is it's a principle, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most amount of time with. And so if you're surrounded by a like minded community, you're going to be able to learn from them. 

Property Chat

Justin Zhu: 
[00:20:50] And I remember going to Property Chat meetups and things like that, driving out to... I think it was in western Sydney somewhere out there. It was amazing. And I remember going to those meetings, and they were like, 'Oh, how many properties do you have?' I'm like, 'Uh, one?' And then they're like, 'How many do you have?' And people are throwing out all these sort[s] of numbers. I'm like, 'Wow. Crazy'. 
[00:21:19] And then everyone was super nice and super friendly. And it's so crazy, like this community, like, people just love to help. Like, no one's trying to sell you anything. Like, everyone's just trying to help. And contrast that to now, I'm still going to some Property Chat meetups, like, [I] went to one recently in Chatswood and then one in the city. 
[00:21:41] And I think now I'm that person, like, talking to some of the newer ones. And they're like, 'How many properties do you have?' [And I say,] 'I have six properties' and stuff like that. [They're like,] 'Oh, wow'. I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah'. But when you're there, it's not that big of a deal.

Tyrone Shum:   
He can relate it to psychology terms such as ‘validated’, meaning that your feelings are recognised and normalised.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:22:43] 'Oh, how hard is this property [stuff]?' Talking to another investor, like, yeah, this is tough, but it's normal, right? Like you missed out on all these deals, there'll be other ones that come along. Hearing that, I think having [a] community that can help you with that [is] absolutely amazing. So definitely check Property Chat out for all the listeners out there. 
[00:22:36] I think the second probably biggest resource was my broker. He taught me the strategies. And at first when I went in, I was like, 'I could probably maybe borrow for one or two more properties', in my mind. Because you don't know what you don't know, essentially. 
[00:23:19] And then he was an investor himself, and he focused a lot on property investors. So that's how we actually ended up connecting. And I remember doing that first call with him, and he was able to map out our property journey to something like 10, maybe even more properties. So I was like, 'What?'
[00:23:47] Back then I wasn't a broker. So I didn't understand the strategies and lending strategies that you can use. And so I think, find yourself a broker, it doesn't have to be me, but find yourself a broker that truly has your best interests [at] heart and knows the deal. 
[00:24:06] If you were to get someone to teach your kids to play basketball, I think one of the big criterias is that they would have played basketball or are still playing basketball. You don't want someone doing lawn bowls coaching your kids how to play basketball. Nothing wrong with that, but it probably wouldn't make that much sense. So I think having a broker that invests, I think that that makes a huge, huge difference, someone who walked the talk.

Making the Most of Mindset

Tyrone Shum:   
He believes it all boils down to mindset, what you believe, and what you think is possible and not possible.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:25:25] That's where I think a lot of people get stuck as well, like the finance side, certainly. But the other side is your mindset. I think as a psychologist as well, you see that all the time. Mindset can be a huge— and you're married to a psychologist, I'm sure you probably know about these principles— but, you know, how you see things and your perspective on things, really determine your sort of reality. And it's incredibly powerful. 

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:26:05] If you were to meet yourself, say 10 years ago, what do you think you would have actually said to him now?

Justin Zhu:   
[00:26:21] I would say probably dream bigger. Think big, dream bigger, basically. Because I think when you're first starting out, you're kind of, like, tiptoeing your feet in the water. And I think it's hard to say that without hindsight. But I think the biggest thing is you've got to be flexible with your mindset. You've got to be able to, as Bruce Lee said, be like water. Because, oftentimes, if you have a very rigid sort of mindset, you're only going to see the world in a certain angle. And you're going to miss out on all these other sorts of potential perspectives. 
[00:27:02] And if you go to, like, any of those news articles, or Facebook articles about someone who's done well, you look in the comment section, and I guarantee you, like, a whole bunch of them would say, like, 'This is not possible', 'It's not doable', or, like, 'If they did it, they cheated', all that sort of commentary. 
[00:27:24] I think they really demonstrate that sort of mindset. And certainly, look, I don't blame them. I don't blame them for thinking in that way. Because it's much easier to stick with what you believe in. It's much more comfortable internally. 
[00:27:41] But for the people who are maybe sitting on the fence and things like that, I think the way to address that sort of mindset is just be curious around this. When you listen to podcasts, when you're talking to people and stuff like that, if the viewpoint is not the same as your own, be curious. Don't get defensive. Be curious, you know, don't let your amygdala activate, be curious and just kind of really find out what the evidence is. 
[00:28:13] And that's how we all got into investing. You look at the data, you talk to people and you're like, 'Actually, this is possible'. It's not what I'm used to, taking all this debt. We have, like, what, I think $3 million debt or something like that. It's crazy, right? So you can't jump into that.
[00:28:31] But you've got to slowly turn your mind and learn and educate yourself. And I think mindset is huge. Like, I think the biggest quote I can say is the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both, right. That's it.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:29:15] What are you most excited about in your journey in, say, the next five years?

Justin Zhu:   
[00:29:18] I think, first of all, I mean, being able to use some of the options that property investing has helped me, I think that that's investing my time in the mortgage broking business and helping our clients and teaching them and educating them about how to use leverage, how to use your finance strategies, how to use the numbers and people, those sorts of things. I'm really excited every time because I'm still about a year into this, I still have that huge sort of spark when I talk to the clients. And teaching them about these things that kind of like, 'Oh, you didn't think that's possible'. So I think I'm really much looking forward to continuing doing that. 
[00:29:19] I think I'm also looking forward to, I think in the five year sort of period, having more time and building my team up so that I have more time to spend with my own family. That's a huge sort of motivation for me. 
[00:30:24] And, I mean, look, I could do that right now, just dump everything and sail off into the sunset. But I'm still quite young, I think, well, not young, but I'm in this awkward sort of, I'm 36 years old. So I'm sort of in this in between sort of age, you can say. So I think if I was to quit, I was like, 'What am I going to do?' All my friends are still working. 
[00:30:51] So I think lots of things to look forward to. And definitely, I think property investing and helping our clients is going to be one of those huge things. 

Poker Face

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:31:05] Well, Justin, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story. I want to ask you one final question [which] is: How much of your success that you've achieved is due to your intelligence, skill, [and] hard work? And guess how much of it do you think has been due to luck?

Justin Zhu:
[00:31:19] I think it's a very good question, because there's a lot behind that question.  I think luck certainly plays a larger part than most people probably realise. There's a very good book called The Psychology of Money. The guy talks about what's the difference between skill, intelligence and luck. And I think a lot of it comes down to luck determines a lot of our timing, our connections and circumstances. So there's certainly an element of that.
[00:32:31] But I think also, you can kind of make your luck as well. And like, [an] analogy would be like... do you play poker, or have you played poker?

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:32:41] Yeah, I have played poker, but not recently.

Justin Zhu:   
[00:32:43] So you know how the game works, right? And often, people who first get into it, it's a game of luck. It's like gambling, right?
[00:32:51] In poker, like, we call a variance, that sort of luck component. But when we look at the all time money lists, and of tournament players and cash players, right? You see this very common pattern of names that keep popping up of poker players like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Daniel Greiner, and so on.
[00:33:10] So the game is all luck based, right? Are these guys just luckier than everyone else all the time? Because if not, yeah, how [are] these guys getting such good results consistently in a game that's luck based? 
[00:33:23] And it's the same with property investing, I think. You've got to set your goals, don't rush in. But I think it's also important, you've got to do your numbers right, and know the numbers really well. And know the areas really well. And I think that takes a lot of the luck out of it. Knowing your time in the market and time in the market, knowing those differences. Huge, right? So I think look at what's inside your control and set a goal and dream big, go for it.


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