How two Melbourne primary school teachers bought their first investment property and can afford a second


Simon Webster

December 21, 2022 — 10.18am

Melbourne primary school teachers Ross and Genevieve Kirwan first considered buying an investment property after they’d been in their own home for about eight years, and a neighbouring house went on the market.

It can be difficult to know how where to start when beginning your investing journey.
It can be difficult to know how where to start when beginning your investing journey.CREDIT:ISTOCK

“Ross’ parents had invested in property, and it certainly sparked an interest, so we thought we should start the process,” Gen says. “And then the house behind us went for sale, and we thought, oh, maybe we should buy that. When we looked at what we could afford, we were really surprised that we could afford that much. I didn’t understand the process of taking out equity, I thought we had to save up a deposit first.”

They didn’t end up buying that house. But the seed had been sown, and their property investment journey had begun.

Ross, 38, and Gen, 36, have three children, and providing for their futures is a big motivator.

Securing their tomorrow

Working in education we knew our limitations for earning and now with three kids we wanted to be able to set ourselves up with financial security and freedom,” says Ross.

Ross and Gen Kirwan.
Ross and Gen Kirwan.CREDIT:OPENCORP

They talked to Ross’ parents about the investment lessons they’d learnt over the years, to teacher friends who had bought investment properties, and to their friend Cam McLellan, Director of investment property consultancy OpenCorp.

He introduced them to OpenCorp’s Investment Services Director, Michael Beresford, who helped outline the investment property buying process and presented the couple with a personalised property investment recommendation.


“One of our big things was that we didn’t want it to impact our day-to-day life or put our current property in danger,” says Ross.

Michael advised Ross and Gen to look further afield than their own suburb.

“Like many first-time investors, Ross and Gen were motivated but unsure where to start. They had around $270K left on their mortgage and were keen to pay that off,” claims Beresford.

OpenCorp’s analytics and acquisition team went to work and found the pair a property that cost them next to nothing to hold out of their back pocket and was poised for strong capital growth. Following Beresford’s guidance, 18 months later that property had gone up enough to pay off the remaining debt on their home.

“Michael showed us that the cost to rent in Brisbane was like Melbourne, but the cost to buy was so much more expensive in Melbourne,” says Gen. “Then he showed us that investing in Queensland would only cost us approximately $20 a week. It was surprising to hear how achievable it was.”

Only a month after their first conversation with Michael, they were signing on the dotted line to buy their first investment property in Queensland. And their timing was impeccable: Brisbane property prices and rents were just about to boom.

“We didn’t really have to lift a finger during the entire experience”, says Gen. “We definitely want to invest again.”

An investor at 21

Cam McLellan says his childhood inspired a love of property. “My parents went broke when I was in grade six,” he says. “When I was 14, we were living in a tin shed on my grandparents’ farm.

McLellan left home at 16 and moved to Melbourne. “I knew rich people had property, so I started talking to property investors about what I could do and tried to save for a deposit.”

He worked multiple jobs, sold his car, rode a bike for nine months instead, and bought his first investment property just after he turned 21, while he was still renting a share house with mates.

Cam McLellan, Director of OpenCorp.
Cam McLellan, Director of OpenCorp.CREDIT:OPENCORP

15 years and an extensive residential property investment portfolio later earning him over $250K in passive income per year from rents, McLellan now helps other as a director of OpenCorp, and is the best-selling author of My Four-Year-Old the Property Investor, a guide to property investing that he wrote for his kids.

The first edition of My Four-Year-Old The Property Investor was launched in 2010, offering simple, jargon-free language that anyone, including a four year old, could understand. The book sold over 120,000 copies and featured at number four on the Newslink Best Sellers list.

The book’s success is due to Cam clearly outlining the rules the rich use to build wealth. The book is a step-by-step investment instruction manual that covers the essentials and best insights he gives to all his OpenCorp clients.

His top tips?

One: work out your borrowing capacity.

Two: find a successful investor and ask them how they did it. “It’s very hard to just wing it,” he says.

And three: act now. “Waiting will cost you hundreds of thousands, so I recommend getting in the market now.”

Calculating your borrowing capacity is an important step for first-time investors.
Calculating your borrowing capacity is an important step for first-time investors. CREDIT:ISTOCK

Property education

Speaking to people who had been there, done that, gave Ross and Gen the confidence to buy their first investment property – but it has also taught them to make considered decisions.

Speaking to all their friends, relatives and property experts, they have heard one consistent piece of advice, Ross says: “Our parents invested 20, 30 years ago. It was a different market, but with the same fundamentals and the same message: leave emotion out of it.”

“The good thing we have found is that our everyday life has not been affected by purchasing an investment property. The fact that our day to day lives haven’t changed and that it was such a smooth experience has triggered a thirst in us to invest again”.

So it is with clear heads that they are now having conversations about their next investment location, based on all sorts of factors that they wouldn’t even have considered back when their neighbours’ house first piqued their interest.

“We’ve learnt a lot in our small journey,” Ross says.

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