Divorce Dynamos

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One of the principal marriage vows is for better or worse. But these days almost 50 percent of married couples decide they'd be better off apart and get divorced. For some it means financial ruin and starting again with little financial opportunities and uncertain futures.
The end of a marriage can often mean the start of serious financial trouble.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to keep this house and it was quite frightening at the time" said Kathryn.

The break down of a marriage is a major crossroad in anyone's life with little spare cash after bills and necessities. Many finalising a divorce face a future on welfare, child support battles or job hunting with out of date skills. Few could, ever imagine getting the green light to invest in property.

"What I find with single mums is they go one way or the other. They either go into victim mode of, 'poor me, I'm a single mum and I can't do anything," or they go the other way and say, "I'm a single mum. I have to be responsible for myself and my family and I have to do something about it" says Judith.

Kathryn Hill could not face life on a pension. "I thought if I didn't do anything in 10 years time, 20 years time, I'd still be a single parent on a pension."

"A little bit of belt tightening goes a long way. Kristil Ryan tightened her belt so well she stopped the bank from repossessing her Gold Coast home. She had a good job but huge debt. "I certainly went without and so did the kids but you have to focus on what's important."

After consolidating things at home and making a few improvements she used the equity to buy a modest unit in 2002 for $102,000 - it's now worth $260,000.

In 2004 she borrowed again to buy another house closer to Brisbane for $160,000 - it's just been valued at around $400,000.
And a year ago she bought yet another house for $370,000 - it's gone up in value by $100,000.

From virtually nothing eight years ago.
"To now having a portfolio of close to two million and a net worth of over a million" says Kristil.
"It makes you re-evaluate everything. It makes you re-evaluate your life and so I did that and decided no I can do this on my own" says Kathryn.

Kathryn Hill decided not to take the poor me path, working just two days a week and raising two young children on her own, she bought an investment property in regional Victoria.

"It was very difficult to find a lender who was prepared to lend me the money for the investment properties mostly because they don't count all my forms of income. They won't include child support, most of the won't include Centrelink payments" adds Kathryn.
I
t didn't stop her and now she has another small property in regional south Australia too, looking outside the square.

"Something a bit different. Something that can add value. One of my properties can be subdivided so that's a good way to add value to it."
Another way to add value .. Is to make cut price cosmetic improvements.

"I renovated a kitchen once for $22.20. I found a can of old paint in the back shed and we painted the cupboard doors and I replaced the door handles which cost $22.20. When the tenant walked into the house the first thing she said was, "Wow I love the kitchen"" said Judith.

Judith Taylor knows what it's like to start from scratch after divorce and then found a lot of single women like her were interested in property.
So she started an online advisory service called Propertywomen.com.au

"With property you have control over what you do and what decisions you make � plus there's no glass ceilings so anyone can do it" says Judith.
Kristil says she soon realised her former hubby was a handbrake. "Ball and chain really. An anchor."

Judith says "That can quite often be the case. It can work to your advantage if two people have the same goals but if you have one person pulling in one direction and another pulling in the other direction it will never work. One will put the other one down."

Kathy Humphreys and her husband had invested in property. So when her marriage ended she went from comfortable to concerned. So when she dipped her toe back in the property pool her first question was ...
"What is the worst thing that can happen? Can I afford that if it does?"

She took the plunge with a city apartment she now shares with her two sons. From here she's spread her property portfolio all the way into George W Bush's backyard.

"I have a house in Texas. It's a four bedroom house in a nice upmarket area. And I have a condominium in a Grand Hyatt complex in San Antonio."
She discovered in the land of the free .. property comes cheaper.

"I can buy a house (in the US) for under $200,000 which has positive rental returns."

And don't for a minute think the chance has passed you by. Despite the rising interest rates and cost of living, these women say there's no better time to start investing in property.

For more information, visit www.propertywomen.com.au

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