Three properties by 25 and looking for his fourth

Riyaan Mohamed bought his first home aged 21. Photo: Martin Hunter
Riyaan Mohamed bought his first home aged 21. Photo: Martin Hunter

A young Kiwi whose goals morphed from racking up centuries in cricket to scoring big in the property market says his story shows it's still possible to live the dream of home ownership.

Riyaan Mohamed bought his first home aged 21, and just four years later is now hunting for a fourth, while already sitting on a portfolio worth $1.2 million.

And far from getting a financial leg up from wealthy parents, Mohamed started with nothing.

His family migrated from India to New Zealand when he was 13 - he had been a promising cricketer in Sachin Tendulkar's home city of Mumbai - but quickly found the going tough financially.

By Mohamed's final high school year in Lower Hutt at age 18, his parents were so hard up, he dropped out of his studies and took a part time dishwashing job to pay his way.

From there, he scraped his pennies together for the next two-and-a-half years until he had a $70,000 deposit for his first house.

"I wanted to be successful. I didn't want to not be able to supply happiness to my family and future kids," he said.

He also hoped his story might provide hope to other young Kiwis.

Home ownership rates have plummeted across the country over the last 20 years as houses have become ever more expensive on the back of skyrocketing prices.

Young Kiwis regularly flood newspaper articles and social media posts with laments about how long it takes to save for a deposit or that owning their own home is now nigh on impossible.

"I thought having a positive story to say to people that I didn't come from any money, yet was able to plan and aspire to get ahead could help," he said.

Owen Vaughan, editor of property website OneRoof said the deposit was often the biggest barrier to home-ownership.

"But Riyaan's story shows once you are on the property ladder, there are more opportunities available to you, such as leveraging purchases to grow an investment portfolio," he said.

"Encouragingly, our figures show first-home buyers are active in the market and new housing developments coming on stream in Auckland are designed to meet their needs - both financially and from lifestyle point of view."

Yet home ownership does take sacrifice, and for Mohamed that meant giving up a cricketing dream forged on India's dusty pitches.

As a young batsman, he made under-14 representative teams for Maharashtra - a region with 120 million people - even taking the field on Mumbai's Shivaji Park where Sachin Tendulkar learned the craft.

But, coming to New Zealand, his family moved between Invercargill, Hawke's Bay and Lower Hutt looking for work and often struggled to pay for club fees and equipment.

"I was really passionate about cricket, but I couldn't follow it because I knew that it wouldn't be sustainable for me in the future," Mohamed said.

Instead, he took up his part-time dishwashing job at a Lower Hutt restaurant, where he also rented a small room upstairs with a shared kitchen and bathroom for $120 per week.

With no qualifications and no work experience, it took him a year before he could move on to other work, landing a part-time job at a health supplements store in the local mall.

He started with just one five-hour shift on Fridays but built his way up to fulltime employment.

His bosses were soon impressed and head office shoulder-tapped him to move to Christchurch and manage the opening of a new company store in Hornby in 2017.

Having spent two-and-a-half years squirrelling away his deposit with the help of his cheap rent, Mohamed bought his first home in Hornby for $350,000 six months later.

"Once I got the first house, I moved in and thought, 'well, what's next', he said.

Working 9-5 could only get you so far, and so he began devouring books, YouTube videos and blogs about property investors overseas and in New Zealand, he said.

"I knew I needed to invest the money I save and make it work for me."

By January last year, he and his new partner had together saved a $160,000 deposit and settled on their second Christchurch property, a three bedroom, $484,000 home in Halswell.

They moved into the new house and rented their Hornby two-bedder out.

Then last month, they refinanced their mortgage to buy a third, brand new one-bedroom townhouse in Christchurch central for $410,000.

After putting down a $41,000 deposit, the new townhouse pays off itself with the rent more than covering the mortgage and other costs, Mohamed said.

He was especially pleased because that can be rare to find in today's overheated market.

"You can find old houses that are cash flow positive, but they cost a lot more to maintain because you might have to fix the roof or the toilet keeps breaking down," Mohamed said.

"Whereas the new ones have a 10 year guarantee, are brand new and come furnished."

Mohamed hopes to buy a fourth property from the same developer when they release their next set of completed new builds in the coming months and has set his sights on two or three purchases this year.

He's big on Christchurch central's future, saying the city's new convention centre and Metro Sports Facility - planned to be New Zealand's biggest indoor swimming and leisure centre - would help attract more workers and people to the area.

Ultimately, he hopes to retire from paid work when he's 35 and live off rental income from his properties.

And it isn't just him profiting. While his mum and dad originally made the sacrifice to move to New Zealand for a better life, it's Mohamed that has helped them reach new financial goals.

"They moved down to Christchurch a few months ago to be close to me and have even bought a house," he said.

"And they now believe in my belief, which is property."

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter