You can't out-save the Auckland property market, so you'd better out-smart it: that's the view of Maxim Sherstobitov, 28, who only arrived in Auckland from Vladivostok in 2006 yet today has a $1.7 million property portfolio.
The freight forwarder only began buying four years ago, now owns three properties and he has a 10-point plan for people wanting to buy here. He also hopes his story might inspire others.
"I came here when I was 17 because I wanted a better education and to be a bit different from my friends," he said.
He first attended the NZ Maritime School, part of the Manukau Institute of Technology, where he studied freight forwarding.
"I thought it would be easy to find a job in this industry because New Zealand is an island country and that's a vital way to get goods in and out of the country. I saved and the first property I bought I used KiwiSaver to help with the deposit of $50,000. My parents back in Russia also gave me about $15,000."
"I started buying with my own place. I wanted to have my own home and I was sure that home ownership was one of the best ways to become independent and wealthy.
Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesman, said he admired people like Sherstobitov who worked hard and took risks but their investing caused massive social and economic problems.
"If they can do that and by playing within the rules, good luck to them. But the question we have to ask ourselves is, is this good for New Zealand and our children and grandchildren that the only way to make a dollar is to speculate in real estate?
"We're never going to get wealthy as a country by selling houses to each other. It doesn't generate jobs or exports or make the country wealthier. It just shifts wealth between one group of people and another and drives inequality between poor and rich and that's what's going on. This speculation-driven housing bubble in Auckland is a social and economic disaster," Twyford said.
Twyford praised the Herald for its property coverage because he said it showed what was really going on and had resulted in people calling for an end to speculation and property flippping.
Sherstobitov said when it came to buying the second place, he knew he was on the right track.
"I was sure that it was a good market to buy another place. It made sense to me to invest and keep increasing my wealth," he said of his second purchase last year.
He has high borrowings but did not want to disclose the exact amount.
"Each property I invested in, I have heavily renovated. I spend two to three months on each one. So they have been a big projects. Nothing comes easy in the property world."
With a friend, he founded Easy Freight in 2010. That business now employs six people, including the two directors.
"The main advice I would give to people wanting to buy an Auckland house is that instead of thinking how to save money, concentrate on how to earn more money. Banking economists are saying young people need to harden up and save more in their personal life and forgo luxuries.
"I don't agree with the statement that millennials need to stop drinking coffee and not enjoy their lives. It won't help them start on the property ladder. They need to concentrate on earning more money, maybe getting a second job, doing a side business on the weekends. Do something that requires more work from them. That's the way to get more money. You're not going to get on the property ladder saving money these days. Now, you need to earn more.
"Get a better education, invest in yourself, find like-minded people who have more experience than you do. You have to educate yourself, going to different seminars, join different groups online and offline and reading books."
He is a member of the Auckland Property Investors Association and says joining that has been an invaluable move.
Papatoetoe: bought for $265,000 in 2013
Mangere East: bought last year for $278,000
West Harbour: bought this year for $683,000
Max's 10-point plan:
1. Don't try to out-save the Auckland market: it won't work;
2. Work out how to earn more money: start your own business, get a second job or work
3. Find like-minded people and learn from their experiences;
4. Consider pulling together funds with another person (get legal advice first);
5. Attend free seminars to further your knowledge;
6. Read books and magazines about property investment;
7. Look for run down properties that you can add value to: renovate, add a bedroom etc;
8. If you can, seek financial support from your family to buy your first house;
9. Use KiwiSaver to help get your deposit;
10. Join the Auckland Property Investors Association.