Perched on a brown La-Z-Boy chair in the lounge of his modest Tauranga unit, Tony Cranson defies the typical image of a successful property investor.
But the 73-year-old former firefighter is quite the rental mogul and has amassed 17 houses off the back of a vision dreamed up while riding his pushbike in 1962.
He vividly recalls riding from Valley Rd at the Mount to Gate Pa every day and every night and wondering how on earth he could save £100,000 for his retirement when he was only earning 10 shillings and three pence.
At the time he had no idea how to save or invest.
But Cranson was determined and put down a deposit on a section at age 20. He built his first house in Otumoetai a few years later following his marriage. When his marriage ended he had $3000 and used this alongside a 17 per cent loan off a lawyer to buy his first rental property.
"I was on my way," Cranson recalls, "it was an industrial property."
The rest is history but one aspect remains the same and in his view: "If you want something bad enough you will get it."
"Young people need to save and invest and not spend their money on fast cars, Fifty-inch TVs, booze and drugs, knickknacks and expensive holidays two or three times a year."
Cranson is the first to admit it has by no means been plain sailing and he has faced pitfalls but thinks if you put 10 cents from every dollar you earn into an investment fund you are on the right track.
"You don't have to make your money from property but it is definitely one way to get ahead."
He was not into getting rich quick, either.
"Slow and steady gets it done. If you want to get rich quick buy a lottery ticket."
The majority of Cranson's portfolio was in Tauranga in suburbs including Welcome Bay, Greerton and Otumoetai but the numbers had to stack up.
"When I first bought property it was negatively geared. I shouldn't have done that but I didn't know what I was doing."
That changed after garnering knowledge from books like The Richest Man in Babylon and Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.
"You need to do your sums. Now I make a decision based on whether the income is going to be greater than the outgoings and if it is, I buy it."
Providing homes to tenants was another aspect he enjoyed, while Cranson said investors should be proud of themselves for filling a niche which the Government can't fill alone.
"Most of my tenants stay for many years. I don't own property I wouldn't be willing to live in myself and I pride myself on doing maintenance as soon as a tenant tells me there is a problem.
"I am also among the cheapest rentals on the market."
Nick Gentle works his own hours on his own dime.
The 39-year-old from Te Puke is the co-owner of iFind Property, which has its head office in Rotorua with branches around New Zealand.
The professional property investor helps Kiwis from around the country and across the globe buy rentals and he has a team of 15 agents working with him.
His path to property has not been paved in gold but stemmed from the desire to be his own boss and lead a lifestyle where he didn't have to beg for time off.
Gentle has a computing programme degree and speaks fluent Japanese. From 2003 to 2015 he was based overseas and said: "I got into property investment because I stumbled into finance in Tokyo.
"I was making good money in finance but I was miserable ... it was quite draining. I was looking ahead and thought when I have kids I want to be able to come and go and have flexibility.
"That is how it started I didn't want to be beholden to someone my whole life."
He consequently read Rich Dad Poor Dad and used savings of $20,000 for a deposit to buy a rental in Rotorua just before the Global Financial Crisis hit.
"I bought what they call cashflow positive, even back then it was kind of crazy. I thought it will probably pay for itself but then house values went through the floor.
"But the one thing I learnt from that was rents really didn't go down so even though I had some problems owning it I always had enough to pay the mortgage."
Now the father of one is reaping rewards and owns properties in Wellington and Invercargill. His speciality was buying older homes, gutting and renovating them while often turning the places into flats.
Gentle said there are different styles of property investment and although others prefer to buy really nice houses, for him "the worse the better".
Asked if he had an eye for design or was a secret DIY or handyman whizz his response was swift.
"I actually think of myself as a bit of a fraud because I am not good at any of those things. But I am really good at pulling together teams of qualified people who do all the building work and the mortgages and the insurances.
"I don't think I could design a kitchen even if you took me to Mitre 10 and pointed me in the right direction."
By helping people build up their businesses they help you build yours, he said.
When Gentle is not property trading or helping others to invest wisely he's an administrator for a Facebook property investor group he played a part in setting up.
"We have 40,000 followers and it's kind of blown up."
Tips of the trade
You are getting into the business of providing decent accommodation. This is a service and your tenants are your customers. Treat them as you would expect to be treated at any business: charge a fair price, fix problems quickly.
2. Invest for cashflow and let capital gain take care of itself.
3. You will go as far as your team takes you. Work with experienced and specialist accountants, lawyers, selling and buying agents, mortgage and insurance brokers, property managers etc. You get what you pay for, always, and this is a relationship business.
4. Spend time at the start of your journey to set a goal and make a plan. This isn't easy to do, but if you skip it you are trusting to luck instead, which is risky. Your team (see rule #3) will help you here.
5. If you are not willing to read the residential tenancy act and implement professional vetting, letting, inspection, arrears and maintenance procedures then consider handing the keys over to a property manager.
6. Your home is probably not going to become a good rental. You are almost always better off selling it and buying a rental following proper investment criteria.
7. Enjoy the journey. Life is too short to be angry so make sure you don't sweat the small stuff ... and compared with long-term growth and cashflow almost everything is small stuff.
8. For every generation people find that it is hard to start investing at the time and then in hindsight it was easy. People look back at the GFC and think "gosh houses were cheap", forgetting the global financial system was collapsing around us. You're just going to have to find a way.
9. People will say nasty stuff about being a landlord all the time and even more so in an election year. Just make sure you are happy you are providing quality accommodation and ignore them. Don't read the comments section.
10. Like in any business there will be tough times. Have something bigger than money that motivates you to keep going.
11. You will succeed from building a portfolio, not from landing one great deal and wasting an eternity looking. Good enough is good enough.
12. Most investors are regular working Kiwis who are getting on in life and not high rollers walking around in suits. Join the Rotorua or Tauranga Property Investors Association to mix with like-minded people who are open, friendly and happy to share. Completely new investors welcome.
- Source: Nick Gentle, iFind property operations manager and co-owner