Several years ago, Scott Micallef already had 9 investment properties and was looking to buy more. He had about $5 million worth of property to his name, and owned a successful business, yet he was still struggling to get his account manager from one of the major banks to take him seriously.
“They seemed to have subcontractors doing the lending and they weren’t easy to deal with,” says Scott. “They were difficult to reach for starters and they were only ever available at night! That’s my family time so it doesn’t work well for me.”
Through a friend of a friend, Scott met Smartline adviser Luke Camilleri and so began a business relationship based on trust, open communication and understanding.
“Just before I met Luke, I wanted to refinance one of my properties to pay for the purchase of a development property,” Scott explains. “As sometimes happens in life, I had bought a knockdown property on the spot (without finance approval) because it was a great price and an opportunity not to be missed. I needed the refinance immediately but my account manager at the time couldn’t see me for a whole week. I had heard about Luke and gave him a call – he came to see me the next day. The loan was done and dusted very quickly. Luke put my needs above everything else and made it happen.”
Luke made a number of suggestions about how Scott could structure his loans to be more financially efficient. “We straight away made a few changes that saved me at least $10,000 a year, maybe more,” says Scott. “My old account manager would just give me what I asked for; but I’m not a lending expert! He never suggested a different way of managing my lending so I could save money.”
Luke also helped Scott change his investment strategy and become comfortable with the idea of good debt; where borrowing can actually help you make money. Scott was then able to start drawing money against his properties and have funds available for further purchases, thereby building his property portfolio more quickly than paying each off one by one.
More recently, Scott has drawn on the equity in the development property to buy himself a weekender up the coast. “Luke is now my go-to mortgage adviser. My finances are always quite complicated, so Luke works with my accountant to make sure they find the best and smartest way forward for each property I buy,” says Scott. “With my business and a family trust in there as well, there are a few things going on.”
Luke also suggested changing Scott’s line of credit loan to an interest-only variable loan with an offset account. This reduced Scott’s interest repayments significantly. Not only was the rate lower, but being a high income earner meant that Scott could keep the offset account topped up, and was only paying interest on what he actually used.
“Luke’s knowledge and understanding of the loan market means he knows which loan types work best for my circumstances,” Scott says. “But what I appreciate most about Luke is that he does what he says he will do, and this is such a rare thing these days. It’s what I need because with the business and my properties and my family, I have a very busy life so I just don’t have time to follow someone else up. I can trust him completely; I don’t have to worry about what he does – once we’ve discussed it, I know it will happen.”