Young, black and rising - ’How I became a property investor at age 20’

Ben Malapile, 25, is a property investor. Picture: Supplied

Ben Malapile, 25, is a property investor. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 24, 2021


Ben Malapile is only 25 years old, but he has hit the ground running as a property investor.

Not only did he successfully purchase his first property during the Covid pandemic last year, but he opted to tackle the challenge of buying a distressed one.

And if that is not enough, he has since added another property to his newly-formed portfolio and was a finalist in the ‘Most Growth’ category of the SAPIN (SA Property Investor Network) 2021 Investor of the Year awards.

The past pupil of Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park could arguably owe his success to a couple of factors, namely his “no-nonsense” parents who taught him about saving and managing money from a young age, and an entrepreneurial spirit which saw him selling lollipops at school and employing classmates to sell them on a commission basis. After all, it was then that Malapile realised, that savings was not enough, as he wanted to see his money grow.

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But the ultimate fuel to his fiery passion came in the form of a book that, once he was finished reading, saw him registering his first company, a real estate investment firm, at the age of 21. From then, it took him three years to make his first property purchase happen.

This is how he did it:

How old were you when you first decided that you wanted to invest in property? And what lead to that decision?

I was 20-years-old when I read ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’. After reading the book, I decided to invest in property. That book taught me about financial freedom, how to be financially literate, and to invest in income-generating assets such as property.

When did you start preparing yourself and your finances to buy? And how long did it take you from that day to actually becoming a property owner?

After reading that book, I decided to take action and learn about how to actually buy an investment property. It took three years from that day until the day I signed an offer that I could actually fulfil financially. On December 1, 2020, during Covid, I took occupation of the first property investment after signing the offer in September 2020.

What did you have to do/prepare in order to be prepared for a successful home loan application/purchase?

I had to have a good credit profile. With a good credit score and credit history, you can get great interest rates on your loan. I also needed to afford the property in my personal capacity, so I had to have a gross income that was three times the monthly instalment.

Where was your first property located, what type of property was it, and how much was it?

It is a very distressed sectional title property in Pretoria which I bought for R 350 000.

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What was the hardest and/or most unexpected aspect of the home buying/property investment process? And how would you advise other young buyers to navigate these challenges?

If you are buying distressed property, the first challenge you'll come across is related to contractors.

They tend to want to rip you off, hardly come to work, and then always want more money after agreeing to a lower price before. That is unless you find great contractors who appreciate quality service.

Other young people can find these contractors by asking which ones their parents or property mentors prefer. They have already used a contractor or two before so they should know what to look out for. The second challenge was vacancies which can also be a problem for a property investor, so always plan for this. You can put aside a percentage of the rent every month for vacancies.

If you could go back and do it again, is there anything you would do differently?

I would have read ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ in High School instead of when I was 20. I would have started investing in real estate sooner.

Have you bought any other property since? And if so, tell us about this journey. If not, do you plan to buy again? And what kind of property do you want?

Yes, I have bought another property. This one was on the same block as a College Campus so I made it a student accommodation with beds, tables, chairs, kitchen appliances and free Wifi. I also plan on buying more student houses as well as residential buildings.

What are the pros and cons that you have experienced about being a young property owner?

The advantage of being a young property owner is knowing that you can earn much more from your property investments because you started investing early. If I buy a property today using a bond, it will be paid up when I am 45. If I buy a commercial property today, it will be paid up when I'm 35 when other people start property investing.

The disadvantages are that you are young, and so not a lot of people will take you seriously. Real estate agents and contractors take advantage of you because they think you don't know much.

What advice would you give to other young aspiring property owners?

Read ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’. Learn exactly why you should invest in property. Learn why you should be financially literate, learn about financial freedom and learn about cash flow. Without this knowledge beforehand, you will not understand the game you are playing and reach your ultimate potential.

Do you have any additional words of wisdom to share?

Property investing is not a get rich quick scheme; it's actually a get rich slow scheme. One hundred years ago, the wealthiest people in the world were property investors. Today, 79% of millionaires are property Investors, and in future, the wealthiest people will be property investors.

* For more about property investing, you can visit Ben Malapile’s YouTube channel.

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