First sip: Bricks for chicks by Tanya Haffern

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Like a good beverage, a good book holds promise from the first sip. This extract is used with the permission of Penguin Publishers.

About the author

Photo: Penguin

Tanya Haffern is an award-winning speaker and author, and a well-respected figure in property investing, business and education circles. Tanya’s passion for financial freedom through property investing encourages people to think differently about their potential, their income and their future. She has been investing in property in South Africa since 2003 and in the UK since 2015. Tanya trained for Robert Kiyosaki’s brand, Rich Dad Education, and travelled extensively across South Africa teaching property investing to large crowds over two-day seminars. She blogs about property investing on a weekly basis, has featured in magazine and newspaper articles, and has appeared on Business Day TV. She is a regular guest speaker at property and mindset/inspirational events. Visit her at

About the book

Title: Bricks for chicks, property investment for women who kick ass!
Author: Tanya Haffern
ISBN: 978 1 77639 041 0
Publisher: Penguin

Property investing for women. So you can take control of your financial destiny. Because a love affair with knowledge will never end in heartache.

What if you:

  • knew how to invest in property that puts cash in your pocket?
  • felt in control of your finances?
  • had more disposable income at the end of every month?

If you want to start investing in property but feel overwhelmed by the terminology, the expense and the inherent risk, this book is going to change your life, starting today.

In Bricks for Chicks, seasoned and savvy property investor Tanya Haffern introduces budding investors to property investment, demystifies industry lingo and outlines the basic strategies investors can employ to maximise returns. With this step-by-step, practical – and fun! – guide, Tanya aims to inspire and encourage women (and men … yes, they too can benefit from this book) to start and grow their own property portfolio, and increase their financial skill set to acquire the confidence to become financially independent.

If you are looking for invaluable insights from a battle-sharpened, clued-up, kick-ass chick who doesn’t pull any punches and, at the same time, will inspire you to succeed in property investment, then you’re in luck! Bricks for Chicks was written for you.

Just bricks, no bullshit.

First Sip

There are five main skills worth cultivating to become, and remain, a successful property investor.

  1. Develop a STRATEGY. What are you trying to achieve? The happiest, most accomplished people are not only visionaries, but also great strategists. They have bold dreams that inspire them, but they’re also very good at creating reliable strategies to reach them.
  2. Understand how to SOURCE properties that match your strategy, and not just any old property – seek out the opportunity that most will miss.
  3. Know how to raise the MONEY, either privately or from financial institutions, and understand what structures (personal, company or trust – see Chapter 9: Business and tax) to put the properties into.
  4. Learn how to attract people smarter than you to form your ‘Power TEAM’ that will guide and support you as you build your portfolio.
  5. Know how to MANAGE and protect your portfolio and its cash flow. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s take a closer look at each of the five skills.


  1. Strategising

There are two main strategies that can be applied to property investing, namely capital and cash flow. For sure, there are more. In fact, creative new strategies are springing up all the time, faster than Jack can climb that beanstalk.

But as this is an introduction to property investing, we’re focusing on the basics. If you fall in love with the idea of becoming an investor, first try out the basics as outlined in this book. Once you have achieved a level of success, by all means dive head first into the property-investing sea. Splash around and soak up other strategies, such as rent-to-rent, student accommodation, auctions, back-to-back, lease options, and so on.

But heed my warning: Don’t go chasing the shiny new strategies until you have the basic foundations in place. The reality is that everything else is just one of the basics with glitter and sparkles and a few cool Ninja moves.

Here are three questions to help you determine your strategy:

  • Do you like to earn big chunks of money on an irregular basis? (Capital)
  • Do you long for the security of a regular monthly income? (Cash flow)
  • Or does a combination of both sound pretty amazing? (Greed :))

Now, if you’re anything like me, you went for the third option! Who doesn’t like a nice steady flow of income combined with the odd lump sum to top up the bank account? A capital strategy involves FLIPPING. Here, you buy a distressed property, fix it up and sell it for a tidy profit (with any luck).

A cash-flow strategy is all about BUY-TO-LET. You buy a property, fix it up and rent it to a tenant who pays you timeously and takes good care of your property. Yes, those kinds of tenants do exist. You will need to leverage your letting agent to find the right tenant to make this strategy work.

The greed strategy? You guessed it – you do both of the above. Unsurprisingly, these strategies require slightly different skill sets. If you are starting out on your investing journey, determine your initial strategy, then focus on building that skill set. Once you have mastered it, move on to the next skill set. Look for local networking events in your area so that you can ask other property investors about their main strategy and why they chose it. Do they have any tips or tricks to share with you? Don’t be afraid to leverage the power of a network to fast-track your progress.

It might all sound very exciting, and you might want to chase both skill sets at once, but remember that scattered focus yields scattered results.


  1. Sourcing

Now that you have chosen your primary strategy, it’s time to look for properties. You can monitor the demand for properties by watching the following five key property-market indicators:

  1. Demographics

Who is moving into the area? Young couples with children or older professionals? Have students made it their stomping ground? What is the average household income?

  1. Pricing

Are property prices rising or falling in the area? If rising, chances are that you’re too late to the party. If falling, find out why. Is the area in a state of decline? Were properties overpriced and they are now stabilising?

  1. Developments and improvements

Are new coffee shops, restaurants or shopping malls springing up in the area? Are homes being renovated? All these subtle signs of life will tell you that people are moving into the area and investing in it, believing it is the new place to be.

  1. Infrastructure

What kind of public transport, if any, is available in the area? Accessibility drives demand, so the easier it is to get to, the better. Are there any new recreational projects on the go, such as new parks or playgrounds?

  1. Check out the neighbours

No, really. Imagine you just missed out on buying in a hot new suburb. Look at the neighbouring suburbs, because demand is likely to spill over into areas nearby. Detective skills are key to this part of the journey. Embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes and learn to read the market.


  1. Raising money

There are endless ways to structure financing. When you start out, you’ll likely rely on a variety of sources for financing your property deals. Options include banks, property owners, hard money lenders and investors. Sources can be delineated into three broad categories:

  1. Institutional: these are the traditional banks and financial institutions to whom you apply for financing.
  2. Private: here you’re leveraging off your wealthy family. If dollar bills aren’t exactly falling from your family tree, cast your net wider. Is there anyone in your network or extended network who has too much money and not enough time to invest it?
  3. OPM (Other People’s Money): this is slightly different from friends and family in that you are unlikely to know the person. No matter what source you tap, keep it formal and above board.

This is not a hobby, it’s a business. There are many more creative ideas that we will touch on later; this is just to get you thinking out the bank box!


  1. Team building

Your Power Team should include a property-specialist tax accountant, a bond originator and attorneys to handle the legal aspects of your property transactions. Of course, you don’t need to assemble the whole team before you begin. And the team members will differ depending on your strategy. For buy-to-let, you will need a letting agent; for flipping, an estate agent, and so on. For more info on forming your Power Team, refer to Chapter 12: Putting on the roof.


  1. Managing

Managing and protecting your portfolio and its cash flow are crucial. Refer to Chapter 11: Buy-to-let for more information.

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