Friday 17 August 2018

Amanda's a property millionaire thanks to shunning designer life

Clever: Amanda Byram acknowledges that today’s Irish property market is “very, very, very tough”. Photo: Anthony Woods
Clever: Amanda Byram acknowledges that today’s Irish property market is “very, very, very tough”. Photo: Anthony Woods
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

It's tough for millennials to get on the property ladder, but follow the advice of Amanda Byram and you can't go far wrong.

The former model shuns designer clothes, doesn't have a car and minds the pennies. In her twenties she saved and saved and it has helped her to become a property millionaire.

The presenter made a shrewd investment in a London property that has since rocketed in value.

Amanda, who used to work in a Blockbuster video store for €4 an hour, scraped together every penny at the age of 28 to buy a one-bed apartment in Fulham for £300,000 (€342,000). It has since increased fourfold to be worth an estimated £1.2m (€1.36m).

Then in 2011, three years after the crash, the presenter, bought "a nest egg" property in Dublin.

Along with her two-bedroom townhouse in Santa Monica, she says it was tough going but her sacrifices have paid off.

"My dad [Denny] was in finance so he was a brilliant adviser," she says. "He always said: 'Look, if you can, scrimp and save and get it together for the deposit for a house'. That is something that, in the future, will be such an incredible investment. But it was really hard at the time. I really did have to pull it together."

Describing the timing of the purchase as the key to her good fortune, Amanda, who was in Dublin for the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) last Thursday night, says it was nevertheless, "a very big and very scary leap".

And drawing on her financial habits, she says she was careful to save every penny rather then letting her head turn toward spur-of-the-moment purchases.

"I don't buy designer clothes, I don't own a car, I don't like flashy things, I am not really into material things. For me, I always put my money into the property market which I felt was a wise move.

"At the time it felt like, 'Oh my God, how am I ever going to do this?, this is crazy, I have no money left and I am putting it all into these four brick walls'. And now I look back and think well it was worth it… they are my pension and retirement so hopefully they will still be there by the time I retire."

She says of the Dublin purchase: "It's just a small apartment and it's a nice little nest egg and it is something I can turn around and fall back on if I need to. I have been very blessed when it comes to stuff like that. Property that looks after itself is always something that you can rest easy with at night. That is the key. If it is being rented and paid for, that's the key to not having sleepless nights."

However, Amanda acknowledges that today's Irish property market is "very, very, very tough".

"I think it is very important to save wisely, but it is not easy because there is a housing crisis and it's hard for people to even find houses to rent at the moment, which is heartbreaking," she says.

"So I don't know what the advice would be. All I know is that for myself, I worked very hard and I saved every penny. Because to me it was really, really important to get a step on the ladder. But I am pretty sure that's what young people are doing in this day and age too, so I think it's just about focusing and minding the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves."

She has been married for two years to Julian Okines, and they escaped for a romantic evening in the Irish countryside last Friday.

Amanda believes respect is fundamental to a good relationship. "Respecting each other is massive because you can love someone, you can lust after them, you can fancy them, you can be in it for the long haul but if you don't have their respect then nothing else matters," she says.

Amanda says refusing to join conversations where partners are being talked down is also important.

"I don't know if it's something that we all tend to do, I don't know, it's easy to go '[moaning] oh yeah, same here, my husband or my wife does this or that…' But we thought 'no because we really love and respect each other and it's all about keeping out of that.'

"It's a slippery slope that we can fall into easily. It's easy to try and make someone feel better by saying 'me too' but if it's not the case, why say it?"

Amanda's hit TV show, Dancing with the Stars, won the best entertainment programme at the IFTAs. Other winners included Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe for best female performance.

Amanda is running today in the VHI Women's Mini Marathon with her mother, Betty.

Sunday Independent

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