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Aussie mum buys 15 homes in five years after she loses 'everything' in divorce

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Anissa Cavallo shared her story of losing everything, how she started again and is now helping other vulnerable women.

A Melbourne mum who lost everything in her divorce has revealed how she built herself back up and amassed a portfolio of 15 properties within five years.

Anissa Cavallo was the “breadwinner” of her family and had a well-paid corporate job as an executive in the financial services industry.

But, after giving birth to her second child, the now 48-year-old realised something desperately had to change.

Anissa Cavallo with her kids and mum on building property portfolio
Anissa Cavallo was forced to move in with her parents and rebuild her property portfolio from scratch. (Source: Supplied)

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

“When you have young children at home and are working full-time, it is seriously difficult,” Anissa told Yahoo Finance.

“I found I was expressing [milk] in the photocopying room because I was having to do board meetings, and dropping my really young babies off at 6 o’clock in the morning at child care.”

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Feeling burnt out, Anissa ended up quitting her job and turned to an industry we’re she’d had success in the past - property.

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While Anissa said she “had no idea about real estate” at the time, her parents had previously encouraged her to buy investment properties and she’d bought an apartment in St Kilda and, later, a home in Richmond with her brother.

Anissa brought these properties into her marriage and eventually built up a total portfolio of 10 properties with her husband, which included properties located in regional Victoria’s “growth corridors”.

Anissa said some “silly choices” meant she lost the properties in her divorce and she was “left with nothing”.

After trying and failing to secure a home for her and her kids to live in, she made the tough decision to move back in with her parents on the Mornington Peninsula.

“I was very lucky because, if I hadn’t been able to move in with my parents, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “I realise how lucky I am because a lot of people don’t have that choice. I am eternally grateful to them.”

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Anissa Cavallo with new partner and kids
Anissa pictured with her new partner and two kids. (Source: Supplied)

‘Start again’: How Aussie mum built property portfolio

Anissa said she had to “start again” and began working for herself creating the current version of her real estate advisory business, Eda Property.

After 12 months’ living with her parents, Anissa was able to build up her finances and she began investing in her own property again.

“I used the money that I was making and saving by living with my parents … I was in a really good position to put away as much money as possible. I put everything I could into land,” she said.

While Anissa doesn’t recommend this risky strategy to others, she started putting deposits down on land that was titled, hoping it would go up in value.

She was eventually able to move out of her parents’ house and began ‘rentvesting’, which allowed her to rent where she wanted to live and buy investment properties in regional areas that offered growth potential.

Anissa Cavallo
Anissa now owns 15 properties and is set to settle on another two this year. (Source: Supplied)

Aussie mum’s selfless act to help vulnerable women

Five years on, Anissa has now built up a portfolio of 15 properties across Victoria, with another two properties due to settle this year. Some of these are rented out, while others are land under construction.

Anissa has now built a house in Melton for financially disadvantaged women to rent at a lower price. The house includes four bedrooms all with their own ensuites, along with shared living areas.

Single women over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing group of homeless people, with Mission Australia’s homelessness services seeing a 84 per cent increase in women in this age group seeking out its help in the past three years.

Like Anissa, the charity said this can be due to later-in life “shocks” like divorce, along with factors like lower retirement savings and not owning a home.

For single mums, Anissa says the best thing to do is to admit you need help and turn to your support network and see what resources are available to you.

“The minute that I broke down and admitted that I was screwed and I needed help and sought some help from my parents, life got a bit easier. I would have liked to have asked for help earlier,” she said.

Anissa wants to help other Aussie women build financial resilience and said there's a simple tactic they can employ: buy cheaper investment properties in outer suburbs or regional towns.

“My advice would be not to over-leverage and not buying assets that are too hard to own, purchasing things that are easy and are not costing a lot out of pocket,” she said.