Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Dionne Payn – Co-Founder and CEO of High Impact Property Investments (HIPI). We specialise in partnering investors looking for double digit returns with projects that provide affordable homes, sustainable properties, resilient communities and inclusive homes for people with disabilities.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
In 2015, I saw a piece of vacant land in Ocean Shores – a suburb in the Byron Shire. This area is a hotbed of housing unaffordability – even before the pandemic. The land was available for sale and had development approval for 14, one bedroom townhouses. Up until that point, I had only done a couple of small projects, such as small subdivisions and a couple of renovations so this was bigger than anything I’d ever taken on before.
Looking more closely at the potential of this project, two things really stood out. The first was that the proposed dwellings were one bedroom townhouses in an area where at that time, most dwellings were being built as three or four bedroom homes.
The other thing that made it unusual was that three of the 14 townhouses were mandated for affordable rental housing. This kind of housing is designed for key workers such as police officers, nurses, ambulance drivers, teachers – professions that pay moderate incomes. Key workers are often stretched financially when renting through the private market.
These properties once built, were to be managed by a community housing provider for a period of 10 years, at 80% of the market rent.
The project had a lot of potential but before we purchased the property we did our due diligence. As part of this process, we wanted to make sure there would be demand for the townhouses after they were built. We did a small advertising campaign to test the waters and quickly received three expressions of interest. This proved the demand for smaller, more affordable accommodation in that area.
We began construction in September 2016 and by December of the same year, all of the properties were sold. It was clear to us that there was a lot of demand for these homes and we could have built and sold them many times over if we had more land available.
Fast forward to 2018, the project was completed and as investors we achieved a 25% return on our investment per annum which was pretty incredible.
Looking back, I think the biggest gift was that even though the project presented some huge challenges, beyond the money we made we also made a great deal of impact. These properties were the first truly affordable homes in the Byron Shire for some time, with an average price of $350,000 in an area where the median price was $600,000 at the time.
This project had significant social, environmental and financial impact and stands as a legacy in the Ocean Shores community.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We launched High Impact Property Investments in February 2021 based on a successful capital raise in September 2020 for a large commercial property which could be subdivided into 5 units. We conducted a series of webinars to a group of investors, explaining the project and the benefits to investors of being involved.
In just over 30 days, we had raised the funds from investors and 12 months later all 5 properties were sold and investors have achieved a good return on their investment.
In the course of the project, we started a membership platform for investors to “Earn while they Learn”. We did weekly interviews with experts, monthly Q & A webinars with the developers and investors and regular networking events.
It worked so well that we knew we could replicate this model for our new business – raising capital for projects that fell under our ethical property mandate.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The membership platform works because we provide education – a lot of the investors have never done a property development before so they get to see all of the moving parts. We have regular video communication and opportunities to get together so our clients feel they can trust us. Plus the developers we work with have a good track record for successfully completing projects and giving good returns so that also has an impact.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future looks really bright – we have a number of developers we work with that are looking for funding to get more ethical property investments off the ground and are able to give good returns in exchange. There has never been a greater need for affordable, sustainable and inclusive homes so the opportunities for investors is huge and not going away.
To date, our projects have been women centered – such as 2 property projects in SE QLD which when built will provide affordable accommodation for women over 55 – the fastest growing demographic facing homelessness in Australia.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Yes, I started HIPI with the intention to raise $1 billion for ethical property investments by December 2026 as I can see that through private investment and and a purpose driven enterprise we can end homelessness – particularly in vulnerable women and children.
Having a purpose front and centre to the business means that any decisions are made through that lens i.e what is going to get us closer to that goal?
It also makes it easier for people to get behind what we are doing – and we have made so many collaborations and won clients as a result.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Kartra to run our membership platform, Google Drive, Slack, Asana
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Soul of Money – Lynne Twist, The KPI program – Dent
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Find your why and get a mentor that pushes you to get there
Where can we go to learn more?
A great way is to take our questionnaire to see how ready you are to Grow Wealth, Make an Impact and Leave a Legacy through ethical property investing https://highimpactpropertyinvestment.scoreapp.com