Self-made millionaire by 19

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 13:36 01/01/2013
Steve Brooks
Stacy Squires
FILLING THE GAPS: Steve Brooks started Rebuild Me for those opting out of Earthquake Commission repairs.

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The Rebuild

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While some young people fled Christchurch after the earthquakes, many talented and determined people have decided to stay and help shape their city's future. In this Stepping Up series, The Press is profiling 12 under-30s making a difference. GEORGINA STYLIANOU reports.

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Steve Brooks became New Zealand's youngest real estate agent when he started selling houses at 15 while still at Christchurch Boys' High School.

Brooks, now 25, bought his first property at 16 for $89,000 and sold it for $145,000 six months later.

At 18, he started his first business, Brooks Homes Ltd.

He then started My Refund, the South Island's first tax-refund company, and watched it grow from zero to 80 staff in 12 months.

He added a few businesses to his list, including My Body, My Bar, My Will and My Accountant.

He started Rebuild Me in 2012 to cater for homeowners who have opted out of Earthquake Commission work.

The company was formed "to fill a need" and was growing quickly, he said.

Brooks has had his own issues since the earthquakes, with Western Pacific, the insurer of some of his 20-odd properties, going into liquidation in April 2011.

However, the quakes created a "lot of room for new ideas, innovation and great businesses".

The rebuild would "make so many millionaires" because of the opportunities in Christchurch, he said. "It won't just be the construction industry that benefits. It will have a flow-on effect.

"If the construction guys are doing well, then they might choose to upgrade their car, and the guy who sells cars might invest some of that extra money, and so on and so on."

Brooks said he had a goal to be a self-made millionaire at 19. He achieved that goal at 19.

"I work hard, really hard, and I just try to think of ideas to fill a gap that I might see. It's in my blood, I think."

The city urgently needed more housing to keep up with returning residents, workers or people moving to Christchurch because it was the place to be, he said.

Brooks hoped to start a scheme for young entrepreneurs in Christchurch because he felt there was a a gap.

"I would have liked something like that to be available when I was still at school," he said.

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