Peter Koulizos, the 360th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a legendary figure in the property investing community.

Peter – or the Property Professor as he’s more commonly known – has spent years lecturing on property valuation, development and investing, while also building his own property investment portfolio and writing three books on the topic.

One of Peter’s great insights is that if you invest in areas that are poised to gentrify – that is, attract higher-income residents who build nicer homes, demand better amenities and have more refined tastes – you significantly improve your chances of experiencing above-average capital growth.

Peter stumbled upon this piece of wisdom by accident.

After growing up in Adelaide, Peter qualified as a primary school teacher and then moved to regional South Australia for work. When he returned home, seven years later, he discovered his suburb was significantly different – the homes looked different (there had been quite a lot of new development), the people looked different (the ethnic mix had changed) and the streets even smelled different (residents were cooking different food). Although he wouldn’t have been able to articulate it at the time, Peter’s suburb was undergoing gentrification.

In Peter’s experience, while some suburbs that seemed poised to gentrify never do, once the gentrification process begins in a suburb it doesn’t get interrupted.

Peter transitioned from being a school teacher to lecturing at TAFE and then university. During this time, he wrote or co-wrote three books: Top Australian Suburbs, Property vs Shares and Diary of a Small Developer. At some point, he plans to write another book, about the wealth-building lessons he’s learned throughout his life.

Peter acquired a lot of this knowledge from his dad, who emigrated from Greece to Australia when he was 25, became a real estate agent at 35 and was able to retire, thanks to his success with property investing, at 45.

As Peter explains, if you use the bank’s money to acquire a portfolio of properties and then let long-term compounding work its magic, you can build substantial wealth.