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DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 21

We have reached a turning point in the development of our Property Business. We have grown to a size where we have well over 100 properties. We have access to finance and could continue to grow at a steady rate. We could actually stop and simply let the portfolio pay down debts and accumulate funds. Or we could put our knowledge to use and create a property business. The question is what would the business look like?

We start looking round at different options.

We could use our knowledge to provide seminars on successful property investment and at the same time sell properties to those on the Seminars. In other words, the Property Club Model.

Or we could just market properties direct to Investors and charge a fee for selling them on or introducing Investors too them.

We could try and find more larger Investors and work with them in partnership as we do with our current two investors.

Or we could do a combination of the three.

Our investigations show that some of those in this field are very successful but they also have very large teams of people who they employ in order to get that success.  In itself that is not necessarily an issue but it would mean a very different form of management style would be required. The question is do we want to go down that route?  Once you create a large organisation it takes on a life of its own. You can find yourself with a major commitment in terms not just of salaries but also of management in running it successfully. You have responsibility for the people you employ and in practice often find yourself taking responsibility for their personal problems as well.

It is a bit like HMOs. The top line figures for them are very attractive but when you take into account the management issues they give rise to and the net returns after ALL expenses it all starts to look more challenging.

This is not something we are going to decide in a day What we decide to do is to take some small steps forward and see where they lead.

We do have one area covered and that is a brand name and logo. We are operating using various companies which each have their own name. Those names are normally a mixture of the names of those involved.  We realised that to introduce ourselves to any third party using those names would be complicated.

So, we decided to come up with a generic name for what we do and a logo. In the next blog, I will tell what how we did that.

DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 20

We are now thinking about Remortgaging. That is not fundamental to what we do but it is part of what we do. And once we have a reasonable number of properties to remortgage that is how we proceed. The remortgages are usually spread over various portfolios but are dealt with together by our Bank.  Our aim is to get the best variable interest rate deal we can and the best loan to value to allow for that. We are however content with whatever that is. It will be lower than the best loan to value available but equally going for a higher loan to value means adding extra charges and/or interest rates. We do not want to pay those and have no need to do so as we do not need the remortgage money. It is simply useful for further purchases. Also, the fact that a large part of our portfolios are equity based means that in the event of any problems with the economy we will be able to ride out any stress tests the Bank may then impose.

At the same time, we are doing accounts for a number of our Companies which are looking ok and sorting out our new Office which is now fully opened in Barrow. This has taken some time to get ready in part because we have been busy with other projects and to create it we needed to create offices out of the top floor of a building we owned which was previously essentially open plan. We have hired an Assistant Property Manager and are putting together all our systems into an online office that we can all access from anywhere.  At this stage, we are not using any complex proprietary software (although at some stage it might make sense to do so) but simple systems like One Drive a cloud storage system and Office 365.

We are also considering where exactly we want to take our business. There are many options. Until the summer we had been operating with no website, no office, no social media, no marketing and no online presence. We had not needed them because we have simply been investing in property for ourselves and our two Investors.

But as we have grown our Portfolios we have seen that we are doing something that seems to us to be of great value and pretty well unique and should we not be seeing if we can take this to the next level? But what is the next level?  We will discuss that in the next blog.

DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 19

9 months ago, we saw a very interesting block of 5 flats in the heart of Cumbria. In a nice little town opposite to a well-known local school it offered a good opportunity to buy 5 flats at just over £25,000 each which should have an average rental value of £400 per flat or £24,000 per annum.

The property was actually owned by a well-known supermarket chain who had acquired it as part of the purchase of land to build a new store. This property would be critical for the entrance to the main site.

Now they had decided not to proceed with the site. There was however an issue for them in selling it. They were concerned to ensure no other supermarket chain acquired the site (or so we were told).  We put in our offer and hoped it would be accepted.

Then a further complication emerged. We were dealing with a local agent and not getting the feedback on our offer that we would normally expect. We found out the main agent who was acting for the Supermarket and who had instructed the local agent. We made contact with them and were told that the local agent wanted to make an offer for the property. So, they could no longer act as the Agent. Complicated.

After some tooing and froing we were told that actually the whole sale had been put on hold so they could consider how best to proceed. It was made clear to us that selling was not a priority and it was unclear when or indeed if they would come back to us. No problem. We moved on to other purchases and forgot about this.

Now out of the blue we have had an email saying all problems have been resolved and if we still want to buy they are ready to proceed. We say yes and agree with them we can proceed at the price previously proposed.  It is turning into a good few weeks as this is another cracking deal.

Again, let me stress (see previous blogs) it is not always like this but when it is then grab the opportunity with both hands.

DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 18

We have been negotiating with the Seller at Orell Park. We are negotiating via the Property Introducer who bought us the deal.

Property Introducers are a familiar feature in the Buy to Let landscape especially for those who are larger Land lords or Property Clubs requiring lots of property to sell. They can be a waste of time or they can perform a useful function. Of course, you have to pay them a fee but that in itself is not a reason not to use them if the deal is right. We do not use them on a regular basis but now and then they can work and this particular person has proved useful. He is very good at negotiating and understands the imperatives of speed in our transactions. He also gets the points of concern we have which many people involved in these transactions do not.

He reports back that there is another Buyer interested who are a Property Club. Not unusual because this is the type of deal they like. They get an exchange and a long completion date or if they can an Option and then sell off the individual flats before completion. So, they will sell each flat with its Tenant and keep the freehold and the management. Obviously, they will be selling long leases.

The other offer comes from another Introducer so our Introducer clearly has an incentive to do the deal for us. We are hoping for a price reduction in return for speed but clearly that is trickier if we are in competition with someone offering the full asking price. We do need some finance but would hope to be ready to exchange in no more than 4 weeks and then complete whilst the other party needs at least 4 months.  We can also sense that the Seller is concerned that the other party may not deliver because of the need to sell the flats on.

The bottom line is we agree a small reduction of the price to £430,000 on the basis we move quickly and the deal is ours. That is less than we hoped to negotiate but it is enough to allow us to proceed. Now we have to get it ready.

In the meantime, another interesting deal has come back on the table.  More on that next time.

DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 17

Unbelievably I have just been offered another deal in Liverpool which is similar to the deal I rejected (see Days 14 and 15) but to me much, much better. Let me stress here and now this is not how things normally work for me. This is just an amazing coincidence and one that is far from the rule Our success to date has been 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. But as someone once said “I find the harder I work, the luckier I get”.

This I freely admit is a real piece of luck. We have been offered the chance to buy a property which is in another good area of Liverpool. There are 12 flats. The rent roll is about £50,000. The proposed price is £450,000. We go to have a look at the property and the Owner is there to show us round.

Immediately a lot of the signals look really positive. Maybe it will help those reading this blog if I set out what I mean by that.

Firstly, the fact that this deal has come to us just as we rejected a similar deal in Liverpool I take as an Omen. Yes, that may be superstitious nonsense but I think there is a tide in the affairs of most people which means that certain events coming together offer a signal that the wise person does not ignore.

Then (and I agree much more importantly) I love the building. I love the building and I love the grounds. Why? Difficult to put into words but the whole property appeals to me. I like the design of the exterior I like the layout of the flats. I love the very large garden and there is off street parking for 6 to 8 cars. With the other deal the Building never appealed to me.

And I like the area. It is an area which is called Bootle. Bootle is a name in Liverpool that connotes poor run down properties and a bit of a rough area. But this property (in a part of Bootle called Orell Park) strikes me as lovely. The surrounding properties are great, the park is attractive and talking to local people and looking around it is far from a rough area. But the price reflects the word Bootle.

The Seller is a gentleman in his 80s who manages the block. That is not unusual the problem however is that in these situations the Landlord and Tenants tend to build a relationship which is not always productive. As the Landlord, you can find yourself taking on the problems that your Tenants face not just as Tenants but generally. The management can become almost a full-time job and that is what seems to have happened here.  But there comes a point when you have just had enough and my impression is that this is the reason for the sale. That is positive because it means the Seller is selling for a good reason.

Finally, this has got the yield we like so we do not need to worry about capital growth. It works without it. We are all systems go.