Today marks 3770 days since I bought my first property aged 22. That’s over a decade of continual adaptation, tweaking the art of raising money and relentlessly improving deal execution. I’m often asked how I’ve managed to buy over £10 million of HMOs by the age of 32. Having sat back and thought about this recently, there is one reason that stands out, especially when thinking about the early days. The answer is, “move to the next step, just before you’re ready’.
Have you heard of the saying ‘start now, get perfect later?’ Well that couldn’t be more true to how we’ve scaled the Rockstar Property business. We continually move forward like the rhythm of a drum to get to the end of the song. But property investment isn’t a song, it’s not an album, nor a playlist. I see this industry like a treadmill. The opportunities will always roll around, it’s your own choice when you want to start running and how fast you wish to go. The art is to ensure you’re in control throughout the run and to avoid falling over along the way. The reason the Rockstar Property Team have managed to avoid failure, is down to the ever-evolving and incredibly loyal staff that make the company what it is today. Evolution requires continued innovation. Even to this day I regularly ask the team questions such as, “what are we missing?” or “tell me what can we possibly improve on?” It’s this insatiable desire to adapt and develop, that keeps the company relevant, dynamic and at the forefront of our industry.
I’ve outlined below three key learnings from my decade in property that I hope you can learn from, to improve your property business and the overall financial health of your investments.
1. Real wealth is built long term
Over the years there have been a number of deals that I could’ve immediately sold on for a significant profit, but chose not to. One recent example of this was at the back end of 2020 when we bought and converted a seven bedroom HMO in Hampshire. I bought the property for £318,000 and with the refurbishment, stamp duty and buying costs, the whole project cost was £400,000. The property was then rented on Christmas Eve to a local company that used it for serviced accommodation. The profit before tax on this property alone was £2,300 per month. Three weeks after the refurb completed I was offered £560,000 for the property as an ongoing business. I could have walked away with £160,000 profit, however I declined the offer. I was told that I was mad for refusing such a great profit for just four months work, but my goal is not to make an immediate lump sum profit in the infancy of an investment, my personal goal is different. With every company-owned HMO, my target is to pay off the senior debt as quickly as possible. This in itself requires you to hold onto the asset, but how do you get there quicker than the 25 year mortgage you’ve put in place? In many cases I’ve used all of the gross rent to pay the mortgage off quicker. Based on £250,000 of mortgage debt, it takes us approximately seven years to pay off the mortgage using all of the income from one HMO. Seven years! That’s time I’m willing to wait to have an unencumbered property, rather than making £160k now. This property is worth more to me over the next 20 years, than £160k profit now. I’m happy to watch the value decrease in the upcoming recession, if it means I can sell the property unencumbered in 7-10 years once the market has started to recover. By holding an asset, you have many more options to raise capital to scale too. I don’t mean to leverage yourself too high with mortgage debt, but there are other creative ways you can raise future profit to reinvest in another property. I’ve done exactly this many times over, where I’ve been raised for three years! Profit on one property with a low interest rate and used this lump sum as a down payment to buy a second house. Done correctly, this can also happen far quicker rather than waiting for a buyer and hoping to get a profitable sale – plus you get to keep both houses! Experience is paramount when it comes to these types of arrangements and although it may not be for everyone, it’s certainly served me well over the years.
2. It’s not who you know, it’s who THEY know
When it comes to scaling a property business, you’ll need capital to execute acquisitions. The source of this capital can come from a number of places, but however you look at it, you will need money. Whenever you approach a potential investor, you don’t want to ask them for money. You should ask them who they KNOW that could be interested. Approximately 50% of the deals that we have done have been through recommendations. Asking an investor if they know someone, immediately takes the heat out of the situation and who knows, they could end up investing themselves. However the power is not just in your own network, but in your network’s network. As an organisation continuing to raise capital for expansion, we place emphasis on rewarding ‘introducers’. An introducer is someone that recommends us to someone else that goes on to invest with us. We are very fortunate to have some incredibly loyal investors that wish to invest with us again but simply don’t have additional capital. In this case, they recommended us to a friend or two, who have later gone on to invest with us. This started to happen quite often, so we decided that an introducer should rightfully be rewarded. In May of this year, we implemented a 5% royalty on any deal that we ended up buying, off the back of the introducer’s recommendation. Just three months on and the introducers couldn’t be happier with this reward.
3. Replacing your weakness with an Advisor
Property investment requires a number of varying skills that not everyone possesses. For example you have to be a numbers person, a people person to deal with investors, an interior designer and a property manager. You need to know the legalities that come with buying and renting properties in the UK. Yes of course you can outsource a number of these roles, but how would you know how well an outsourced task is being managed, if you don’t know how to do it yourself? If you have a weakness, replace it with an expert. I’ll give you an example. I have a musical background, where a majority of my education was vocationally-based. I never sat down to understand numbers, I got a D in my GCSE maths, which happened to be one of the top marks because I did the foundation paper! No one ever taught me how to not only understand the aspect of financial analysis, but to adapt to the ever-changing property market. That’s why I made it a point very early on, not to seek a mainstream property mentor, but instead to have a number of key advisors to help me with my weaknesses. When it comes to property investment and everything that comes along with it, I no longer feel I have any obvious weaknesses due to the years of continually filling gaps of knowledge, but I didn’t always work like that. I attacked every aspect of the business head on and even to this day I have a personal financial advisor that I meet with every two weeks just to keep on top of a number of topics relating to financial management. This could be anything from tax advice, keeping up to date with capital allowances or safe leverage – all of which have kept me on the straight and narrow over the years. My advisors are accountants and solicitors that wouldn’t usually coach clients, they just so happen to be incredibly good at what they do. So when you’re looking for advisors or mentors, sometimes the perfect person isn’t always the one that offers themselves as a ‘property mentor’, but instead a talented individual you already know.
So there we have it, those are your three top tips from me to you.
If you would like to find out more about our property investments in the HMO industry, you can contact me directly on email@example.com or on 01494 578181.