This is the story about us and of how we became involved in real estate property investment and property management. Why we enjoy it.We have an international portfolio in excess of ten properties. This was not achieved in a day and we had to overcome challenges.
We first experienced property management and landlords when we were students attending Universities in the United Kingdom. While getting the necessary education and training to make a good start in our professional careers.
William went to Aston University in Birmingham, where his landlord whom he still recalls well, a Mr.T. The property was in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, a semi-detached house in a once "middle class" area of the city. The property was in good order and with wood chip papered walls painted in almost Henry Ford style "Any colour you want as long as its white". The furniture was second hand, clean and servicable. He shared the house with 4 other students. Mr T. was a good landlord to him, he kept an interest and yet enough distance to allow William to enjoy the tenancy of the property. Mr. T. dropped by at parties at the property and gave bottles of good whisky to enjoy. He also kept the property in good order, even paying one of them (quite generously) to maintain the gardens and paint the interior of the property over the holidays. Mr.T seemed to be a succcessful local businessman and a question popped up in Williams mind "Why is Mr.T renting property?". This curiousity started him down the path of property investment.
After leaving university and getting employment, we started to investigate and put effort into achieving the first property purchase to build a portfolio of houses for rent. We were building upon our first taste of property investing, investing in the student accomodation market. The city we chose was Cardiff, our hometown, as it had a good history of being a university city with a stable student population.
Julian's first taste of lettings was in Hertfordshire during my student days. The houses I rented over this period were clean and basic. The accommodation was not furnished with a telephone, television or washing machine. I had to walk to the local village in order to make a phone call or my weekly washing. I did wonder why I was just "handing Over" my cash to the Landlord. But, I knew that I wanted to buy and invest in property. My career as a residential landlord started once I returned to Cardiff having completed my Master's Degree in Engineering and working in local Japanese electronics company.
We set about looking for property in the only way we knew how... Estate agents and touring suitable areas of the city searching out properties with For Sale boards. How little did we know then? What a shock did we get when we went into the first estate agency with our list of properties that we were interested in exploring. We can still see it now, when we walked up to the lady behind the desk in the estate agents office and introduced ourselves and said we were interested in properties to purchase and rent out as student accommodation. She let out a laugh and said, "Who is going to lend you the money? And how are you going to pay for it?" A quick lesson in how to lose potential customers, we thought. This was around the time of the property slump in the UK.
Rebuffed, we were determined to acquire property for investment purposes so we changed our approach and purchased properties for private residence and since we were single persons, rented out rooms in our houses. This approach can have additional benefits and drawbacks.
From this position, we were able to use any increase in equity to help us in our portfolio building process and get more houses for rent. The housing market and financial markets were changing and we were taking advantage of the changes. Further, more regulations controlling the letting of properties were introduced and we needed to learn to be able to comply with them.
As we built up our portfolio, personal friends of ours became interested. We have been very pleased to have helped and given them advice in becoming property investors too, marketing their properties, and seen them increase their wealth and financial security.
We have also increased our skills bank. We have a letting agent business, provide property management, gas and electrical installations and maintainance services, construction and decoration services.