It’s been a few weeks since I posted, because I’ve been busy entertaining myself with the latest refurbishment project in Leeds.
This is a residential house in my area, an 8 minute drive from my front door, and a prime property for a family, a large, roomy ex-council end terrace with front and rear gardens.
The house was very dated, seemingly not having been touched for at least thirty years, due to the deterioration of inside and the décor – which included an old 70s/80s style stone feature fireplace and a 60s style kitchen cabinet!
There were two bedrooms initially, but with clever use of an insulated stud wall, and making good use of the large bedroom with two windows facing each other, this house now has three bedrooms. The new rooms are still decent sizes; and the interior structure of the floor plan has worked out way better in real life than I visualised it in my head, so I am very pleased with the way it has turned out.
As we’re patching the house back up, we’re finding that due to the age of it, more ‘contingency’ work is cropping up – but this is usual in such a dated property, and nothing to panic about.
These unexpected items include a lot of rebuilding of interior walls, as much of the old blown plaster was just coming off in chunks, so we’ve had to go back to brick in lots of areas. The roof also took an unexpected bashing in the recent storms, and many slates have had to be replaced, but that is patching up nicely to become watertight again.
My biggest concern though is the living room window. On looking at every other house surrounding my property, it is clear that when the council replaced everybody’s old wooden windows with new PVC ones, none of the houses had a supportive lintel put in. So my property, along with everybody else’s external brickwork above the window, has dropped, and that is what needs fixing.
The structural engineer has been out to survey what needs doing, the builder has been informed and booked in, so that’s the only major job I’m concerned about – fingers crossed!
On the whole though, the project is going well. First fix electrics have been done, and the rooms are starting to come together and emerge as liveable spaces!
As for the figures for this project, here’s they are:
Asking price on open market: £77,000
Purchase Price: £60,000.
Refurbishment budget: contingency having to be kicked in, so I’ll let you know in due course! But hopefully no more than £12,000, which includes the structural work, roof repairs, full rewire, complete new central heating system and boiler, loads of bonding and replastering, new kitchen, new bathroom, décor and flooring throughout, waste management (including some fly tipped rubbish and cannabis farm which somebody else kindly donated to my drive!) and then finally sort out that jungle of a garden!
Estimation revaluation: £105,000.
I own a near-identical property same street around the corner, 22 doors down, which revalued up at this figure – plus another round the corner sold recently for the same price, so I am confident it will achieve the new value after refurbishment.
This project has been purchased with the assistance of private investor funding.
They are helping me bring the property back into use for a local tenant family to rent out as their long-term home.
In return, the investor is getting a great fixed return on their investment, returned within twelve months – as soon as the property has been refinanced for the uplifted equity value.
If you would also like to invest in a property project for a hands-free passive income – and you love the idea of socially responsible investment in developing homes to enhance the socio-economic welfare of low income families – then do get in contact with me to discuss future projects which need investment.
Today I’m going to tell you a story that spans more than thirty years.
A story of a child’s unfulfilled frustration and disappointment.
A tale of never-ending hope.
But to begin our story, let me take you back to the mid-1980s…
Our story begins in Leeds, with an only child, a shy little poor girl from a single-mother family: me.
I’d always dreamed of having a better life.
Of being as lucky and wealthy as the rest of the kids in my class.
Of actually being able to have some money of my own.
So when the National Westminster Bank ran a campaign which encouraged children to save money in their own account, I saw my chance to make a start.
The incentive to save was strong; you received a new ‘piggy bank’ for coins in the form of pottery pigs every time you reached the next saving milestone.
I opened an account with my £5, received the first pig: Woody the baby, and got cracking collecting my coins.
In time, I saved £25, and Natwest sent me Annabel the pig through the post. This was great.
I kept going, saving my limited pocket money, and finally reached £50, put my savings in the bank, and the next pig Maxwell arrived to reward me for my efforts.
All was going well.
I kept saving hard for the last two pigs; you needed £75 to get Lady Hillary and then £100 meant you received Sir Nathaniel Westminster and thus completed the set.
And then we hit a stumbling block.
Which meant I never ended up getting the last two pigs.
I don’t quite remember exactly what went wrong, because I was young and it is over thirty years ago. But although my saving continued to go well, alas, mine and my mother’s lives did not.
I did have my money saved up for the next pig, but sadly, the savings never reached the bank – because I had to keep lending my mum them to pay for food and living costs. And this pattern kept repeating.
So I never completed my planned set of piggy banks, and then the campaign offer ended in 1988, meaning my set was to remain incomplete forever.
Somehow shit just goes wrong in life – and I hold no resentment against my mum; children can’t be fed on fresh air, she did what she had to do.
I felt sad and disappointed about this, but I also learnt a valuable lesson about life’s priorities and financial management.
But have you ever felt such burning disappointment of failure?
So strong that it still causes you bitterness thirty years later?
That is how I felt about my incomplete set of pigs.
Meanwhile my three little piggies followed me around as I grew up, surviving 8 house moves into adulthood, but always having pride of place in my bedroom.
A reminder of what I achieved, and of what could have been.
And although circumstances meant it wasn’t my fault, those three little piggy children were seemingly nagging and taunting me of how I should have done better.
I should have tried harder. Somehow.
And I know this probably sounds ridiculous to you, readers: getting annoyed over some piggy banks?
But for me, they represented one major feeling: failure.
If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know that I hate failure.
Leaving things incomplete.
Not finishing things, not doing what I said I would.
It just does not sit right with me – and so I always do my best to achieve things.
And just like in childhood, many things often go wrong for me, no matter how hard I try – but I continue to try, because it’s a better option than giving up.
Failure’s only permanent once you stop trying.
So bearing this in mind, I decided a couple of years ago to try and complete the set.
I looked in charity shops, on eBay, and continued to witter on to my friends about these pigs.
But because Wade Pottery didn’t make as many versions of Lady Hillary and Sir Nathaniel – they were in fewer demand because not many children reached the coveted £100 – these pigs were few and far between.
And if you reached the full set, then like me, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to part with them either. And those people that did want to sell them were charging an extortionate amount for them.
So time, patience and persistence were required.
On Christmas Day 2019, I was absolutely delighted to unwrap the final two pigs Lady Hillary and Sir Nathaniel.
A gift from my friend Nicola, who, having known of my pig-wittering for nearly three decades, had managed to source them somewhere.
I’ll be no-holds-barred brutally honest here: I was utterly fucking delighted.
This was a big deal to me.
Sometimes, although you know it will make no logical sense to onlookers, there’s some things in life that mean a great deal to you – and Nicola helping me complete my set is one of those occasions.
So I’ve wanted to write this blog since Christmas day.
And, as I rightly predicted I would, I have beefed all over the keyboard.
I can’t even tell you why.
Delight of completion, thirty years of disappointment over, the finishing touch to success, maybe?
My five pigs, all together now as a happy family, a complete set.
And I’m superbly chuffed about it.
So, what’s the moral of the story?
What lessons can we learn from this little piggy anecdote?
Money management is a key skill to master in life.
Sometimes life goes wrong. We have to gerronwi’it anyway.
Things don’t always get completed as quickly or successfully as you would like. Expect the unexpected.
Time, patience, and persistence will eventually pay off – even if it is thirty years later.
Only death is unfixable. Everything else can be fixed, in time.
If something is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Don’t ever, ever, ever give up on what you want. X
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like to know more about the history of Natwest’s pigs, see here.
I’ll tell you: they make the sellers bump up the price of items and services unnecessarily!
I’ve seen it this week in the local shopping centre.
We’re a few days before Christmas and shoppers were falling over themselves to buy, in short, utter tat. Christmas presents items such as soap sets, make up, aftershaves, tacky toys, novelty gifts etc.
It’s always baffled me why the price of these goods massively increases just because the manufacturers have boxed them up in jazzy snazzy festive boxes aimed for the Christmas market.
Look at the actual products inside people: you’re telling me it’s worth the bumped-up value just because it’s in a nice glittery box?!
Ditto New Year’s Eve – where many pubs, free for 364 days of the year, now sell you tickets on the door just to let you in to buy their beverages – what’s all that about?!
And as for the word ‘wedding’ – ooof, it’s a free reign licence to sting you!
But my gripe today is when contractors bump up the price of a job just because they hear the word LANDLORD.
There is some bizarre assumption by the world as a whole that most landlords are super rich, greedy money-grabbing fatcats.
I am not most landlords.
And although I acknowledge that there are some people in property world exactly like that, in my experience, most of the property landlords I know locally are just hard working people doing their best to provide a service, and they’re not super-wealthy.
Even though we’d like to be!!
But sadly, this urban myth remains prevalent amongst contractors, who persist in giving you ridiculous prices for services, just because they know you’re a landlord.
I have this running joke, when my friends and other people say “Oh, you must be rich, you’ve got all these houses!”
To which I reply “I’m not rich, BECAUSE I’ve got all these houses!”
Boilers don’t fix themselves you know! All maintenance and repairs works must be paid for – and sadly the Maintenance Monster rears its head in rental properties way too often for my liking!
Now when I talk about fair prices or fleecing, this is not about me being super tight, or mean, or pennypinching (oh ok, I am a bit, I’m Yorkshire, but we all are up here!)
I’m not saying that contractors aren’t worth their price.
Some definitely are – and they’ll know I appreciate their good work and fair fees because I’m loyal; if they look after me, I’ll use their services again and again.
Several times recently I have had discussions with contractors, where they were nice guys, I liked them and wanted to give them the business – but then they went and gave me a stupid quote.
And then things get awkward when you have to tell them: ‘OWWWW MUCH?!?! That’s double what I’ve ever paid before, sorry, but you’re not getting the job.
I know people still need to make a profit, and they’ve got their own business to run and their own families to feed.
I get that.
But I also know what things are worth, because of my experience and prices I’ve paid for things before.
Yes, I might be a landlord, but I’m not a gullible moron who wants to set fire to my money just because you’re greedy.
So yes, sadly, I do find it difficult to undergo any refurbishment work from fair people for a fair price.
Add into the mix that I’m female and the amount of piss-taking pricing and patronising doubles.
(Don’t believe me? Ask any other female property investor!)
I just want a good job done by good guys in a decent timescale for a fair price – without being ripped off – is that too much to ask?!!
It’s sheep that follow someone blindly, and end up getting fleeced – so you need a fair price, not a fleecing.
Here’s a couple of tips when looking for contractors to do work:
Find some local firms who provide the service you need. Meeting them in person is good, such as at networking meetings, or ask for referrals from people you know who have used their services.
Check them out online, look at their social media, examples of work, testimonials.
Arrange for each of your shortlisted contractors to come and do a site visit. Not all at the same time though!
Ps – some of these contractors won’t even turn up.
I’m not joking…
If they don’t even ring you to explain with a genuine excuse for their absence, remove them from your list
4.Bear in mind their attitude, personality and demeanour on the site visit.
If you hate them automatically, your gut instinct is giving you a stark warning to avoid avoid avoid!
Like the recent patronising guy who kept calling me ‘flower’… Imagine the drama I’d have had getting him to do what I needed without a load of hassle and fuss?!
5. Await quotes. This can be anything from 2 hours to never.
Yes really. Some people you will never hear from again.
I’m still waiting for a quote from a guy 18 months ago who spent two hours travelling and pricing up a job!
(Makes interesting fun seeing him dance about to avoid me when he attends the same networking meeting…
…hey, maybe he just decided he hates me, and that’s ok too!)
6. Assess all the quotes for the best. This might not necessarily be the cheapest.
Stupid quotes can also be removed at this point.
In my head, that’s basically the contractor saying: “I don’t like you, I don’t want to work with you, so I’m going to rip you off”. So that’s those guys doing you a favour, they’ve heard the word LANDLORD and those pounds signs start flashing in their eyes. Not today, and not with me, my friend!
7. Pick your favourite contractor with their fair quote.
Book them in for the job. Ideally, it’s someone you know, like and trust.
8. Let them do the job!
Oversee their work, address any queries that arise, but no need to micromanage. They’re competent experts, not schoolkid apprentices.
9. I’m going to add this in, as it seems to be a rising problem for contractors…
Once they’ve done their job to a great standard – pay them!!! There’s been a horrendous rise lately in service providers not being paid for the work they’ve done, or people withholding their payment for ages – and that’s simply not fair.
If they’ve done you a great job, delivered what you asked, why would you not pay them immediately?
And if you can’t afford to do that, then you shouldn’t be booking them in for work until you can.
10. Appreciate their efforts. Make sure they know you’re thankful for their super work. Leave them online testimonials. Refer them to other people you know. Use their services over and over again.
So there we have it… we all love a fair price, but we hate a fleecing!
And yes, for the record, I am a Libra starsign – the sign of the justice scales, of fairness and equality – so woe betide anyone who tries to upset that balance!
Back in the misty depths of time, not quite as far back as ancient Babylon, but a few decades back to that awesome period known as the 1980s…
In this era there lived in mythical beast: Margaret Thatcher.
Love or hate her, this Iron Lady was responsible for passing a scheme in the Housing Act in 1980, meaning that tenants of council houses now had the Right to Buy the home they rented from their local housing association.
By some strange twist of fate another mythical beast/legend occurred in this same year: me!
It is therefore a beautiful coincidence that those ex-local authority properties we find in council housing estates are my favourite type of property to buy – and I’ll tell you why:
Since 1980’s Right to Buy policy was introduced, 6.5 million council houses became tenant-owned in the UK. As a result ,nowadays there is plenty of this stock type to go at as more and more of them come on the market for re-sale
Ex-council houses are generally very large and roomy – just what an ideal tenant family would like to rent!
They generally have gardens with them, often large ones at that. We know that outdoor space is desirable for those looking to rent, especially those with kiddies who need somewhere to run around and burn off steam
Ex-council houses are generally in good nick, as before sale it was down to the council to manage the upkeep and maintenance of them. You might find them a little outdated, but not very often will you find that they are dangerous.
They are well-constructed, but beware: some types are made of prefabricated concrete, but a lot of the time these beauties are made of my favourite traditional red brick which has lasted decades. Strong and sturdy, that’s what we like!
They are very good value for money, typically much cheaper than your other local residential estates.
“But who would I rent such a house to?” I hear you say.
Just normal families, from the local area!
And if you’ve got some pre-conceived stereotypical idea that all people who live on council estates are scruffy scumbags with a range of issues and problems, who would find himself at home on the Jeremy Kyle show… then you couldn’t be further from the truth.
What if I told you that I was brought up in council housing?
When I mention this fact to people, occasionally, with select, narrow minded people, a look of disdain spreads across their face, as if I am going to mug them or stab them.
They give the impression that somehow I should feel ashamed of my past – which I don’t, and have no reason to. Where you’ve come from is no correlation to where you choose you’re going.
The last time I checked I definitely didn’t have 15 kids, a pending jail sentence and a drug addiction!
Those of you that have met me in real life will also know that I wouldn’t be seen dead in a chavvy tracksuit, and I am pleased to report that I have all my own teeth. The stereotype simply isn’t applicable to everyone.
DID YOU KNOW…
…along with 17% OF ALL HOUSEHOLDS IN THE UK…
…the following successful celebrities all lived on council estates in their life? JK ROWLING – DAVID ICKE – ELLIE GOULDING – ELTON JOHN – CRAIG DAVID – ALISON MOYET – JOE WICKS – CHERYL COLE – MICK JAGGER – LILY ALLEN – ALEXANDRA BURKE – SUSAN BOYLE – ANT AND DEC – DUNCAN BANNATYNE – JAMES McAVOY – LEWIS HAMILTON – ALAN SUGAR
My single mother brought me up in a very nice Council house, which she kept IMMACULATE.
And hey ho, being settled in a nice house meant that I was able to progress in life, and escape the socioeconomic issues that were placed on us.
Being poor is not a crime.
But discriminating someone for it is.
And part of “My Why” is that because I personally benefitted by living rented council housing, I feel a moral obligation to assist with providing houses to kids that were just like me. Families that need a solid footing in life to enable them to improve their situation and their future.
Let me be clear on this: if you’ve had a tenant in the past who has caused you problems, it is not because they were a council tenant, or on benefits – it is because they were a wretch.
Good people exist even in the lower demographics of society, and I think, as successful business owners, it is our duty help those that want to help themselves.
Many residents of council estates are proud people who want to better themselves – and Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme meant that those who worked hard could get on the housing ladder, and thus fulfil that great British Dream of owning your own house.
But isn’t there a shortage of housing?
Buying all the council houses means there’s less houses for those in need surely?
The ones we’re buying have already been bought at least once before. They’ll never get to go back and be council properties again. And yes, that has caused a massive strain on the availability of rental housing, but we as property investors haven’t caused that. If anything, we’re doing the councils a favour by bringing rental accommodation back into use, especially if you choose to house families on benefits.
What about rental demand for an ex-council house?
Here in Leeds there are 24,000 households on the housing register and yet they can only let around 5,000 properties a year. People are on a waiting list to bid for properties as they become available, and a quick glance on the Leeds Homes website tells me the wait to be able to bid for a two-bedroomed house can be anywhere from 3 months – right up to 58 months.
And so, we know why ex-local authority houses make excellent properties, we know there is strong demand to fill them, we know we can rent them to nice normal families, and you know why I personally think we should be helping.
Go out and buy some ex-council houses and help those families thrive!
Here are my top five reasons why being in property is great!
Here we go…
Number 1: You get to help people.
First and foremost, you are providing homes for tenants. There’s a real shortage of rental accommodation, and if you can help provide that service, it benefits both parties.
A great reason to start with!
Number 2: You play the role of magician!
There’s something very special about making a superb transformation.
You take an utter grotbox of a house, throw a little magic dust / good contractors / cash and effort at it, et voilá: one great refurbished house!
It feels good to be able to bring dilapidated housing stock back into use.
Nobody wants to see them rot and go to rack and ruin anyway – not in my beautiful Leeds!
Number 3: You only have to do the real hard work once.
I love single let housing.
Once you’ve done the hard work; ie refurbished them to a good standard and rented them out to a lovely tenant, there’s actually very little to do.
Yes, there might be the occasional inspection to do, or a couple of times a year the tenant will ring with a maintenance problem that’s arisen to be fixed… but on the whole, these rentals just keep ticking away nicely.
What’s not to love?!?
Number 4: Property gives you the freedom to do whatever you like!
Looking after a rental portfolio doesn’t actually take up a lot of time, meaning you have a good amount of freedom to choose how you spend your time.
And I love doing whatever I like!
Number 5: Investors lend you money towards property projects, and you give them a superb return for it.
In this particular case study in Leeds, we used a legal loan agreement for the investor to lend me funds to purchase this house.
I refurbished the property to a good standard, uplifted the value, and placed a tenant family in it as their long-term home.
Then I put a mortgage on the house, and drew out most of the uplifted equity.
This enabled me to repay the investor back his capital, plus a very healthy return – which was much better than anything he could have received in interest from high street banks!
Investment funds in this project were returned in 9 months and 3 days. 🗓
The investor made a superb profit passively; I helped him, and he helped me, and we both helped that tenant family!
If you’d have cash sitting in a bank making poor returns – get in touch to discuss employing funds in a project like this to make you a far better return on investment.
Kellyann Martin is a Property Investment Strategist based in Leeds.
So as it’s October 31st, I will share with you some Halloween Horrors… of Property!
There are many scary things about property that keep us terrified and awake at night… and some are just downright horrors!
First one: mysterious happenings in the middle of the night! 😱
During a property’s refurbishment, sometimes spooky things happen when you’re not there… 🤔
Here’s some examples of things I’ve experienced – and how to avoid them rising from the dead again on future projects! ⚰️
👻 Curse: a magic apparition of a load of old junk added to my scrap pile 😤 ✝️ To break the spell: avoid this by collating all your junk materials, old bathrooms etc, INSIDE until the day the skip arrives. Then whang all the junk in at once and get them to lift the skip the same day, to avoid demon neighbours inflicting their curses and junk on you! 👍
🎃 Curse: paranormal activity, in the form of your rubbish bins magically disappearing overnight! 😤 ✝️ break the spell by fetching your bins inside the property, or they will go missing. Why? Because often some impish neighbours will fancy an extra bin – and many councils now charge for replacement bins. 🤨
👹 Curse: on one project, some utter evil devil had dumped a monster-sized bag of, erm, stinking doggy ectoplasm in my garden, for me to kindly dispose of 💩😱😤 ✝️ BEGONE SATAN!!! Sometimes in property – and life – very shitty things happen – quite literally. No cure for this curse, sometimes people are just fiends and wretches out to inflict hurt and suffering on you. To deal with this though, you have to adopt a strong PMA (positive mental attitude) for bad things, to keep those demonic vibes at bay. So think positively about such demonic acts – use your strength and will to tell them: “the power of Christ compels you… to not be so powerful so that your horrible nonsense won’t get to me!!!”
Remember, things can only upset you if you allow them to! 💪😁✝️
Next Tale from the Crypt…
Sometimes when you get the keys to a property, you will find that the house is possessed – by all sorts of creatures, dead or alive!
Bugs, woodlice, silverfish, mice, birds, and our old Halloween favourite, those beastly spiders! 🕷🕷🕷
However, all those fail in comparison when I remember the Longroyd project, with the Bugs of Doom…
This particular house was the deceased estate of a little old lady.
All the carpets had been stripped out – but little did we know, that lurking in the floorboards, ready to pounce, was THE CURSE OF THE INDESTRUCTIBLE KILLER FLEAS!! 😩☠️👾☠️👾
We all got bit by these fleabag masses; itchy, horrid biting creatures; urrrgh, I shudder just remembering them.
And then worst of all, because they get in your clothes, I inadvertently brought them home with me – and despite never before being infected, in all her years… I ended up giving my own Pusscat fleas… 😱😱😱
I WAS THE SPREADER OF EVIL! 👺👾🙀😿😾
That house took me four flea bombs and a mass amount of cleaning to rid that satanic scourge, and then the same again in my own house.
So I’m not a fan of house possessions, by horrible creepy crawly poltergeists!
If you have similar ‘unwanted tenant’ squatters – purge your property thoroughly with an exorcism: with hard cleaning graft, prayers and strong chemicals. It’s the only way to rid yourself of such demons!!
Moving on, another cautionary tale that strikes immense fear into my being…
The very thought of it brings me out in a cold sweat, and undertaking the necessary evil of it is like a dagger to my heart… 🔪🥶🥵🤯🤮
What I am talking about?
If you’re from Yorkshire, I know you’ll already know what I’m about to say…
… the biggest horror in property is THE CURSE OF THE BURNING PURSE!!! 😩😫😭😭😭💷🔥
Property costs money, in all sorts of fiendish ways: ❌ purchase ❌ stamp duty ❌ insurance ❌ legal fees ❌ gas safety ❌ refurbishment ❌ operating expenses ❌ maintenance ❌ utilities ❌ voids ❌ repairs ❌ naughty tenants ❌ 🆘
The scariest thing in the world for a Yorkshireman is having money extracted from our weary paws.
We hate the evil, bloodsucking flesh-eating bogeyman known as the Grim Reaper Taxman!
And as for the eerie cackling call of the House Repairs Goblin, he terrifies us with his creepy visits way too often!
Still when you have families living in your property – many of them angels, and not werewolves – you’ve got to do what’s right to protect them from evil.
So you unnervingly summons your petrified purse / wallet from beneath the grave, dust off the cobwebs, and see what decomposing funds lurk within.
Then zombie-like and crying, you perform a spell, which mostly involves setting fire to your money.
After this chilling sorcery, magic apparitions then appear – more recently in my case, in the form of a new light fitting, a new door handle, and a new electric cooker 😩💷🔥
So beware all ye wannabe property investors – have ye got the stomach to cope with such grizzly, ghastly and horrifying money-sucking phantoms?!? 😭🤮
And Yorkshire folk: normally your purse has to be prised from your corpse’s cold, dead fingers… can you perform some supernatural hocus pocus and… ACTUALLY SPEND SOME MONEY?!?
Terrifying stuff, I know, it scares me too…
Be afraid… be very afraid… 😱😱😱
Finally, this last topic is the scariest yet.
It can either be a trick or a treat, depending on how you prepare yourself.
The most terrifying thing in property are… bloodsucking vampires.
What do I mean by this?
I mean that there are some horrible people in this industry that are out to bleed you dry for all they can get.
Examples of these demons include: ☠️ beastly cowboy builders ☠️ bungling scarecrow solicitors ☠️ bloodsucking bridging firms ☠️ vampires who want to extract all your time, knowledge and education for free ☠️ horrible trolls out to hurt and criticise you ☠️ incompetent zombie workmen ☠️ repulsive RIP-off merchants ☠️ petrifying Ponzi schemes ☠️ shady sharks out to strip you of your money ☠️ outrageous ogres who make all sorts of unbelievable claims about ROI ☠️ untrustworthy shyster wolves who don’t return your investment funds.
I’m not pulling any punches here. It’s a spine-chilling warning. The most terrifying part about this post is that it’s all true.
These nasty people do exist, and they walk amongst us – often smiling and beguiling us with their witchcraft.
I myself have experienced several of the above, and I know that many of my investor friends have too.
So what can we do to ensure we get a little less trick, and a lot more treat?
Here are some tips, to renounce the evil: ✝️ Don’t work with people you don’t know, like or trust 🥰 ✝️ Do your due diligence on people – are they who they say they are? How do you know? Can they show you evidence and proof? 🧐 ✝️ Google them! Reviews, testimonials, online presence, Companies House, images, news… EVERYTHING! Sometimes it’s in your own interest to be a bit stalker-ish… 🤔🧟♀️ ✝️ You are a grown adult of your own free will. If someone is putting you under pressure to part with cash, your internal alarm bells should be ringing 🚫 ✝️ Trust your gut instinct. If anything feels wrong, for any reason – don’t do it 👊👌👍
Phew! Terrifying stuff!
But forewarned is forearmed. Use these tips above as your vampire-slaying kit. Add in some garlic if you like! Avenge these property monsters!
Although I’d leave the knives and weapons at home… or at least until the Halloween moonlight hits… 😏🔪
Have a spooky and safe Halloween everyone! x x x
Kellyann Martin is a Property Investment Strategist based in Leeds.
For more details on working with Kellyann, visit the website
I’m writing this because of a little occurrence that happened yesterday, which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
I had put my car in for the MOT in the morning and so had to get the bus into Leeds. I was booked in to attend a workshop.
Whilst I was on the bus, it went through one of my property investment patches, one of the poorer areas.
A young lass on the seat behind me began having a phone conversation. Now I didn’t have much choice but to listen to this girl’s conversation, and as it panned out, I began to feel sorry for her.
She was on the phone to what appeared to be some sort of loan or debt repayment company – explaining how she was baffled that a payment of £19 had been missed and that she couldn’t afford the double payments of £38 plus a £12 late payment charge.
I listened, and felt bad for her – especially as during her conversation she triggered all my emotional key phrases, such as “I’m a single mum”, “I can’t afford that”, and “If I pay you all that I’m going to be left short this week”.
This phone call had lasted ten minutes by now while she argued her case.
I had a discreet look round at her, bearing in mind I hadn’t seen her up to now, just heard her phone call.
She was a young lass in her early 20s, plainly and casually dressed. She looked quite tidy, not rough or drug-addicted, nor too extravagant, jazzy or flashy – just a normal young girl who appeared to be having some hardship.
I ummed and aahed to myself, and decided that I would try and help her.
I looked in my purse. I’m a bit like the Queen these days in that I don’t often carry real money anymore (in fact did you know that only 30% of transactions in the UK now are cash? But that’s another story…)
However, I had a 5 pound note in my purse.
It wasn’t much, but it would make me feel better knowing that she’d have enough cash to make sure she had food for her kid.
I thought about my plan to give her this fiver.
What if she was insulted?
In the past, I’ve had people feel sorry for me, when I was a skint kid with a poor single mother – and I know how that humiliation burns.
Her conversation continued, and she mentioned to the person on the other end of the line that she was annoyed that she was having to have this embarrassing conversation on a public bus.
I felt her humiliation for her, the last thing anyone wants to be doing is airing private problems in front of everyone.
The bus arrived at the main stop on Leeds and everyone started to disembark. She got up, continuing her phone call, and I immediately got up after her, discreetly touched her on the arm and tried to give her the fiver.
What happened next baffled, confused and surprised me.
She laughed, moved the phone away from her face and said, “Oh it’s alright, don’t worry, I’m lying to them”. And then a farcical scenario occurred, where I didn’t believe her, tried to give her the money anyway and she laughed and refused.
I got off the bus absolutely bewildered.
I contemplated this.
I thought how convincing her story was.
And how I, normally cynical and savvy, had believed what I had heard from her.
Am I going soft?
How could I have not spotted that she wasn’t genuine?
I’m normally so good at spotting fibs and incongruencies; my gut instincts are very strong.
And then I was baffled: she had easily lied to a stranger on the phone that she didn’t know, but then told the truth to someone right in front of her, when they offered the help of money.
I laughed at this juxtaposition.
Was she lying to them?
Or just lying to me?
And if them; are things really so bad that being short of £19 is an issue?
What would have happened if I’d had a twenty-pound note to offer?
I genuinely thought that she needed help, and tried to give her it. We don’t see people as they are, but as we are.
What would you have done in that situation?
And how would you have reacted to her revelation?
I went on to my workshop, which was about private investment.
It became absolutely clear to me that you really need to know someone very well when making an investment.
How can you ever be sure you trust someone with your money?
And know for certain that they’re not a wretch?
I’ve met people before, and within half an hour of meeting them, they’ve offered to lend me money. This makes me very nervous and dubious, and I tell them, “But you hardly know me!”.
It makes me concerned how easily other people agree to things so quickly. I’m nervous for them: not because I’m a wretch who will rip them off – but because there are other people out there who will.
I want people to know me first before they invest with me.
Because although I know that I’m trustworthy, it’s very important to me that I know that other people know that I am trustworthy as well.
I’m not content with just taking someone’s money to invest if I think they’re uneasy about me.
After all, anyone could say anything on the internet, and perhaps, like me, you could be fooled by a one-sided conversation.
My point is this: meet people in person before investing anything: time, effort, or money.
Get to know them.
Watch what they do and how they behave, over a period of time.
Get proof that they are what they say they are.
Because I would absolutely hate to think that someone has taken advantage of your good nature.
Even if it is only a fiver…
Kellyann is a full time property investor and investment strategist, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
For further details of her work, and how she can help you, please visit:
And of those, who has ever had a
surveyor make an absolutely ridiculous valuation on the property?
Hmmm, that’ll be every property
Despite our best due diligence, our
most recent sold and for sale comparables, our best work, time and money spent
in refurbishment… there will always be
some utter clown of a surveyor who is more interested in covering their own
arse than daring to admit what your newly-refurbished property is now actually
What’s all that about?!
Sadly, it’s becoming more and more
frequent to have a downvaluation: I’ve had it, my friends and all the local
investors have had it, so it seems it’s a scourge across the board.
Surveyors obviously belong to some
evil underground unit, where they get rewarded with downvaluation commission.
There’s no logic to their madness.
What’s more infuriating is when the
surveyors appear not to even look at the comparables, even when you give them
them in their hand. And what’s doubly infuriating is that sometimes you are
charged a surveying fee for them to go out and shaft you… #cry
One house I had last year was exactly
the same as the comparable 4 DOORS DOWN, which had sold 7 months earlier. And
although mine was newly refurbished, it was EXACTLY the same house, both with
internal layout and outside grounds, but the surveyor still valued it lower than
the twin one twenty metres away.
WHAT’S ALL THAT ABOUT?!?!
If I was if the murderous type, that
surveyor would now be under the patio, Brookside style…
Still, what’s the point of my rant?
Well, to help you minimise the risk
of this happening, and these are the things you can do to help that.
the risk when you are doing your due diligence on the property by assuming
the end value will be the worst-case scenario. Let’s be a pessimist here,
then if some miracle happens and they do actually do their job properly,
then anything above your worst-case prediction is a Brucie bonus.
Good game, good game!
2. Look carefully at
the comparable properties within a half mile radius in the last two years. And
compare apples with apples, for instance a two-bed terrace is not going to be
the same as a two bed semi-detached, so find houses that closely match what you
have. Look at sold prices, and then current similar properties on the market.
3. Make a full list of
every single refurbishments item you have done in the property. Don’t bother
putting down what it cost you, it’s none of their business! Let them think
you’ve paid more than the savvy tight-fisted bargain-hunting investor you are.
4. Take clear before
and after refurbishment photographs during the project. The grimmer the better!
(I mean grim before obviously!)
5. Meet the surveyor
at the property, Even if it’s already tenanted, just explain to your tenant
what is going on, and allay their fears that no, there is nothing to panic
about, you’re not selling the house!
Be nice to the
surveyor! Smile! Make genteel pleasant small talk, and point out things that
were absolutely terrible in the house before you had your magic charm fixing
them. Confirm the rental amount, with the tenancy agreement if required.
6. Prepare a little
report pack, which you are happy to give to the surveyor. This should include
details of the house, your list of refurbishment works, your before and after
photos, and some Rightmove screenshots of comparable sold prices and current
similar for sale values. Obviously, make sure you pick some examples which are
in realistic keeping with your current property – it’s pointless showing them
the other ones that sold really cheaply because they needed work!
7. Pray that your
surveyor is not an absolute clown. Keep praying.
8. If the survey
report comes back with a ridiculous valuation, you can either suck it up and
take it, change lender (and thus surveyors), or get your mortgage broker to
dispute it. If disputing it, work with your mortgage broker to build up a case
of evidence, which politely shows, that actually, Mr Mortgage Surveyor, you’re
talking tosh, and these are the reasons why.
9. Another option which
may be considered, is to pay for your own independent RICS survey before
the mortgage lenders surveyor goes out. This will obviously cost you a couple
of hundred pounds, but it makes it more difficult for the surveyor to downvalue
something, when you have placed in their hand a report from the Royal Institute
of Chartered Surveyors.
10. Finally, if all
else fails, seek out and destroy the surveyor. There is no other option.
Good luck, and let’s hope that the
surveyors all get standardised and trained properly very soon!
# Disclaimer: no surveyors were harmed
in the making of this blog or portfolio.
…but there’s always time…
When not entertaining herself with impromptu amateur photoshoots, Kellyann is a full time property investor and investment strategist, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
For further details of her work, and how she can help you, please visit:
…and Ten Things I’ve learned about being a Landlord in the that time!
Somehow, somewhere, a full decade has passed since I first rented out a property!
In late 2008, I moved into a house, and kept my little cheap cheerful flat I’d lived in since 2001.
I rented it out to a nice single older chappy who kept it superbly tidy – and realised pretty quickly: “This is great! The mortgage is getting paid and I’m making some money on top of that as well!
It would be a few more years though until I started building my portfolio properly – shame it wasn’t ten years earlier!
Nevertheless, I’ve been reflecting on the things I learned about being a landlord over the last ten years, and thought I would share my thoughts so they help other new landlords.
So here goes!
TENANTS ON BENEFITS AND YOUR GUT INSTINCT
Just because a tenant is on benefits it doesn’t make them a bad choice. If someone is a wretch, it is because they are a wretch, not because they are on benefits. I have a couple of benefits families and they are great, and I’m glad I didn’t rule them out.
However, if your gut instinct tells you a potential tenant is a wretch, your gut instinct is right.
In ten years, I have only rented to two different people that turned out badly – and I had a bad feeling about both them as soon as I met them.
Still, I didn’t listen to my gut, decided to give them a chance in my multi-let property – and both times, they caused me problems, chaos and lost rent. But luckily, they were short-lived and ejected reasonably swiftly after a bit of fuss.
And my gut instinct said afterwards; “Ha! I told you so! Should’ve listened!”
NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR PROPERTY AS MUCH AS YOU
Not even letting agents – they’re not worried if you’re losing money because it’s not their house and it’s not their money!
Items that have previously annoyed me about letting agents include:
– Ripping me off for organising basic repairs. £100 for a gas safety certificate? Ahahahahahahah!!! Nah, you’re alright love, I’ll book a guy mysen!
– Charging me hundreds of pounds for what is effectively a ten-minute job reprinting paperwork
– Not informing me about issues with the property (more details later…)
– Sourcing for me what turned out to be an unsuitable tenant who obviously had debt problems – why didn’t they pick that up? It’s not like I didn’t pay them an…
– EXTORTIONATE amount for their referencing!
– Not managing to find me a suitable tenant for a rental, leaving me with a void of four months – FOUR MONTHS! And these are supposed to be the professionals! (incidentally, when they left, I found a new tenant myself, who moved in within 13 DAYS!)
– Trapping you in a contract forevermore, so that even if they’re rubbish, it’ll still cost you a month’s rent to leave them.
– My final peeve is their extortionate fees for very little work. I only have one property left contracted / trapped with an agent – my little flat – and every month the letting agent collects the rent into their bank account and simply transfers it to my bank account – and charges me £42.72 for the privilege.
Thanks for that, really great value!
MAINTENANCE ISSUES NEVER ARISE ON THEIR OWN!
There is some magic law of Landlord Land, that across the portfolio, things never go wrong in isolation. Maintenance issues never arise on their own, one thing at a time – they get shy about making theirselves known, and talk to their naughty issue mates, so that magically there’s always a couple of things that happen together. Nowt happens for ages, and then suddenly a boiler will break, some wretch will fire an air rifle pellet at a window and then a ceiling will cave in from a floor leak upstairs. All at once.
This is some sort of evil maintenance Sod’s law!
So prepare for this multi-chaos, it’s very stressful, and painful to the wallet.
TENANT ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS
Without tenants, you have no customers and so they should be treated politely and fairly, if you expect the same treatment in return.
Why wouldn’t you look after them if you want them to remain in your house, looking after it, and paying rent?!
It boils my blood to hear about wretch landlords who don’t look after their tenants.
I’ve just taken a family on whose previous residence was black with mould: the landlord did nothing and the kiddy has asthma.
Not fair, not acceptable, and whilst I admit I’m far from perfect, at least I’m trying to do a good job. These landlord wretches are making us good landlords look bad!
5. YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY TO LIVE IN YOUR OWN HOUSES
If I wouldn’t live in certain conditions, I don’t expect my tenants to. This applies to safety features, decor, everything.
Several times after a refurbishment I’ve said: this is better than my own house! (and usually much bigger!)
Be thinking: is this acceptable? How can I make it better?
Be responsible and ethical.
Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused – by negligence. Minimise risk for the tenants. Ask yourself what’s the worse that could happen if I don’t resolve this issue?
And my big conscience pricking thought is always “Ooooh, what if this happens and it hurts the kiddy?!”
I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, and I like to sleep at night: so do the right thing.
FIX MAINTENANCE ISSUES QUICKLY
If an issue arises, it doesn’t go away!
In a lot of cases, they get worse if you don’t deal with them, so fix issues quickly. Once a tenant started getting damp in flat from a leak on the balcony, and reported it to the letting agent – who did nothing, least of all inform me.
By the time the tenant got fed up and decided to complain to me directly, after about 8 months, the issue had gotten much worse. A great deal of damp mould had developed over that time, and it cost me much more to put it right than it would have done if the agents had told me when they should have done. Ballbags.
Lessons to be learned from this: encourage tenants to highlight issues early. Some don’t, bafflingly, for fear you’ll get annoyed with them (!!)
One crazy example that still bewilders me is this: On an inspection, the tenant let me in the side door telling me it was because the front door had stopped opening a couple of months earlier. Hence my horror: “Why didn’t you tell me? How will you get out if there’s a fire? You’re eight months’ pregnant!!”
I have a conscience, but through no fault of my own, if all had gone horrendously wrong, I could have ended up in jail…
Another lesson – inspect the property yourself frequently to check all is well.
GET THE PAPERWORK RIGHT
Do the paperwork documents properly and professionally. They protect you if anything goes wrong. And if you don’t know what to do, learn!
Things to consider:
· Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
· Right to Rent Checks
· Credit Checks and Referencing
· Inventory of the property
· Copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide
· A Gas Safety Certificate
· The electricity and gas meter readings
· Information about Government-approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
· Tenancy Deposit Registration
· Energy Performance Certificate
· Electrical Inspection Record
· Contact Details for the Landlord
· Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarm checks
· Rent collection details
· Deed of Surrender at the end of a tenancy
REMEMBER THAT BOTH TENANTS AND LANDLORDS ARE HUMANS
Because we are people, things sometimes happen in our lives that are not great.
Be understanding – but not a mug.
Learn the difference between someone who is having genuine hardship issues and work with them to come up with a solution.
If you encourage them to always be honest with you when an issue arises, you can work through it together. An example of this might be: “My boss has had a payroll problem and my wage hasn’t gone in yet, sorry, my rent will be a few days late.”
I am fine when people are honest with me and tell me that they are working their way to a solution. As long as it doesn’t happen too often!
However, on the other hand, some people are just full of bullshit.
Some tenants tell you outright lies that would make Pinocchio blush. Work out when someone is just trying to take the piss out of you. Then deal with them appropriately!
And remember: people treat you exactly how you allow them to.
I remember one time, the aforementioned debt tenants (sourced by those pesky letting agents!), both working, and both on a couple of packs of expensive cigarettes a day, said me that they were struggling to afford the rent – so would I reduce the rent by £100 a month?!
Are you joking?
Would my own mortgage company accept that cheeky proposal?
Like a broken bit of rope: I’m a frayed knot.
I’m not a charity, and I have my own bills to pay.
So although they were nice people, they had to move somewhere more affordable. And their many debt chasing letters still go to the house now, several years later.
Sad, but you’re not responsible for the way other people conduct their affairs. So don’t be a mug about it!
9. BE CLEAR TO TENANTS ON EXPECTATIONS
Tenants have a wide, varying spectrum of opinions on what is ‘acceptable’ – in terms of cleanliness, behaviour, and especially at the end of a tenancy “returning the property back in a lettable state”. Give them clear guidelines of what is expected and what is not tolerated.
My most recent example is on a tenant changeover. I did indeed give them a list of what was required, including a requirement to have it professionally cleaned. (which they ignored!)
They had cleared the house, but not cleaned it; it was filthy, but worse of all stank throughout. I had to say to her: “I can’t rent it out like that, the whole house stinks of dog piss!”. And she replied “Ohhh, I thought you’d say that…” REALLY?!?!!
A neighbour informed us why, after they left: apparently they had had several dogs instead of the one they were allowed. Thus every floor covering, pristinely laid brand at the beginning of the tenancy 3.5 years earlier, had to be ripped up and replaced. All the house had to be scrubbed and repainted.
Tenant deposit, which they most definitely did not get back: £650.
Total cost to myself to put house back to a lettable state: £1069.01.
Lessons learned, which I have since implemented:
– Don’t leave a landlord inspection more than a year! There was only one dog there last time I went in!!
– Give standards sheet at beginning of tenancy and when they give their notice. Remind them it needs to be exactly how it was when they moved in.
– Note on inventory smell of rooms, plus condition of items, ie brand new/ installed May etc.
– Do a video tour inventory as well – difficult to dispute something they see on screen. Send them this when they hand in their notice.
– Take a larger deposit!
THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A LANDLORD?
You genuinely have the power to improve someone else’s life by providing them with a home.
There’s no better feeling for me than handing someone keys to their new home when they previously had nowhere.
You are enabling them to have a stabilising factor in making their life better.
So despite all the chaos, paperwork, stress, maintenance, costs, and occasional tenant issues, there’s a very good reason that I, and many other landlords do this line of work.
We’re helping people!
Kellyann specialises in giving great returns to private investors through property investment.
Well landlords and property investors, just in case you missed the new Government legislation that came into force this year, here is what you need to know!
“From April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.”
So if you’ve bought a old grotbox to do up; a house that hasn’t been touched or updated for years, the likelihood is that it won’t meet the criteria needed.
This was the case with my recent project; when I bought it, it was rated at Energy Efficiency Rating G, therefore making it illegal to let out.
Now that I’ve had various works done to it – full rewire and energy efficient lighting, brand new combi boiler and central heating with thermostatic system and heat control valves, amongst a host of other things – it meets the criteria.
But that doesn’t matter a jot if your new updated rating isn’t listed on the national EPC register! No certificate, no point!
So yes, you’ve to pay a domestic energy assessor to come out to your house, check what you’ve changed, and then they’ll prepare you a new EPC and put it on the online database.
And this is exactly what happened at my project today, so I thought I’d share some insights to help you with yours.
1.) Know beforehand what the assessor is likely to be looking for, by…
2.) …acquainting yourself with the http://www.epcregister.com online. It’s free, and you can nosy at the majority of properties in England and Wales by postcode.
3.) Usually there is an old EPC telling you recommendations of what to do to improve the rating. Simply do these within your refurb!
There are a few things to consider which are generally applicable to all properties, the list is here…
4.) Once all the works are complete, book your EPC assessor. Many can be found online locally, so shop around (today’s price for a 3-bed house was £39)
5.) Make sure your chosen assessor is approved, they should be able to tell you their EES membership number.
6.) Remember, to legally let out a residential property, the house must be rated as a minimum of E. You will get in bother if they are F or G! Don’t panic though, if they are, you are currently still allowed to rent them out, but only on the basis that they started their tenancy before the new rules came into force in April 2018.
So if you need to upgrade, you can wait until:
a) there’s a changeover in tenants and you get new ones
b) your current tenants sign a new tenancy
c) or there’s a change in Government policy!
You can’t avoid it forever though, and why would you? Sort your houses out so they’re legal!
7.) Give your tenants the new Energy Performance Certificate, a tangible paper copy (and get them to sign to say they’ve received it!), and email a copy to them as well. as evidence of a paper trail audit. Because if the tenancy all goes horribly wrong, if you haven’t give them an EPC beforehand, you won’t be able to start the procedure to evict them!
So there we go, a brief overview to being street legal with regards to energy efficiency – Enjoy your energy!!!
If you’re local to Leeds/Bradford, here is the lovely chap I used today, and Adnan is happy for me to let you know about him.