You have been in the property business for over 25 years, what are some of your business philosophies?
I, myself, have had a mentor and a coach for 10 years. There’s different junctures in your life where you really need support and a great example is Usain Bolt. When he first started, from his early years – Jamaican athletics, North American athletics, World Olympics – at each stage of his journey, he upgraded his coach. You upgrade as you become better, because you want to become something more than what you are.
That says a lot about needing support, we all need support and in reality it’s cheaper. It could be a planning consultant, it could be an architect, it could be somebody in construction. It’s someone who can help you and that’s not too different at a personal level.
One is that you can not know it all. That means don’t be afraid to bring in subject matter experts who can help you along your property journey. Sometimes it might appear that those are costly, but actually, in the key part is that he’s an Olympic superstar three times – Olympic champion of three different events.
The other philosophy is that I firmly believe in paying it forward, which means to put people in a better place. If you put people in a better place it helps your relationship building. Whilst you might not see the benefits today, you will inevitably see the benefits years down the track and you can’t even imagine how much value that has. That’s key for me.
Tell me a bit about your property journey
My property journey started 28 years ago when we first bought our mom and dad a council flat. I was only 21 then and I didn’t really know about the legal system; I didn’t know about mortgages. I didn’t even know how we’d buy an ex council flat so the journey just started from there. As the journey goes on you transition to more buy-to-let properties and do more of those, then move on to things like HMOs and do more of those. Eventually you end up in the big wide world of property development and I think that’s the journey that most property developers will go through because they all have a learning curve.
Tell me about the deal you were most proud of
The deal that I was most proud of is actually the land deal that we’re currently working on. We bought that to get planning for 22 houses. The reason I was proud of that is because of when we first bought it. The real part is the reason we got the site which was from sitting down with the owner and working out what’s in it for them. What’s the problem statement? Most developers, when they go in, they’re not focused on the landowner and what their problem is. All that happened with us was a sit down with a couple of coffees. He just wanted to move to his dreamhouse in Dorset somewhere, or I think Cornwall, and somebody just came along and said well what do you need for that to happen? And he turned around and said well no one’s ever asked me that, because they first come in and try and close the deal. So from there we agreed a really good, favourable price, and then gave him a bonus at the end. And I’m proud of the fact that you know you’re creating a win-win scenario with the landowner. And that’s key.
On the flip side, tell me about a deal you lost out on
The deal that I lost out on actually happened about three years ago. A nice little
And it’s gut wrenching when you see what happened to the site. Whoever did buy that pub got 15 flats out of it. I’d only budgeted 12. The lessons learned from that are that you must must line up the funding in advance. That includes the equity as well, and also set investors expectations ahead of time because if you don’t then this is where it’ll get lost. Subsequent to that, it’s now a case of making sure that the right expectations are set from everywhere. The seller, who is the landowner, as well as the investors so that when something good comes along, you’re ready to make the move.pub, and the reason we lost out on that is because I hadn’t lined up the investment and the investors in order to actually close the site.
What would you consider to be your legacy?
So my legacy is
One I think we already mentioned a few times is making sure that you leave everybody involved in your project in a better place. Whether it’s the person who owns the site, whether it’s the person you’re selling it to, whether it’s the investor. Everybody must make sure that there’s a win-win scenario in place. two fold.
The second legacy is split into two parts. A lot of this legacy is to leave something better for the future. For the kids, but more importantly, it’s life lessons and everything you learn as a parent. What can you do to make sure that your children don’t make the same mistakes? That’s the legacy I expect to leave behind and that’s hugely important to me.