Immanuel Ezekiel: skillsets, transparency & legacy (1)
Part of our focus at TrustedLand is to champion the good ones, by highlighting developers and agents that have experience and success to their name, backed with stellar recommendations. I spoke to Immanuel Ezekiel, a published author and the real estate professional behind St. James Investment Properties, about his property journey.
During your career of twenty years, what are some of the business strategies you have developed, and what leads you to take certain business opportunities?
I started like most people as a property investor by buying buy-to-let properties, and then going from buy-to-let properties in terms of professional lets, single lets, into HMOs, and then from there, progressing into finding my own developments.
As the property market became more difficult, we go in cycles. So I’ve been through a few cycles now, where the property market’s gone up, it’s gone down, it’s gone sideways, so you have to have a few different strategies that run alongside it. Going into property development was one of the strategies that I use, and have used quite consistently over the last 20 years or finding properties that have, I’d say, potential of an upside. It doesn’t always have to be a new build, it can sometimes be a conversion, a renovation, but something where I can add a real sort of value.
Tell me a bit about your recent partnership with Fortis Green Group.
One of my property strategies has always been to joint venture with people, on a regular basis, that have different skillsets to me. I have certain skillsets, and if I work on my own, property can be very lonely. Secondly, by bringing in different specialists in different areas, you are able to have a completely unique contact base - the people on our network are very different, so we bring different people in, but more importantly, it's the different skillsets.
With Fortis Green, we are working on land acquisition. We will identify plots of land. We will then approach the landowner to do option agreements similar to actually finding sites, so that’s part of the strategy. Within Fortis Green, one of the two people I’ve worked with over the last few years is doing that specifically, and quite successfully on his own.
But because he is working on his own, it takes longer to build what he needs to, whereas the other partners within the group allow us to use our skillsets to acquire more land effectively, work in them simultaneously, and also pull our resources, as it is actually quite costly to get a site to planning when working with the architects, the planners, the councils; all the costs involved in getting a site. So by actually pulling our resources means that we can look at many more sites simultaneously.
With your experience as a seminar trainer, what skills do you feel have translated through to your development career?
There is a saying in property that "your net worth is directly linked to your network" and the more people you have in your network of what I call ‘real caliber people’ allows you far more opportunities. So working through speaking, I have a lot of people that approach me who either want to work with me or through me because of my knowledge and expertise. So speaking has absolutely helped. It has increased my knowledge as well, because the more speaking I do, the more research I have to do, and the more people I interact with. They all go hand in hand.
Property is a people’s business, so the more people you work and speak with, the more opportunities come your way. That is the same for a lot of businesses, but in particular, property, because you have so many different skills that you need to bring forward to make a property deal happen, whether it be a straightforward buy-to-let or an HMO, or whether it be a development. Architects, solicitors, planners, local authorities, accountants, all need to be brought in, so all of those areas have helped me dramatically over the last 20 years.
To read about Immanuel's thoughts on the property and writing books, click on Part 2.