The mistakes I made with HMOs

It’s easy to think that everyone else has it easy. Especially if you’re looking ahead at someone who has ten times more property than you have. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves with others don’t we? Even though we know it’s not helpful, if we’re completely honest with ourselves we can’t help it!
Although comparing yourself with other people is often unhelpful, it can also propel you to take more action than you would have done alone. I wanted to share with you how I took a lot of risks and made a lot of mistakes to get to the point of having over 150 rooms in ownership or management, a pub, a commercial conversion, and a portfolio of single buy to let properties.
For example, when I decided to invest seriously in HMOs in 2012, I bought a small two-up, two down. It had one shared kitchen and one shared bathroom. It was small but I loved it. I poured hours of my time into that one house. And I spent very little on the refurb – about £7000. Which is about the profit I made in my first year. It was 100% return! But I was still swapping my time for money. That house became a part-time job for me as I tenanted it, managed it and even cleaned it!
On my second HMO, half way through the refurb, my builder mentioned an idea he had to go into the loft and convert it to another lettable room. Despite not having the money, nor knowing where the money would come from I said YES to him. So he started the work and I couldn’t pay him.
When the Council’s Building Regs Control officer came round his jaw opened to the floor. Not because I was doing such a good job project managing it. Quite the opposite! He dropped the bombshell that I would need planning permission for a 7 bed HMO and acoustic insulation. I had NO idea what he was talking about so had to rapidly go home and google it.
If I had known all that beforehand, I would have saved myself thousands of pounds.
I began to see that doing it alone was costing me time, and money. And I wanted a business that saved me time and made me money.
My basic problem was that I was too proud and independent to ask for help. I wanted to show the world I could do it and I wanted to prove that I was as good as anyone else in property. Deep down, I felt second rate. In many parts of my life I had felt a failure (I failed my ‘A’ levels, my first marriage failed, and I didn’t think I had always put other people first as much as I should have). So here I was determined to change it!
Wendy was going to WIN! But my pride was getting in the way of my success.
I bought a flip that flopped.
I failed to properly investigate asbestos in a building which cost many thousands of pounds to put right.
I bought a house with Japanese Knotweed.
I bought an apartment in Portugal and rapidly had to sell it when we realised the market was flooded.
I bought a house with my JV partner which I massively underestimate the refurb costs on and we overspent by £30k (and had to leave it in the deal).
…and many more.
The reason I am listing all these admissions is to say that you too will probably make many mistakes if you are determined to get to financial freedom. But the biggest lesson I learned was not to try to do it on my own.
Once I got involved in a community, listening to experts who had already done it and could help me with my deals and warn me of upcoming likely challenges, and educating myself about property thoroughly, I started to see the impact.
And I got my time back, and I started to make money.
This is not a post to sell you mentoring or training and education. This is a post to help you see that you will probably make mistakes. And you will learn just as I have. But you could avoid many of those mistakes and go faster and better if you align yourself with the right people at the start. Learn from my mistakes, so that you can make money quicker and with far less stress than I did.
Oh and by the way, apart from the Portuguese apartment, we still have all those other properties to this day. So there is always a silver lining to the property cloud of doom.
What mistakes have you made? What is your biggest regret?
Discussing a property deal

Ways to do more when you have less!

When you’re building a property business and also working or managing other responsibilities (childcare, domestics etc) finding the time to make it happen is really hard. Here are a few suggestions to make more out of what you have, to get better results in less time, and to scale up faster.

  1. Recognise this is a marathon not a sprint. Create a rhythmic plan (just as if you were training for a marathon). When I ran the London Marathon I did three runs a week – a fast short one, a long slow one , and a medium paced one. In your property business, you will need to block out time to do viewings, finances, and admin. Which will you do and when?
  2. Hire someone as SOON AS YOU CAN to help you. Whether this is a cleaner, a gardener, an ironing person, or a VA! Write a short description of what you want them to do and how you will measure quality. 

Examples:

 

  • ROLE: Ironing lady.

 

  • Purpose – to iron your clothes accurately and with a good turnaround time for a good price.
  • Your role: Organise a time and date for them to collect. Ensure washing is ready and in the bag. 
  • Quality measures: What is their price per item/ per bundle. What is the turnaround time? What is the quality of the ironing? Does this person save me time and money overall?

 

  • ROLE: VA – Three hours per week. 

 

      • Purpose – Finding suitable properties to view and arranging your appointments on a chosen day. Writing to local landlords and finding DTV deals. 
      • Your role: Issue a spreadsheet with the metrics inside they can use (price, area, size, condition etc). Make a video to show them what to do. Give them an example letter
      • Quality measures: How many properties do they come up with? How many are really deals? How many wasted / potential viewings have they created for you? 

 

This is not rocket science but will help you measure and track progress if you haven’t ever hired someone before.

3) Make sure you get enough sleep, eat nutritiously and exercise regularly. You are an engine and you need to feed and nourish the engine. If it means giving up sugar and alcohol and boozy nights out – DO IT! Give yourself a life-giving opportunity to have excess energy, sleep better than you ever have done, and enjoy what you do! If your downfall is lack of food planning – them create a weekly or fortnightly plan, order online and stick to it. You will also save tons of money.

4) Get up half an hour earlier to think and prepare for the day

5) Create a written plan every month to lay out your goals. Three per month is enough. 

6) Find someone to talk to about your goals and aspirations. Become their buddy and ask them to hold you to account.

7) Get as much buy in from your family as possible. Explain what you are trying to achieve and ask them to help. Can you share the cooking, cleaning, childcare ( – outsource the cleaning PLEASE)!!! Keep them in the loop with your results and activity. 

8)Focus on one strategy for 6 months. If you see no results, stand back and analyse why. Tweak, and re-set. Then go again.

9) Think of yourself as a high performance engine. Are you wasting time on things that don’t help this engine to perform? Are you putting the right fuel into the engine to go fast? Are the tyres on the engine inflated enough to adapt to different road conditions? What must you STOP doing and what must you do DIFFERENTLY? 

10) Answer emails twice a day only. 

11) Use an answering service if you are missing too many calls, or set up your answerphone properly to take calls and message you ( I use Answer4u and HulloMail). 

12) Limit your time in the shower in the morning to 5 minutes. I can get clean in 5 minutes and wash and condition my hair.  

13) Reduce complexity in your life. Buy less, live in fewer outfits, choose what suits you and stick to it. 

14) Tell your children when you are off-limits and need to work. Train them to respect your working time and then give them lots of attention and full on presence. Ditto with your partner.

 

I’m sure there are LOTS more ways to save time, be more efficient and make more from less. What have you found to be most effective? 

 

If you don’t do this ONE THING, you’ll never succeed in running a property business

What am I talking about?

  • Doing viewings?
  • Managing a bank account?
  • Raising finance?
  • Finding deals?

No, not any of these things. Although these are all valid activities you should be doing regularly if you want to grow your property portfolio, but they’re not what I’m talking about today.

I’m actually talking about something that makes all of these happen, almost without you having to think about them. Almost automatically, without worrying whether it’s happening or it’s not happening and the one thing that makes this happen and it’s this – A BUSINESS ROUTINE.

You see, most investors I meet haven’t established any kind of routine in their week that keeps the business growing. Each week appears and they just react! 

They book viewings, take some photos, do a couple of Facebook posts, and then they forget that they should have contacted their bookkeeper, or called back a vendor or replied to an investor.

They act as if everything is URGENT, and they forget about what’s IMPORTANT. 

Is that YOU? Do you fail plan? If we are honest with ourselves, we often fail to plan. But you know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail don’t you?

It’s so true isn’t it? By doing the things that are URGENT, we so quickly run out of time to do the things that really matter – the things that will make the MOST difference long term to our income. These are the IMPORTANT things – but the things we often treat as being less important. 

There’s a reason why we behave like this. It’s because we believe that fast action creates fast results. So we do what is immediate. We do what is right in front of us shouting ‘URGENT’. But the truth is that is not what makes you wealthy. 

What makes you wealthy is delayed gratification. Doing what’s hard and feels more difficult. Doing what is NOT yelling ‘Urgent’ takes more determination and strength. The other problem we face is that we are OK doing what we’re currently doing. 

We are not starving, or homeless, or aimless. We keep busy and just about managing. 

But in reality our wealth is not growing, our portfolio is stagnant and our complacency is killing us.

So what’s the solution? 

  1. Plan your week – take out your diary and PLOT into it one of your IMPORTANT tasks. Do just one of your important tasks per day. No more, no less. Just one.
  2. Consider how long that task will take, and if it’s gonna take more time than you have in a day, spread it over two days.(Consecutive days though to maintain momentum).
  3. After you’ve completed it, be pleased and proud. Take a ten minute congratulatory break. Dwell on the great feeling that it feels like when you’ve done something tough, but IMPORTANT.
  4.  At the end of the week, write down all the important things you’ve achieved and WHY they were important and not urgent, and how they could help you more than doing just the urgent stuff.
  5. Now plot your diary for the following week with all the new important tasks that can become a routine, and enable you to know that Tuesday’s are viewings days, or Wednesdays are social media days or Fridays are calling investor days. 
  6. Now do the urgent stuff. 

So you think you have no money to invest with?

One of the biggest problems that I hear from people when they start investing in HMOs is that they don’t have any money. They think that they can’t invest or do rent to rent or do anything. They feel completely stuck. 

The biggest problem that they have is NOT that they don’t have any money but that they don’t know how to find money. In fact many people who say they want to start investing DO have money! They’re nervous and fearful about using it to invest with. It’s their pension, or savings, or back-stop. So they start by thinking that the only way they can invest is by using other people’s money. 

I love using other people’s money. In fact it was only by using other people’s money that I grew my business from two to over twenty HMOs. But I realised that in order to put my money where my mouth is I had to start by using my own money; my own resources; my own confidence.

If you have resources that you’re not willing to use, because you’re fearful and don’t really believe that what you’re doing is going to work, do you think an investor will be willing to work with you?  What money do you already have that you’re not prepared to use yet? If you’re not prepared to use your own resources, that demonstrates a lack of belief in what you’re doing. If you don’t believe that you can make money should you really be using other people’s money with which to invest? 

Until you funnel ALL your resources into getting your property business off the ground you probably won’t ever become investible. This is a huge mindset shift for most people, but it’s so important. You need to be totally committed if you’re going to make investing work. You have to take risks (which yes, you must identify and mitigate) and you must be prepared to give it 110%. If not 200%! Obviously doing the deal analysis, sourcing the right properties and doing the necessary foot work is also part of what you give. But you MUST use some of your own financial resources too.  

If you do believe that you can make money in property and you’re prepared to take the risk first step is to find and use your own money. Where do you find the money then? 

  1. Old savings or bank accounts that are sitting lying dormant 
  2. ISAs and other investment accounts that are giving a lower rate of return than you could make with an HMO
  3. Using your pension. Not all pensions can be used to invest in property but some can, and this is worth investigating
  4. Saving with your hard-earned cash. If you can’t make cutbacks and budget and save each month, you cannot look after money. If you cannot look after your own money you will never be able to look after someone else’s.
  5. Remortgaging your house
  6. Selling stuff you no longer need on ebay to make some cash. Selling other people’s stuff when yours is all sold
  7. Set up a car wash business, dog walk business or cardboard box collection business (yes I do mean used cardboard boxes. Think of all those deliveries that fill up people’s re-cycling bins so there’s no room for anything else). Charge a reasonable amount, do it regularly and leverage your time using other people’s skills. Save the money, use it to invest in property.

What else could you do to find the money yourself? How do you feel reading this? Do you think I am off my rocker?!

Raising Finance for your HMOs

I could write a lot here about the HOWs of raising finance. (In my latest book there is a whole section on this – so grab your copy now – www.epfop.co.uk)! 

But I don’t really think that it is the HOW that is the problem. There are two areas that influence us MUCH more with regard to raising finance:

  1. Internal beliefs
  2. External context

As Henry Ford (apparently) said ‘If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right’.

How is it that some people have investors lining up to work with them, and yet some of us, despite having good deals (even average deals), find it SO hard to raise person-to-person finance?

With mortgage markets getting more regulated every day, and products becoming more refined, there are also many more challenges to getting commercial finance.

So we are facing two problems – getting mortgages from banks and getting money from investors. And as we all know, without liquidity we cannot develop HMOs (even if we are buying with ‘low’ money down).

Here are my tips to creating a pipeline of money for your deals:

  1. There are amazing stories of people who have gone out and raised £150k for their first project from an investor. Yes that does happen. In my mentoring group, one lady did just that with NO experience. Amazing! But TBH this is the exception. Most people start by raising £20-30k from family and friends. Aim to start small. Just raise a small amount (although treat it like a large amount) and take it on a % return basis over 12 – 24 months.
  2. Build your confidence first. Speak to people you know, like and trust and share your hopes and dreams with them. Those that doubt you, stay away from – they aren’t ready to lend you money. Others who do want to help you and encourage you on your journey are the ones to focus on.
  3. Take some form of action EACH DAY. NO EXCUSES. Talk to one person you know. Put a post on Facebook about what you’re doing. Follow up someone from a networking meeting. Keep asking the question ‘ WHO do you know who …’ You’re action will create momentum and belief.
  4. Study money mindset. Work on your internal beliefs. Read about other people’s achievements in raising finance. Allow yourself to believe that YOU CAN DO THIS. When you find yourself disbelieving tell your mind it has got it wrong! If it can be done, you too can do this.
  5. You can only control your internal environment. You cannot alter the wider environment with all its facets. Be controlled about what you let yourself read, think and be affected by. Environment dictates performance. Ensure you spend 70% of your time (or thoughts) in an environment of success. (Not always easy if you are in a job you hate, or with a negative partner. They cannot control your mind though, only you can do that).
  6. Learn to be laser focused and the best in your niche (your area, your brand, your type of HMO).
  7. Study financial markets to understand just HOW VALUABLE your offer is to an investor. Understand the effect of inflation and QE on the value of money (and cash). And how (as Kiyosaki says) ‘savers are losers’. If you understand this, you can explain it. If you can explain it, you can educate people. When people are educated they start to see you have the answer to their problem (and will be much more interested in working with you).
  8. Create a CAPSTONE pitch (I can tell you more about this if you wish). There’s an infographic uploaded to the group you can read that tells you more.
  9. Keep getting better every day. Engage, read, learn, listen, look.
  10. Get your paperwork right. (Tomorrow I’m going to share ‘How to be Mortgage Ready’). If you get organised, then bank finance will be much easier to come by.

Do you have any other thoughts? How do you feel about raising finance? Nervous or excited?

If you want a FREE copy of my new book (just pay P+P) go to www.epfop.co.uk

The Rules Of Money to Live By

I have discovered that just like any other energy form, money has its own rules. When you defy them, you don’t have enough if it. When you fulfil them, you have more than enough. Here are my thoughts but I would value yours too!

1. Money likes flow – what does that mean though? It means that you need to think of money flowing through you. It comes in, and it goes out. As you make it, you spend it, invest it and use it. It is not there to be hoarded. It is a gift and an energy which needs to move to increase.

2. It likes to be used and leveraged in a structured and managed way. If you don’t have a handle on your money you will lose it, and won’t be able to make more. Every month you should assess your personal expenditure against your income and make sure you keep at least 10% for saving. This is not a pot for long term saving but for investing. Never spend more than you earn.

3. It needs to be backed by an asset to be properly magnified! That’s why property is such a powerful compounding tool. Always invest against an asset. Whether that is a fixed asset like property, or a paper asset like stocks and shares. Property is better as you can leverage far better.

4. It comes to people who can manage it and show diligence, competence and discipline. Decide today to raise your investment game by managing money better. Save some, invest a lot and spend as little as possible on wasted items and fripperies.

5. Your gearing (amount you borrow against the asset) should be based on four things

1) how much risk you are prepared to take

2) your long term view about your involvement in the asset (ie: when and what is your exit strategy)

3) how far your cashflow will be reduced and whether that is acceptable to you, and

4) the cost of borrowing.

If you can borrow at a much lower level than you can make (at least 10% difference) then it’s often worth taking the borrowing. Example: Your return on an HMO is 15% yield, and your borrowing is 4%. The difference is 11%. Therefore it’s worth borrowing the money.

Your cashflow after gearing should be double the amount of the cost of borrowing. Eg: Your mortgage amount per month is £476. Your cashflow (profit) should be £952.

6. It grows when you add value. Property is a people game, as such it needs you to be a people person! It’s not about bricks and mortar, it’s about solving as many people’s problems as you can. You do that, and you’ll get rich. You are already wealthy. You just now need to manifest it through the zeros (added to the numbers) in your bank account. But remember – keep it flowin’ and you’ll keep it growin’!

What do you think? What have you learnt about money as you’ve been investing in property?

If you have any questions about investing in property, or want to know about Houses of Multiple Occupation please book in a FREE half hour call this week: https://fwfozt-free.10to8.com

After that, I’m on holiday!

Why you have to take a leap of faith at times!

In life there are many times when you cannot determine the outcome of your actions. You cannot see the final results that will be achieved by what you decide today to do, or not do. You might be able to guess at your results by looking at other people’s outcomes who have taken the same action, but even then there are so many variables, it’s impossible to determine with certainty that you will get the same results as them.
Where does that leave you? One path of action would be to find out more information. To analyse your potential strategy in more depth. To minimise the risks of failure.
Another action would be to look at people similar to you and see how they got the results you want. How did they overcome some of the same hurdles you might have to jump? Another action is to wait a bit longer, and see whether things will improve by themselves. You might win the lottery after all, and then all this planning and action taking could be a real waste of time couldn’t it?
Or what you could do is make a commitment. A decision. Today. To change what is the BIGGEST issue in your life. Today. Whether that is lack of money, being overweight, a dysfunctional relationship, not getting enough sleep, not reading enough or smoking and drinking. The only thing you need to do is make a PROPER decision. Not a half-hearted ‘maybe’. Not a procrastinator’s ‘Will do that when …..’ But a true, decisive YES.
Today I commit to …… getting out of debt in a year; losing half a stone; stopping seeing x person; going to bed at 10pm; reading a book a month; quitting smoking and drinking. Today I commit to being the best person I can be. I commit to finding deals and finding money so that I can invest in property and in (2, 3) years time (you decide) leave my job.
There. That’s it. You’ve done it. Now you have to just do it. Nuff said.

Taking leap of faith