Guide To Property Sourcing & Project Management
Einstein once famously said, "The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting a different result". Less infamous, yet still a quote by Einstein is; "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits!"
Why are we opening with these profound quotes from one of the most intelligent men to have ever lived? Well its quite simple really, as most profound genius really is. The market is currently going through a huge period of change and no longer will it be the same. Yes, we would all like to think that this whole thing will blow over very quickly, yet for the more realistic amongst us, we recognise that its likely to be a long-drawn out process getting through the effects of the CoronaVirus and dealing with the devastation it has left in its wake.
Without meaning to be the purveyor of doom and gloom, history often repeats itself. Unfortunately, the 2008 recession didn't address some of the fundamental issues that were at play and instead, the massive correction in the marketplace which should have happened, was kicked down the road through quantative-easing measures. This essentially pumped billions if not trillions of pounds, dollars and yen of fiat currency (notice we didn't say money), into the global economy, allowing it to limp on for another 12 years.
When we look at what happened with the 1929 economic depression, we will see that there was an enormous impact in the economies of the world. We're not here to scare you, so please do your own research on these points. The stock market tumbled by around 80% and property prices more than halved. Whilst the depression only lasted 4 years, it took more than 25 years for the stock market to recover. We'd all love to think it could never happen again, however if we plan for a worst-case scenario, anything beyond that will be a bonus, right?
Being in a position where you are aware of what's going on in the world puts you ahead of 90% of your competitors. You will be able to take appropriate action ahead of the pack and avert disaster to your business by cutting unnecessary expenses and finding new sources of income. No doubt your actions will be copied by your competition, but by then it is likely to all be too late for those who will have been stuck in an insanity trance of doing the same things they used to do whilst expecting a different result.
Throughout this guide, we will show you how to do the following:
- Make killer fees in your business which most of your competition will overlook;
- Make choosing your agency a 'complete no-brainer' to a prospective client;
- See how working with a prospective new client helps you capture their whole portfolio from your competition;
- Find out what separates the best from the rest;
- Build strong networks of key tradespeople in your business, deliver stellar service and become the market leader in your area.
This guide has been compiled from years of experience in various sectors of the property industry, from estate and letting agency, surveying, property investing as well as training and mentoring countless people to become property investors. During that time, we met hundreds of agents across the Country. We analysed the areas where the best agents were excelling against a backdrop of mediocre competition. We want to share these insights with you to help you become the best agent in your local area.
If you'd like to know more about some of the topics contained within this guide, feel free to contact us where we will be more than happy to give you the best of our knowledge and advice.
We wish you all the best in implementing these ideas into your business. If you would like a copy of our more in-depth 80+ page guide on how to find stellar property deals and manage the refurbishment process, please email us below and it will be our pleasure to provide this £397 gift to you, free of charge:
We dedicate this guide to all those people who are determined enough to make their dreams come true.Those of you who continually face uphill struggles, setbacks and disappointments in life, yet keep on going no matter what.
The road to personal and business success is long and winding; full of learning opportunities which bring certain challenges and frustrations. However, those determined souls who keep digging deep and keep trying 'just one more time' know, that one day soon, it will all be worthwhile. You are the true heroes in life and our source of inspiration. Thank you for being all that you are.
Welcome to the Property Revolution, we're just getting started.
Unfortunately, in today's litigious society, we must state that the ideas shared within this guide do not constitute in any way, financial advice or guidance and we are not regulated by the FCA or any other financial regulation authority. We are not qualified to make any such claims regarding the merits or otherwise of a particular investment, particularly within an economy that is greatly uncertain at the time of writing (March 2020).
We encourage all parties reading this guide to seek sound and competent financial guidance from a suitably qualified party in accordance with the law. We also encourage all parties to seek sound and competent legal guidance from suitably qualified lawyers.
WiggyWam, it's directors or employees cannot, and will not, be held responsible for any errors or omissions contained within this guide and share the information contained within as ideas and suggestions only.
At the time of compiling this guide, the world is going through unprecedented change. The CoronaVirus scare has sent over 3 Billion people into lockdown, planes are grounded, businesses are closing their door to the public and all eyes are on the media as to how this whole pandemic will play out.
Amongst the casualties of these unusual chains of events are the estate and letting agents together with their clients. The property market has all but ground to a halt and we expect it to take many months for things to get back to normal. This is another blow to the industry which has gone through unprecedented legislative change over the last few years.
We know the care and attention agents put into looking after their clients, with many going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure they are offering the very best service possible. Unfortunately doing so involves many long hours, sometimes at unsocial times to stay on top of things. It is with this in mind that we offer this guide to those agents who are forward-thinking enough to want to not only survive the current market turmoil, but to really thrive when we are out of the starting blocks again.
Without a doubt, the property market may never be the same again and as Darwin once famously said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works co-operatively against common threats."
We have included the full quote for you as most often, the quote ends at the word 'change'. However, the future we envisage for the industry relies very heavily on the last part of Darwin's infamous quote "…that lives within the means available and works co-operatively against common threats." We see the property industry being radically revolutionised by the changes forced upon it to a more efficient, streamlined and consumer-centric approach. Those smart agents that make the changes now, however hard some of them may appear to be, will certainly be the ones that come out on top over the next few years. Those that fail to adapt and make changes will almost certainly perish.
We trust that you, dear reader, wish to survive and thrive in the current economic situation and be the one agent that wins more business from the ones that failed to make a change.
Finding great deals
Before we get into the renovation and refurbishment process, it's important to know where to find the best deals which you can pass onto your clients in exchange for a handsome fee. We would encourage all agents reading this to charge a fair sourcing fee to your investor clients which will ensure your time spent is worthwhile, but also you get the benefits of repeat business when your client feels taken care of.
One step to take before you get into sourcing deals is to find out which of your clients are still looking for property deals. Now this won't be everyone in the current climate, but there will always be a hard core of investors who will still want to invest and acquire new deals. Not everyone will want the same type of property, nor have the same investment strategy, so it's worthwhile carefully interviewing potential clients to understand their requirements and match suitable properties to them. There will also be those people who are scared that their pensions will be worthless with the stock market crashing, so it may be easier to find buyers for deals than you first thought.
However, ensure you are working with competent legal and professional financial advisors if you want to go down this route so you are keeping yourself on the right side of the law.
As the economy begins to get tougher over the coming weeks and months, some seller behaviour will begin to change. There will always be a certain segment of the marketplace who will want to try and save on fees by doing the work of trying to sell the property themselves. It's important to be on the lookout for what we call FSBO's (pronounced Fuzz-bo's), which means For Sale By Owner.
First of all, let's take a look at some of the sources where we used to suggest property investors find deals. For some, this will be a huge insight into how investors work, so for maximum benefit, we're sharing it complete and unedited from the secret investor handbooks we created to assist investors in their journey. Then, we'll share with you the top tips to renovating and project-managing properties for your buyer clients and claiming a sizeable fee for your efforts.
Secret Investor Handbook Extracts – Finding Great Property Deals
(To preserve the authenticity of the message, we have included it in its entirety).
The below are sources to investigate if you want to find the best deals within your chosen investment area. Keep in mind that you will revisit these sources again and again over the coming months and years as you build your business, so please do not think that once you've explored a potential source once, that's the hard work done. What's that famous quote about the mother of all skills being repetition….?
- Letting Agents: Whilst most new investors try to deal exclusively through estate agents, the smart investors know that letting agents also deal in property and will know a certain number of their clients will be looking to sell their properties over time. If you offer to leave the property with them to manage once you buy it, they will more than likely arrange an introduction to the property owner.
- Owner's Selling Properties Themselves (FSBO's): The recession has created a market for people trying to try sell their property themselves without paying agency fees for doing so. These properties are easy to identify as they usually have a hand-painted 'For Sale' sign outside or even worse, a piece of paper stuck to the upstairs bedroom window saying 'For Sale' written in pencil! These can be a great source of deals, however make sure you are treating the sellers with respect as many of them won't be trained in the art of negotiation or house buying and selling. They will need some guidance from you as to what is involved and how quickly they can expect to move. Look after them and they will look after you.
- Private Adverts In The Newspaper: Amateur landlords and sellers will try and save money on agent's fees and advertise properties themselves in the newspaper for sale and to let. Call these people and see if they are open to selling their properties. You never know where it can lead! You can also place your own advert in the newspaper telling people that you want to buy their property, which may generate calls from people who want to sell but don't want to use estate agents.
- Leaflet Drops: Use these to target areas you want to buy properties in and make sure you are distributing leaflets accurately to the doors in the area at least every other month. Be sensible and selective over where you are leafleting. Whilst it may sound great leafleting 100,000 properties, the costs of doing this on a regular basis will be unsustainable and its unlikely you will get better results than targeting an area of 10,000 homes, 10 times in a year. Research has shown that a person has to see your marketing message a total of 7 times before they consider acting on it.
- Talking To People & Prospecting: One of our mentors is a huge fan of talking to people all the time. He talks to everyone and makes sure they end up with his business card, letting them know that he buys houses. He will talk to everyone in an area whether he meets them in the local shop, a property networking event or the local pub. We encourage you to do the same, as you never know where it will lead. The good thing about the Great British public is that everyone loves to talk about property and you may well get a lead to one of their friends who is looking to sell their property quickly and who will accept a good offer on it.
- Social Media: Social media has undoubtedly given people the chance to gather lots of exposure for themselves and potentially their property if they are trying to market it themselves. Be on the lookout for property-related posts in your local social media groups and ask your friends to tag you in any that they notice which might be of interest to you.
- Adverts On Supermarket/Shop Notice Boards: Some people's idea of marketing is to write a small card or note and place it on a supermarket notice board or in the window of their local shop to find a buyer or tenant. Unfortunately, this can be hugely ineffective for them and fraught with potential problems from unscrupulous individuals, so we would encourage you, as an ethical investor, to make contact and assist them with their situation.
As you patrol your investment area, you must visit and revisit these potential sources several times in order to be effective. The rewards for this repetition are enormous. Just one deal a year from any of these sources will pay for your time, effort and energy.
We are quite sure that you will be able to come up with your own possible sources for deals too, so take a moment to jot down a few more places where you might be able to find great deals that your competition aren't even considering (you can post them in the comments below if you wish).
The Renovation and Refurbishment Process
By now, you should have a clearer understanding of how to find great deals. The part of the process that we are going to cover now is the one single area where most new investors can really sink themselves and cost themselves a fortune. By understanding the renovation and refurbishment process and what's involved from a project management perspective, you can assist your clients in avoiding expensive headaches and put money in both of your pockets.
Despite the fact that programmes such as Homes Under The Hammer and DIY SOS have made renovating a property look easy, the reality is you are going to be faced with quite a few
challenges that need to be met head-on in order for the proposed renovation project to succeed. Some of you may be tempted to think that you can short-cut the process by offering on properties that are already done up, however the problem with this is that you are not adding value to the property so your client may not be able to refinance it to recover the renovation costs and their deposit. So ideally, the properties you are looking for will require some renovation in order to increase their value. You will also find it easier to buy distressed properties at a discounted price as you can justify a lower offer because of the level of work required.
One of the key issues that people face when renovating a property is the desire to do so to their own tastes rather than for what is required to suit the market. The danger here is the emotional attachment which causes people to overspend by putting a Jacuzzi bath in the bathroom and installing the 'Christie's Kitchen' with built in appliances and granite worktops in a two-bedroom terraced house in Hull!! Now this may sound extreme, however we have seen many examples where new investors have been swayed by their emotions to buy and install the more expensive kitchen and bathroom which all adds to the costs and will ultimately affect their bottom line. Furthermore, personal, individual tastes may well be against what the market actually wants and you will find it harder to rent your property or sell it for the price required if you haven't paid close attention to what the market wants.
Remember, your property renovations need to be 'fit for purpose' so you are not going to be living there yourself. However, that does not mean doing a substandard job of the renovations, or offering poor quality accommodation. The standard you are aiming for is one where you would be happy to live in the property yourself. If you listen to your intuition, you will not provide squalor, nor will you renovate the properties to the level of Buckingham Palace! It will be to a good standard; clean, tidy and presentable; a blank canvas on which your tenants or buyers can create a home out of rather than living with your chosen mark of individualism.
Another key mistake people make is the order in which renovation works are carried out at a property as most new project managers lack the experience of being able to refurbish a property to a good standard in a short period of time.In order to keep you safe in this process, let's take a look at an efficient order for the renovation works:
- Strip out and 'demolition' – Timescale 1-3 days – 'Demolition' is in inverted comma's as we do not suggest you to take on too much work for your first couple of projects as they can become money-pits that drain your client's cash reserves if you do not know what you are doing or you do not have reliable tradespeople you can count on who will quote the job accurately. However, parts of the property might require the removal or repositioning of an internal wall to improve the layout of the accommodation. If you are planning to do this type of work, please ensure that you have consulted the expertise of an appropriate professional (structural engineer) who can advise you if the wall is structurally load-bearing or not. The last thing you want to do is remove a wall and the rest of the house falls down (this has happened, particularly when people do not understand the nature of structural load-bearing walls). The strip out element includes such things as removing the existing kitchen and bathroom (assuming these are to be replaced), any old carpets, wall-coverings and flooring you are not planning to retain.During this stage, certain items of works may arise which were not immediately obvious during the initial inspection so it pays to budget 15% more for your renovation costs by way of a contingency to keep yourself safe. If something does crop up that you were not expecting, talk with your builder and tradespeople to find a proposed solution to put it right. Ensure you are using a qualified Gas Safe engineer if the gas boiler needs replaced and you plan on stripping out any gas appliances from the property. You do not want to put anyone at risk by trying to cut corners. It also goes without saying that this is one stage in the refurbishment where the danger of injury to people can be quite high, so make sure that you and your tradespeople are exercising appropriate caution to avoid accident or injury.
- Damp-Proofing Works – Timescale 1-4 weeks (including drying out time) – Hand in hand with the strip out from the property is making a start on any damp-proofing works that are needed. If the property needs to have work undertaken on the ground floor to cure a rising damp problem, this will more than likely involve the removal of the plaster to the internal walls to a height of around 1 metre. Not only is this a messy job in its own right, you will also have to think about the treatment process which could involve injection treatment of the walls with a damp-proofing solution, two render coats, a waterproofing layer and plaster finish. Depending on the time of year, this could take several weeks to dry out so if it is not started as one of the first jobs on the project, it could affect the timescale to complete the property and get it let. Employ a suitable timber and damp-proofing professional to undertake all aspects of this work so they provide a guarantee once it is complete.
- Replacement External Doors and Windows – Timescale 1-3 days – Should the property have timber windows or old aluminium double glazed windows, it makes sense to replace these with new uPVC double glazed windows which will be very energy efficient, and will also look good making it easier for you to rent or sell the property. Shop around for the best deal as the costs and quality can vary greatly depending upon the supplier. They need to be changed early on in your project as the removal of the old windows could damage surrounding plaster work which will need patching up. Be careful to check if the new uPVC windows need to have new lintels fitted above them to support the overhead brickwork, otherwise it will eventually sag onto the top of the window, cracking the brickwork and making it difficult to open or close it at a later date. Ensure the contractor who installs the windows is able to provide a FENSA certificate to comply with building regulations.
- Rewiring and Repluming – Timescale 7-14 days – If you are planning on doing a rewire and a re-plumb to the property, it is wise to suggest your trades start this work early on in the process once the strip out has been completed. It will almost always involve the first floor floorboards being taken up so the plumber and electrician can access the floor joists, drill them and run the wiring and pipework throughout the property. Depending on the time of year, your plumber may be very busy, so try to book all trades in advance of starting the project. If you are planning to do a full rewire, this can be a particularly messy job, as the plaster needs to be channelled to hide the wires in the wall. One tip on the plumbing side of things; opt for plastic pipework rather than copper. There are two very good reasons for this; the first is that plastic is easier to work with and will speed up the installation substantially and reduce costs. The second is that copper is valuable and if the property is empty at any point, you may notice that some unscrupulous individuals break in and strip the copper out to sell it! This is never done with any kind of care and whilst the copper they are stealing is only worth a small amount, the damage that occurs from escaping water overnight can be substantial. Always use a qualified Gas Safe plumber to install the boiler for you and ensure they issue you with an installation certificate. As an agent, you appreciate the requirement of an annual gas safety check as a legal requirement and without it, your client could be open to prosecution. Any new electrical work should also come with an NICEIC compliant installation certificate certifying the works have been carried out in line with modern Building Regulations. Please note that it is illegal for anyone to do any work to a domestic wiring installation that is not Part 'P' registered as far as building regulations is concerned.
- Plastering – Timescale 7-14 days – The extent of any plastering required will depend on the level of works undertaken. Not all of the internal walls and ceilings may need doing. What is worth considering however is spending a little extra time and money replastering the whole property so that it is good for the next 10-15 years depending upon wear and tear. This will obviously depend on the budget. One big tip here however is if the ceilings are cracked and need to be replastered, its sensible to overboard the ceilings with a new layer of plasterboard. This saves a lot of dust and mess by not removing the existing ceiling and shortens your timeframe for renovation. Always remember that with plastering, you need to allow a few days for the plaster to dry out before you can start painting the new plaster. This is essential otherwise you will end up with discolouration of the paint finish, or worse, cracking of the new plaster coat.Prioritise the order of the rooms you want to replaster with particular focus on the kitchen and bathroom areas first if you are installing a new bathroom suite or kitchen fitments.This will allow the plaster work to dry out nicely and permit the trades to continue with work once the plastering team have moved onto another part of the property. It also gives a smooth flat wall to offer up the fitments against. A good tip from a very experienced plasterer is to ensure that all joints between new sheets of plasterboard are covered with board bonding and scrim cloth. The benefit of this is to ensure that the boards stay firmly fixed together and you don't end up with 'hairline cracking' to the joint area. This not only looks unsightly, it also defeats the object of plastering the area in the first place if you are then going to have to rake out the joint, fill it with polyfilla, sand it down and then decorate it! It is a huge frustration that plasterers allow this to happen, however by the time it shows up on the job, they will more than likely have left with their money and you're left with the problem. You should not accept that shrinkage cracking is par for the course and if a plasterer does not accept putting scrim cloth and board bonding to your plasterboard joints, get another plasterer!
- Installation of the new Kitchen or Bathroom – Timescale 7-14 days – Once the plastering is finished, you can begin to install the kitchen and bathroom. One school of thought is to always opt for kitchens, which come ready assembled so they are easier to fit on site. This is good logic, however you will need to make a decision based on your budget and timescale as to what's feasible.Your bathroom suite should really be a white three-piece suite comprising bath, toilet and wash basin. These can be readily obtained from trade suppliers and are not expensive.Opt for pressed-steel baths rather than acrylic; the latter flex too much once weight is applied to them which causes more stress to the silicone sealant, which might then lose adhesion and lead to water leaks. Always, always, always, go for the best quality silicone you can find for the bathroom installation (you will know it's the best quality silicone as you won't believe the price of it compared to the cheap stuff!), so you have certainty it won't leak which will cause more hassle than you can believe!
- Timberwork – Timescale 3-10 days – Hopefully, the chosen property will not require complete replacement of the door frames, architrave and skirting boards, so any new timberwork required will be to match the existing where missing or rotten, and the installation of new internal doors. Delay the installation of any new timberwork until such time as any plasterwork has dried out, otherwise the kiln-dried timber could absorb some of the additional moisture in the air (as the plaster dries) which could lead to the timber warping! You can aide the drying out process using dehumidifiers and leaving the windows open, however be careful that the plaster does not dry too quickly (with the use of heat for example) which may cause cracking.
- Decoration – Timescale 7-14 days – The decoration of the property should be one of the last jobs that is performed on the property. New plaster work should have a 50/50 mix of water and trade emulsion paint applied as a base coat, which will be quickly absorbed by the new plaster but will not cause cracking. If you apply undiluted paint straight onto new plaster, it will inevitably crack creating more work in the form of filling, sanding and repairing the cracks to the lovely newly plastered wall. Keep the decoration scheme as simple as possible. Using trade paint is not expensive and will provide good cover. It's likely the walls and ceilings will require 3 coats of paint if you have new plasterwork; a 50/50 base layer, followed by 2 coats of undiluted emulsion which will provide a good cover and leave the room fresh and appealing to the widest possible audience. White gloss paint to timberwork is sensible as it is easier to clean and it looks good.
- Finishing Touches – Timescale 1-5 days – The finishing touches will be things like the installation of ironmongery to doors, lamp shades to lights and the installation of new carpet and vinyl to the property in the appropriate areas. This will make the property desirable and ensures it looks homely once complete. Use a reasonably good quality hard wearing carpet throughout which will provide you with excellent wear. Consider using the same colour throughout to keep costs down and choose a darker colour rather than light or bright colours which might put some people off.
The above gives a comprehensive order for the renovation works and will help ensure the various tradesmen are not falling over one another on site which can in itself cause problems! On the average three-bedroom, two-storey terraced property, which is the staple diet of most property investors, you can expect the renovation process to take no longer than 4-6 weeks to complete. Have upfront discussions with your builder and various tradespeople over how they want to be paid for their work. They may want paying weekly or at the end of the job, however at no point should you be giving them money up front for their proposed work. If they require materials to start the job and do not want to be out of pocket for them, the best thing to do is get them to order the materials whilst you pay for them and get them delivered to site so you have ownership of them. There are many horror stories of people who have trusted a rogue builder and to their detriment, have been ripped off for several hundreds if not thousands of pounds.
When working with builders and tradesmen, ensure your attitude towards them is in alignment with your expectations.The best way to explain what we mean here is via some examples. Take Fred, an amateur investor who has the belief that you cannot trust anyone and he believes that all builders are out to rip him off in any way possible.Unsurprisingly, this becomes his experience over his last 3 projects. He talks about how he has sacked tradesman after tradesman which cost him an additional £20,000 over the three projects with delays as he is unable to find people to complete work for him. He then ends up with people working on his jobs who fit the profile of what he thinks – i.e. they all rip him off and no-one can be trusted! Interesting…
Let's contrast this with Bradley, a professional investor who has worked hard to build a team of reliable tradespeople whom he is able to supply with regular work whilst he spends his time identifying good deals. He was quick to establish a template for the renovations with his builder, which meant everyone knew what was expected, leaving little room for surprises or changes in the specification along the way. This in turn led to the builder and various tradespeople working seamlessly together on site and implementing the order of works efficiently so each project was completed on time and within budget. This approach of trusting his team until they prove otherwise has served him well and allowed him to save lots of time and money over the last two years of building his Buy-to-Let portfolio.
Knowing The Numbers
This guide wouldn't be complete unless we spent some time considering the numbers in relation to property deals. After all, how would you know a deal is a good deal and worth offering to your potential investor clients unless you have an understanding of what they are looking for?
First of all, it's important to say that every investor will have a different strategy which will include the type of property that they buy as well as the price they pay for it. Some investors are more 'armchair investors' and won't require a discount on the purchase price as they are doing this as a sideline to their main income, whereas other investors earn their living from trading property or being landlords and will require a greater discount on the purchase price.
This gives great opportunities for the smart agent who can see the possibilities. What we are about to share with you is pure gold as far as making additional revenue for your business is concerned. And all we are asking for is 50% of your commissions for sharing this valuable information with you ;-)
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when you are setting out to build this part of your business. First of all, you want to buy to demand. What we mean by that is, it's easier to sell something when you have ready, willing and able buyers ready to pounce on a hot deal. So, the best way to spend your time initially is to speak with your existing landlord clients and find out who is in the market to buy property.
Really interview them and drill down on their requirements; what type of property are they looking for? What is their strategy (for more information on what we mean by this, get hold of a copy of our 'Digging for Diamonds' manual)? Are they ready to buy now and if so, how will they fund the purchase? Are they cash or mortgage buyers? Will they consider properties that require work doing to them? Do they have an existing power team ready to renovate anything that you bring to them? Will they leave the property with you to manage it once its ready to let? What fee are they willing to pay for you to a) find the deal and b) project manage the renovation works?
Once you have all this information, you're in a far better position to qualify buyers and acquire properties to suit their demand. What this means is that you can explore lots of different property types that you know you have buyers for which increases your chance of getting offers accepted on them for your clients and securing yourself a healthy fee.
Where this gets really interesting largely comes down to how good a negotiator you are (remember for some of you reading this, it's your job!). Some agents, (and this is quite ethical to do provided you disclose this ahead of time to your clients), will negotiate a deal on a property which is better than what their clients are willing to pay, and agree to take the difference. So, if your client is willing to pay say, £85,000 for a property worth £100,000, and you agree a deal at £80,000, you are effectively earning £5,000 for your trouble as opposed to a sourcing fee of say £1,500. You will no doubt appreciate this can make a massive difference to your business.
As always, we recommend you are fair, honest and transparent with your clients and you won't go wrong in putting these deals together. Trust is the biggest thing you can develop in your business which will continue to win you more business through personal recommendation to others. Once that trust is broken however, it will almost certainly undermine your relationship with your client, if not your business as a whole.
Diving deeper into the numbers, we must consider the profitability of the deal itself and this will depend on whether or not your client wishes to keep the property and rent it out or to sell it and take the profit. If the strategy is to trade the property, there must be a healthy profit margin in it which covers not only the cost of renovation, the legal, professional,
sourcing and financing fees to acquire it, the profit margin required, but also a factor of safety should the expected sales figure not be achieved.
For instance, if the ultimate sale price of a property is £100,000 and it requires £10,000 of works to renovate it, the deal might look like this:
Purchase Price: £70,000
Profit margin required:£10,000
Expected sales Price: £100,000
The above leaves some 'wiggle room' of around £4,500 which would allow the client to take an offer which is less than the expected £100,000. The worst thing you can do is overestimate the expected sales price which the investor bases their figures on, and then find that you can't achieve it, meaning your client ends up breaking even, or losing money on the deal.
In order to make it fair to all involved, you could offer to do a two-way or even three-way split of any money made above the expected £10,000 profit for your client. So, if the £100,000 sale price was achieved, the additional £4,500 could be split 50/50 between your client and the seller, or three-ways to include yourself.
Should your client decide to rent the property out, the numbers work slightly differently depending upon their strategy and how they are financing the deal. Some will buy properties all cash, whilst others will get the biggest mortgage they can and put down the smallest deposit. Some may even refinance the property once the renovation works are complete and they can achieve a higher valuation on it. It all depends on their approach to investing which is why it pays to spend some time on the phone establishing their investment criteria, so you know who to position the deals with.
Essentially, if your client is looking to use a mortgage to purchase the property, the mortgage payment impacts the cashflow from the property significantly. Some buyers will want to ensure the property 'washes its face' and gives them an income, others are prepared to be a little more adventurous and as long as the mortgage is covered, they look for capital appreciation to make them money. Most new investors on the scene (and quite a few established ones) make the mistake of thinking that the mortgage is the only expense on a property, and fail to take into account the agents management fee together with setting aside some money each month to cover repairs and maintenance work. This leads to some investors having to 'feed' their portfolio money to keep it going which is potentially ok during good economic times, but can lead to their portfolio hurting them when the economy turn sour.
One additional service you might want to consider doing is offering your clients a portfolio review service where you crunch the numbers on the properties they own to assist them in deciding whether or not to sell, rent or refinance a property, which could generate more business and fees for you.
The last helpful word of guidance to offer here is building a factor of safety into the cashflow calculations (see the Digging for Diamonds manual for more information). It is wise to calculate mortgage interest rate at 6% per annum rather than at some of the discounted rates available presently. The reason for this is to allow interest rates to rise and your client's deal will still work, rather than it costing them money every single month.
Additional Services and Fee Income
Hopefully by now you will have seen the potentially unexplored opportunity in front of you to tap into a marketplace which your competition will have invariably overlooked. The potential to become a key player in the marketplace and put deals together which can add thousands of pounds to your bottom line is what's known as a 'blue ocean strategy'.
This phrase comes from a book of the same name, whereby the authors, W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne look at how many traditional businesses in the same industry, all end up offering similar levels of service, so they only thing they can compete on is the price they charge. It quickly becomes a race to the bottom as fees are cut and essentially a bloodbath ensues as businesses lose money, turning the ocean red!
A blue ocean strategy by contrast, is one in which there is no competition, or very limited competition, where you differentiate yourself based on factors of service which are difficult or impossible for your competition to replicate, thus allowing you to charge a healthy fee. Certainly, sourcing property and project managing the renovation works will distance yourselves from your immediate competitors.
Sometimes people will ask; "But if you're giving this information to all my competitors, won't they start doing the same?" The truth is, it's highly unlikely that they will for a variety of reasons. Some are too scared to do it as they will wonder what their clients may think or somehow feel that its 'illegal' to structure these kinds of deals. They may feel that they don't have the skills or expertise, or prefer the comfort zone of what they know rather than venturing out to try different things.
The sad part about it being, that they could end up losing their business in its entirety if they do not innovate which links back to the opening quotation by Einstein. Should you wish to achieve a different result, you have to take different steps to achieve it and these can feel especially uncomfortable until such time as you are used to taking them again and again.
We very much hope that this guide has added some value to you and the time spent reading it has been worthwhile. We'd like to offer you some additional resources which we feel will be instrumental in assisting you in going from strength-to-strength with your business. The following reading list is definitely the books we would recommend to provide a solid foundation to your business as you scale and grow.
Top Three Reading List
1.Built to last by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras
2.Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
3.The E-Myth Revisited by Michael A Gerber
Without a doubt, these current economic times are very challenging and it is likely that things will never return to the way they were pre-2020. With challenge brings uncertainty and it is in this uncertainty that opportunities can be found for those who are willing to look for them, find them and use them to your best advantage. It is a known fact that more millionaires and billionaires are created in economic downturns than are ever created in an upswing. Whilst this might not be your aspiration, we hope it will serve as a source of inspiration for those of you who are determined to grow your business throughout these challenging times, creating a solid platform to dominate your market.
We wish you all the very best and if there is anything we can do to support you on your journey, please get in touch and let us know.
We have a quick favour to ask
Thanks for taking the time to read our guide. We'd like to ask a quick favour of you as someone who is clearly a thought-leader in the industry. We'd like to know what we can do to make the property market better for all concerned.
We appreciate that most people find moving home a frustration in itself. Its commonly known as the third most stressful thing someone can do after the death of a loved one and going through a divorce.
As someone on the front line and who deals with the general public and property transactions all day long, there's no doubt in our minds that you will have asked the question many times "why doesn't somebody do something about that?"
We'd like to say that we're in the market to do exactly that. We want to hear from you with your thoughts and ideas and proposed solutions which can help make the property market more efficient and fun for all involved, and ultimately more profitable for agents.
So please take a few moments to send us a quick email now with your thoughts to us.
We would be delighted to hear from you with your thoughts, comments and suggestions. The best suggestion received every month will win a bottle of Champagne!