You’re looking for the perfect UK investment opportunity... You’ve decided on a strategy of high cash flowing Houses of Multiple Occupation. But should you target students or professionals for your HMOs?
You’ve heard that students will wreck your property leading to high maintenance costs. And they disappear in summer leaving your property empty.
But you’ve also heard that professionals rarely stay for longer than six months, so your managing agent is constantly looking for new tenants.
Understanding your investment area is a key factor when entering the buy-to-let property market in the UK.
Stuart Lordan initially targeted students but adapted his strategy due to the changes in his chosen investment area of Plymouth. He now targets both.
While HMOs definitely provide impressive rental income, Stuart has found that a laser focus on reducing maintenance costs can help ensure that his portfolio returns a healthy profit for his portfolio.
This episode is packed with useful information for expats thinking of investing in HMOs, giving you the skills, knowledge and tools for smarter UK property investing.
Rate, review and follow the show at www.expatpropertystory.com
There is always going to be maintenance there is always going to be cost. I know that sort of marketing property gurus would have you believe that once you've invested it's happy days, it's pina coladas in Marbella. But we all know the truth of that, that it isn't it's as passive as it can be, but it does still require effort. And for me that is really just having a close eye and as soon as we have a call or any maintenance, I'll enter that straight away just so that we can now look at how that's affecting the profitability of a property.
Expat Property-Guy 00:29
You're listening to Expat Property Story, a podcast in which I share my story to smooth the way for you have your own Expat Property Story. Hello there and welcome to episode 18. That was Stuart Lordan. Talking about students HMOs. If you're a subscriber, thank you for your ongoing support. If you're a returning listener, welcome back. And if this is your first time, come on in, and why not introduce yourself on the podcast website, www dot expat property story.com either with a written message, or if you click the white microphone in the blue circle, you can leave a voice message, you might want to tell us where you're calling from leave an idea for a future episode, we'll perhaps offer some honest feedback like this young listener.
Expat Property Daughter 01:17
Hi, Dad, your podcast is really boring.
Expat Property-Guy 01:20
Well, perhaps it doesn't have to be that honest. She can't have been talking about last week's episode in which remand an expat from Saudi Arabia lost 300,000 pounds in a joint venture deal that went horribly wrong. Tragic cautionary inspiring, even but not boring. If you haven't already had a listen, it's well worth going back for as a reminder for the kinds of due diligence that were perhaps all aware of but can forget to carry out in the heat of the moment. It's also worth checking out for the inspiring way that Rehman has managed to move on from what must have seemed a total disaster at the time. It's easy to sit back and say, Yeah, well, I wouldn't have done what he did. But when I go back to 2018, and my own Expat Property Story, I can see certain points where we could have carried out more due diligence in hindsight, not that it turned out badly at all. For the full version of how we got to this point, you can go back to Episode One, and listen to the whole story and get some great advice from my amazing guests along the way. My wife and I had decided to buy a three-bed terraced house in Nottingham to convert into a six bed student HMO and found a UK property partner to buy refurbish and manage the property. Our Man in the Midlands delivered and in early March, he got in touch to say he'd found a house for us to buy in a non-article for area for £176,000 pounds and we would need £75,000 pounds for the refurb. I had a look on Rightmove and saw that the house had sold for £38,000 pounds in 1997, so there seemed plenty of scope for capital growth. We appointed a solicitor arranged for a survey which didn't reveal anything serious and by April the 19th 2018, all the conveyancing was finalised, so we arranged buildings insurance and completed the purchase. Episode One already seems a long time ago now but you may remember that I told you that we had bought a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Hong Kong off plan back in 2015. Well, by strange coincidence, the keys to both properties were available to be picked up on the same day. Our man in Nottingham picked up the keys and arranged for an architect to visit the property. We were told that if we wanted a six bedroom, we would need a six-metre extension which would require a planning application and then the neighbours approval which the architect felt would not be forthcoming. The planning application would take nearly two months to process taking us into July. The second option was to go with a five-bedroom three shower room design, which could be done within permitted development rights I without the need for a planning application and could therefore be started straight away. While we would obviously have preferred six bedrooms, things are rarely perfect in property. So you need to be flexible. Things also invariably take more time than expected. So you also need to be patient as we were beginning to find out. UK partner found a contractor but they couldn't start until June. I was worried that the property wouldn't be ready in time for the beginning of the academic year in August, September. But my UK partner reassured me that they will get it let and if the worst came to the worst, it was all bought with cash so we would not be under any undue financial pressure. We were however, 30,000 pounds short of being able to do everything without the need to use bridging finance. So we took out what's known as a tax loan here in Hong Kong and borrowed 200,000 Hong Kong dollars which is roughly £20,000 at only 2% interest. So rather than saving money from our salaries, we would take out the loan for a year and pay it back month by month. June arrived. The builder started the project and I started to look at the next purchase. Now, I must admit that I had misunderstood the intricacies of Section 24 back then, and although I had paid about £500 to a well-known property accountant, it wasn't money well spent. Part of it was my fault. The guy spent half an hour explaining things I already knew. This could have been avoided if I'd sent him a more detailed summary of our situation, and perhaps an agenda of what I wanted covered. Anyway, it turns out in retrospect, that we had much more headroom than I thought in terms of how much property we could buy personally, rather than through a limited company, before being adversely affected by Section 24. So I started to look into setting up a company. To do this, we would need a UK business bank account, which at that time would need to be set up in person in the UK. So in July, we went to the UK, and I had an excruciating meeting with a well-known bank in London during which their automated system for speeding up the process didn’t work so everything had to be done manually. The new business consultant and their supervisor were clueless about property. They didn’t understand why I was setting up a limited company for property. I tried to explain that many people were doing this and it really shouldn’t be such a big deal. Eventually, two hours later, while I didn’t actually have the account up and running, it was at least promised. I then went to Companies Made Simple near Old Street to provide proof of ID and address and that was it, we were up and running. While we were in England, we went up to see the house we bought in Nottingham. It's always different meeting someone in person rather than online. But our first impressions were confirmed, and we were very happy not just with our man, but with his whole team. They managed two other student HMOs on the same street so he took us to see them. And what we really liked was that the tenants were happy to see him which was important to us. When I first looked into student HMOs I had found a company I was thinking of working with but when we saw the unfavourable reviews online from tenants, we decided to look elsewhere. Anyway, we returned to Hong Kong and on October the 18th, the builders finished up on the same day that our lender’s valuer conducted the valuation and tenants moved in on the Monday morning. It could not have gone better. Getting the mortgage finalised was another story. But that's for next week. Regulars will know that today's guest was the man who gave me a better understanding of how to buy refurbish and refinance student HMOs. This is a man who discovered that the higher he climbed the corporate ladder, the less time he had to spend with his three kids. So, as the kind of person who, by his own admission, takes action first and asks questions later, he convinced his wife, who was pregnant with their fourth child at the time, to sell the family home and invest the proceeds into a property portfolio. He decided on Plymouth as his investment area as he had friends there. But after buying a standard buy to let, he soon realised that it would take too long to achieve the necessary cash flow to support his family with single less, so he turned to student HMOs His name is Stuart Lordan. And he soon amassed a portfolio of around 50 high end student rooms in Plymouth. Now Stuart has his own excellent podcast called The Business of Property that he runs with Simon Pither but their podcast does not come with a joke. I asked him if he could provide one for us…
Stuart Lordan 08:29
On the way into the recording studio today, unfortunately, you know, thinking about joke but then unfortunately, I saw a poor old lady all over in the street. I assumed she was poor, she only had 50 P in a pocket.
Expat Property-Guy 08:47
You have chosen as your postcode for postcode challenge, PL4 7DN. I'm going to ask you three questions. You have to get two of them right. If you only get one right then you lose. So question number one according to Check My Postcode there is a healthy living index in PL4 7DN is it a) 7 out of 10 b) 9 out of 10 or c) 10 out of 10? 9 out of 10 Wrong. It's 10 out of 10! It'ss probably the healthiest place you can live in the UK. Isn't that fantastic?
Stuart Lordan 09:21
Ha ha! It's really good.
Expat Property-Guy 09:23
Okay, so you're in trouble now. Stuart? How far above sea level? Is it? 20 metres? 29 metres or 40 metres?
Stuart Lordan 09:32
I'm gonna go for 29 metres.
Expat Property-Guy 09:35
Stuart, you are out! It's actually 40 metres above sea level.
Stuart Lordan 09:40
Yeah, so it could be but it's it's near a train line, which goes down so yeah, I mean, obviously, I don't know my area well enough. I haven't researched it.
Expat Property-Guy 09:49
The good news is no danger of flooding where you are!
Stuart Lordan 09:51
No, I don't hope not. I've got three properties on that street and manage four on that street.
Expat Property-Guy 09:56
Well, I'll give you the third question anyway, just to see how you do. The population according to the 2011 census of Plymouth as a whole, was it 234,000 237,000? Or 238,000?
Stuart Lordan 10:09
I'm gonna go for 238.
Expat Property-Guy 10:10
You're wrong, Stuart. It's 234. It's probably 238 now!
Stuart Lordan 10:14
Thank you, you're being kind to me, thank you.
Expat Property-Guy 10:19
I first came across you on the Inside Property Investing podcast, talking about the student HMO market. So why did you decide to focus on student HMOs?
Stuart Lordan 10:29
The area I was I am investing in in the Southwest is a university town, the properties were for cash flow, and it made sense to look at students given the student population, etcetera. That's why it made sense because there was a need, I was speaking with letting agents. The thing I should say is that since 2017, my portfolio mix has changed a bit. So whereas at one stage, the portfolio was more than two thirds student, I've actually flipped it now. So it's now two thirds professionals and a third students. There's a number of factors to that, not just because of the pandemic, but also student numbers were decreasing in the area. And yeah, there were there were fewer overseas students coming over. So it's changed over the last few years.
Expat Property-Guy 11:15
So the reason you did that was because student numbers were declining, were there any other factors?
Stuart Lordan 11:20
The key reason was that in the area I’m in, what's happening is like, and I would imagine a lot of areas that's going on now is that you have a lot of purpose built student accommodation coming to the areas and that's because you get the institutional investors They're seeing the gravy train, they start knocking up all of these places. And I would say in the last few years in my area, we've probably seen about, give or take, about 3000 purpose-built student accommodation rooms go up in the last few years, and they are of high quality, I would say... as well as a reduction in student numbers. Now that's not the same across the UK, actually, generally speaking, we're seeing an increase in student numbers. And I think that's definitely happening now. So we've now got an increase in supply and the lowering of demand, what that in turn led to was a reducing of the area where students would take accommodation in the PL4 7DN postcode of which I obviously know nothing, but what I know is that that is on the edge of where students would now go, because, you know, they're not huge fans of walking, certainly the ones I've had. So we've had a real contraction of the sort of radius around the university that's had sort of two effects. One is that there's now a number of properties that used to be applicable for students that now students don't really look at, because it's too far. And then the flip side of that, for me is it's meant there's quite a few properties coming on the market that were once students, but now we can look at turning into workers or converting into you know, studios, that kind of thing. For those reasons, some properties, we just decided to, you know, get there first in terms of just redevelop the property, make it really nice and put it out to the workers' market. But then, you know, it's coming back a bit now. So it is, you know, as always highly dependent on the location specific location of the property.
Expat Property-Guy 13:04
So let's say that student numbers is not a problem. And it would work either as an HMO for professionals, or an HMO for students, which do you think brings in more money? Because on the one hand with students, I guess you have them on like a year long contract or 48 week contract single AST so no one's going to leave, whereas professionals, people are coming and going all the time, right? So, in your experience, which one looks healthier on the on the balance sheet?
Yeah, I mean, on paper, they are very similar. If you're just doing it on paper, the removal of council tax saves anywhere between 1,500 , 2,000 a year. So that's really good. And as anyone will tell you, there can be increased maintenance costs with students, that's just the way it is. But you know, managing quite a lot of rooms, it depends on the personnel of the customer / tenant in terms of what they're like, you know, I've had groups of students... I walked around one the other day, the student room was immaculate. And I actually said, Wow, you keep your room really tidy. I mean, all things being equal. I mean, I'd say students, because typically, like you say, you get 48 weeks, or we sign them up for 50. So you only have a two week void period. And also you're booking them a year in advance. So I know as of today, nearly all of the student rooms are booked from the coming September for the following year. And that gives me a lot of confidence and relaxes me a little bit to know that you know, already the cash flow is booked in for the following year. That said, talking about voids for workers, again, we'll work on six month contracts. So it doesn't concern me too much. And typically our professional lets are of, mostly, not all of them, but mostly, have a higher quality, a higher standard and therefore the rent rates are higher but to answer the question in a simple sentence, I would say students because also they do pay more / their parents do pay more. Once they're out in the second and third years, you know with professional lets yes, you can get those pay Well, it's been, you know, a year and a half, two years,
Some local councils have ruled that HMOs providing ensuite bathrooms for each room may be classed as separate dwellings. And as such, each tenant would be liable for council tax.
Expat Property-Guy 15:12
I asked Stuart if this worried him...
Stuart Lordan 15:13
Obviously when these conversations happen, you immediately think, Oh God, here's something else, you know, we've had so much the interest rate relief removal Section 24, we've energy prices, we've got EPC, I'm going to depress myself just by talking about this stuff. But I suppose the way I deal with it, I just deal with what we've got today, and enjoy building the business that way. And so right, okay, so you know, when these changes happen, if and when they change, we'll deal with it then. Let's say they do get approved, I just think well, we'll just have to work around it, you factor it into your financials, your profit, P&L for the business or for the property, and I'll just work with it that way. And it's the same with all those other things that have come to fruition you just have to work through and yes, it's going to put some people off and read about that law. But then equally, if we're in the game, we're gonna have to play by whatever the rules are, that are in front of us.
Expat Property-Guy 16:02
I saw a video on your Facebook page, going back to 2019. And you're asking for feedback on landlords leaving the sector...
Stuart Lordan 16:10
I did get a bit of response for that. It's hard, because, as you know, we've got, we've got our own podcast, the business of property, and we talk about this, it's difficult because limited companies are on the increase when related to property for the reasons we've talked about in terms of Section 24, interest rate, relief, removal, and that kind of thing. In my area, there's definitely a shift. My gut feeling, is there are enough barriers now to preclude people that were just going to dip their toe in the water, which is probably what the government wanted is if you know, if you're going to invest in property, now you've got to take it seriously. Because just by having to set up a limited company, if you're going to go that route, means you've got to do things more professionally, you've got to do your accounts. And you've got to become official and take it as a responsibility which we all should. So I would imagine that has definitely put off a number of people. And like I say, I know a few people that have just got tired of it. But I think that's you know, if you've been doing it for 1015 20 years plus is gonna happen.
Part of taking property seriously involves analysing the performance of individual properties within your portfolio.
Expat Property-Guy 17:15
I've heard you say on other podcasts that you're laser focused on the importance of cash flow. So how have you managed to or have you not managed to keep expenses down?
Stuart Lordan 17:26
Yeah, it's a really good question. And one, which sounds so simple, I can't believe that I didn't focus on it at the start. But I think that was my naivety, which was property. So simple, you just buy a house, put people in it, move on. And that was kind of obviously made slightly flippant, but that was my modus operandi. But now I've realised, actually, we should have bought the property spent the money and then just got very clear on the profit and loss of that property. So that we could see really clearly... and I am now so we use a software to do that, like zero, other software is available, but everything that comes through the property will be entered. So I've got a spreadsheet just to keep me up to date, every day now, on what goes in and out of the business. On the software package, what I what I can do is look at every property independently to see where we're failing because there is always going to be maintenance there is always going to be cost. I know the sort of marketing property gurus would have you believe that once you've invested it's happy days, it's Pina Coladas in Marbella. But we all know the truth of that, that it isn't, it's as passive as it can be. But it does still require effort. And for me, that is really just having a close eye. And as soon as we have a call or any maintenance, I'll enter that straightaway just so that we can now look at how that's affecting the profitability of a property and when I'm not happy with a property's profitability, or then try and understand why that is. So for example, I have one property that is cost me more than most of the portfolio combined, purely because of the issues we had with the roof and leaks coming through the ceiling. Essentially, the guttering wasn't cleaned, and just needed regular maintenance, regular cleaning. So now, I've instructed agents that will have an annual clean, and again, sounds really basic and stupid, but that might cost us 100 pounds per property. But it's now given me a little bit more relief and confidence that at least that won't happen. That's one thing that I can proactively or preemptively improve, try and manage. Yeah,
Expat Property-Guy 19:29
I asked Stuart what systems he has in place for dealing with maintenance issues.
Stuart Lordan 19:34
If the maintenance issue is below a certain threshold, if it's below 150, or B, just get it done, just get it repaired. If it's over there, then I'll get a call / email to say we've got this issue or do you want to do? And again because of my relationship, sometimes they'll provide me with an immediate quote and I'll go away and I'll get that cross quoted myself. I know plumbers and electricians that have worked for me now over five years. So if I think there's a massive cost saving to be made and it can still be done expediently and not at the detriment to the tenants' enjoyment of the property, then I'll then I'll go get one of my suppliers to do it.
Expat Property-Guy 20:08
How much percentage would you say of rental income do you spend on maintenance?
Stuart Lordan 20:13
It ranges between five and 10%, depending on the issues, you know, one ceiling collapse in one boiler blowout couldn't just change things dramatically. Overall, I would say it's somewhere between five and 10%.
Expat Property-Guy 20:26
What would you say your ROCE is?
For me, the way I use ROCE is about what my initial outlay is going to return. So I guess if I'm thinking about ongoing maintenance, that for me would become a more of a yield question. And again, if we look at the definitions, they're probably very similar, if not the same. It's a little bit semantics In my opinion. I'm generally thinking about what's the return on the money that I'm investing into this property immediately? And then what's the ongoing? Yeah, I mean, maintenance will have quite an effect. Even replacing a washing machine, you know, depending on your rental yield if a washing machine costs you 300 quid... Yeah, that's significant. If your net income in a property is 500 pounds a month, that's your net income for one month, I was gonna say down the drain but that'd be a bad pun. So it does make a difference. I mean, for me, because I guess the portfolio is of a size now, we kind of just, you know, factor that in, we always know we're going to be five to 10%. And then what do the numbers looked like after that? If the net yield still between three to 5%, then we're happy. I actually have a comparison sheet of all of the properties against each other. And the first question is ridiculous. Are we in net profit? Or are we in deficit because it could be in year one, we're in a deficit because of excessive maintenance costs. It all sounds wonderful on paper, if you've got 13-bed, 13 en-suites and the money you're going to generate in terms of revenues. But you know, 13 en-suites means strangely enough 13 showers, which means a lot of piping, a lot of issues that can happen in terms of leakages. So what we'll do is we'll look at that an annual basis, and then I'll look at the margins. And I think for me, where I'm looking at the moment as the total portfolio, the target is between 20 and 30%, as a net, which, I don't know, depending on someone's perspective, could sound high, could sound low, but for me, yeah, I was coming from a place of 15%. So of the total revenues, 85% of it was cost: mortgage, utilities, maintenance insurance. So our target is to get to 30%. And what I've found is that we had the cost of borrowing. So we're doing a lot of refinancing. And that cost of borrowing was actually impacting the net margin. But to just summarise and simply answer your question, I would just look at total revenues, less the total cost of everything mortgage agents, fees, utilities and maintenance and see what that net figure is and if it's somewhere between 20 and 30%. I think it's doing all right.
Expat Property-Guy 22:43
So can we look at a case study of one of your student properties? First of all, what is the property The property is a 13 bedroom house on one freehold. It was a commercial building on a corner that was at some stage a shop like a local newsagent with then two buildings on top of it. Now, I think some of it was redeveloped. So essentially, it was a seven bed and a six bed. I mean, there's two separate entrances, but it was sold as a 13 bed on the freehold. And how did you find it? Did you use a sourcing agent? Or did you find it yourself?
Stuart Lordan 23:15
Nope, found it myself online. It was going to auction I can't remember it was on a commercial website, my letting agent at the time, he'd actually been inside the property. And I trusted him enough. And I could see the photos. I'd had to walk around outside. It's one of those where the day I was there, they weren't doing the open viewings, but I went along, just have a look outside, just see if I could see anything major happening with a roof, the chimney, that kind of stuff. And as a caveat, I would say that the few that I've done, I do have surveyors go around and look at before I even think about making an offer. I really liked the property. I really liked the location. It's literally two minutes from the Art College, there's big university and then there's art college and it's got rooms in it that people have used for little art rooms. It's just... it's... the location is great. The property is great. The fact that my agent had been inside and said, Stuart, it's absolutely fine. There's nothing wrong with it, it just hasn't been cared for.
Expat Property-Guy 24:10
And how much did you pay for it?
Stuart Lordan 24:11
543,000. The interesting story on this one is that we did spend about 12k Just on painting, we just tidied it up, gave it a refresh, all of the furniture was already there. It's very much like a purpose built student accommodation block. Two or three months later it got valued at 735
Expat Property-Guy 24:27
Was that on a commercial mortgage?
Stuart Lordan 24:29
It would have been a commercial mortgage,
Expat Property-Guy 24:31
And what loan to value did you take on that?
Stuart Lordan 24:33
It would have been 70%
Expat Property-Guy 24:34
So you bought it for 543? You spent 12 on it. Then it was revalued at 735 did you say?
Stuart Lordan 24:42
Expat Property-Guy 24:43
Is that like £1300 a week? Is it £100 a week for each room, was it?
Stuart Lordan 24:47
Expat Property-Guy 24:48
Stuart Lordan 24:48
So yeah, you're talking about £1365 a week times 50 weeks?
Expat Property-Guy 24:53
It's turned out very well?
Stuart Lordan 24:54
Yeah, I mean, it does well, it's like everything else. Yeah, it sounds really good. The kind of warning I always gives originally, the bank was going to give us 75% loan to value. But when it got revalued at 735,000, which I don't believe it was worth, by the way, I think it was overinflated at that time. And that's proven to be true, because we've refinanced it on a lower valuation now, but what that showed me was that, you know, these things can work, but the bank didn't want to be overexposed. So they limited it, right, we're not going to lend over... it just so happened, it was going to be 70%, they said, "We're not going to lend over £515,000 on this," because that would have been a really nice, wow, all of cash out all of that sort of stuff all the marketing talks about, you know, no money down and other people's money and this, that and the other, but actually, the banks aren't going to take big risks. They're not just gonna let us go and fritter away the money but not anymore anyway, 20 years ago, maybe...
Expat Property-Guy 25:43
Are all your HMOs, are they all on commercial mortgages?
Stuart Lordan 25:47
Most of them are with Kent Reliance, and they're typically on bricks and mortar. The challenge with this area specifically versus others is that there's probably going to be a difference between a bricks and mortar valuation and a commercial valuation.
Expat Property-Guy 26:00
When you say area, you mean Plymouth?
Stuart Lordan 26:02
Plymouth, yeah, in and around that area, you know, in other areas, for example, you know, the bricks and mortar valuation may be much higher than a commercial valuation, or vice versa. Strangely, in this area, they're very similar. So that's why sometimes when people ask me that question, I'm never 100% certain because when I've worked out the commercial valuation versus the bricks and mortar, they are very close.
Expat Property-Guy 26:28
So you are not an expat, but you are at least a remote investor, it's about 220 miles to Plymouth from where you live, right? Can you put yourself into the shoes of our listeners? What would you do? If you are an expat looking to get started? Well, the first thing is, decide where you want to invest. If it were me, I'd be thinking about what makes the most sense, I guess the greater thing being an expert is do you have to be limited even by country? Obviously, the reason for my investing in the area that I did specifically was knowledge. And that is, I think one of the key things for most of us, unless you can, you know, you can outsource that or you mentioned sourcers in one of your questions earlier on. And, and I'm working with investors now and working with a couple of guys that are looking at areas and we'll research it. But ultimately, I think we always want this sort of confidence. So just having a bit of knowledge, no one wants to spend a significant investment in something that we think is going to go wrong or not hold its value. At the very, very least, we don't want to make a mistake, because even if we're talking about £10,000, £ 20,000, that's a lot of money. And we want to be comfortable that and so I think knowledge is where it starts. So even as an expert, I think, where's my knowledge? I might have family in New York, you know, so that's what I'd be thinking about is like, Where would I be most comfortable to invest in in just for me, it just comes back to that learning about the area, you know, what's the history of the area, what to invest in, like in terms of capital appreciation,
Stuart also works with investors,
Stuart Lordan 27:50
Some investors just invest with me for a return, you know, flat return, they'll give me X amount of money, and I'll give them a percentage return per year, they can invest X,000 pounds, and I'll give them somewhere between 6 and 10% for a set period of time. Number two, I've got joint venture partners essentially that just means we will have separate SPVs limited companies that will buy properties, and we will share in those properties together. And then the most recent way I'm working with investors is portfolio creation, where they want to invest, they pretty much want to do it themselves, but don't have the level of knowledge and experience just to go straight in and you know, I just see myself as someone that supports them in the short term, deals with all of the high level stuff in terms of the finance, the project management, the refinance, setting up of agents, get up on their feet and move them forward. You know, do you want cash flow? Do you want capital appreciation? Are you looking for a pension in the future? And whilst we want all of those, you know, you've got to pick one now, because that will influence the decisions you make. Because if we're looking for cash flow, then, depending on the area, typically we are going to be looking at Co- living / Houses in Multiple Occupation and so on. And I guess just letting that sort of inform my decision making.
Expat Property-Guy 29:03
What does the word risk mean to you?
Stuart Lordan 29:06
Risk, to me, means a potential problem to be managed.
Expat Property-Guy 29:13
Stuart Lordan 29:13
That's it. Ha ha...
Expat Property-Guy 29:14
I think everything comes with risk. All risks are there to be managed. I mean, I see it, particularly my learning in the last couple of years specifically is that as a business owner, and if we're running property as a business, what your job is, is to solve problems. If we're saying there's a risk of something, what we're saying is, he's a potential problem. My next question is, okay, what do we do to mitigate that risk, so that all we're doing is planning for a potential problem.
Expat Property-Guy 29:38
Stuart, thank you very much for your time, and hopefully catch up again in the near future.
Stuart Lordan 29:43
Thanks for having me.
Expat Property-Guy 29:47
Three things to pick out from my chat with Stuart are firstly, his advice to review and analyse the performance of individual properties within your portfolio. So take the revenue minus all your costs, and check that the net figure you end up with is between 20 and 30%, could you reduce those costs? Could you for example, find ways to lower your maintenance bills or your mortgage? The second highlight is Stewart's advice to remote investors either to develop your knowledge of an investment area or leverage the knowledge of others. Despite his unfortunate performance on Postcode Challenge, Stuart really does know his area, and as a result, was able to adapt his strategy according to market forces by repurposing his properties in order to target professionals, as well as students and stay ahead of the game. And finally, right at the end, Stuart pointed out that as a business owner, your job is to solve problems. If you keep solving problems, you'll keep making money so that you can live happily ever after. You can find all of Stuart’s contact details in the Episode Show notes including a link to his podcast, The Business of Property.
This week's exotic listener location is Panama, which is famous for hats, cigars, and of course, the Panama Canal. And apparently is the only country in the world where you can see the sunrise on the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic. Panama is exotic to me because it's the only country in the isthmus, which is the thin strip of land that separates North and Central America that I haven't been to. So if you're our Expat in Panama, get in touch via the website at www.expatpropertystory.com And tell us about your portfolio or leave a voice message and maybe I'll play it on the show. Now, are you an expat that thinks that your property story would be smoother if you were based in the UK. My interview with next week's guest aims to challenge those assumptions. This is a guest who knows more about property than the Italians know about pasta, he has bought and sold more than 4,000 properties in a career that has seen him survive and thrive through multiple property cycles. So if you're looking to learn without spending a fortune, next week's episode is a great place to start. Please help support our community by rating reviewing and subscribing to the podcast. And if you think of anyone that might be interested in Stuart's story, then share the show to spread the word. You've been listening to. Expat Property Story.
Husband and father of four and Property Investor at Lord Panda Property currently living in Surrey, United Kingdom. My interests range from entrepreneurship to running. I’m also a big fan of coffee, reading personal development books, films and trying to find “quiet time”!