As the joint company director of a successful flooring business, Ross Brown wanted to invest money from his family business into property. After getting his business partner-father onside at the start of summer 2017, he began to hunt for a property to flip. Shortly after, he and his Father found the perfect place at auction: a rundown bungalow in the suburbs of their hometown of Lowestoft, Suffolk. There was one problem: they couldn’t afford it.
Luckily, a family friend who invests in property full-time stepped in at the last minute to make up the shortfall.The three of them took on the project together as a joint venture, agreeing to split the profits equally, a third each.
Ross bought his first house back at the age of 20 in 2007, just before the financial crash. Always having his eye on ways to earn extra pocket money, he rented out a room in the three bed mid-terrace to a friend, earning himself £350 per month.
The following spring, Ross met his now wife and soon they decided they wanted to save up for a place together. Ross moved back in with his parents, allowing him to save up enough to put a deposit down on another house, whilst renting the three bed terrace out. ‘I knew it was the right thing to do, but I wasn’t really actively educated in property investing,’ he says. ‘I knew enough to get by as a landlord, but that was it really.’
Fast forward a few months and Ross was taking his first tentative steps into his first flip project. What would he be faced with?
Renovating the bungalow
‘The condition of the bungalow was terrible: the whole place needed gutting out,’ Ross says. ‘The kitchen was over thirty years old and the walls were covered in nicotine stains.’ After having the property gutted out, Ross ensured half of the bungalow was freshly plastered. ‘We managed to keep hold of the two front windows and applied plasterboard in front of the lower part of the lounge windows,’ he says. ‘A lot of PVC would have been seen internally from the lounge otherwise.’
The biggest change Ross made to the bungalow was knocking down the wall between the diner and the kitchen, to create a spacious open plan kitchen-diner. Additionally, the whole bungalow needed rewiring. Ross’s plumber installed a new central heating system, a Vaillant boiler and even new gas pipes as the property had previously been heated by oil and electric.
‘We advertised the old oil storage tank in the rear garden on Facebook and basically said free to a good home as long as they take it away,’ Ross adds. ‘It was heavy and would have been a pain to remove, so someone coming to take it away was a great bonus and saved us from having to pay to dispose it.’
Elsewhere, the broken garage doors were replaced with roller doors, patio flooring was laid at the rear of the property and the loft was insulated. Following ongoing problems with the chimney, it was demolished and rebuilt. In just over three months, all the works were completed. Ross now just had to sell the house.
Selling the bungalow: third time lucky
The bungalow soon caught the eye of a prospective buyer, who gave Ross £2,000 upfront to convert the garage into a room before he moved into it. ‘He had an expensive motorbike and he was going to use it to store that,’ Ross explains. ‘He was going to put some black cord carpet in there and use it for that.’ Using the money, Ross had all the ceilings and walls in the garage plaster-boarded and had spotlights and electric points installed too.
Two weeks later, after the survey was completed, the buyer suddenly pulled out. ‘We feared the worse, thinking something had come up on the survey,’ Ross says. ‘But after doing some digging we managed to find out that there was nothing to worry about on the survey. We still don’t know to this day why he pulled out of the deal.’
Another buyer emerged, a woman in the middle of selling her current house. It looked like Ross could breathe a sigh of relief. However, the sale of her house was delayed and she had to pull out. Once again, the sale of the bungalow was thwarted at the last moment.
After a few weeks of tense waiting, another buyer stepped forwards. ‘They were an early retired couple looking to downsize,’ Ross says. ‘The bungalow, it was perfect for an elderly couple looking to do nothing to it. It was like walking into a brand new bungalow and that’s exactly what they wanted.’
Lessons from his first flip
9 months after it was finished, the bungalow was finally sold. What would Ross do differently next time? ‘Our learning curve from it was the bedroom sizes,’ he says. ‘The master bedroom was big enough for a double bed but not very big. We would have maybe got one wardrobe in alongside the double bed.
‘Bedroom two was obviously a single room so it wasn’t big at all, but if we’d have had two good sized double bedrooms it would have probably sold in the first week.’
In hindsight Ross says he would have put a small extension on the back of the property to increase the bedroom sizes. ‘We maybe would have had the funds to do a small extension, but with our first flip project we didn’t want to be doing extensions,’ Ross says. ‘That’s why we didn’t do it on this one.’
Breakdown of costs:
Purchase price (including reservation fee) £144,160
Stamp Duty £4,300
HMLR fee £190
Auction fees £720
Solicitor costs (purchase) £624
Solicitor costs (sale) £642
Renovation and running costs £30,950
Sale price £207,500 (Sale completed 21/09/2018)
Total net profit £27,914
Net profit (per investor) £9,305
Having enjoyed his first joint venture, Ross is hoping to complete another flip in the same way, again using funds from the family business. ‘I’m not 100% sure which avenue I’m going to take yet,’ he says. Amongst the options he is considering are single-lets, as well as future joint ventures or HMOs further from home around Norwich. ‘Something with a bit more income per month,’ Ross adds. ‘I’m looking to expand, definitely.’
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