340: Dave So on why he opted for the student HMO strategy and building a huge portfolio

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Today I’m delighted to be joined by Dave So, probably the most humble investor I’ve ever come across but do not let his laid back approach fool you. Since buying his first student HMO in 2013 he’s gone on to buy and renovate over 300 rooms in his home city of Nottingham, adding to his own portfolio and on behalf of other landlords and investors.

The crazy part is he did most of this whilst holding down a full day corporate job as well, which he finally decided to step away from 12 months ago. 

Along the way he’s diversified his income by growing a letting agency business, he’s employed several members of his family and close friends to scale the business, and he’s been able to continue the portfolio growth despite being in a strict article 4 area.

Listen to this episode below:

Here’s what we discussed this time:

5:49 – Dave talks about his life and work before property investing. He tells us how he left full-time employment in IT just before the pandemic, having worked for the company for nearly 20 years.

7:12 – Mike commends him for how much he managed to get done in the property world while working a full-time job. He credits his calm manner.

8:31 – Dave discusses how it was the right decision and how it was the perfect timing for him.

9:34 – He talks about when property became something he saw as a career and how he had always been obsessed with property and the idea of developing.

10:25 – Dave tells how he started with a student HMO, even without a lot of capital. He did a lot of the work himself with basic DIY experience.

13:33 – He talks through what attracted him to the student HMO model in the first instance. They discuss the idea of taking on existing HMOs and how there is still scope to add value to them. It can be a good place to start and there are always landlords tired who are wanting to get out.

16:58 – He gives the numbers on the first HMO.

19:35 – He credits the students for looking after properties well.

22:00 – Dave discusses growing the portfolio and how he has gone about doing it, regardless of the strict Article 4 rule and guidelines.

23:46 – How he brought in family and friends to work alongside him on a new lettings business. This helped hugely in growing the portfolio and allowed Dave to focus on the this solely.

27:23 – Dave talks about how important it is to make sure you have a happy home life, look after yourself and have a solid foundation – it helps then to be able to focus on the business.

28:35 – Did Dave ever think about diversifying outside of Nottingham or away from the student market?

30:51 – How linear has his property journey been?

32:35 – They talk about the cyclical nature of the student housing market and how you have to consider the busy summer period. They weigh up the advantages and disadvantages.

33:58 – Dave talks about the financial security of student housing and having parents as guarantors.

34:36 – He tells us about how he has managed to grow the portfolio so big in such a short period of time. He talks about the importance of having goals and motivation.

38:04 – The importance of creating a better life for him and his family.

39:39 – Dave brings up the idea of inter-generational wealth.

40:08 – Dave talks through his biggest challenges.

43:48 – They talk about having to get smart with sourcing due to rising house prices in chosen areas.

46:30 – Dave discusses his plans for the future and the types of properties he will be looking to source – some of which could bring a diversification of income.

49:25 – They discuss the perils of finance, how it can cause stress but also how it can benefit.

Our Sponsors:

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The Links We Mentioned:

You can find Dave on his website at www.dave.so and his lettings agent website can be found at Nottingham Lettings.

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