343: David Lenton on building an unencumbered portfolio and leveraging growth

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Today, I am delighted to be joined by David Lenton, the founder of an SEO and digital marketing agency who started looking at property initially in 2018 as a place to protect and diversify his wealth. He started out by building up an unencumbered portfolio, thinking that when his capital ran out, he would stop with the property. But, you know how the story goes and, by that point, he’d developed a real interest in the industry, finding that his knowledge of the property business grew with every new deal he made and every new contact too. Now, he’s looking to leverage the existing portfolio to fund continued growth and during the interview we talk about his views on things like sourcing in the current climate, the serviced accommodation market now and in the future, and how he plans to scale up the portfolio while continuing to run his marketing business.

Listen to this episode below:

Here’s what we discussed this time:

4:36 – David talks us through what he was up to before property and discusses how he continues to work within the internet marketing business alongside his more recent foray into the property world. He talks through dropping out of university and the importance of his entrepreneurial streak.

5:43 – What was it that made him drop out of university?

8:43 – They both agree on how there are an amazing amount of free resources that people can be tapping into.

9:05 – How did David end up doing marketing and what made him start his business? He talks about wanting to create wealth that allows him freedom to make his own decisions.

10:02 – His marketing business is successful and David is proud of what he has built. He talks through the elements of the business that appeal to him most. It’s allowed him the opportunity to set up an unencumbered portfolio.

11:28 – They talk about the importance of financial freedom and what that means to different people.

13:47 – David discusses his want to secure the wealth that he had made and how that led him to property in the first place.

16:26 – He talks about the challenges he has found in the property industry.

17:22 – David talks us through his first projects and his first buy to let properties. He discusses why he decided to start there and how it all went.

19:09 – He tells us about the unencumbered portfolio aspect of his property business.

‘The more you learn, the more you earn in property.’

22:29 – Are there any challenges that come with growing a portfolio with cash rather than with bank finance? Unencumbered portfolio is a rare thing to come across, but does it make any decisions more difficult?

25:37 – Mike asks David what truly gave him the property bug and the drive to keep going with it.

29:02 – The concept of host and stay, and the serviced accommodation market. David talks through the sourcing of these properties and the ongoing management.

36:10 – They talk through the occupancy rates and how the holiday market is looking in general in the UK. The idea of piggybacking on the staycation boom with high-quality accommodation.

37:28 – Mike asks about how he is pivoting the portfolio and what the future of his portfolio growth looks like. David talks through his long-term plan.

41:19 – The challenge of trying to find the volume of deals that David wants without paying a huge premium for them. Mike also talks through the effect of the active market at the moment.

44:45 – Mike talks through a recent project they have just bought and how they went about securing it.

46:43 – David discusses how they are exploring holiday let properties in areas that might not be thought about as a typical holiday destination at the moment. He discusses one of their current projects.

‘Do what other people aren’t doing.’

49:55 – If David were to advise someone else who is just getting started, what advice would he give? His key learnings come from the relationships he’s built with other people already in the industry.

52:59 – You are going to have to save enough for that first deposit and market your project well.

54:21 – There are so many different ways to enhance the value of a property.

58:06 – They talk through the idea of networking and blogging.

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The Links We Mentioned:

Find out more about David’s thoughts on his Smart Investor blog.

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