My First Year as a Full Time Property Investor

Hand on heart, the 30 days leading Up to my departure from the corporate world went slower than the past 365 have done.

We’ve always been a couple with a plan – a 12 month plan and a 5 year plan. Every year on our birthday (we were born two days apart) we record a video, we talk about what we have achieved in the past 12 months and what we want  to achieve, both personally and professionally in the upcoming year.

Leaving the corporate world was no different. The plan was that Mike would jump ship first, I’d stay behind, bring in a stable income (ie pay our bills), and keep us mortgageable, and then once Mike had built up an income from Property, I would follow.

It more or less went exactly to plan, apart from one extremely nice unexpected bonus, I got made redundant!  We had hit our financial target of what we needed to “survive” (more on that later) and we were just waiting for a few things to fall into place when I got the news that I was being made redundant.  It literally couldn’t have come at a better time for us, and aside from the financial benefit, for me it was also a real sign that we were doing the right thing.

leaving cake
The cake Mike made for me to take in on my last day

Now back to this “survive” mentality. We had worked out what we needed each month to be financially secure (pay our bills and eat – survive!), financially independent (meals out, an occasional holiday and luxuries like gym membership) and finally have complete financial freedom (this is the big yacht, the private jet, never needing to work again).

We had previously taken the decision that I would leave work when we hit security and not wait until independence. Our reasoning was simple, with two of us doing this full time, we would become financially independent a lot quicker than waiting for Mike to get us there on his own.

Obviously a lot of people choose to leave work, with some taking a bigger risk than others. Whilst I would say we still took a risk (and continue to do so to this day), ultimately I think our planned, phased approach meant that we didn’t lose sleep over how we were going to pay our mortgage, and instead we could focus our energy on growing our business. I should also add that Mike left work at 27, and me at 29, which made it easier as we both knew we were young enough to start again if things didn’t work.

Ok, I’ve been waffling a little, lets talk about the last 365 days. There have been two real changes for me to embrace this year. Firstly, becoming a full time property developer and secondly, working with my husband full time. I assume most of you aren’t here for marriage counselling, so I will focus on the former.

The Challenges of Full Time Property…

  1. Things move slowly. I knew this already, we’ve been investing for years now, but when you are dependent on the income, you realise how true this is. Everyone knows (or at least everyone should know) that property isn’t  a “get rich quick” scheme, but that isn’t what I’m talking about here. I’m referring to the absolute basics of completing a sale, getting planning permission, getting the work done. Obviously some elements are more in your control (e.g. managing your team) but when it comes to tasks like waiting for the council to approve an application, or having new utilities installed, you have no choice but to sit back and wait. Time is money, and you need to ensure you can afford to wait.
  2. Mortgages. This isn’t an article about how to get finance as a self employed person so I won’t labour it, but I can’t not mention it. The options are significantly reduced when you step away from a steady salary. Some banks will lend on rental income, some won’t. Some will take one year of self-employed accounts, most will want three. We now mostly leverage JV finance, and development finance, because our investors are more interested in our track record and their security vs our monthly income from 24 months ago.
  3. There is no walking away at 5pm. Now typically a lot of us don’t have jobs that allow that anyway, but suffice to say, if I get a phone call from a tenant at 10pm to say there is a leak, or an investor is based overseas and can only schedule calls before 7am, then nobody cares about that as much as I do.  Yes we will go out for Brunch at 11am on a Wednesday, but then I will spend my Sunday building Ikea Sofa’s because I’ve got a tenant desperate to move in. Swings and Roundabouts.

And the Glorious Benefits

I’m probably preaching to the choir here. If you are reading this article it’s because you already believe that a life working towards your own dream (in property, or any other industry) is a better option that helping someone else achieve theirs. Well, I’m delighted to confirm, having been on the other side for exactly a year now, that the grass really is greener here.

mike and Victoria sailing
Getting our day skipper qualification

Where do I start? We had 9 holidays in 2017 including 3 weeks in Florida with Mike’s family (like I said, swings and roundabouts) and 10 days learning to sail in the Med for our 30th Birthdays. Mike and I get to take the dog to the park every day, and could in theory go to the gym every day. I meet friends for lunch on a Wednesday, and I wear my pyjamas to the office.

On a serious note though, we are building a life and a future for ourselves that only we dictate. Its becoming a cliché in the property world, but after reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, I knew I couldn’t spend my life working for someone else. The effort and hours we put in benefit us directly, and we are working towards a vision that we have created. I’ve not had “Sunday night fear” for 52 Sundays now.

So, what have we actually achieved this year. Well our team has grown to 4 people (soon to be 5 – you know who you are!), we’ve got 6 projects in progress at the moment (the most we’ve ever had in one go), our podcast numbers have continued to grow and we get thousands of downloads every day. We have over 100 people complete our online HMO course and many of them have gone on to buy their first projects now, and like I said… we’ve had some pretty nice holidays.

So, where from here? When I left work, Mike & I agreed to a 12 month trial. We figured that was an acceptable amount of time to be out of the workplace and easily re-enter if things weren’t working. We would call it a sabbatical and say no more.  Today marks 12 months exactly, and suffice to say I won’t be typing up my CV any time soon.

go confidently in the direction of your dreams

If you’ve got any questions about leaving the corporate world to enter property full time, then feel free to get in touch and I’ll hopefully be able to help.


2 Responses

  1. Hello, really enjoyed that read. I am now starting my own adventure.

    Me and my mate (both builders) have just bought a house, waiting for the keys now. We are planning on working full time still and working on the house evenings and weekends. We are hoping to make 30k-40k profit + our 20k deposit on the house.

    We are both desperate to stop working for ‘the man’ and work for ourselves. I have a partner and we rent a house together. This makes the option of moving into the new house whilst we are renovating not possible. My business partner rents with his friends. (we are both 26).

    We earn £28k each a year. with rent and mortgage we will be spending over a grand each a month.

    How do we make the jump from employed to full time developers. As soon as we leave our jobs we leave our mortgage options behind. After this house we are expecting to have 40k + 20k deposit. how much money do you think we need to support ourselves + a mortgage on the project? Do we just open up as a business? do we stick with residential for as long as we can?

    Thank you in advance for any help.

    1. Hey Harry, sounds like you’re off to a great start with your current project. If you both currently rent, there’s scope to flip your own home a couple of times which is pretty efficient route to go – lower deposits, lower stamp duty, no capital gains tax etc. Obviously it needs to be your own home, but we move every couple of years into a new project.

      In terms of what next, you’ll need to build up an income to be mortgageable. Ideally you’d need about £2k/month income to get buy to let mortgages, so that could be a target before you quit the job. If you’re builders, could you set up a new construction company and pay yourselves for the work you do on your houses so you’re building up your self-employed income whilst working on these early projects?

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