Listen to this episode below:
This week we welcome Lizzie Fraser to the show, an expat property investor living in sunny Dubai. Over the next few months, she’ll share her insights on investing as an expat via a series of articles and features on Inside Property Investing.
Lizzie will be looking at common hurdles faced by expats (and really, anyone investing outside their own area) such as sourcing good deals, and how to manage your team remotely. She’s starting off with a look at her property background in this podcast, and her first article about the structure of her JV investment group.
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Four years ago, Lizzie and her husband escaped the English weather and moved to Dubai permanently. Whilst living there Dubai, she worked as a corporate lawyer mainly in the hospitality industry and gained experience working on large hotel chain expansions.
As of December 2017, she left her high-flying career and took up property investing full time. After starting a family last year she was looking for more freedom, but still wanted a challenge like the property market could offer.
“It sparked my enthusiasm, even more, to jump ship and get into the property industry”
After two personally funded buy-to-lets, she began to think bigger.
How the Dubai Expat Property (DEP) Group Started
In spring last year, along with 10 other ambitious expat investors, Lizzie coordinated a Mastermind weekend in Dubai hosted by Mike. After a weekend of intense discussion around common frustrations faced by overseas investors, the group decided to collaborate and work together.
Each member has their own area of expertise and together they cover all bases thoroughly, from commercial construction and CDM to marketing and legals. To date, they have a lawyer, construction project managers, accountants, management consultants, bankers and even a magazine editor.
The company formed in June 2017 and they bought their first test property for £94,000. After a simple refurbishment, they sold it to generate a 22% ROI and decided to push forward on to bigger projects.
Every member of the group has committed to investing the same amount of money over the course of 5 years. For those 5 years, it’s agreed that all profits will go back into the company and fund further projects.
After their initial test project, they are now looking for a big £500,000 to £1,000,000 project to sink their teeth into. The DEP Group has two requirements for each project – a 25% ROI and an opportunity to learn. Lizzie is not comfortable just being a passive funder, she wants to dig deep and learn as much as possible with each project.
“I want to be at the forefront. I want to be the person that’s developing it”.
Advice for Expats
Investing as an expat is not for everyone. You have three big issues standing in your way:
Networking – away from the hustle and bustle of the UK market, you either have to fly in or skip networking events held on UK soil. Many property opportunities are sourced from these types of property events and not attending can make building relationships an uphill struggle.
Financing – Getting bank finance for your investment is tricky. Some UK banks won’t offer mortgages to any overseas investors, whilst others have strict requirements on minimum property values (making lower cost investments almost impossible for anyone but cash buyers), maximum number of investor owned properties in a block and so on.
Opening a bank account – Most UK banks really don’t cater to expats, making it difficult to do something as seemingly simple (and essential) as opening a bank account. A lot of our expat friends have had to fly back to the UK just to sign some paperwork, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time, and maybe even get your bank account set up before you start investing so it’s a potential issue ticked off the list.
Lizzie Frazer’s Links & Resources
Find out more about what the DEP group are up to here: www.DEP.group
For any potential deals, email them to [email protected]
To contact Lizzie directly, email [email protected]