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Today I am delighted to be joined by Louisa Nation, a commercial property developer, landlord, and mum. Her focus is on buying old, run down offices in great locations and turning them into contemporary, vibrant apartments for modern living.
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Louisa’s property journey started when she was 18, and she bought her nan’s house in West London after her grandad passed away. This was in 1991, when the value of the property was only £29,000. She was able to convert the house into two self-contained flats, with her nan living rent-free downstairs, and she and her husband were able to take over the top floor flat.
She still owns this property 25 years later, and it’s recently been valued at £580,000. Since then, she has built a portfolio of buy-to-let properties in West London and more recently moved into HMOs, before making the move into commercial to residential conversions a year ago. As well as the financial freedom this has offered, she’s only had the freedom of time to home-school her three children,
Commercial to Residential
After 25 years in the property industry, Louisa’s last 12 months have seen a meteoric rise in deal volume. After signing up to a property course with Glen Delve, she hit the ground running in January, and now has an incredible 7 commercial to residential conversions on the go at once.
She is concentrating on converting offices, and has cut her time on sourcing and securing the properties by using a planning consultant to ensure they are in the B1A use class, so she can make use of permitted development through prior approval rather than going through a laborious planning process.
This strategy seems to be working, with her smallest project being 2000 sq ft, and her largest 40,000 sq ft. Of these 7 projects, all will be turned into residential flats, and Louisa will have 180 flats with a GDV of around £40 million by the time they’re completed.
Private Finance & Sourcing
Although many people will wonder just how Louisa secures funding for and sources her conversions, she says it’s simply a case of being tenacious, networking, and following through on her promises to agents and investors. Like many, Louisa sees property as a people business, and many years of working in the industry and forming professional relationships and friendships has stood her in good stead.
She currently works with 7 different agents, who trust that if she says she will complete on a deal, then she will, which means she now receives off-market offers before anyone else. Similarly, with banking interest rates at an all-time low, her ability to give her investors a great return on their investments in the property world means she has cultivated lasting relationships with many people who want to put their money to work.
Her refreshing approach to tackling large projects has already paid off, and she hopes to have completed another 2 purchases by Christmas this year, bringing her GDV to an estimated £50 million.