135: Martin Rapley has unmatched experience when it comes to running successful property development projects

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Martin RapleyMartin has over 30 years of experience as a manager in the construction industry, and has been investing in his own buy to let portfolio for the last 10 years. His experience extends to working on projects in the V&A Museum, the British Museum, the Bank of England, and the Stock exchange.

At first, he enjoyed the profits from his own portfolio rather than reinvesting them, but recently has realised the power of compounding his assets and is now focussing on growing his property business both for long term gains and short term cash flow.

In addition, for the past 3 years he has been using his extensive construction expertise to help other investors with their refurbishment and development projects, often only being called in for assistance once something has gone wrong. He’s trying to change this by getting involved earlier in projects either as a consultant or a full service project manager, breaking down the barriers between contractors and his clients.

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Investing Strategies

Prior to property investing, Martin had been running a business for 18 months that wasn’t going anywhere, so he started off (without any funds) looking for lease option deals.

He quite quickly picked up a commercial to residential conversion opportunity that he was able to find a JV partner for, which could be converted into 6 flats and a small house.

Since then he’s focussed his attention on converting small blocks of flats, particulalry one bedroom flats where he can convert them into two bedrooms. It’s a nice little niche that has allowed him to specialise and grow his business.

Biggest Success

At the first property meeting Martin ever went to, he met a small HMO landlord who he loosely kept in touch with. A few years later this contact brought a deal to him in the shape of an old dentist surgery that could be converted to residential. They proposed a lease option to the owner which was rejected initially but they were finally able to secure the deal 6 months later.

The building came with a dentist in-situ who was keen to get out of his lease and as with most commercial tenants, he was resposible for all repairs and maintenance. Martin was able to negotiate a £40,000 contribution from the dentist who was happy to pay it to get out of his tenancy, which was a significant contribution to the £120,000 development cost of the project.

It’s now up and running as an HMO and generating £1,600 profit per month for Martin and his JV partner, and it all came on the back of a chance meeting 4 years ago!

Biggest Difficulty

Around half of Martin’s clients come from other investors when things have gone wrong. Usually the problems are minor, but he has had some pretty fundamental issues brought to him as well, like the investor who came to him earlier this year with a title split project where the owner couldn’t find his building control completion certificate.

After an inspection by Martin it turns out that 2 of the 3 flats didn’t comply with building regulations and hadn’t been built as specified by the architect.

It seems as though the investor instructed a builder and told him to get on with it rather than keeping a close eye on the work that was being done, and as Martin delved further it transpired that other things hadn’t been done like splitting the water supply to the flats (which had been paid for but not completed).

The big lesson Martin takes away from working with his clients is that as investors, we’re all ultimately responsible for the outcome and the end product and can’t simply trust that a builder will know what to do or will do what we ask of them.

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Property Magic – Simon Zutshi

Martin Rapley’s Links & Resources

Halpful Property Group – Martin’s main business providing support services for property investors
Refurbishment Masterclass – Martin’s one day course on carrying out successful property refurbishments

Email Martin Rapley – Got a question or looking for some advice? Get in touch with Martin here.

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