342: Mary and Andrew Osman on HMO investing, design-led properties and overcoming obstacles




Today I’m delighted to be joined by Andrew & Mary – qualified architects with over 20 years of combined experience working on projects in the UK and Australia. Now they spend most of their time focussed on their investments in Leeds – primarily HMOs but starting to work on larger residential conversions and developments as well.

During the interview they share the details of how they got started with their portfolio when a major roadblock was put in their way, and why they believe their focus on design not only adds value but also saves them money.

Listen to this episode below:

Here’s what we discussed this time:

3:21 – Mike asks Andrew and Mary to go back in time and discuss their lives before property, their journey to where they are today and how they built their property business. They talk about how, although they were in the industry as architects, they didn’t consider property as a business until later down the line.

6:03 – They talk about living in Australia and how they love to travel.

7:04 – Considering their real breadth of experience, when did they start to realise that property could be something they could start to invest in? Andrew talks through how he worked on a feasibility project and the light bulb moment he had.

9:49 – They talk about being blinded by how tired they were in and of their jobs at the time.

10:34 – Mary discusses a free property seminar that allowed them to see a route to freedom.

12:10 – Mike talks about how people overlook the feasibility surveys that can be done. He asks Andrew and Mary about their process and how it all works.

12:50 – Mary tells us about the importance of strategising and how naturally people do feasibility checks in their head, without even realising. She talks about looking at what planning applications other houses on other streets around the houses they are buying. You can see a lot on satellite view on Google Maps as a simple tip.

14:44 – Mike asks about the main things they look for when they are considering sites and adding value. Sometimes, a property might just be badly planned.

16:45 – Back to their story – how did they go from that seminar to getting their first deal up and running? They came back to the UK with the sole intention of setting up their property business. They give a word of warning about talking to a broker as early as possible.

20:26 – They talk about the Rent to SA model.

22:11 – They were always a big believer and buying and owning assets, as opposed to constantly boosting cashflow. Mary discusses the difficulty about going straight into a HMO strategy, without having experience but their belief about where there is a will there is a way.

‘The reality is that it’s hard work and you’ve got to put in that time and effort – you can still invest and make good money in property. Perseverance will set you apart.’

26:53 – They talk through HMOs being their primary focus and then looking at development opportunities as well.

28:01 – Andrew discusses their current projects that are on the go at the moment. Mike asks them if there is a typical HMO model for them and if there is a format that they like to stick to.

30:07 – They crunch through the numbers.

33:17 – Mary talks about how much they focus on the numbers and the ROI, but also getting the properties in the right place and keeping tenancies. They don’t want things to be super transient, which is where smaller HMOs can have their place.

34:58 – Mike asks about their main goals and aspirations for the future. Getting out of the day job is a big part of their long-term strategy so that they can travel and have more freedom.

40:51 – The importance of having different personalities within a business relationship to balance each other out.

41:53 – Make sure you are spending your time doing the things you enjoy.

43:23 – They discuss how landlords and property investors are starting to focus on making sure properties are designed well and desirable places to live. Andrew and Mary like to think they are a design-led property company. They look at places as spaces for people, and ensure people will feel really proud and comfortable living there.

44:39 – Mike asks what they think are the most popular element of designs when you’re designing for other people. What do they prioritise?

48:41 – Mike also asks about their biggest struggle in property so far.

52:08 – They finish discussing advice for those who want to get started in the market today. Andrews says to focus on completing one task every day that moves your property business forward. Mary says to focus on one strategy at a time, too.

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Find Andrew and Mary on Instagram @elitedwellings or drop them an email at contact@elitedwellings.co.uk – they offer feasibility and interior design work for projects. Their website can be found here.

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