Listen to this episode below:
John and Bronwen Vearncombe are fresh back from their respective international adventures. John has just completed the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, meanwhile Bronwen has been circumnavigating the world herself by plane and car. They’ve also been simultaneously running a property business. We caught up with them to find out how investing in property has allowed them to pursue their dreams.
Harvey Bowes’ multi-award winning team of mortgage brokers can help you use finance to increase the momentum of your property investing. Call them on 029 2175 4150 or visit HarveyBowes.com to find out how they can help you.
Bronwen was a banker for 21 years, whilst John worked in IT prior to getting into property. They were fed up of 2 hour commutes and having little time to spend with their family. ‘I was in the rat race, commuting, working long hours, not seeing very much of my family,’ says Bronwen. ‘I thought there must be another way.’
They bought their first intentional buy-to-let property in Winchester in 2013, hoping for a 6-7% ROI.
Seeking to further their knowledge about property, Bronwen ordered some property books online, including Property Magic by Simon Zutshi. John describes reading the book as a ‘real eye opener.’
‘Just finding out that there was so much more to investing in property, so many different ways you could do it. Actually using other people’s money so you can grow a portfolio and reach financial freedom.’
‘As a banker I was there going this can’t be true,’ says Bronwen. ‘Some of the numbers that were being talked about, I just thought why doesn’t everybody do it?’
The mastermind programme
Inspired by Zutshi’s book, the couple enrolled onto a 12 month property mastermind programme, which they excelled on. ‘We were top 5 winners on that programme which was incredible and boosted our confidence a lot,’ says Bronwen.
During the programme they set on a HMO focused strategy, which to fund they borrowed over £1.5 million pounds. ‘In eleven months we’d built a portfolio of HMOs in Portsmouth and Southampton and we’d done a 6 flat development,’ says John.
By the end of the year John had quit his job and Bronwen had reduced her hours to 3 days a week.
They attribute their astounding success to their complementary skill set and strong personal and business partnership. ‘Some of the people we know who didn’t succeed definitely didn’t have the support at home,’ explains John.
Raising £1.5 million
‘Right from the start we were taught how to find potential investors,’ says Bronwen. Their first action was to remortgage their house, in order to release equity.
They secured the remaining funds from friends and colleagues. ‘Starting off small, in some cases maybe £10,000 or £20,000,’ explains Bronwen. ‘And then the second project we’d do with them was a lot bigger because we’d built the trust. We’d never ask people directly for money. We’d show people our projects.’
‘It was about having the confidence to talk it up,’ adds John. ‘I think having that confidence is a huge player in convincing other people to lend you money, because in the end of the day they’re trusting you with a lot of money. If you’re reticent about something, people aren’t going to invest in you.’
‘I think it’s very clear that i’m the technician and Bronwen is the people’s person,’ says John. He manages mortgage applications, lawyers, planners, accounts and tax, whilst Bronwen leads negotiations with estate agents and investors.
They both emphasise that having a business partner you can trust is a prerequisite for anyone thinking of investing in property. ‘I coach and mentor people who are very much on their own and it is about finding people that have got complementary skills and working with them,’ says Bronwen.
John is also keen to point out the importance of delegating. ‘Part of why we’ve got to where we are is because we’ve always wanted to do as little as possible ourselves,’ he says. ‘We’ve always been looking to work with other people.’
Managing a portfolio from abroad
Currently they’re focusing on large-scale, short-term lets. Their short-let portfolio includes a 26 bed property in Southampton, alongside two others. It provides accommodation for a mix of contractors, people in need of emergency housing, business people and holiday makers.
Delegating the day-to-day running of the properties in their portfolio has allowed them the flexibility to pursue passions such as the around the world trip. ‘This is what we’d built our business around,’ says Bronwen. During their time away, Bronwen says she worked remotely less than two days a week. ‘It didn’t work out as much as I thought it would,’ she says.
Now they’ve proved that they can manage their business successfully from the other side of the world, the couple can’t wait to start planning their next adventure. ‘We still haven’t gone home yet,’ says Bronwen. ‘Home has been rented for a year. We probably won’t go back.’
For their next voyage, Bronwen says she would like to explore more of Panama, whilst John wants to go trekking in Bhutan. ‘We’re planning our next adventures for next year,’ says Bronwen. ‘We’ll consolidate on our projects that we’ve got on at the moment and then start to travel again.’
Contact Bronwen at [email protected]