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When Julie Talbot moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband and children in 2009, she planned to continue building their burgeoning property portfolio from abroad. ‘We arrived out in the desert in 2009 and tried to do that,’ she says.
She secured two more properties, then stalled. Having failed to acquire a new mentor since moving, she was struggling to finance property from a different continent.
‘I took on a job to provide the income to get the deposit together for another property,’ she explains. ‘Then just sort of stopped really.’
Fast forward nine years and Julie is managing a growing UK portfolio from Abu Dhabi, as well as sourcing property for other UK investors. What changed? And how does she do this from a different continent?
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Relaunching into property
From 2011, Julie began working remotely from Abu Dhabi in process work and client change. She could work from home and had flexibility over her schedule: it seemed like she’d landed her dream job. Property was never far from her mind though. ‘I always wondered what if I spent more of my head space on doing property,’ she says.
Then in 2017, she suddenly found herself back in the UK for 6 months following the death of her father-in-law. ‘We came back for the funeral in January,’ she recalls. ‘Two bags, two kids and then after the funeral my husband said, “could you stay?”’
Julie was back in the UK, had tonnes of time on her hands and someone had just approached her asking for help in building a property portfolio. It was the perfect chance for Julie to refocus her head space on property. ‘I was thinking: the kids can do a lot of property stuff with me,’ she says. ‘They can come to viewings. They can meet builders. They can do things.’
Julie enrolled on a sourcing course and threw herself back into property. ‘We had two properties under way by the time I left in September and then we’ve done another four in the time since then,’ she says. ‘One of them is a HMO and five of them are buy-to-lets.’
Investing in Salford
Julie grew up in Salford and it’s also one of the main places she invests and sources property today. ‘My houses were all in Salford and the yields had worked but we’d bought them 10 years ago when houses had been on the market for ages and you could offer lower prices,’ she says.
‘Ten years on it wasn’t like that anymore. Houses were going for asking price. It was much more fast moving but the rental demand is still there.’
Conveniently, it was also the place her clients were looking. ‘The people we were working with wanted that area [Salford]. It was interesting really because they were from out of the area but they’d come to the conclusion that that’s where to buy.’
‘‘As time has gone on I’ve started to look a bit further out to the areas where there are not as many investors operating.’
Managing from Abu Dhabi
Julie returned to Abu Dhabi in September 2017 with a renewed enthusiasm for property. She also had the skills and knowledge necessary to work remotely, acquired from her experience in Abu Dhabi prior to January 2017. ‘I just had a more can-do attitude to it,’ she says.
Whilst in the UK, she’d begun using Allday PA, a call answering service which kicks in when a phone is on divert. ‘The call would always get answered professionally,’ she explains. ‘Then I’d get an email saying: a call from this person, here’s the message.’
Julie continues to use the service in the UAE to save money on calls. She then responds to the calls using Skype.
Additionally, she uses Google Forms to produce checklists which her ground crew in the UK fill out when doing viewings. The first part of the form covers the property’s background and the second part of it deals with the property’s condition. Once the viewing is finished, the checklist along with photos can be sent to the builder or project manager to review.
Alongside the many other tools Julie uses on a daily basis, these have allowed her to manage 6 UK projects from Abu Dhabi. ‘Two of those are with a joint venture partner, one of them I’m hoping to fund myself and three of them are for clients,’ she says. ‘Two HMOs and four buy-to-lets.’
Financial freedom is what first attracted her to property, but today Julie sees it as a means to create a better world for others. After listening to John F. Demartini’s Values Factor, she says she struggled to identify her own values. ‘The areas of my life that were really important to me were my family, the work I was doing… and the third part of my life was been involved with a charity which does women’s empowerment programmes and educates children in Ethiopia.
‘It just hit me one day that if I just focused completely on building our own property business, the income is obviously rental income which is residual. A percentage of that could be given to the charity we’re involved in Ethiopia. And that would be money every month that would be sustainable.
‘If we’re making £1,000 profit a month on a HMO and we put 20% a month towards causes, that’s £200 a month which would empower one woman a month and send one child a month to school.’
Don’t stop talking property
For Julie, conversations are key to success, whether that’s masterminds, ‘virtual coffee’ or one-to-ones. ‘Just staying connected to other people who are doing the same thing.’ She laughs. ‘My husband has to tell me sometimes: “just stop talking about houses”.’
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander
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Julie says she can particularly add value to people whose interests may lie outside property, but who are looking to build a portfolio.
Julie@brickbybrickpropertygroup.com – email Julie.
linkedin.com/in/julietalbot – connect with Julie via LinkedIn.