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We last spoke to brothers Mark and Rob Hodgkiss from In Hot Property a year ago, when they’d just acquired their 2-and-a-half-thousand square foot commercial to residential deal in Knaresborough.
Since then they’ve added substantially to their portfolio of serviced apartments and now have twenty units under management. They sat down to speak to us about growing their portfolio, the importance of diversity in locations and the systems that make their business work.
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An Expanding Portfolio
Since last speaking to them, the brothers have taken on a seventh property in London and four more in Norfolk. Now that they’ve acquired twenty units, they’re looking to build their portfolio in a targeted way, by taking on apartments and houses in close proximity to each other. They explain:
“we’re looking to move into areas where we can cluster houses, looking to grow it that way rather than ones or twos of apartments or properties.”
The brothers’ portfolio is notable for its spread of locations, with properties in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and London. They explain that this was intentional. “We’re trying to diversify outside of London with limitations such as the 90 day rule and if and when that gets enforced making sure all our eggs aren’t in one basket down there.”
Key to growing their business smoothly has been perfecting software and tools that they use to manage their properties. For their longer stay properties in Norfolk they opt for Airbnb, rather than Booking.com or Expedia because of its enquiry only booking system that allows them to vet tenants beforehand.
Investing in Smart Meters has allowed them to easily manage gas and electricity in properties they live far away from. Meanwhile installing Smart Locks has meant they can control access to their properties remotely for lower costs. “Guests realise problems can occur and how you deal with them is what has the biggest impact with them,” they say.
Communication triggers have played a key role in helping them improve their efficiency. The automated messages have let them improve their rankings on listing sites. They explain: “as soon as we get an enquiry or a booking, they either get a thanks very much, a member of the team will be in contact with you shortly or they get a thank you for booking your stay with us.” The automatic messages also provide location details, FAQS, and a video tutorial for the Smart Keys, which cuts down the amount of future communication needed.
A Growing Sector
In their own words: “serviced apartments are like single lets on steroids.” Despite the higher incoming costs and more demanding management, they provide a more frequent turnover and the pair are confident the future is bright for the serviced apartment market.
“It’s a massive growth sector that is getting the attention of the big players.” Nowhere more is this the case than in London where such apartments are perfect for visiting families and larger than most hotel rooms.
“These self-service apartments are really going to come to the fore in the next few years,” they say.
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