Property falls into three sections

Property investment

We started property investments in our home town of Dorking, which consisted back in 2010 of two residential properties - both on the North end of town. In 2015 we added to these a flat in the centre of the town, all of which have excellent access to the train stations. With three train stations Dorking is well served, the main line going into London Victoria and London Waterloo. Dorking is increasing in value at a rate of about 14% per annum, so this is a solid perfoming investment.

We tried a few other areas of the country with some being sold due to the problems of distance management but still have a terraced house in Bristol. Our current main focus is student properties in Guildford as this provides a yeild of almost double that achieved in Dorking, and we believe that they will provide a similar increase in value to Dorking. We started with two properties which were extended to have a total of 13 bedrooms for the 2015/16 academic years, with a plan to add about 6 bedrooms per year for the next ten years.

In order to achieve higher yields from residential properties, a number of properties were purchased in the USA. After a lot of analysis of the USA property market we purchased five properties in Memphis and four in Atlanta, but neither location has been without its problems. We have since sold six of the properties, leaving one in Atlanta and two in Memphis. The remaining properties are the only ones to have provided any net income. Our biggest problem is finding agents who are reliable, both in the USA, but also in the UK for sourcing properties. In Memphis we are on our third management agent have a significant net loss as a result of this venture - for more details see our dedicated page on Memphis and the problems we have had with the Axis, who are the agent involved.

For anyone interested in property investments, I have written a document about my recommendations to avoid property scams in the hope that this will stop some people losing money because of unscrupulous people promoting schemes that only seem to help themselves. .

Property rental income

Our initial plan was to try and make a 10% cash on cash yield from property rental, but the residential properties in Dorking let as a single AST provide significantly less than this. Bristol is an HMO and gets close to 10% return, but not quite. In the USA the agents promised an excellent return, but the reality has been far lower, and in many cases has been negative. We are hoping that student properties in Guildford will achieve our target.

Property development

Finding it difficult to make a good return in the buy-to-let market in the UK in 2011, we looked at other options. A joint venture in Milton Keynes came to nothing, and was sold in 2015 for not much gain. We also have a joint venture on a five bedroom property in Cobham, Surrey - which needed a loft conversion but has not sold and is being rented out, but not giving a decent return. We financed a large property in Luton which was converted into student accommodation, and having made our biggest return to date on this project we have embarked on other similar projects in Luton. This is the only joint venture that has worked and the people in Luton are decent honest people, I would recommend them. Their business name is iOccupy, and the people running it are James O'Grady, Bill Patel, and his brother Darren. We may invest more with iOccupy, but at the moment we are expecting to develop more student properties in Guildford. We take a three bed semi and add three or four bedrooms with a side or back extension - renovating the entire property to an excellent standard. We are yet to know how much value we add to the property as we have not had valuations of the completed conversion yet, but the properties provide excellent yield, although we are yet to know the true cost of managing these properties.