How to create your perfect To Do list

To Do List - Propertunities

I completely missed the deadline for submitting this blog to my brother for our website. I feel so bad. Nate has been working hard to produce this cool helpful property website.  Unfortunately I have been so overloaded with renovations and paperwork, so when I have a spare hour before bed, I am too tired to think.

Writing about my tiredness from overload, has made me realise that perhaps I have been not working as efficiently as I can.  If I did then this deadline mishap would not happen. So the topic I want to explore today is ‘How can I manage my time more effectively?’

In order to write this blog I have had to do some analysing. Analysing the days when I have been most productive, most organised, had consistent energy levels, and what actions I took to achieve that state.

One of the small actions I take on my most productive days is writing a To Do List (while listening to Heather Small’s Proud). Originally, I forced myself to do this every day. If I am being honest, some days I completely failed due to cba (can’t be arsed) syndrome.

However, I persevered though the laziness and kept believing I could make writing To Do Lists a habit. Now, writing a To Do List in the morning is like an addiction. I freak out if I can’t find my pen or notepad because I am so desperate to get all the things I need to do out my head ASAP!

Step 1: Start with the end in mind

The doors, property, to-do lists
Of course this would be a very different article if I woke up and listened to The Doors’ The End every morning

I start the day by thinking “What do I need to do to allow me to me sit back in my chair at the end of the day and feel good?” Feel good knowing I made the best use of my time. Then I value my time to relax at the end of the day more because I feel I have earned it. If I feel I have earned something, it is that much more enjoyable to receive.

Whereas days when I feel as though I haven’t made the most of my time, I choose to work late. Whenever I work late my work is usually sloppy and unfocused. However, I don’t want to tear myself away from the laptop and relax because I feel I haven’t deserved it. So I continue being inefficient. I produce sub-standard work until the early hours of the morning till I fight to keep my eyelids open. Only then do I tear myself away and go to bed.

If I feel I have procrastinated or wasted my time I get so angry and frustrated at myself. Which is kind of funny (HA HA) because I am the one who is actively making the choice to waste my time.

So, I work backwards. What do I want to have achieved with my day? And therefore, what do I need to do today? Whatever that is I write it down and make a To Do List. For me, I HAVE to write tasks down for several reasons:

  1. I forget them otherwise.
  2. Putting my thoughts on paper helps me clear space in my mind to focus on the task in hand. Focused work allows me to complete tasks quicker and to a higher standard.
  3. I absolutely adore ticking things off lists!

The song Proud serves as a good reminder of what I want to achieve (feeling proud of my day) and pumps me up to write my To Do List. Knowing I will get that sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, motivates me to start my To Do List, no matter how grueling I perceive some of the tasks. I have other little techniques I use if I need more motivation to get on with my tasks and I will cover those in a future blog.

Step 2: “Does it need to be done today?”

how-to, priorities, wealth
It’s not always that a road sign gives you life changing advice Image Credit Juan J. Martínez

So I finally got into the habit of writing a To Do List every day. Which has definitely increased my productivity, however, some days I was still left a little unsatisfied. But, how could this be? I have a To Do List!

I went to seek advice from my mentor (aka Dad). He explained the importance of prioritising my tasks. Even though I ticked off lots of tasks on my To Do List, they were all small unimportant things. The bigger, more pressing tasks remained undone. The pressure of still needing to complete them was the reason the felt unsatisfied, like I still had a weight on my shoulders.

Dad taught to ask myself a very helpful question “Does that task need to be done today?” If yes, I put a star next to it to symbol it is a priority task. If no, then I will get to it when I get to it.

This one little question has saved me a lot of stressing! Just because something is on my To Do List, it doesn’t mean it has to get done today. I can roll it over to tomorrow.

My original thinking was “I have to complete everything on my To Do List and only then am I allowed to go to bed”. I’m such a nutter, why did I allow my To Do List to rule my life?

The truth behind To-Do lists

Whilst it seems like the purpose of writing my To Do Lists is to get as much productive work done as possible, the real purpose is to help me have a feeling of satisfaction. I love the feeling of reflecting back on my day knowing I utilised every second of the day I have been blessed with. That feeling inspires so much joy.

I believe one of the things we should focus on while living on this planet is feeling good. Doing things that make us feel good. If we do things that don’t enable us to have feel positive we should really ask “what on earth am I are doing with my life?”

Writing a To Do List helps you stay focused, prioritise and increases the ‘thinking space’ in your brain, allowing you to think quicker and more creatively.

If you found this article helpful and useful, please do help your friends with a share to them too. and give us a comment below.  Other articles you may also enjoy are:-

The 7 deadly sins of property investing

7 Deadly Sins - Propertunities

+ Ben Chai runs down the seven deadly sins that every property investor makes, and how you can avoid making them yourself.


Over my two and a half decades of property investing, I’ve seen a lot of mistakes property investors including myself have made in deals.  Here are seven of the most common mistakes and how to avoid these traps.

1.    Abdicate from decision-making

toothpaste, decision making
Sometimes decisions can be REALLY hard to make Image Credit: Clean Wal-Mart

Deal control loss is a major mistake especially pertinent to many of the newer property investors. Deal control loss occurs when the property investor’s actions are being dictated by their property support team.

This support team consists of mortgage broker, solicitor, surveyor, builder and architect. In other blog articles, I cover how your support team can screw up your deal if you allow them to.

Remember that this is your deal. Your support team (sometimes referred to as your power team) are there to support and advise you. They are not there to make your decisions for you – making the buying, renovation, building, selling and rental decisions are your responsibility.

If you outsource your decision then you are still the person that takes responsibility for that, and you cannot blame others should the deal go wrong.

The responsibilities of your support team are:-

  • The mortgage broker advises on the best deal for your particular property deal
  • The solicitors is there to advise you on the potential risks to the property
  • The surveyor advises you on what they find potentially wrong with the property
  • The architect advises you on the designs and layouts possible with your property
  • The builder/renovator advises on the materials and costs involved in taking your property forward

Note that in each case the operating word is that they ADVISE – as the deal owner you can elect to ignore their advice.

Keeping control of your property, and the decisions made that affect your property, is the most important thing you can do. It is your job to know exactly how much the deal is worth and then to accept or ignore your team’s advice.

2.    Show off

bling, show off, wealth
Remember it takes a whole team behind you to look this garish Image Credit: Wikipedia

Ego is the number one cause of property investors losing their entire property portfolio. If the deal doesn’t work out – ditch it.  No matter how much work you’ve done on the deal do not feel obligated to buy or to show off.

Work with others. Share the accolades with others and ask for help on every single decision especially when you are a newbie. There are hundreds of property meetings, forums, meetups and online sites that provide you with the opportunity to network with other property investors.

Whatever the issue: property renovation, building, rental, purchasing – post the question on the forums and get a sanity check on your deal.

3.    Chase the deal (off a cliff)

off a cliff, focus, signpost
The warning signs are all there, just remember to take your eyes off the horizon every once in a while Image Credit: Wikipedia

Depending on whether you are selling or buying, and depending on the circumstances, try to leave some profit for the other person. One property investor I know, lost over a million pounds in profit by trying to reduce the buying price of an office block by an extra £200,000 because the seller had said that he would give him the extra £200,000.

The seller changed his mind but the property investor was determined to argue for the £200,000. The property investor’s architectural plans would allow him to make in excess of £1.5 million pounds. He could easily let the seller have the £200,000. He refused and lost the deal.

4.    Make late night decisions

what?, confused, personal development
No good decisions are made after 2am. You may end up like this dummy, stuck on a roof in a two wheel’d tractor wondering “how did I get up here?”  Image Credit: Geograph.org.uk

Never make a decision when your mind is unclear. If you are tired or upset, no matter what is at stake, find some excuse to make the decision when your mind is clearer. As a mentor to many property investors, I have had to correct financial spreadsheets and help undo decisions made by investors under pressure.  These decisions would have ultimately cost them substantially in time, resource and finance.

It is important that you make all major decisions when you have a clear head.

5.    Shirk the little things

Bob Marley, property, wealth
No Bob “every little thing” won’t be alright! Image Credit: Wikipedia

Many reading this article will simply read the title and think “Oh I understand this – Ben is talking about me needing to be more organised.” Yes, that is exactly what I’m talking about. However, the organisation must be in the little things.  Organisation of property files – one for each property, obtaining at least five sets of keys when you purchase a property, having a separate set of keys for each investor in a joint venture, and so on.

When you are organised in the smaller aspects of your property business, the larger aspects will take care of themselves.   This is not such a big deal if you are only buying one or two properties but when you are building any kind of portfolio, your disorganisation will negatively impact on you and your team.

6.    Become “too efficient”

cfl bulb, efficiency, personal development
See this? Be the opposite of this. The ultra efficient CFL bulb is NOT a good role model Image Credit: Wikipedia

You never need to respond to anyone immediately. In fact, it’s downright crazy and causes problems similar to making decisions under pressure. Yes, I know it’s the final request for a council tax payment before they send the bailiffs round, but they don’t know you just purchased the property.

Kick back, go for a drink, think about the situation, get input from others. You’ll find you can obtain a better deal elsewhere, or that a tradesman is lying to you, or that that extra insurance is over-rated. Incredibly many of my seemingly “lucky” breaks have come from me meeting the right person at the right time, why did I meet them? Because I went to a party, or the pub, or had a break.

If you are being pressured for a decision, let them know you have other things that are demanding your time and negotiate a specific time to get back with an answer at least 24 hours later or a time that gives you ample breathing room.

7.    Lack of cynicism

cynicism, stoics, property
This is a joke for fans of classic philosophy Image Credit: “Jean-Léon Gérôme – Diogenes – Walters 37131” by Jean-Léon Gérôme

I’m unsure what people think “due diligence” really means. They seem to explain the words correctly and precisely, but their actions seem to dictate otherwise. They explain to me that “due diligence” means “do your own research” and then they continue to listen to their mate, or the news reporter, or the salesman.

When anyone tells you about a great deal and forwards a property deal on to you – you still need to do your own research.

Here are some phrases that have been thrown at me as to why people went forward and bought lemon properties i.e. they made a loss and needed to sell the property quickly or make a bigger loss.

  • He is a well-connected businessman and is a partner with Richard Branson and many other famous business people.”
  • “She was my property mentor.”
  • “They have several hundred properties already and were too busy to buy this one.”
  • She told me the property was 50% below market value and would go in the next hour.”
  • “He is a prominent property investor and makes many posts on the forums.”

Here’s my response to mentees whenever they give a reason in which they have not done their own research

Look at my face….I don’t care

Whatever reasons you are looking to purchase a property, you must must must do your own research.

Today’s property market has so many savvy well-informed property investors, so it’s incredibly unlikely that you are buying a great deal. Normally something is being hidden in the process for example; major structural issues in the house or a dump site is about to be opened within half a mile, or the major employer for that area is closing down.

Again I restate: it is important you do your own financial calculations and research no matter where the property deal came from.

Sin round-up

So there you have the seven deadly sins that property investors are guilty of and, as a result, have lost some amazing deals or made a huge loss. For you time poor folks, here’s a quick summary:

  1. Keep control of the deal
  2. Keep your ego and greed in check
  3. Focus on your long-term goal and leave money (even if unfair) for the other party
  4. Make decisions with a clear mind and not under duress
  5. Be organised in the little things
  6. Don’t be too efficient in getting back to people and paying bills
  7. Always do your own research.

Happy property hunting.

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Event Junkies: The bane of property courses, wealth seminars, and success workshops

Networking - Propertunities

In the long distant past, in a location far far away, the following conversation occurred

Attendee: “I’ve taken twelve different property courses. Which company do you think is the best one?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Attendee: “Well I really like the speakers at XYZ company as I think they are quite polished.”
Me: “Uhhh really? How many properties have you bought so far?”
Attendee: “None so far. I need to get all the information before I buy anything. It’s better to be well-prepared and plan for all eventualities.”
Me: “Ohhh that’s a great strategy. Listen I promised to speak to Jessica. I’ll catch up with you later.”

This attendee had been to twelve different property courses, and had yet to purchase a single property! Buying property is, admittedly, a fairly difficult task, but it’s not twelve property courses difficult. The craziest aspect is that this conversation is one I frequently have at events.

It’s like some people are simply addicted to going to events, but can’t seem to pull the trigger on anything that they do.

Today I’m going to help you; spot an event junkie, how to disengage as to stop wasting both of your time, and how to go into event rehab and start actually doing something.

Rise of the Event Junkie

It came from beneath, octopus, property, wealth
Up from the depths do they rise and strangle my time, till all is lost!

I love helping people. Especially people who have a vision and dream for their lives, but over time I’ve found that there are certain types of people who will waste my time.

Event junkies tend to pick experienced people’s brains and monopolise their time. I’m not against asking others to help me with their knowledge, but unfortunately an event junkie will never do anything with the knowledge. In addition, when in a discussion with an event junkie at any wealth, property course or seminar, the following subjects are brought up:

  • Whether the venue was great
  • Whether they liked the speaker
  • Whether previous speakers on similar subjects knew more about the subject
  • Whether fellow course attendees were friendly and educated
  • Whether they thought the information on the course was better than information they had received from other courses

My response to many of these discussions is to ask what the top three to seven (depending on my mood) useful nuggets people were able to garner from the course/book and how they are likely to implement this information.  In addition, I will ask what they’ve done with information from previous courses.

Over a few minutes of conversation it usually becomes evident whether someone is an event junkie and is simply gathering information. Information which they use to discuss and debate with others.

It may sound harsh but at about this stage I’m normally gone from the discussion.

Education Wars

events, wealth, success

Why do I abandon the conversation?   I only have a certain amount of time to spend with people. Being dragged into debates with people who have not had any experience in areas such as: Legal discussions, wealth acquisition discussions, or property letting and management, just waste my time.

At a large event you only have sufficient time to have quality discussions with about ten people (if you’re lucky). People who you connect with, people you may be able to work with, people you can help or be helped by in your journey.  You will know these people by their experience, by what they’ve told you they have done already.

Beyond the event, we have a fixed amount of time each day to spend with people. To squander that time with people who don’t take actions or put off taking actions until “they get all the knowledge,” and I stress the little word “ALL” is just not worth the time.

Although I am a great fan of education in all areas of life, I am not fond of accumulation of knowledge without action. I am so against education accumulation without action that I have banned several people I coach from attending further courses.

This ban is in effect until I see my staff and people I coach put into action the lessons learned from previous courses.

Education accumulation without action is demotivating for the educators and other learners. Education accumulation without action also enables students to hide behind the phrases “I need more education,” “I don’t know enough yet”, “when I go on XYZ course then…..”

How to stop becoming an event junkie

property, addiction, events
Image Credit: Explosm.net

1. Know why you are at the event

When you’re at a property course, whilst you’re there to learn a thing or two, you’re also there to network with people who you can grow with. It may seem cutthroat to simply say “some people aren’t worth your time” but you’ve got to remember that you’re there to grow/start/learn about your business.

You’ve paid to be at these events, why on earth would you waste your time with someone who you either don’t connect with or isn’t really interested in the business?! If you’re worried about being rude simply say “Sorry guys, I’ve got to go and chat with XYZ before they leave” or “I need to use the toilet.”

I’ve used these phrases hundreds of times and no one has ever been offended by my exit of the conversation.

2. Use the information from the event immediately

Have a contract with yourself and your business partner to implement at least five things from the seminar in the next thirty days.  While you are at the event, make a list of the information you found useful.

Once you have finished the list. Select the top five in the list that you can implement immediately to make money, save on time, help others or help yourself in the next thirty days.  The faster you implement those ideas, the more likely your success will soar.

3. Do not attend further courses or events until action is taken

As an incentive to yourself, only book yourself on further courses when you have implemented at least 10%-25% of the information you learned.  Limit the number of courses you are allowed to attend without taking any action to three.  Do not attend any further courses.

4. Get motivation

I am often bemused by how many people leave an event (especially one that spans two or more days) without networking with others. The best way to get motivated is to network with others and listen to their stories of how and what made them take action.

Conquering your event demon

In summary, you know you’re an event junkie if you are on an asset protection course and have no assets.

Understand some knowledge will be redundant by the time you are ready.  Knowledge becomes redundant due to improvements in technology, changes in the law, economic, political and technological changes. So wherever possible take action within thirty days of attending an event.

Do you agree with me or feel I’ve been unduly harsh?   If “unduly harsh” then please feel free to write your own perspective in the comment section below.

If you found this article interesting and useful, please share it on your social media. if you would like to learn more about achieving your life’s dreams have a look at:

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Landlords! Here’s how to make utility management easy

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+ Jess Chai reveals how to smite your utility management woes with an incredibly simple solution


Once upon a time there was a newbie property investor. She loved buying houses and renting them. Every so often an issue would present itself and our sweet naive property investor would freak out! Oft she would scream “Curse you Coventry city tax! What is this bill for?!”, and on occasion “Why are you overcharging me?!” but her refrain was the same: “Who do I call to rectify this injustice?!”

When she wanted to buy another house, a magical mortgage broker requested she present him with details of her current mortgages. She would sulk back to her abode and sob “Oh golly, what on earth is the mortgage account number for 103 unicorn lane?”

As you can imagine dear reader it was quite the stressful time for our sweet newbie property investor. To find the details needed, she would have to rifle through thousands of (ye olde) e-mails or search intensely within property folders. It was very time-consuming. One day she decided she had had enough.

There must be a better way!

castle, fairy tale, utility management
Twas in the tallest room, of the tallest tower, that our fair maiden pondered her utility management woes

Fast forward 30 minutes into the future!

30 minutes of hardcore thinking later, she’d cracked it! The Utility Management Spreadsheet (UMS) was born! She then spent her next few hours filing in her Utility Management Spreadsheet – one for each property) and vowed to always fill it in within the first month of completing on a property:

How to create your own UMS

  • Edit the UMS to suit your needs: If it’s a flat, there may be a management company who replace lost key fobs for you and sort out your insurance. I have found it very useful having their number to hand. You may wish to put on your letting agent’s details on the sheet too.
  • Get the previous owner/tenants to fill in the sheet: Send a blank copy to the estate agent/sourcer/whoever you are buying the property from, and ask them to fill out as much as they can. They may not be able to do it all but it will certainly save you some researching time. The main row you want them to fill out is the utility supplier and MAKE SURE you get the landline number. You will need this if you or your tenants intend on getting Internet services (Otherwise it is a ball ache to obtain if it is not registered on BTs online database).
  • Print off a hard copy and put it as the first page in that property’s ring binder: At the risk of making an ass out of you and me, I am assuming everyone has a ring binder for each property too.
  • Print off another hard copy (without passwords) and give to your tenant: They will love you. In my experience, they will love you even more if you call up all the providers before and put all the bills in their name for them. Personally, I have not understood why they appreciate this but I am not one to query appreciation. Also, if you self-manage your properties, the tenant knows who to call instead of them calling you to sort it out.
utility management, spreadsheets, property
Ah! The ever popular “screenshot-of-a-spreadsheet”, gaze upon it’s wondrous prosaic charm. Download the UMS template here.

And they all lived (something) every after

From then on, if council taxes overcharged her, she had the account number, property reference number and details of the person who could resolve the issue on the UMS. If tenants needed the details of the utility providers and account numbers, it was on the UMS. Finally, she was able to lead and much more peaceful and organised life, all thanks to the UMS!

Once complete, she attached it to the front cover of each property’s folder and she lived happily ever after… until the next crisis.

John Mark Wilderspin: The human side of financial freedom

John-Mark-Wilderspin-The-human-side-of-financial-freedom-Propertunities

In this interview, Nate Chai Skypes with John Mark Wilderspin about mindset and human side of financial freedom. The human side of financial freedom includes the mindset that John needed to become financially free. John also shares his insights on how wealth has affected him and his social circle, and how he is using his wealth to benefit others.

For those with poor internet connections, we’ve written up the interview in note form below the video. When you have time and a stronger internet connection, we do recommend you listen to the insights John Mark Wilderspin shares.

What if you’re not looking to be rich?

For those looking to enjoy wealth and not seeking riches, John suggests investing in a block of flats. Rent out the flats and move to countries where the cost of living is incredibly low. However, he does caution that living life like that can result in incredible boredom.

However, those that are looking to be rich (we’re talking millionaires and multimillionaires) need to find your why or your passion in the world. John’s passion is helping children, he uses his money on going on missions to help and sponsor children.

Once many in John’s circle reached a level of financial freedom that they can live comfortably with, they spend a larger proportion of their time in giving back to society rather than the accumulation of further wealth.

How wealth means you lose some friends

John also recommends finding people that share the goals that you have. He joined a club that lets him hang out with other successful people. However, the journey to wealth requires that you let some friends go.

For example, a few of John’s friends play video games all day and don’t challenge or inspire him. From John’s perspective, you don’t need to cut these people out of your life completely, you can (and perhaps should) spend time with them. However, unless they bring something positive into your life it’s not worth them being in your day-to-day life.

It’s very difficult to know how to let go of friends especially if you are a person that needs to be liked. To help with the challenge of spending less time with friends John changed his life focus. The friends that wanted the things that John was no longer interested in spent less time with him. Here are some great examples John shared in the video.

  1. John quit drinking. As a result, the friends that john used to go drinking with stopped calling him.
  2. John changed his hobbies to include; working out, giving back to the community, and snooker. As a result people who enjoy the same hobbies began to call him up when they want to do those activities.

You need to be focused on your goals, and if your friends want to go down the same path that’s great. One of John’s friends loves drinking, another of his friends runs an exotic car detailing business. John connected the two together. You don’t need to step on your friends to get to the top, but some friends end up holding you back.

Say you go out drinking with your friends one night, you have a great time. The next day you’re hungover and can’t function properly. This gives your competitor a chance to get ahead over your business. With that said, it’s important to relax and socialise with new people. But, you need to make sure that this time is spend doing things that contribute to your life.

Huge thanks to John for chatting with us and sharing his story. If you found John’ story useful, do Like the video and subscribe to the channel for more property and financial insights and strategy. And if you’re feeling super generous do write us a comment and share the article with your friends to help them become motivated and inspired too.

In the meantime, if you enjoy reading about people’s property success stories check out the following articles:

Or if you are interested in the lessons from other successful people who attended the JTFoxx family reunion event check out the following articles:-

Finally, if you are starting on your own financial freedom journey, you may also find the following articles from our library helpful in spring-boarding you into a new chapter of your life’s dream.

John Mark Wilderspin: Never put lipstick on a pig

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Last year, I spent my time walking around like a zombie. During my Zombie-like state, I met Canadian property investor and realtor, John Mark Wilderspin. John is unique. He has so much information on how he became successful in property that he was like a fast talking, insight spewing, property selling machine.

We spoke with John about what he gained from his property journey which included aspects such as marketing, how to keep your numbers in order, plus a variety of other insights such as how some property investors ruin their integrity by putting lipstick on a pig.

For those with bad connections, we’ve written up the interview in note form below the video, however when you have time and a stronger internet connection, we do recommend you listen to John Mark Wilderspin.

John Mark Wilderspin: Never put lipstick on a pig notes

 

Make other’s perception your reality

John’s first piece of advice for us is to match people’s perceptions with your reality. As an example, John wouldn’t take pictures of his houses, instead, what he’d do is take pictures of his clients looking happy outside their homes with a SOLD sign. Then he would ask his clients to post those images on social media and let him use their images on his website.

His second piece of advice was that you absolutely need to know all your numbers. If you have debt look at how much it really is (including interest) and make steps to pay that debt off. Similarly, when launching into property flipping, you need to know your ARV (after repair value) and know what your spread is. Your spread is how far you can spread your budget should something go wrong, take longer, or need more work than expected.

Think of your spread as your financial buffer or emergency fund for when something unexpected happens.

To explain how the ARV and spread are related, John shared a story of a house he bought for $70,000 CAD and then sold for $129,400 CAD. The spread here is particularly tight. Say John budgeted $30,000 for the renovation and had to split profits with his partner.

The potential profit, provided nothing goes wrong, is just under $15,000 CAD each. However the contractors took a bit longer and went over their budgets which reduced the profit to $10,000 CAD ($5,000 each for John and his partner). Therefore, John has a spread of $10,000.

Confused? Don’t worry. In simple terms, have an amount reserved to cover all major potential property acquisition disasters and still give you profit or else walk away from the deal.

John’s property acquisition strategy

John’s property acquisition strategy was based around; tax auctions (buying houses where people have defaulted on their mortgages) and looking for private sellers who are looking to avoid paying commissions of realtors (estate agents in the UK). He compares the asking price with similar properties on the street and looks at his renovation costs.

Typically, you can get privately sold houses for below market value, due to there being less moving parts in the sale. When you buy privately, it’s a simple deal between two people so there are fewer people that need to be paid.

John explained he went for distressed properties that were not in a good state of repair. However, the buildings themselves were structurally sound and well built.

Unlike most property investor who would turn their nose up at the smelly, horrible interiors, John realised that these properties are goldmines which can be purchased below market value.

house, interview, property
The ghosts caused the owners to default on this house

John’s property demographic strategy

John’s chosen demographic is first-time buyers. He chose first-time buyers because the quality of houses in his area were already high, but so were the costs. If John bought inexpensive but well-built houses, he could fix-them-up and sell them at a good profit to those looking to get on the ladder. In summary, John’s strategy was to:

  • Buy the cheap houses
  • Renovate the houses
  • Ensure  the renovated houses were great places to live in
  • Provide better looking, cheaper homes for those looking to get on the ladder

Finally, when it comes to renovating houses, John shared that you can’t put lipstick on a pig. It’s important to make sure that the house is a great property before selling it. In other words, you can’t simply paint the property and sell it for more. You need to make sure the wiring works, the plumbing is sound, and that heating is solid.

Integrity is everything. You can make more money without integrity, but if you’re looking to have longevity, you need to ensure that you do a great job.

John’s top tips from this interview are:

1. Follow your passion
2. Work to learn
3. Perception is reality
4. Know your numbers
5. Be smart with your finances
6. Have steps to reduce your debt and increase your income
7. Know your spread
8. Make integrity your hallmark

Huge thanks to John Mark Wilderspin for chatting with us and sharing his story. If you found John’ story useful, do Like the video and subscribe to the channel for more property and financial insights and strategy.

If you’re feeling super generous do write us a comment and share the article with your friends to help them become motivated and inspired too.

In the meantime, if you enjoy reading about people’s property success stories check out the following articles:

Or if you are interested in the lessons from other successful people who attended the JT Foxx family reunion event check out the following articles:

Finally, if you are starting on your own financial freedom journey, you will find the following articles from our library helpful in spring-boarding you into a new chapter of your life’s dream.

Here’s what happened when I bought my first property

First-Property-Propertunities

Those who say buying property is easy are either:

  • Lying
  • Have been in the game for years
  • Zen monks that have a high tolerance to stressful situations

Before I looked for my first deal, I interrogated anyone I met who had already completed one.

Where is the property? How did you source it? Was that the best way to source? Will you source for me? How much did you buy it for? Who’s your broker? What’s its cashflow? Is it BMV? Why did you buy it? Who is your solicitor? How did you raise the deposit?

I asked so many newbie questions. I must have driven everyone insane.

Actually, I still ask them……

Anyway, here are my answers to all the nosy questions I asked everyone else.

How did you source the property?

The key is finding a Brilliant, Jolly trustworthy Estate Agent. Image credit: College Humor

I found the property through an estate agent in Coventry.

Please note, I visited this agent regularly. I drove up to Coventry from London once a week for at least 6 months. The sole purpose being to build up a relationship with the estate agent and a couple of others.

The purpose of building a relationship with estate agents is so you are the first person they call BEFORE a property goes on the market. 

Questions I like to fit into conversation:

  • “What kind of things do you enjoy doing outside of property?”
  • If they mention they have kids “Aww, how old are they?” If their kids are below ten years old, they will probably show you pictures which you WILL appreciate and gush over.

One time I went up with my Dad. He brought a packet of biscuits, marched into an estate agent and confidently said something like;

“I brought you some biscuits *Big smile as he presented the chocolate digestives*. Let’s have a cup of tea and you can tell us about all the great property deals you have for us.”

And sure enough, he made us some tea and told us about what he had on offer.

How did you stay motivated to regularly visit your area?

The drive there and back is a total of four hours. I would be on my feet all day viewing properties, making offers and doing the rounds visiting agents.

It was important that they saw my face regularly and knew I was still in the market looking for property deals.

After the first couple months it got really tiring. I started finding excuses not to go.

Then Dad started breathing down my back shouting, “40 offers Jess! Elite Legacy (the company I trained with) said make 40 offers! Are you at 40 offers?”

“No.”

“Then you need to be in Coventry.”

Seriously, it’s like being at property boot camp.

I kept my motivation up by

  1. Making it as fun as possible

Luckily some of my favourite people from university still lived in Coventry.

So I had an excellent excuse to see them, plus if I needed to be in Cov for an extra day or so, my friends kindly lent me their spare room.  Seeing my friends kept me motivated to keep doing the drive.

When people say they can’t choose between two areas I ask them, “Which area do you prefer visiting?”

Some say, “Well I have family in X who I would like to see more of.” Providing that area fits in with your strategy, decision made.

  1. I made a commitment 

The other way I stayed motivated was by joining the Coventry PIN team (Property Investor Network). This meant every second Tuesday of the month I HAD to go to Coventry to help out at the PIN meeting.

Not only was it useful to network with investors in the area, but as a helper, I also got to go to the meetings for free ;).

This saved me £20 a time. Btw, if anyone wants a code to attend their first PIN meeting for free use ‘jessica01’. You can book online in advance.

Simon Zutchi, the founder of PIN, has set all us PIN helpers a challenge of who can get their code used most; so please use it here, as I am shamefully competitive.

What was the property like?

I wish you could have seen all the mold.

It was a cheap, damp, dark hole. A studio flat in a block of eight, with a jungle outside.

Despite this sales worthy description, it was located in a peaceful residential area of Longford, Coventry.

It was a  nice place for professionals. Although it was not in my intended area (I usually go for properties near a university), there was good demand for professionals. Plus it was cheap.

And it came with a tenant. Fantastic! I thought. No need for me to go out and find one.

Initially this was great news because the state it was in, I would struggle to find someone desperate enough to live there. The guy who lived here was on housing benefits which paid £395 per month.

Unfortunately, he forgot to ventilate the place and the light in the bathroom had blown due to a leak in the flat above. To be honest, I think having a dark bathroom was a blessing. It hid the grotesque amount of mold spewed across the bathroom and onto the walls outside it.

Thus began my learning of why it is dangerous to buy a flat, especially if it is below another. More on this another day.

Did you have any idea how to renovate the flat or deal with the mold?

Image Credit: Ben Chai
That’s one way to get rid of mould Image Credit: Ben Chai

Nope. No clue.

Did I worry about it upon viewing? Yes, massively.

But then I started thinking about what I wanted for lunch… and the worry kinda disappeared until I went back in with a builder.

When it comes to mold, I did discover the two best friends to have:

Mold spray

Best for ceilings and doors (I use the HG brand from B&Q. Costs £4 if you have a Trade point account with them).

It eats through the mold within minutes. I usually leave mine on for an hour or so. Then you wipe it away with a sponge and ta-da! The moldy ceiling looks brand new. I LOVE IT!

Seriously, some men can’t even compete with this type of satisfaction.

Damp seal

It’s like a thick paint. Remove the moldy surface with a steamer/scraper/sander, and paint on the area you wish to protect.

I used it behind kitchen sinks attached to exterior walls and in bathrooms.

What did you do once your offer got accepted?

 

Like this, but more dramatic.
Like this, but more dramatic.

Freaked out. Cried. Called a property help line. Freaked out some more. Manned up.

Then I did what any sane person would do and applied for a mortgage with my bank, Natwest.

Unfortunately, Natwest is controlled by a pack of un-evolved monkeys who are yet to learn common sense.

Therefore, the mortgage did not go ahead and I had to go to plan B: Hustle.

Why did you get rejected from the mortgage?

mortgage, failure, property
Image Credit: Fox

There were a couple of reasons, but mainly it was my

Lack of experience borrowing credit (Click here for tips to increase your credit score)

In my head, I was their perfect customer. I’d been with them since I was fourteen, I had never been in my overdraft, never needed to take out a loan.

I had never even had a credit card!

Even as a student I had to have a minimum of £2000 in my bank account or I would freak out. £2000 was other people’s equivalent to £0. I know to some to may seem like I was a pretty well off student, but I didn’t view this £2000 as spending money. To me, this was emergency money or money to save for later investments.

Natwest could see from my bank statement I was good with money and spent frugally.

To my horror, I discovered that I’m actually not their perfect customer because I don’t make them any money. When people borrow money that is when banks make money.

Anyway, Natwest said they would give me a mortgage if my Dad was signed on it too.

Dad agreed – cool.

So after a bit more form filling, the Natwest mortgage adviser resubmitted the application.

However, Natwest also has a policy of lending only if the property value is a minimum of £50,000.

My flat purchase price was £48,500. The broker said he will contest it with the underwriters as it was only £1500 under there criteria.

Hulk, hate, success, ego
Image Credit: Marvel

The underwriters said, “No” and the broker told me, “You either need to give the seller more money or raise the money in the cash.”

This made me so angry. I told him it was a stupid rule and in an emotionally fueled declaration I committed to raising the money in cash. I then proceeded to storm out of his cubicle whilst unsubtly suppressing my huff.

What a load of bollocks. Was he serious? And how dumb are these underwriters/computers?

£1,500 they couldn’t overlook. I maturely concluded they were “Total nobfaces.”

So how did you  get the finance to pay for it?

Gift, betrayal, finance
Image Credit: Ben Chai

I raised the cash VIA student loans plus friends and family.

Before I started uni I invested time researching scholarships and grants I was eligible for.  I qualified for an Enterprise Scholarship worth £2000 each year and successfully applied. I was stoked. Thanks Coventry University!

I also worked three part-time jobs while I was at uni and ran a few small businesses. This provided me with enough money to live on. Therefore, I had the ability to invest £5,000 from my student loan in a stocks and shares account with HSBC.

This investment conveniently matured around July 2014, just as I needed it. Total interest gained was approx £1,000 so I had £6,000 to start off with.

I had been managing properties in the months leading up to the purchase. That gave me a few thousand more, but I was still way off what I needed.

I asked dad for a loan. He refused. What????? Was he serious???

But he made me a £100 bet with me. He said “Put this phrase on your Facebook and I guarantee you’ll get the money.”

I argued and told him it wouldn’t work. He told me “Jess the worse that can happen is you’ll be £100 closer to your goal if it doesn’t work.”

You guys have heard the phrase “Don’t ask, don’t get” right? So, as trivial as it sounds, I put a status up on Facebook.

I can’t remember the exact words, but it basically said:

“Can anyone help me?! I need £48,500 to buy a flat, I’ll offer you four per cent interest. PM me if you’re interested”.

I was extremely surprised when I received messages from two people. They inquired about what I was doing and how it would all work.

I put together a message which provided three exit strategies, explaining how I would get their money back out:

  1. Remortgage in 6 months’ time (surveyor valued it at £52,000 so Natwest’s minimum property value should not be an issue)
  2. Sell the property
  3. Provide investors with a guarantor – if for any reason I cannot repay the loan, my guarantor will.

Once they confirmed they were happy with the arrangement and the *interest rate I offered, I draw up a personal loan contract. I wanted my investors to have as much security as possible.

I made it clear to them getting repaid was not dependent on the success of my property deal. Therefore I was personally liable for replaying the loans should everything go tits up.

Wanting to give my investors as much security as possible is also the only reason I offered monthly interest payments. I needed to build their trust. Now I pay them at the end, but initially I felt monthly interest payments were more appropriate for the circumstance.

*Interest rate was 4%. As it was my first one and I didn’t want to over promise and under-deliver just in case.

To summarise: I brought the flat in cash for £48,500 + legal fees, surveyor, cost of money. In total, it cost around £51,000.

I paid my investors (aka friends & family) monthly interest which came from the rent.

I then renovated the property when the social housing tenant moved out.

There is so much more to this story then the tenant simply “moving out” but I will save this part of my property journey for another day.

What was the process of buying a property and how long did it take?

property, mortgage, investing
I knew all those years of Monopoly would pay off Image Credit: Images Money

It basically went like this:

  1. Offer accepted
  2. Found a solicitor
  3. Began finding the money (put together a one-page document detailing how much money I needed, what percentage I’d offer investors, and how I planned on returning their money. Then showed it to investors).
  4. Paid for legal searches
  5. Got a home survey done
  6. Finished finding the money
  7. Exchanged (transfer 10 pre cent of purchase price to solicitor)
  8. Completed (transfer the remaining 90 per cent of the purchase price to solicitor, plus legal fees, plus stamp tax)
  9. PICKED UP THE KEYS TO MY NEW PROPERTY!

I put no. 9 in bold as the seller had not arranged for any keys to be given to me and I was none the wiser. Yet another story for another day.

I ended up having to borrow the letting agents keys and paying to get another set cut.

Ridiculous.

Remember to arrange with your solicitor or estate agent when and where you can pick up your keys from.

From offer accepted to completing, it took three months. I thought this was ages. There were no delays from my side of the buying process, I was pushing to complete ASAP.

The seller’s delayed responses to his solicitor and other legal things held up the process a lot.

Funnily enough, I got the money two months before I needed it. Great for stress levels but I had to pay interest on it.

Now when estate agents say exchange and complete ASAP or within 28 days, instead of worrying, I agree and say I am happy to. I do include the caveat that the seller’s solicitors need to perform to that deadline too.

How was the experience overall? 

buying a house, property, wealth

There were lots of bumps and humps during the buying process. At some points, I  pulled my hair out and screamed at every member of my power team (dad, broker, estate agent, solicitor).

I go through this most times I buy something (although I’m getting better at not freaking out).

I found the most helpful places to ask my property questions are: Facebook property forums, property networking events, and more experienced property investors.

Sometimes you may even think the sale is never going to complete, and sometimes it won’t. Through no fault of your own, a lot of your accepted offers will fall through for one reason or another.

Don’t worry it happens all the time. It is the nature of the business.

The six most important things I learned.

education, personal development

  1. Visit your estate agents regularly and take a genuine interest in them: This is a people game. The agents will give you good deals based on two factors: you are a serious buyer; they like you.
  2. Invest in an area that works with your strategy and that you enjoy visiting.
  3. It’s OK to freak out and cry:. It can be an intense and scary experience. If we didn’t have the lows we wouldn’t have the highs.
  4. Borrow small amounts of credit via credit card and pay back in full each month: This will build your credit footprint and prove to lenders you are able to manage credit and pay it back on time.
  5. Everyone has a strength when it comes to raising finance: Figure out what yours is e.g. Are you able to get mortgages? Do you have parents who can loan you the money? Does a wealthy investor want to work with you providing you do all the leg work? Don’t play the victim and make excuses as to why you can’t raise the funds. Keep pushing. If it is a good deal the money will come.
  6. Don’t worry if you completely f*** up your first deal: It’s all part of your learning. If it costs you money, see it as an investment in your education. Next time it happens, you will know what to do.

Enjoy the adventure!

Jess

If you found my story useful please share it with a friend, and like our page on Facebook

Editor’s note: if you enjoyed Jess’s story here are a few other articles you may enjoy reading

 

Dean Welch: Property strategy and how to find funding

Dean-Welch-Propertunities

In this interview, we spent time with American accidental millionaire property investor and realtor, Dean Welch. Dean has written a booked called the accidental millionaire which should be out on Amazon in the next few months.

Just to make things a little different, we had a property investor panel consisting of Marcela Hede, Naomi Marquis, and Naomi’s sister Francine Marquis grill Dean about his property journey. Our last-minute panel was under strict instructions to prevent Dean from getting off with easy answers.

In this video, the panel discussed with Dean:

  • How to set up a property investment strategy
  • How to find funding

For those with bad connections, we’ve written up the interview in note form below the video. When you have time and a stronger internet connection, we do recommend you listen to Dean Welch’s top tips.

How to formulate your property strategy

The first insight that Dean shared with us is that you need to understand the demographic of the area you’re investing in such as students, holiday-ers, professionals, council renters and so on.

For example, some areas may not have the tenants that you want, while other areas may be more suitable for the kind of property business you’re looking to run. In the UK, if you focus on student lets, then areas that don’t have universities are not great areas.

Next Dean shared how you need to talk to people in the city about requirements that the city is going to need in the future. For example, in the UK, we talk a lot to the council to see what their plans for the future of the area are.

You need to find out whether people from your desired demographic will be moving to that area. You also need to find out what the communities needs are and see if your project and the community’s needs align with each other.

After you’ve made sure you’ve got all the legal documentation sorted, you need to decide exactly what it is that you’d like to do with the property. Be that; long-term rental, short-term rental, or if you want to flip (buy, renovate and sell at a higher value) the property.

You can bank on a bank

Finally, Dean talked about getting funded. Dean recommends using the conventional route i.e. borrow from the banks if you have good credit and a stable income. Obtaining funds via the bigger or specialised banks tends to be best as they offer the best interest rates and the most options for your property.

The interviewers wanted to know more about obtaining property funding beyond the major lenders so in part two of this interview they grill Dean on:

  • How you can get into property if you have bad credit
  • How to buy property with very little money
  • What and how to use a lease option
  • Which people are more likely to do a deal using a lease option

Part two of our Dean Welch interview will be out next week. In the meantime, see Dean Welch’s blog for more property insights

For more video and article property success stories check out the following articles:

If you are starting on your own financial freedom journey, you will find the following articles from our library helpful in spring-boarding you into a new chapter of your life’s dream.

Finally, if you are interested in the lessons from other successful people who attended the JT Foxx family reunion event check out the following articles:

 

The essential guide to goal setting part three: chunk down

Goal-Setting-Propertunities

Hi everyone, how are you doing so far with organising your goals? In part three of our essential article workbook on the essential guide to goal setting, we are going to show you how to take your big dream and chunk it down into smaller ones.

Let’s do a quick recap. In part one of our essential guide to goal setting, we taught you how to create a balanced brain dump of all the goals and dreams you have for your life. The semantics of whether an item is a goal or dream is not relevant to this series of articles. Goals and dreams are just things you want in your life. Some goals, however, you will have to create in order to get to your long term goal.

In part two of our essential guide to goal setting, we showed you how to divide your goals in to long term goals and short term goals. We then took all your long term goals and took the top three goals that you would like to achieve. Finally, we whittled your top three goals to your number one goal/dream.

So lets get on now and show you how to chunk down your long term goal into smaller goals.

Chunk down to smaller goals

Smaller goals are essential to making your big dream come true. But what if you don’t know what these smaller components are?

To find out, you need to speak to people who have done this journey. For example, if you want to be in dance. Speak to people who have gone on and become a dancer before you. You can find out a lot by using the internet but you will have a more accurate guide by speaking with experienced people in your chosen area. If possible, try attending several industry networking events and exhibitions or a meet up. For example, if it is dance you are interested in – try some dance workshops.

The information you will need include:-

  • Length of time it took a person to get to where you want to get to
  • What the highs and lows of the journey was
  • How they started
  • What the milestones in their journey was
  • What steps they needed to take to get to the next level
  • What mistakes they made
  • What information and/or who they needed to contact to improve their skillset

Don’t worry if you can’t get all the information. Just getting the research and speaking with people who are at different stages of your future journey will help to inspire and enable you. After speaking with your heroes, you may even make a decision not to proceed with this goal at this moment in your life.

Goal setting chunk down time

Now that you have a specific goal, you need to break this specific goal into the smaller components. Each of the smaller components will be treated as small specific goals

Let me give you some examples of dreams people have given me and how I have chunked them down to their smaller parts. Here is a non-complex seven step approach to chunk down a large dream or goal.

  1. Chunk your big dream down it down into several small projects
  2. Chunk those small projects into mini-projects
  3. Chunk those mini-projects into micro-projects
  4. Do all the easy micro-projects first
  5. If a micro-projects becomes too difficult move on to the next one
  6. Get help/an expert to help with all the other tasks
  7. Celebrate the milestones and the end of the journey

Let’s look at the chunk down method using an example of a house renovation examples.

house, rebuild, renovate
The goal to renovate this house will take at least six months

Chunk down large house renovation example

Break the large property renovation into several smaller goals

Small project goal one – redesign

  • Redesign entire house colours and furniture

Small project goal two – strip out

  • Strip all wall paper
  • Remove all old furniture
  • Remove all old carpets
  • Unscrew any shelves and stuff hanging on the wall

Small project goal three – strip out removal

  • Arrange skip for strip out project
  • Arrange transport for local dump

Small project goal four – plumbing

  • Arrange for all plumbing on bathrooms, radiators and boilers

Small project goal five – electrical

  • Arrange for complete re-wiring

Small project goal six – replaster

  • Plaster and fill in holes in all walls

Small project goal seven – paint

  • Paint entire house

Small project goal eight – flooring

  • Put down flooring

Small project goal nine – furnishing

  • Put all furniture and soft furnishings such as curtains in each room
paint, electrics, cement, plaster
Uh oh there’s still more work to be done!

Chunk down each small goal into smaller mini-goals

Do you see how we chunk down a large goal of renovating a house into smaller goals? We still to chunk those small goals further. Let’s use one of the small project goals instead of all of them. In this case, we’ll use as an example, small project two – strip out

Smaller mini goals for strip out

Mini goal one – Strip all wall paper

  • Ensure all tools for wall paper stripping are available
  • Schedule people for wall paper stripping

Mini goal two – Remove all old furniture

  • Identify available people who can carry large furniture
  • Ensure any special tools such as hex spanners are at the house
  • Ensure skip or removal van is available when people are removing furniture

Mini goal three – Remove all old carpets

  • Ensure appropriate gloves, dust masks available depending on carpet type.
  • Ensure plan for carpet removal (skip, dump, re-use) is communicated to all involved.

Mini goal four – Unscrew any shelves and stuff hanging on the walls

Ensure any special screw-drivers and electrical screw drivers are available

Do you see how we chunk down a small goal into a mini-goal?  Let’s use this procedure one more time and chunk one of the mini-goals into a micro goal.

property, wealth, how to
The joys of wall-paper stripping and painting.

Chunk mini-goals into micro-goals

In this example we will use one of the mini-goals above to strip all wall paper.

Mini-goal one – strip all wall paper.

Micro-goal one – Strip wall-paper in hallway

  • Ensure tools and ladder are available
  • Ensure water is available for wall-paper stripper unit
  • Ensure you have two people for this job. One to strip the wall paper and one to secure the ladder and pass material to the person on the ladder
  • Ensure one person is available to use water stripper unit
  • Ensure one person is available to use stripping tool to mop up after water-stripper unit
  • Ensure bags available to clean stripped paper off the ground

Micro-goal two – strip wall-paper in kitchen

As in micro-project one but also ensure all electric sockets are off in case water from the stripper gets in the sockets

Micro-goal three – strip wall-paper in front lounge

<complete components of project>

Micro-goal four – strip wall paper in bedroom one

<complete components of project>

Did you see what we’re doing here. We are taking a big goal or dream and looking at some of the smaller goals required to complete the big goal. We have used the chunk down method to several times to create more and more SPECIFIC and ATTAINABLE goals. We will come back to specific and attainable later on. I put those two words in capitals to emphasise them to you. words like specific and attainable should be a part of your thought process and communication.

risky business, risk, investment
What goals would this man need to become a famous singer?

Chunk down goals for becoming a famous singer

Before we end part three of the essential guide to coal setting, let’s look at one more example. In this example, I am only going to share an overview chunk down for becoming a famous singer.

Smaller goals to become a famous singer

  • Learn to sing
  • Get a singing coach
  • Join singing groups such as choirs
  • Apply to join bands
  • Compose own songs
  • Specialise
  • Find out what type of people (your audience) like your music
  • Work out how to make more music for your audience
  • Practice voice exercises two hours a day
  • Practice singing cover songs two hours a day
  • Learn how to record yourself singing
  • Create Youtube or other media channel
  • Load at least one song a week into your media channel
  • Learn how to socialise and make friends in social media
  • Share your latest song on your Facebook or other social media channel
  • Look for opportunities to sing in public and create your own gigs
  • Learn how to look for further opportunities at gigs
  • Set up a regular busking schedule
  • Learn how to improve your voice through negative and positive comments
  • Learn five methods that the music industry works to promote singers
  • Engage in as many of those methods
  • If you are on this journey add more here 🙂

The above list of mini-goals is not comprehensive. Neither will your list be. Over time as you embark on your journey, other things will come to light, setbacks will occur, friendly boosts will happen. Just write down as much as you can. Your goal list will evolve.

Break these smaller goals to become a famous singer into mini goals

Break these mini-goals to become a famous singer into micro goals

Celebrate that you took the time to create all these goals.

small,micro,success,goals
Micro goals make the impossible dreams and long term goals become reality

 

Action Points

Now it’s your turn

Take your big goal and chunk it down. You should have a minimum of fifty things that must happen to make your big goal come true. Remember to celebrate – we are helping you create part of your journey. You can re-use this process over and over for anything you ever want to achieve. Just remember one goal at a time

Before taking action here, please ensure you have read

In part four of the essential guide to goal setting, we share how you

  • can analyse the likelihood of your dream becoming a reality
  • how you take stock of your resources
  • how you ensure you have the right mind-set for your journey

Until then live long and prosper, oh and don’t be lazy! Leave us a comment in the section below. We love to hear the tips and insights from our readers.

Join our growing financial freedom community to discuss these articles and other success techniques.

You may like to read the following articles other readers have found useful in helping them to achieve their goals:

 

How the simple email can help you avoid a tragic tale

Simple Email - Propertunities

Furious doesn’t even cut it.

How could my letting agent get the rental amount so terribly wrong that it obliterates my cashflow?! The worst part is I could have avoided this by doing one simple thing.

…I’ve just returned from an anger run (spontaneously going for a run to pound out the anger). It didn’t work. I am still angry. Or more accurately, I am still frustrated at myself for letting this happen.

The tragic tale

A nicely renovated rental property should have been let for £1175 per month. Instead, a letting agent let it for £775 per month. A painful £400 per month loss. It hurts me thinking about it. The amount doesn’t even cover the cost of the bedroom furniture.

Despite my repeated explanations of how much each room costs, it clearly wasn’t heard by this letting agent.

Now the letting agent and I have this disagreement. Neither of us have proof of what was said and agreed. I just my agreement with them and the rental amount was left blank. Therefore no one can point any blame fingers. We just have to accept the situation, and accept it sucks.

Today I learned how crucial it is to immediately email across all details of verbal agreements: always leave paper trails.

You are doing this to cover your backside. Do not assume people have heard what you have said. Do not assume you are being overly anal by following up important conversations with an email.

How to avoid this tragedy

Following up conversations with an email confirming the details is a simple, logical thing to do. In fact I bet everyone reading this does it. I feel like an absolute plonker for failing. Truth be told, another reason for failing to do this is sheer laziness.

After all my verbal agreements with this letting agent I had to rush somewhere else in the car. Obviously I can’t email and drive so here’s some practical advice to myself and everyone else who has every been in this situation:

  • Explain I have to rush somewhere and ask them to confirm what we discussed VIA email. Then put a reminder on my phone to email them that evening in case they forgot.
  • Email them straight away from my car, even if it means potentially being late to my next appointment. It is worth it in the long term.

I thought I could save time by cutting this corner and not leaving a written trial.

Nope.

motorbikes, property, success
Trying to cut corners may save you time, but it will take you off track

I have caused more hassle for myself and need to spend even more time correcting my mistake; not to mention cope with the reduction of income. I never want to be in this position again and hope you avoid it too.

I don’t care how well I get on with an agent or how much verbal reassurance they have given me, I am leaving a written trial of what we discussed!

With one agent I had had a previous issue with (they didn’t pay my rent on time), I sat in his office and got him to send me an email there and then confirming the rental payment will be made within 7 days of the tenant moving in. He even fought this a little and said “It’s all good I will send it later.” I said “No. Give me peace of mind and send it now.”

And he did.

At the beginning of my journey I would never speak to anyone like this, it feels too pushy. Having been burned more times then I care to remember I do not give a monkeys how it comes across. I need to protect myself. This is my business. My livelihood.

To conclude: Leave paper trails and emails to avoid tragic tales.

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