1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
I am married with three grown up children and one new born baby grandson! I remarried 3 months ago and my husband is my business partner, best friend and a wonderful husband. My three children have all invested in both a residential property for themselves and at least one rental property…all in their twenties! I have a lovely Labrador dog who I adore and a cat who takes advantage of any chance of affection! I love being outside and I am very fortunate to work from home in a little office in our garden. Our company consists of myself, my husband and a Welshman who was and still is a tenant and also works for us full time as our property manager and does all the maintenance on the properties as well.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
I have had a varied life of careers and moved from medical to teaching little ones with special needs to teaching adults, to teaching year thirteen to a very well paid career in Management Consultancy. As a result of the last role, I earned very good money and decided I should invest for the future rather than indulge! I bought a new build, three story house….no .. I bought three! I went on a course about letting on a room by room basis for a safer, larger return. I rented the first house to just one family who I trusted and made the biggest mistake. He never paid a penny in rent. That lesson learnt, I am now much more experienced and I hope, not so easy to con!
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Helping several of my tenants to start up their own businesses and being recognised for this and other achievements by the NLA East of England Property Woman of the Year 2010
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
Yes, we plan lots of exciting things. We hope to expand our Letting business and offer a high level service to other landlords at a reasonable fee as we do not have the overhead of high street premises.
We plan to offer training courses for letting locally and hopefully grow a new local network of landlords.
I hope to write a book about the real world of Property from a female perspective! I am not a feminist but we definitely have another perspective sometimes.
We hope to move into investment with Option Agreements – helping people to hang on to their homes when the future looks bleak for them and we can help them remain in their home if that’s what they want to do.
We hope to be able to grow our portfolio and add in more new investors who want to move into the property world either in a ‘hands-off’ fashion where we do the work for them, or those moving into this industry.
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
Lack of funding – even to get a personal mortgage is difficult at the moment as a full time buy to Let investor even though we can prove our business is flourishing, we are considered to be a high risk. Someone in full time employment who may lose their job through no fault of their own but no power to change that, is seen as a lesser risk.
Having had 99% of the market wiped out there are fewer products available and greater deposits required limiting the chance for new investors and limiting those who are successful and would like to expand their portfolio.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
There seem to be more people who want to rent good quality accommodation.
Also the fact that there is possibly lots of public sector unemployment coming up. The opportunity to help those people in ways such as Option Agreements so that they do not lose their homes even if they can no longer afford their mortgage.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the private rented sector?
I would like them to encourage the Buy to Let products to be expanded again and give some accolade to the growth in the economy the private landlord has contributed to instead of treating them as being guilty second home owners!
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
We are lacking with our use of social media…we are addressing this now. We want to use this much more and see it as a great communication tool as long as it is used with honesty and care.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
You can‘t please everyone at the same time and not to personalise the odd negative comment from tenants. Most things can be resolved with communication and I recommend that the landlord lead in this with his/her tenants.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
Don’t be too afraid! Go for it and take a risk. Read lots and go to Network meetings. Try to use the experience and knowledge others have paid dearly for by their mistakes so that you don’t have to make the same ones!!
Many thanks Irene and I look forward to seeing how your business develops.
To read more about Irene’s service visit www.executiveliving.ltd.uk