My NPP this week is Elizabeth Paterson, a Welsh landlord and winner of the NLA Property Women awards for Wales in 2009. Here is her story.
1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
Hi, I’m Elizabeth Paterson and I started Lounge Lettings as an on line residential letting agency based in Mid Wales at the beginning of 2008. We live in the most beautiful area in mid Wales overlooking the sea. We moved here at the end of 2007, in an effort to improve our quality of life.
For the previous 30 years my husband Iain and I have owned a number of clothing retail outlets throughout the West Midland and in addition to this I have worked on and off as a Staff Nurse. We had reached a point in our lives where we were working more and more hours for less and less reward. We had loved the lifestyle, fed on the stress but now it had become a drag. Our 3 sons had grown up, it was time to rethink our lives.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
Iain and I started our 1st business 6 months after we met, although I was a student nurse we had an idea of what we wanted to do for the future. Both aged only 21 we started our 1st market stall and within a few years we had opened our first shop, quickly expanding and eventually breaking into the manufacturing and exporting market.
We bought our 1st buy to let property about 25 years ago. It was in the town that we now live, properties were cheap, our retail business was booming and my Mother in Law wanted to open a shop. So we bought a shop with a maisonette above it. Mum in Law rented the shop and we let out the flat separately. It seemed a good idea at the time, helped her out and we felt it would be a good pension for us later in life. We were young, still in our 20’s and didn’t feel like putting our hard earned cash into a pension scheme. That has probably turned out to be one of our better decisions!
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
I don’t really feel that I’ve achieved an awful lot so far, spent a lot of time walking the wrong way on a travelator! However, I am proud of how well Lounge Letting has expanded and winning the NLA women in property awards for Wales in 2009 was absolutely amazing. Then to be a Landlord and Lettings Award finalist this year, another great achievement.
On a personal level, Iain myself and one of our sons Alec completed our 1st ever half marathon in September of this year, the Great North Run. We are not a sporty family so for us to run 13 miles was a fantastic achievement and in under 2 ½ hours.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
I feel very positive for the future. We are opening our 1st office in our small town, its in a great position where everybody who drives through the town cant fail to see. I think that my business is about to go crazy. Now my only worry is, will I be able to cope with the success! Ha, ha
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
The lack of available finance for investors. The banks have tightened up on their lending criteria since the credit crisis which means that even if you have a large deposit and a good credit rating it can be difficult to access finance and many of us are unable to increase our stock at this time when prices are relatively low and we should all be buying.
Property investors are an essential element in housing, the government needs us due to the lack of Council Housing. Us landlords are the ones who take the risks but our value need to be appreciated
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
The private rental sector is growing and is set to continue to grow for many years to come. People want and need decent homes in areas where there are good job opportunities. If you have the opportunity to buy property go for it but do your market research first.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the private rented sector?
They seem to be reducing some of the legislation that the previous government had implemented, this is good however as a letting agent I welcome many of the regulations. I meet landlords all of the time, a small number of whom are undoubtedly untrustworthy sharks. Let’s hope the new government doesn’t throw away the baby with the bath water.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
I am a member of Twitter and Linkedin and yes I feel that these and similar networking sites will become huge in the future but I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. For me, they are not uppermost in my thoughts but I’m keeping a close eye on progress after all I want to be there when they become a way of life. Maybe its just because I’m old and don’t quite get it!
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
Be prepared! Be methodical with your preparation, don’t leave anything to chance. No matter whether you’re vetting a new tenant or inspecting a new property, refuse to be rushed and only when completely happy with all the checks go forward with confidence.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
Its 100% a people oriented job, if you like working with and for people then do it. If you don’t like people then still do it but employ a letting agent, a good one is worth their weight in gold.
For more information about her services visit Lounge Lettings.