A Christmas Message

I hope you’re all ready for Christmas and managing to get out and about alright with all this snow!

I’ve only had one annoying incident where I was stuck on the M6 for a while whilst coming back from visiting my sister in Telford….so I’ve been lucky so far ūüôā Actually it was more unlucky that I had three kids in the car at the time that drove¬†me mad because they were bored!

Mike and I have just been to the local Tesco today to finish off the ‘food shop’ where¬†people were¬†piling up their trolleys with enough food to feed them for a year, the shops are only shut for a day for goodness sake, why do they do that ?!

Maybe because Christmas is a great excuse to EAT isn’t it?

I went for a meal with family last night and stuffed myself silly, then got home, ate half a box of mint matchmakers and drank two glasses of Baileys… in bed! ūüôā ~ Luxury

Our daughter Summer half -heartedly built a six inch snowman in the garden (probably the smallest on record lol) she’s excited about opening her presents but sadly doesn’t believe in Father Christmas any more ūüė¶ so we won’t be leaving the usual mince pie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer on Christmas eve.

My cat looking not too impressed with her Christmas outfit!

I hate it when that happens,¬†a childs innocence makes Christmas time even more special, but I’ve often wondered how they feel when they find out we’ve been ‘lying’ to them for years about Santa bringing them presents (especially when we tell them it’s naughty to lie!)

Hopefully you’ve all had a great year.¬†Mine has been good, I’ve met some amazing people, made new friends and learnt some interesting stuff.

Looking back I could’ve been a lot more proactive, especially the latter part of the year, but I intend to make next year AMAZING so watch this space!

I hope we will all be grateful for what we have this year because although Christmas is a time for having fun and being

with family for most, there are unfortunately some who are less fortunate,  those who are missing loved ones and those going through bad times,  so I ask that we remember and say a prayer for them.

Anyway, I’m sending you all my very best wishes for a fabulous Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year,¬† be sure to make your resolutions ACHIEVABLE and GO FOR IT!



Armchair Property Investment. Is It for You?

What is ‘Armchair Investment’?

People choose to invest their money in many ways,¬†ultimately hoping for a good return on their investment.¬† ‘Armchair Investment’ is another way of doing this, and¬†simply put means that your money is invested with a company that ¬†looks after your interests on your behalf with minimum input from yourself, leaving you free to get on with your life (and reap the benefits in later years!)

Obviously there are many fields you can choose to invest in but lets look at investing in property and how armchair investment features in this.

Why invest in property anyway?

The news is always full of doom¬†and gloom regarding the property¬†market which can be very off putting for someone who might be thinking of investing first time, and people tend to get carried away with the bad news instead of looking at the ‘bigger picture.’

On average and according to trend, property prices double every 7-10 years. (you can see this on the graph below)

Graph showing average house price increases from 1983 to present day

Yes, there’s an element of risk when you invest in anything but as the saying goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ so you need be aware and¬†take calculated risks based on the current market.

We will always have ‘dips’ and ‘peaks’ where property prices plummet and then rise again, and¬†in the ‘dips’ some people can find themselves in negative equity.¬†¬†

This¬†can happen when¬†they’ve ¬†bought or re-mortgaged just before the dip, as¬†unfortunately no one can predict when this is likely to happen.

I don’t profess to be an expert on the property market but I can read a graph! So lets look at the ‘bigger picture’.¬†¬†If you look at this graph you’ll see that although there have been ‘dips’ in house prices over the years, on average¬†prices still double every ten years or so:

So if you had bought a property in 1983 for £30,000, even though prices started to dip in 1992 you can see that 10 years later in 1993 the value of the property had still risen to £60,000 (so it had doubled in value) and in 2003 it had risen to £120,000! (doubled again)

You can see that prices started to dip just after 2008 when the last reccession started, so if you were unlucky enough to buy a property then you may find yourself in negative equity today if you bought at full market value.

BUT even if you had bought at full value, as long as you’re not intending to sell the property right away, then eventually its value will rise again.

If you can, it’s best to buy property below market value but not everyone knows how to do this.

 House prices WILL rise again in the long term, so, despite the current property climate and all the negativity surrounding the subject, property is still one of the best ways to invest your money to be sure of a good return in the future as long as you intend to hold on to it long term.

Some people prefer to do their own ‘legwork’ when buying a property. This is great if you have the time, ability¬†and the knowledge to do this. This would involve:

  • Advertising
  • Sourcing the property
  • Dealing and negotiating with Estate Agents
  • Negotiating with the vendor (seller)
  • Knowing how to assess the ‘condition’ of the property and spot building defects
  • Understanding the current property market and doing your own due diligence
  • Knowing the area you’re buying in
  • Knowing the property is in a good rental area
  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Dealing with brokers, solicitors and surveyors (and their fees)
  • Having the time to ‘chase’ the case’¬†to completion
  • Refurbishing the property to a good standard and having access to tradesmen to do this
  • Paying the mortgage until the refurbishment is done
  • Finding a tenant yourself or¬†finding a reputable lettings agency to do it for you
  • Making sure the tenant is credit checked and referenced
  • Providing an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) document for the tenant
  • Providing a detailed¬†inventory stating the condition of the interior
  • Making sure the rent is paid regularly
  • Visiting the property regularly to ensure it’s being ‘looked after’ by the tenant
  • Dealing with maintenance¬†problems and ensuring that any issues are resolved
  • Chasing the tenant for late payments
  • Knowing how to deal with an eviction if the need arises

These are just some of the things you need to be able to deal with when you decide to use the ‘hands on’ approach to property investment.¬† Of course this also involves using finance¬†by way of fees and refurbishment but by far the biggest problem for most people is having the TIME to do it!

What¬†are the benefits of ¬†‘Armchair Investment’?

If you¬†realise the potential of property investment but aren’t¬†the type of person¬†who’s¬†¬†happy with the ‘DIY’ approach,¬†or you’re not sure how to go about it, ¬†or just don’t have the time to do it all yourself then you should consider Armchair Investment.

If¬†you have an idea of how much you want to invest and where, then¬†an Armchair Investment company will do the rest. They will generally find you ‘below market value’ property and sometimes manage it for you.

Up to now¬†I’ve preferred to source my own property and be ‘hands on’ and there has been some negative press in the past regarding some unscrupulous companies so I was quite sceptical about the idea of armchair investment.

That was until I spoke to a guy called Colin Parker who has a¬†property¬†investment company in the North East called ONE PORTFOLIO.¬†¬†I first heard of Colin about a year ago¬†after he answered¬†some of my many questions on the Tycoons property forum (can’t remember which question¬†–¬†there were so many!) he was very helpful and I noticed he had a good reputation and was well respected by the other members.

I spoke to Colin on the ‘phone regarding a deal I was contemplating and he gave me some sound advice. After speaking with him for a while I¬†discovered he offered an Armchair Investment service which he told me a little about, however I wasn’t really interested because as I’ve said, I was quite sceptical at the time.

I then spoke with him a couple of months ago and he invited me up to Newcastle to meet himself and his wife Karen who jointly run the company.

Like a lot of people,¬†I thought properties in the North were all run down and¬†the areas were in a state of disrepair and this was why property up there was cheaper. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Myself with Colin and Karen Parker

First of all, I found that Colin and Karen Parker were very welcoming, warm and down to earth people. They are honest, hard working and proud that they offer a second to none investment service, but the one thing that stood out to me was their genuinely ethical approach to their investors.

They have built their company by showing respect and listening to what their clients actually WANT and their reputation for providing a great service is growing fast.

Most BMV companies will provide you with a property that’s 15-25% below market value and charge you a ‘finders fee’ (around 2 – 10 thousand pounds depending on whether the deal has been ‘packaged’ or not)

However, you have to be quick because these properties are sent out to everyone on the companies list. There’s no ‘having a look’ ¬†at the property before hand or getting your money back if the surveyor down values it!

Also, once¬†these BMV companies have sold you a deal then that’s it, they walk away, and the rest is up to you! There’s no guarantees that it will stack, or that it will rent, or that it doesn’t need a lot of money spending to refurbish it.

If you were going to source property yourself, where would you look and why?¬† Well of course you’d look in your own area, because you’d know that area well, you’d know which are the good and the bad bits, you’d know whether the property was below market value and you’d know whether or not¬†it was a good rental area and if you could find a tennant quickly.

Which is¬†why ONEPORTFOLIO¬†only source property in their own area in the North East, because they know this area like the back of their hand and they know¬†which properties¬†will provide great investments to their clients. In fact they’ve been doing it for years!

Why would you want to invest in the North East?

Contrary to belief, properties ‘up North’ are not all run -down shacks, and it’s not all cobbled streets and mass unemployment!

A lot of investors  from London and the surrounding areas choose to invest in the north because properties are  lot cheaper there and of course the yields are higher.

They’ve found that as long as they get the properties at a good price, they cash flow well¬†and¬†they’re managed well they can have a ‘hands off’ approach and most of them never even see the properties, they don’t need to!

Considering it was November when I went up to visit them it was cold, but the sky was blue and clear and Colin and Karen gave me a tour around the areas they buy property in.  Newcastle, Middlesborough, Sunderland and the surrounding areas, and I was pleasantly surprised at how neat and tidy the streets were and how much regeneration was going on.

As¬†we were driving around Colin was giving a commentary on the history of the area, pointing out properties they’d bought for investors, talking about the regeneration projects¬†and answering any objections I had. It was clear he knew his area very well indeed and I was very impressed with his knowledge and also his obvious¬†passion for the area.

Properties sourced are valued between £50,000 and £150,000 and are purchased for between £40,000 and £120,000.  All properties can be purchased using buy to let finance so an investor would require a deposit of 20-25% of the purchase price. The typical investment required is around £20,000.

I loved Newcastle, it’s an amazing place with some great architecture. I took some photos of the types of property sourced by ONEPORTFOLIO and other landmarks whilst we were driving around:

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What ONEPORTFOLIO do is¬†provide a¬†personal service which is great value for money. Obviously there’s a lot that goes into making this a good service, but to keep it short, basically here’s what they offer:

  • You get a free one to one consultation with Colin who will invite you to have a look around the area so you can discuss your investment requirements¬†and see the type of properties they source.
  • ALL properties offered will be GUARANTEED 20% below market.
  • When a property comes up that matches your requirements you will be offered it personally with a 12 page report on the property, it’s condition, rental & market value comparables, photographs, floor plans and any refurbishment that may be required.
  • If you decide to purchase, the mortgage will be arranged for you and a solicitor instructed on your behalf
  • A fully independent RICS survey will be instructed
  • On completion of the sale, if required, the property will undergo a FULL refurbishment.
  • ALL properties undergo a 192 point check list to make sure they are ready for renting and comply with safety regulations (Gas certificates etc)
  • A tenant will be found under strict guidelines, they will be credit checked and referenced thoroughly.
  • The property will be fully managed for you, so if there’s any problems with maintenance etc it will be dealt with swiftly.
  • NGU Lettings currently looks after 370+ properties for it’s investors.
  • All this leaves you to get on with your life – stress free!

Some Armchair Investment companies have asked up to £37,000 for this type of service but ONEPORTFOLIO require a reservation fee to show you are commited of just £485  (which is fully refundable if you change your mind)  Then a further payment of £4,500 on completion of the sale.

So the total arrangement fee is just ¬£4,985 which includes ALL legal¬†fees ¬†(survey & solicitor) AND it includes a full refurbishment of the property if it’s required.

Their full managment service is just 10% of the monthly rental fee.

If you can find another reliable company that offers a service that’s better than this then please let me know!

After our drive around the area, which took up most of the day, I went back to my hotel to freshen up then met up with Colin and Karen in the evening where they showed me the nightlife in Newcastle. ¬†Or “Let’s go oot on the toon” as Colin put it haha!

Although it was now raining,the bars were buzzing with people and vibrant. There was a great atmosphere and we had a lovely evening getting to know each other then had a sumptuous chinese meal before I was dropped off at my hotel, where I slept really well after a great day with good company ūüôā

I can thoroughly vouch for Colin and Karen and their company ONEPORTFOLIO, they came across as genuinely honest and sincere people who have invested a lot of time building an ethical, value for money¬†GUARANTEED service. Indeed, many of their investors¬†have gone¬†on to buy more than one property with them when they’ve realised what a great service they’ve received.

ONEPORTFOLIO Established 2007
‘Armchair Investment’ At Its Best
GUARANTEED Property Discounts
GUARANTEED Rental Income
GUARANTEED Money Back Offer
You Invest – We Do The Rest!
¬†If this sounds like something you’d like to discuss further please contact me: suzanne.bates@one-portfolio.co.uk

Happy Investing!

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Tribute To My Mum

My Lovely Mum x

¬†This post isn’t property related but it is part of my life,¬† as is the blog, so I’ve chosen to publish it.

I love Christmas time, decorating the tree for my daughter, buying and wrapping¬†presents, frosty mornings (except when my car won’t start!) parties and fun with family and friends.

Christmas wouldn’t be the same to me without my children and four beautiful grandchildren whom I love to bits ūüôā

I took two of my grandchildren to see Santa last Saturday (Oscar & Mia) and  just loved seeing their little faces light up when they were asked what they wanted Father Christmas to bring them on Christmas eve.

Mia said she wanted a real pony and Oscar asked for a racing track!¬†¬†I don’t think¬†her Mum would appreciate¬†clearing up after a¬†pony in the garden haha.

Granddaughter Mia with Santa (Grandpa Mike!)

My husband Mike dressed up as Father Christmas (in my dressing gown) it didn’t really fool them but they thought it was fun ūüôā

¬†Christmas is also tinged with sadness for me as I lost my lovely Mum on December 16th 2008, she’d been suffering from COPD for years and was only 66 when she died.

I miss her every day. Even more so at this time of year as I’d never spent a single Christmas without her until then.

I always went Christmas shopping with her, so just walking around the shops lisening to the Christmas songs they’re playing is enough to make me ‘fill up’, it’s so hard.

However,¬† she’d want us all to have a good time and we will.¬† I still buy my daughter Summer a present from her nanna every year as they were very close and she misses her too.

It’s ok to have ‘bad days’ now and then, we all have them, but hopefully these are outweighed by the good ones (thankfully mine are)¬†

So have your bad days, remember those you have lost, do whatever it takes to make you fell better, scream, shout, have a good cry, ¬†let it all out (you’ll feel better for it) then go and talk¬†a good friend who really knows how to cheer you up.

You can then count our blessings, laugh, think positively about the good things you have and what you want, make plans to ensure you achieve your goals and look forward to good times.

Life is what YOU make it, so MAKE IT GOOD!

I made this video as a tribute to my Mum and would like to share it with you (it has sound)


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