Category Archives: Property

A Wasted Journey… almost

So it could have been infuriating.

On Wednesday night Dean and I left Cumbria for the 223-mile journey down to Peterborough.

We were due on the Joint Venture course at Progressive Property*. Two whole days of learning how to work with investors – which agreements to use, how to ensure we stay well within the law and within agreements that will work for us, any potential investors and everyone else.

Wednesday was a crazy day. Hey, every day is crazy for us!

My parents have come to stay for a month (I enrolled them in Sam-and-dog-sitting some weeks ago), and just before they arrived Dean decided to take down a wall and the old ceiling in their en suite. Then he found the existing shower was faulty. Then, both jobs we had ongoing developed unexpected issues. So, everything fell behind schedule and when my parents arrived, wearily stepping into the house after a long, long drive, the room was still filthy and full of tools and Dean was flustered and busy with hours ahead.

Naturally, one of our neighbours/friends who has been incredibly supportive then called to say her bath was leaking into the floor below.

It was also enrolment night for Sam at his new college course.

We had an appointment booked with potential bathroom clients which I had provisionally aimed at approximately 5.30pm.

So the plan was to casually swan off, all ready and prepared at 4.30pm, pop into college with Sam, then leave him settling in with all his new friends and with money to take the train home while we headed south, via the potential clients.

Of course that didn’t happen!

At 4pm, with Dean still hard at work, I took my mum and the dogs up to the field so she could see what to do when it came to walking them.

At 4.50pm I took Sam into college, he enrolled, but of course we couldn’t leave him, they needed to speak to me. Apparently adults are still responsible for young people, even once they have reached the dizzy age of 16!

Dean and I finally left at 6.30pm, got to the friend/neighbour’s who had by then gone out, we made it to the client’s house at 7pm – they want to go ahead, which is good news – and eventually set off on the long road south at 8 pm.

And then came the final disaster. As we neared the final 90 minutes of the journey, the A1 was closed with a diversion in place. It took us on a wide tour of central England, a long line of diverted traffic crawling through sleeping villages and past dark farms, as we argued over whether we should stick to the diversion or follow a different route using our phones. It was well past midnight by the time we got to the hotel and entered our stale smoke-filled room. The mattress was pretty lumpy and uncomfortable – a little like a water bed, wobbling every time one of us moved.

We arrived at Progressive Property towers just before 9;30am on Thursday feeling absolutely shattered. Even through my exhaustion I sensed something was wrong when I saw the small group of peple gathered there, with trainers I recognised from a different course – I’ve done plenty of courses at Progressive, I usually can’t recommend them highly enough.

My sinking feeling turned out to be right. The course had been cancelled some weeks earlier and for some reason I was never notified. It was pretty mortifying after the long drive and the cost of the fuel, hotel and, most importantly, our TIME.

But, it was my own fault for not checking and, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems extremely stupid to have set off for such a long way without double checking the event was still on. (In my defense, all the courses I’ve attended previously at Progressive Property have all run as planned, in fact they’ve all without fail been absolutely superb learning.)

We returned to the hotel in a disappointed daze, gutted to have wasted so much time, but determined to make the best of it that we could. We popped to the shopping centre next to the hotel and bought some new shirts for Dean (he was a man in desperate need of a few shirts!) Then we set  off for home feeling shattered and resentful and dreaming of the wonderful sleep we would have had that night if we were at home. As Dean drove, I leaned against my pillow and tried – failed – to sleep.

And then, something miraculous happpened. From somewhere came a second burst of energy, and we started talking about the property we’re living in, the one we’ve been considering turning into a house of multiple occupancy – an HMO.

We priced up pretty much the entire work needed, something we’ve been planning to do for ages. If the sums don’t work, we won’t do the work needed to create the HMO, so this was crucial.

We also stopped at a few kitchen places on our way back up north.

It meant that once we arrived back at home, to two delighted dogs and three bemused humans, we could begin a serious discussion about what to do with the property. And so the decision was reached. There will be no HMO. Instead we will renovate to a high standard, ready for a family home, and either let it or sell it as such.

The work needed to make this old, slightly awkward property into a 5-bed, 5-en suite HMO is just too much and too expensive. It would take every penny that we have, and it would take forever. And right now we need to keep hold of some money, and we need as soon as possible to be able to concentrate 100% on the business.

And although I’d been looking forward to putting an HMO together, it is a relief to have finally made a decision. Now we can move forward, get it done, and get back to business.

I would have preferred not to spend hours in the van, traipsing for miles through the dark, not really sleeping on a dodgy mattress, and losing a day’s work.

But by deciding not to let the day be a waste, we turned something that could have been really negative into a positive, and that was definitey worth doing.

(Oh, and Progressive have offered to reimburse what we’ve spent and they’ve given us a choice of dates to attend the next course, so we will be back – although we might change hotel.)

 

*Progressive Property is probably the UK’s biggest and best property success story, started by two friends and colleagues, Rob Moore and Mark Homer, and offering fantastic training into how to make money from property. Their courses are awesome (we’ve been on loads of them) and it all starts at their Multiple Streams of Property Income course (MSOPI) which is a 3-day course all about property. Tickets usually cost a few hundred pounds but they are free if you get referred from someone else – if you would like free tickets email me at projectlifesuccess@gmail.com and I will make sure you get yours!

We Have Power!

If you have ever lived in a house that was more renovation project than a home, you will understand the wondrous-ness of what I am about to tell you.

Just a year after we moved in here, I am so happy to announce: We. Have. Electric. Sockets.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

No longer is all electricity run through the house on a few hideous-looking extension cables.

There are plastic boxes fixed into the walls that, when switched, make electricity happen!

Why have we left it so long? Well, partly we didn’t know what we were doing with the house. And partly we were waiting until we had the money to get it all done.

And mostly because, well, we just kind of got used to it. Humans are pretty adaptable creatures really.

After much discussion, we have finally decided what we will do with this house. The plan is for this house to become a source of income and to finally start to pay us back, giving a return on the money we have paid in to it. I will of course share, once this happens.

But for now, we celebrate, no longer shall my business empire be run off a few plugs. We have electricity, folks, and the future looks brighter than ever before!

xx

 

Rocking the online accounting!

These days, Fridays don’t signal the end of the week, because weekends are as busy and full as any other day.

(I’m hoping this won’t last forever, y’know, but for now that’s just how it is).

Even so, it’s hard not to feel just a little Friday Night Fever… even if that means switching the TV on and having a cuddle with the dogs, not a full-on downing 20 pints and heading into town with my gladrags on (as if I even could!)

Today, though, I allowed myself a little more Friday night fever than usual. Because, my dear, dear reader, today is the first day I think I can fully say that when it comes to online accounting, I, Have, Got, It.

Just about.

And it feels amazing!

When I took my part-time, temporary, job in a letting agents, which I know went against everything I had vowed not to do, namely not ever having another boss, this feeling was exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

Because I had never had what I would call a ‘proper job’, one where I dealt with income, with cashflow, with profit and loss, with looking into the accounts,  etc etc, I literally had no idea what to do in that area. Working in TV I was pretty much protected from anything like that, it was all about people, stories and pictures.

And of course I was never taught anything at school that might have come in useful in that area – and don’t even get me started on this – why on earth would you not want to equip children with skills that might help them make and manage money later in life?!

So back in those first few weeks and months of getting my head around all the different systems that make up running a property management agency, I avoided looking into the money side of the bespoke property management software*. Franky, I was busy enough dealing with tenancy sign-ups, leaking toilets, snotty landlords and the rest.

But in the past six weeks or so I have steadily forced myself to venture into areas called ‘Property Ledger’, ‘Tenant Ledger’ and ‘Landlord Ledger’. Instead of just looking like a blur of gobbledygook, they have, slowly but finally, begun to make sense.

And, in turn, I’ve been able to bring that awakening to Xero, the online accounting system that we use in our business.

It is still with its challenges – some of which are caused by Xero, because it is not perfect – but I finally feel that I understand what Xero is going to be able to do for us.

Part of learning anything is the learning of how that thing can work for you. Give a calculator to someone who never went to school and they would look at you blankly – they would need to learn maths to understand how a calculator could be useful. Ok, that’s a little extreme but until very recently I felt that I also stared blankly at Xero, not quite understanding what I should be getting from it.

Today our accounts assistant Ade and I – Xero was new to her too, although she had used Sage before – looked at each other and agreed that we are nearly, practically, just-about, almost in a position to say we are sort of getting there!

Actually, I think we’re further on than that, but setting up a new business (well, 3), and setting up a new and unfamiliar accounting system, on top of everything else has been challenging.

Then there seem to have been millions of interruptions and distractions that have got in the way.

But, maybe, just maybe, on this quiet, dark little Friday night, I really can celebrate a milestone.

Even though it has been really tough fitting in the job, on top of the business(es) and everything else, I am so glad I took it on, and so very glad I stuck with it, and so very grateful that it has worked out as well as it has done.

And who knew it would ever really be possible to love online accounting!

 

*I don’t want to name the property management software that my bosses use. It’s not great, and while that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, I have found them as a company extremely unresponsive to suggestions for ways to improve. Many of the processes are clunky and very time-consuming/wasting, and could be made so much easier, but it seems they have grown too big to care. So, I won’t name the software, but if you are considering investing in property management software feel free to email me at success@projectlifesuccess.com and I will happily name and shame!

 

Project: Life Success

Changing career aged 40+, learning about and building my own business, losing weight, building passive income & finally making a success of my life!

 

Out of the fog

Every so often I read a quote or saying that so accurately pinpoints a truth of life it leaves me reeling. This is one of those, from the legend John Lennon:

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

So true!

I had so many plans back in January, and not one of them included refurbing a house. (Well, not within the first few weeks of 2017 anyway.)

In my last post I wrote about our decision to sell our house, the one we left when we moved across the country a year and a half ago. We duly headed back to spend a few days redecorating and doing a light refurb ready for selling – I was due to meet with the agent soon after to hand over the keys.

And then, of course, we got there and there was loads to do, so much more than we had anticipated. And then, of course, we started doing extras. All the nasty flat doors I had hated so much for the eight years were replaced by beautiful panel doors. The downstairs loo finally got a sink fitted. We finally put in a fireplace. And, most expensively of all, we replaced all the old, draughty windows and back door.

In and amongst the refurb, we swung by a roller coaster of emotions and doubt. Was it right to sell and free up some money to allow us to invest in the business and the property up here? But it was so good to be back in the place we had called home for eight years, were we fools to consider letting the house go? Maybe we should just rent it out and remortgage to free up some cash?

Dean returned here, back to work installing a wetroom, the first. I had wanted to be more involved with that job but instead I had to stay back at the property, meeting other agents, decorating and refurbing the things I didn’t need Dean and his fancy tools for.

We invited other agents to quote, and the prices came back, slightly higher than we had expected for rental, and then a much higher sale price than we had previously been given. Which threw everything up into the air!

So we’ve spent the past five weeks, quite literally, in a fog.

I’ve spent Friday through Monday at the house, travelled back up on Monday night, gone to my part-time job, then back down on Friday. Dean has come down for Saturday and Sunday. We’ve travelled down and back, exhausted, along 70 miles of dark winding road, the dogs in the car with me, sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the house and eating takeaways and microwave meals.

(Yes, I’m sorry, the diet went out of the window… I’ll get back on it, I promise.)

But it has, hopefully, all been worth it. Yesterday the house went on the market, this morning it was on rightmove. There are six viewings booked in, and the people who viewed it today have booked for a second viewing.

The fog is clearing and we are spending our first weekend at home in what feels like forever. Dean played golf and I went for a long walk with the dogs. We caught up on some paperwork.

And, true to form, we have lurched from one emotion to another: excitement, pride, worry, concern.

Should we be selling? Will we regret it?

We have no idea. On one hand it will be good to get some money behind us. I believe money attracts money and hopefully that will be the case for us, too. We will be able to decide once and for all what to do with this property, and then do it. On the other, I am so scared we will get this money and waste it, or invest it unwisely, or just fritter it away on things we don’t need.

Part of me hopes we can’t sell. Part of me wants to. The biggest part of me still has absolutely no idea what to do!

John Lennon, you were so right! Life just happened, right as I was making my other plans!

 

Project: Life Success

Changing career aged 40+, building my own business, losing weight, taking control & finally making a success of my life!

 

How Not to Waste Time

If you are thinking of becoming a landlord, be aware that when you rent out properties,  there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done!

(Yes, even if you do use an agent to manage your property.)

So here’s the story:

Monday: Email from the letting agent on Monday to say the arm on one of the sofas has broken and would I like them to source a new one (couch not arm) for £295 + VAT?

Positive: Agent would find new sofa and have delivered. No hassle to me.

Negative: Next month’s rent would be around £350 down. Plus I would have to pay for the old sofa to be removed.

Hmmmmm.

Tuesday: Tenant of another property (very local to us here) asks randomly if I know anyone who wants a new sofa. Amazing! I look, it’s in great condition, a couple of years old, still with Fire Regulations tags attached.

Positive: Just been offered replacement sofa for free!

Negative: House is nearly 100 miles away and couch will need to be delivered there.

Hmmmmm.

Wednesday: I speak to Dean. We decide to take the sofa to the house ourselves.

Positve: Even with fuel we will save around £300.

Negative: We’ll use up a huge amount of our own time taking it.

Hmmmmm.

Saturday: We take the sofa but we use the day as best we can:

  1. We turn it into one of our regular property inspections
  2. It’s good to see the tenants again and chat about any issues
  3. While Dean drives, I work out profit/loss on the business
  4. We listen to ‘Uncommon Sense’ by Mark Homer on Audible, to increase our business knowledge*
  5. We take Frankie the dog, which gives her experience travelling in the van
  6. AND I film the day, which turns into this:

So we turned what could have been a wasted day into a useful one. Frankie got to see some of the world, I got my Yorkshire fix, Dean and I both learned something about investing from Mark’s book (which is brilliant by the way, I heartily recommend it and you can check it out here if you like) AND we got a film out of it for the Project Life Success channel.

Which I like to think of as a Successful Outcome. Hurrah and Double Tick!! √√

*Audible is pretty much the best thing EVER! I love to listen to audio books while I’m driving or doing housework (not that I do alot) plus all those other times when you’re still doing things but are in a position to listen. The subscription is something like £7.99 a month and for that you get a book free. Utterly recommended! √

 

Project Life Success – changing career aged 40+ and building my own business!