Watkiss - Story at a Glance
J.O.B. Haulage Manager
Investment Area:Telford, Shropshire (but deals in
Strategies: BTL, HMOs, joint ventures, deal packager
Statistics Properties: 48 Portfolio:£5.5million.
£3.4 million on mortgage.
did you get into Property?
I got into Property by watching Sarah Beeny’s
shows on TV and seeing what they did. Something came
through the post from Inside Track. That was a day
in Birmingham back in 2006 and then my wife Claire
and I went on a two-day course. It did give us a lot
of knowledge and it pushed us to go into Property,
met up with a couple Jason and Karen while we were
there, who lived in Stafford. He was a painter and
decorator, had his own company, with a couple of crews
out there. In the intervals, we were talking to each
other as we were on the same table. He was saying,
“I work for Investors all day long, week in
week out, all year long, where I’m doing up
houses for people, going into houses, doing a total
or light refurbishment for them to sell them on. I’m
seeing the money they’re earning. But, I should
be doing it myself. That’s why I’m here”.
So, it went from there we thought, “Shall we
team up and see if we can buy houses either in Staffordshire
or Telford? I’ll find them and get the finance
deposits one way or another, you do them up and we’ll
sell them on”. This was towards the end of 2006.
started to look for Properties. Real, real rough places
that needed doing up - a complete refurbishment. I
went into estate agents in the Telford area. I went
in there, saw a couple of Properties and went to view
them. We did a deal. We looked at one for £85,000.
We managed to get it at £70,000, which even
in these days wouldn’t be any good now. We managed
to get the deal but further down the line, the deal
fell through; the vendor decided they didn’t
want to sell for whatever reason and backed out.
there then, we got a second Property we’d already
looked at to buy with the actual estate agents. So,
we did a deal on the second one to buy, and the other
couple decided that they could not go in on this one
with us. So I went to the estate agents and explained
to them that the first one has fallen through and
we can’t proceed on the second one either now
because we were going 50-50 on the deposit to buy,
and the other couple could not proceed now. So the
owner of the estate agents said, “I buy Property.
I’ll join with you 50-50 if you like. Now James
is my good friend and business partner with all of
the portfolio of Properties, and with James having
his Property sales and lettings agency it comes in
very handy for us too.
are you doing Property investing?
I'm doing this for our children. I've set up a trust
that would be administered in the event of my death.
I'm grateful to my wife who has been fully supportive
whilst my partners and I were out viewing two or three
Properties a night.
the beginning my sister, Dad and Mum were all very
sceptical, but now they're totally on board. They've
lent money to help us. When things were going crazy
and we were locking cash in deals I'd ask my Dad if
I could borrow some money. He'd say. “Son, get
out of this transport business. I've been in it for
donkey’s years. Property is the way forward”.
He retired last year at the age of 70. I've been in
transport all my life from before I left school. My
father has been in transport all his life. He was
a farmer before that. Granddad and Dad were farmers.
Our farm was compulsory purchased and didn't get much
for it back then. We were robbed really, but that’s
one of the stories. Just before that, Dad had gotten
into hauling, into moving aggregates - stones, tipper
lorries, that sort of stuff. Then, I was the age of
five or six, I can’t remember and I started
to go with him in the lorry. Up over the years when
I was in my teens 13, 14, 15 I was working in the
fitting shop, helping him repair vehicles coming in.
I was fully maintaining vehicles and we had a fleet
of about 30 vehicles at that point. So, rather than
go to school I was naughty by skipping school and
going to work on the lorries.
many Properties did you buy in 2007?
We bought nine Properties and towards the end of 2007
we refurbished and sold one, but we should have just
kept it for the long term, but things were tightening
up. We were buying with our own deposits with a mortgage,
with no early penalty repayments with Northern Rock,
then refurbishing them, remortgaging them, but always
ending up one way or another having to leave £2-3k
in the deals after all the deposit and refurbishment.
Money was running out.
did you do next?
I had to look at a way of trying to do these Properties
without using our own money. At this point, we still
knew nothing about below market value. We were buying
them at market price and then adding value by refurbishing.
your training from Inside Track?
Yes. We didn't really pick up on buying below market
value and not using your own money. The Inside Track
way was all new build off plan with a market up lift,
they hoped. We just bought at a good price and then
would refinance out our deposit and refurbishment
did you do next?
I rang a few numbers in the local newspapers that
said they buy houses quickly. I was curious how they
did it so I rang a couple of them up and asked. I
said we buy Properties. We're landlords. What are
you doing with the ones you don't want? One of them
said “Let's meet up and have a chat and I'll
tell you how I do it”. He was buying for 18-20%
below market value back in the days of 85% mortgages
with Mortgage Express same day remortgages. So I asked
what was he doing with all the 15% deals. He explained
he sold them on for a finder’s fee. I said I’d
have some of them then. However, we only bought two
off him, he was a great help and we're thankful to
him for his guidance in to the BMV world.
stopped you buying more?
We picked up on the idea ourselves and started advertising
and leafleting ourselves. “Do you need to sell
your house quickly at no cost to you?” The phone
didn't stop ringing!
Late 2007, early 2008. We bought 28 Properties.
the story about a window cleaner?
A friend of ours is a window cleaner who cleaned our
own house. His wife is a big friend of my wife. Their
kids go to the same school and know each other. His
engine blew up in his car. He said he didn't know
what to do to get round my jobs. Well, with being
in the transport business I said if “I supplied
you with a van could we do a deal for you to deliver
our leaflets using the van for both?” We were
having problems with the droppers shoving them through
1 letterbox and getting complaints from the council.
He agreed to do his window cleaning in the mornings
and leaflet drops in the afternoons. So I bought a
van for £200 and got signs made for it with
“Do you need to sell your house quickly?”
I would pay the running cost of it, as long as he
put the fuel in. I insured and maintained it. He does
around 600-800 leaflets a week. When a lot of houses
started coming through we also paid him a finder’s
fee too. We bought a further nine Properties in 2009.
We had about 38 Properties at that point. The deals
were coming through and then the mortgage lenders
were saying “No, you've got too many!”
Lending was getting very difficult by this point if
you had more than 10 in your name and most with one
this when you started looking at deal packaging?
Yes it was, I was looking at other ways to make money
from Property and had been to some Property group
meetings. I spoke to some guys that were just Property
trading for cash flow. The PIN groups promoted a deal
seller in the West Midlands so I got introduced to
them, they were great guys. I looked into buying leads
from some of the Property BMV sale sites at 25% discount
and set about ringing and converting them myself,
which worked great. I did about two-three Properties
like this back at the end of 2009: just buying leads,
ringing them up. The deal seller would sell them on
for me as a full packaged deal. At one of the pin
meetings in Birmingham I met up with a guy who is
now my second business partner in Property. He was
also in Property with a portfolio in the West Midlands
and also a mobile phone supplier, so I did a deal
or two with phones and we started to meet up at a
lot of the Property meeting groups to network.
the Christmas period my wife and two little girls
and I visited him and his family. When we were there
I was chatting to him about the deals that I had done
with the lead sellers, and was saying it's costly
to buy all those leads to only get one or two out
of them. I could do with my own lead web site out
there. He then mentioned that he has websites built
and we agreed to pursue this a little more in the
had a couple of websites made and started campaigns
which started drawing plenty of people who want to
sell quickly. So he and I teamed up sharing all the
costs, with both of us closing the deals, and going
out to close the deal at vendors' Property all over
did you meet Progressive?
I had been following Rob and Mark for some time with
their website and emails, so when I found out that
they were promoting a one-day workshop meeting in
the West Midlands I just had to go and find out more
about them. On February 14th, Valentine’s Day,my
business partner and I went on the one-day workshop.
They approached both of us, because they were active
both in marketing and buying their own Properties
so we decided to go check them out. Rob went around
the table asking “How many Properties do you
have?” Most people were saying one or two. When
they came to me and I said I have 38 Properties and
explained about the van they asked to do an interview
with me. I must thank Rob at this point for that interview
as after the interview came out, on Rob and Mark’s
Property forum site, the publicity we had after was
phenomenal. Wherever I was attending Property meetings
up and down the UK people would come up and say, are
you the guy with the van? It’s amazing. Following
Progressive Property; Rob and Mark, is a must. They
got us up on stage at the Property Super Conference
2010 and again we then we got flooded with requests
from investors on the day and still to this day. We've
started following a lot of Rob’s and Mark’s
strategies to flip Property into auctions to make
money. Any Properties we bought outside our goldmine
area we would put into auction. We bought one at £52K.
We didn't refurbish it and sold for £85K in
an auction in Derby. We made 20K profit.
you buy that one for cash?
We got the cash from deal packaging and being paid
a finder’s fee for selling deals on 25% below
market value, but I could write a book on all of that
tips you'd like to share?
I set up a Facebook page, which is Quick Cash Properties.
There's a contact form on there. Through Facebook,
through the recognition of the van and through advertising
the logos, the silly cartoons, people have picked
up on it (so brand yourself). We've got 2,500 people
on Facebook and about 1,000 of them are Telford people.
It means when we have a room available, as soon as
we have a house available, we've got flats, bungalows,
houses, semis, detached and the HMO Property rooms,
we put them onto Facebook and I just guide traffic
to a letting agent and they take care of it from there.
started using Facebook about 18 months ago. I started
pushing it by joining every group I could find to
do with Telford. Telford sales, Telford lettings,
Telford football club, rugby club, even taxi people
make it sound very easy. Did you have any challenges?
The challenges lately have been around valuations.
Trying to get mortgages ourselves personally. That's
why we've gone into joint ventures now. James and
I have Properties with joint venture partners and
friends who we have five or six Properties with, a
couple that were on Sarah Benny's TV show a couple
of years ago with a Property in Telford, and also
from Telford too .
you've been using joint venture partners as mortgage
Yes. For some time now with my wife, my sister. It's
the only way forward for us to buy to hold at the
moment. As well as flipping Properties with joint
venture partners with cash, I'm looking at ways to
sell to first time buyers. We can only gift 5% legally
but we're coming up with other ways around this, so
we'll gift them 10% one way or another and leave just
5% in the Property in the deal.
you have a separate agreement?
Yes. We don't want the money now. We've got no interest
in it. We will take it in five, six or seven years
time. If you sell or remortgage, we'll know about
it because we'll have a charge on it. If
you want to remortgage in five years time, we'll cut
the 5% at the market value at that time. We'll collect
it then, or if you want to sell it in three, four
or five years time, we'll collect it then, which is
a good way of building it up. It's a business with
tangible assets, which if you wanted to you could
sell on for a lot of money all the Properties you
have with a 5% interest in. That's a great way to
view it. As a proper business with tangible assets.
Yes, the asset is in your name, with deeds and trusts
which we get drawn up by solicitors. I love the way
you just pick up a new strategy, try it out and run
with it. Yes. It makes it interesting but I want to
focus on helping others do the same now under the
Progressive brand by teaching courses.
that something you saw yourself doing two years ago?
Did you see yourself as a teacher, a mentor?
Absolutely not. At best I would have cringed. It would
be the other way around. I'd be the one sat at the
back of the room.
this journey has given you new confidence?
That's right. Any show we go to now, we've got t-shirts
printed “Joint Venture Partners Required”,
we sit at the front whenever we can. 18 months ago
I would have been at the back but now, I've got a
passion for it. Anyone who asks, I just want to show
them the ways of BMV buying Property.
notice a change in your strategies since meeting Progressive
Before we were buying Properties doing it the standard
formula way, but when we met Progressive they made
us see new strategies. They also made us realise that
the advertising on the window cleaners van was creative
too and loved that and share it with their students
what are your plans for the future?
We aim to have 80 to 100 Properties in the next three-four
years. More joint ventures with partners with cash
to refurbish, sell and auction. We get leads from
all over the country so we'll find good Property deals
at 30% off the market value and find an Investor who
is buying in that area and joint venture with them.
We're looking to do training and one-to-one mentoring