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Article > “Keep on Trucking” - An Investors Success Story

Article kindly supplied by

Progressive Property Ltd,
Suite 5, Queen Street Chambers, Peterborough, Norfolk, PE1 1PA


Andy Watkiss - Story at a Glance

J.O.B. Haulage Manager
Investment Area:Telford, Shropshire (but deals in UK)
Strategies: BTL, HMOs, joint ventures, deal packager
Vital Statistics Properties: 48 Portfolio:£5.5million. £3.4 million on mortgage.
Equity:£1.8 million.

How 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,

We 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.

I 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.

From 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.

Why 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.

In 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.

How 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.

What 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.

Despite 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 costs.

What 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.

What 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!

When was this?
Late 2007, early 2008. We bought 28 Properties.

What's 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 lender group.

Is 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.

Over 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 New Year.

He 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 the UK.

How 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.

Did you buy that one for cash?

Yes. 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 alone!

Any 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.
I 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 on there.

You 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 .

So you've been using joint venture partners as mortgage hosts?
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.

So, 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.

Is 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.

So, 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.

I 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 now.

So, 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 through Progressive.







Mark Homer & Rob Moore






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