2x maths teachers + 700 houses = 1x £240m Buy-to-Let Empire


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Interest rates are low, property prices ditto.

I'm starting to think that maybe some diversification might not be a bad thing, and an inflation proof real estate portfolio can be pretty lucrative.

I've never really thought about real estate at all, focusing only on my trading, but read a report in a reputable German magazine about holiday homes that are only let out to others, and how pretty lucrative that can be. (Plus it's zero hassle as agencies do the advertising / renting out / cleaning etc).

That started me thinking a bit.

Did some digging, and amongst other interesting things found this:

2 x maths teachers + 700 houses = 1 x £240m buy-to-let empire

House prices in UK will never crash, say Mr and Mrs Wilson of Ashford, Kent. And they should know

The Guardian, Saturday 16 December 2006 00.01 GMT
Article history
If you think house prices are already outrageous, look away now. According to two former maths teachers from south London, who are Britain's buy-to-let king and queen, the property market will never crash.

Husband and wife magnates Fergus and Judith Wilson have just signed a deal to buy their 700th house. If things go to plan, they will become the country's first buy-to-let billionaires. Every week they buy another house - and on one day alone spent £10m buying 40 properties off a distressed developer.

In the early 1990s the Wilsons were marking maths homework and writing school reports at a Blackheath comprehensive. Today their property empire is worth £240m - almost all of it within commuting distance of the Eurostar terminal in Ashford, Kent. They put their personal wealth at £180m - leaving them on a par with Anita Roddick and singer Phil Collins in the Sunday Times Rich List. And with property prices climbing at £40 a day, their personal wealth rises by £28,000 every time they get out of bed.

This week Britain's biggest lender, Halifax, issued a warning that the unexpected surge in house prices witnessed in 2006 would not continue and that 2007 would see increases of 4% at most.

But Fergus Wilson predicts that prices will double every seven years and says the typical property he owns - a £200,000 two- to three-bed starter home - will cost £400,000 by 2013, £800,000 by 2020 and £1.6m by 2027.

In Ashford town centre, every estate agent knows the Wilsons. "They own great big chunks of the new-build estates around here, particularly Park Farm," said one. "They have single-handedly pushed up prices in the new developments, buying them off-plan and renting the lot out. It's tough for first-time buyers. As soon as a suitable property for a first-time buyer comes on to the market you get three or four buy-to-let investors putting in offers. You'd like to be able to sell it to a young couple but you just can't."

Like other Ashford agents, he did not want to be named for fear of upsetting the area's biggest landlord.

The Wilsons are probably the least assuming and most well-mannered multimillionaires you'll meet. Fergus, 58, has no chauffeur, no minders and certainly no bling. Judith, 56, is still more schoolmistress than millionaire, firm but polite with the occasional steely glare. They didn't even get a leg-up from wealthy parents. After leaving Goldsmiths in the early 1960s, Fergus spent a period sleeping rough in Greenwich Park. "I know every blade of grass in that park," he says.

The move into property investing came by accident. "A house a few doors down from us in Maidstone came up for auction," says Judith. "We went along and bought it for £98,000, even though we had just £10,000 in the bank. We only found the mortgage afterwards. At the time, it was the scariest thing I'd ever done. Today I don't bat an eyelid when I buy a house."

The plan was to sell their existing home and move in - but after a chance approach by a company looking for a temporary rental, they decided to let out their old home. It became the base for a pyramid of properties bought by constantly remortgaging and using equity from rising property values to put down a deposit on yet another house.

The business took off in 1996 when interest-only mortgages became available, replacing costly repayment loans. By the time interest rates fell below 4% in 2003 the Wilsons were buying a house on average every day.

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal that 750,000 buy-to-let mortgages have been granted since 1996, worth around £17.5bn. The typical buy-to-let investor has a "portfolio" of four or five properties. The secret of the Wilsons' success was focusing on Ashford, where prices in the mid-1990s were much lower than surrounding areas in the south-east, even with the impending arrival of the Eurostar terminal.

The Wilsons bought only new-build two or three-bed terraces and the occasional semi. They never buy the flats so beloved of other buy-to-let investors - "they just give you endless hassle".

When they buy, it has to be a house - although a small two-bedroom one, where the yields are best. Developers, they say, only ever want to build three- and four-bedroom "executive" homes, leaving a permanent shortage of small homes with gardens. When they find them, they snap them up and let them to professional singles or couples. "We have couples where one works in Lille in France and the other in south London, and Ashford is literally their half-way home," says Fergus.

The Wilsons rarely take holidays. But they do own 10 racehorses - and are frequently derided in the racing press as the eccentric Kent couple who keep entering no-hopers in top races.

The medium-term target is to own 1,000 homes, but more immediately Judith is putting the finishing touches to a new property bond business. It will be launched in January, offering virgin buy-to-let investors the chance to own a 5% share of new properties that she'll source in the Kent area. If it takes off, her ambition of becoming a buy-to-let billionaire may well become reality.
2 x maths teachers + 700 houses = 1 x £240m buy-to-let empire | Money | The Guardian

Click: Up to 910 homes by now say Wikipedia.

Of course it''s nonsense that house prices can't fall, but if anything this is an opportunity to get in at lower prices.

Anybody have any property experience ?

Any Buy to Let millionaires roaming these shores ?

Might be interesting and fun to see if we can't come up with something here.
Also interesting this:

"Rise of buy-to-let millionaires

The booming property market has created an army of buy-to-let millionaires with a portfolio worth an average £1.5m each.

Research published yesterday reveals the fortune that thousands are making. The average professional buy-to-let investor owns 12 properties, usually flats or houses in city centres, worth £1.54m.

To qualify as a 'professional', they have to own at least three properties and have been renting them out for at least three years. The majority have a full-time job working in anything from accountancy to manufacturing but manage their property portfolio as a sideline."

Rise of buy-to-let millionaires | This is Money

True, true, no doubt.

"Not that the Wilsons are about to be destroyed by the credit crunch. Unlike many amateur landlords who piled into buy-to-let in 2006 and 2007, they bought most of their properties when prices were lower, and still have a comfortable cushion of equity."

But thats also my point, if you're going to do this, jump in when prices are low.

But thing is also that in Germany the property market didn't go up in the past, so isn't going down now, prices have always been pretty affordable here compared to the UK and other markets, you always could and can now find good deals.

Here property is less about capital appreciation, more rental yield and the portfolio value as such that you can build up.

When it's paid off you sell and after you held long enough tax free at that and hey presto you've got yourself an additional old age pension potentially in the millions.
It's funny you mention that, my dad was trying to encourage me to buy German property... apparently they are auctioning a reasonable amount of it in the UK at the moment...

Have any links ?

Oh, and if ever you want any help with that over here just give me a shout.
2006... it'll "never crash". :LOL:

Their fortune (if it still exists) is purely down to luck.
I'd say they cruised the trend.

I think they'll have to work very hard to get rid of those houses for 100k profit each (avg.)

Can't see how they will lose money if they've been buying since 90s though.
Wonder what their cash position/cash flow is like? I assume they must profit from the rentals less mortgage repayments. btw - you can buy cheap property with planning permission in the central provinces of France (some have old buildings just needing reno) - only problem is no-one wants to live there... yet? ;) Beautiful countryside and all that - just 'out of the way' places.

EDIT: I'm looking at a few, but at this stage it's more romanticism than practicality :love::medieval:
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900-1k per month rent for that kind of house so say 950 x 900 x 12 = 10260000 so say 9.5m for months of non-rentals, bums who don't pay blah blah

160m mortgaged out @ 5% = 8m leaving 1.5m or 1.6k per house per year for insurance, management fees, repairs etc

he says houses worth 250m... 250m / 900 = 277k per house. Neg Eq next year IMO.

Anyone given any thought as to whether house prices are going to inflate in a similar manner to how they did before this mess?
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what happens to house prices when you put 900 on the market all int he same tiown
Anyone given any thought as to whether house prices are going to inflate in a similar manner to how they did before this mess?
they will go back up, but nothing like the previous speed, and may take 10+ years to reach the same point, but in the uk we just don't have enough good housing and every year you need more.
People are very quick to shake their heads and laugh at people getting ruined by their property portfolio's, but here's what they don't get. The ones getting ruined bought crap houses on 125% mortgages and bought as many as they could, often only earning £10 a month after mortgage and expences. one Tennent moves out and down falls the whole setup.
I saw this happen to a couple of people i know personally, when i was working as a plasterer in edinburgh untill last year.
I also worked for people getting rich,they did it the smart way.
good property, well renovated (most flats are a bit crappy) often students, in edinburgh this normally means rich kid's. They normally stay a max of 3 years so you can keep bumping the rent to keep up with interest rates/inflation, students normally had friends to replace them when they were leaving, ect ect ect.
If i had the spare cash it would be a no brainer

should have said a lot of people invested in property exactally how they invested in the stock market, blindly ignorantly, and with a total lack of skill, and like the dumb money in the markets they get cleaned out by the smart money. same sad story every time.
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Last Christmas I talked to my parents about buying property as they had the money and my Dad is quite handy with that type of thing. They bought a property for £115,000 off an old couple who were moving into a home. It was terrible inside, it had snake skin wallpaper, no central heating, nothing. They spent just under £20,000 re-modeling it, with a new kitchen, central heating, double glazing etc and sold it 3 months later in the March for £189,999. They made a good sized profit for 3 months work.
It was the first one they did and they didn't do another one. I think they got a very good deal for getting the house at £115,000 - especially when the couple had to sell really, that's why they made such a good profit. I don't think they will be as lucky as next time. They have considered doing it again - but as they both work full time, it's finding the time to do it.
My brother did approach me this weekend about going into property together as a side-business. I pay the deposit, he pays the mortgage each month.

They did well for themselves, the Wilsons. But like said before, mainly down to luck though?
The only sure-fire way to make money off of property is to buy a sh*t hole in a half decent area and add value as they did. Prices you pay for refurb are basically an acid eroding at future gains so you need to be efficient. Anything else takes careful planning IMO.
Great find BSD, the funny thing about a story like that is that allot of people will dislike them, and say," ah but they had this break, or that bit of luck blah blah blah."
this bit stood out a MILE to me:
"Chris often starts work by 5:30 a.m. and says he puts in about nine hours even on Sundays"
property may not ever be the big wealth maker it was but there is always something, if you willing to work at it. [Like my sig below]
Good on them.