How not to be a property developer

constructionI just can’t help it – but I’m watching old episodes of How to be a Property Developer on Living TV. How sad is that?

This UK based program follows 2 teams of budding property dealers who get given a rather lovely £300k to get started and have one year to make as much profit as they can out of doing up and reselling property. All under the watchful Gary McCausland – who has been doing this for years and runs his own successful property empire.

While one of the teams (The women) are doing really well, and have so far made over £60k profit, and churn out one good deal after another – it is just sheer agony to watch the blokes lose money on deal after deal.

I have made my family promise to shoot me if I start behaving in such a tosser-ish way as these two. I’m all for investing in property – I have three already and plan on buying many more, but for crying out loud – there is a hell of a lot of work to do. These guys seem to think it’s all about saying you want to make money and that’s it. And while I am the first to admit that I think one of the joys of the property business is sitting around drinking vast amounts of coffee – I also understand that this does not let you off the hours upon hours of trawling websites, dealing with agents, viewing anything from sheds to palaces, and getting to grips with making offers. And maybe getting your hands dirty with some hard labour now and then. One of the guys seems to stop at the coffee bit! The other one seems to dream a lot and talk about how it’s all a matter of getting this bit or that bit right – he just doesn’t seem to do much of it.

Something that does annoy me with the program, is that although the presenter does swoop in to offer his opinion – he doesn’t seem to be actually mentoring the teams, rather just telling them what they should do once they have bought the place. With the girls that works out OK, as they tend to do their homework before they buy. The guys team however just keep buying lemons, and they need to be taught how to spot one! What is worse –is that when the presenter does tell them what they should do with the property they just bought – the blokes completely ignore him, and the girls tend to at least listen and do as he suggests most of the time.

I’m pretty sure either of the two property mentors I have had, Trev and Steve, would have taken me aside and told me to stop being such a plonker before I actually paid money over for a property that was no good. (Steve has a more colourful turn of phrase – but gets the message across!). I thought it was especially important to get help from a mentor as I was a migrant and I needed help to really understand how the property market works over here. It is very different from the UK way of doing things, and when you are buying to invest rather than buying a house to live in it is even more vitally important to understand exactly what you will be dealing with. While there is certainly money to be made in property – if nothing else the guys team show that it is all to easy to lose a lot of money if you don’t understand what you are doing.

I dread to think what kind of mess we would be in if we had tried to go it alone and buy investment properties. As it is, one of ours isn’t doing too well, though the other two turned out to be really good buys. I read today on Property Talk that everyone buys a lemon from time to time, so it’s nice to know I got mine out the way early. Funnily enough, while there are people out there who will abuse the position of being a mentor, and persuade investors to art with cash for any deal, both Trev and Steve have actually advised me against buying many properties because they either knew something I didn’t, or just through sheer experience could tell me what was a bum deal. I actually listen when they tell me this!

Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can buy my next Investment Property.

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