Grandmother reveals her investment property secrets

Posted on: 05 August 2010 by Mark O'haire

Are you looking to get involved with investment property? Seventy-five year-old grandmother and property investment expert Margaret Wren reveals her secrets to success in a candid interview with 50connect.

 

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How long have you been investing and what attracted you to become an investor?

I started investing in America about 10 years ago. At the time my daughter was looking for a new home and asked for my advice. We quickly discovered that we shared an enthusiasm for the market and could spot potential property deals!

How did you get started investing?

I began building my portfolio in America and had many units in Minnesota for example. My daughter suggested that I then turn my attentions to the UK market and I’ve never looked back! In 2004, I decided to invest in some property education and signed up for a property seminar, where I met Raj Shastri, a very experienced investor, whom many of you will have seen on various property programmes on television. I’ve always found that most people will give you either their time or their information. Raj gave me both and I shall always be grateful that our paths just happened to cross when I most needed guidance.

Tell us about your first deal.

Many years ago, I found a property in West Byfleet, which was geographically a real winner! It’s close to the station and on the mainline to Waterloo, situated halfway between Woking and Kingston and is perfectly suited for commuters - most of my tenants are business people, for whom the flat is ideal. I bought the property for £225k and it is now worth in excess of £255k in today’s market, despite the economic decline.

Were you always keen to get into the property market?

I am a professional musician and have enjoyed a long and successful career, but it had been on hold for some years. I was looking for a new interest - one that might stretch my mind - and my pensions, as an added bonus. My husband was critically ill and my daughter encouraged me to look forward and build myself a new life and a future for when I was on my own. After carrying out some research I found a property seminar in my area and went along to find out what I needed to do to become a buy-to-let landlord.

Where and how did you build up your property expertise?

I am a firm believer in property education; in the first 4 months of deciding to become an investor, I read 35 books on property and related subjects so I was armed with some knowledge. One of these titles was the classic, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert, Sp.Kiyosaki. My mentor Raj Shastri has been a constant source of knowledge and support to me. He taught me the essentials of building a portfolio, such as making your money go as far as possible, how to separate the emotion of buying your own home from the business of buying an investment property, how to negotiate so that you buy advantageously, and much more.

What types of real estate investments are your expertise?   

So far my experiences have been with buy-to-let properties and my portfolio consists of 6 units worth in excess of £1.1 million. These are located across the country in Surrey, Hants, Cardiff, Nottingham, Manchester and Kingston-upon-Thames. I managed to negotiate £100,000 off the asking price of my home in Cardiff which is set in the International sports village with views over Cardiff Bay; from one window I can see Somerset and the Welsh hills from another! I refer to it as a view with a flat attached!

What is your investing focus (area of expertise)?

Until now has my focus has been on the buy-to-let market, but at my age the length of time for a mortgage agreement decreases and most are now for a 5-6 year period so I am looking at other options. I like to buy advantageously and I am hoping to re-furbish and re-sell which will sort out the mortgage problem; I am protecting myself by altering my focus.

What do you look for in an investment?

Potential and profit. For example, when buying a 2 bedroom property I will only buy it if it has 2 bathrooms - for young business people this makes life much more manageable in the mornings!

What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made or seen others make?

I heard on the grapevine of a gentleman who bought what he thought was a brand new property in Florida in a new development. In fact it was an old development which struggled to find tenants. If he had had more knowledge and understanding of the market, he would have understood the terminology of the business and looked out for terms such as refurbishment which indicate that he was in fact buying into an old development.

If you had £10,000 to purchase an investment property, how would you invest it?

I would find a property expert like Raj Shastri – someone you can trust, as they have the right negotiating skills and power to find the right deal. You simply won’t be able to do it yourself; if you tried you’d end up having to put down a deposit of 25% and pay all buying expenses as well.

What is your long-term goal with real estate?

I am looking to have a full and comfortable lifestyle, which I can achieve buy buying, refurbishing and then selling two properties a year.

What would your dream deal be?

One that has hidden potential, a hidden asset as such. If bought at a fair price, it will appreciate. Maybe the area in which your property is has been scheduled for a new train station, airport, etc. It’s all about knowing your area or knowing the right people!

What advice would you give to a beginning investor?

Do your education before you open your purse, but expect to pay for it. Free seminars will just whet your appetite. Once you’ve done your education, deal only with reputable people. Above all, accept responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes.

For our readers, how do you make money off of rental properties?

The rental market has altered dramatically in the last 2 years and we’re now in a new era, as such. Don’t expect to make money out of the rental income as you need to allow for service charges, maintenance repairs etc. Your investment will be long term as your property’s value will appreciate.

OK, is there anything else you would like to share with the rest of us?

Yes! Firstly, always be prepared to update your education; don’t think you know it all! The market is constantly changing, for example HIPs are now no longer a legal requirement. The markets change and you have to keep aware of it. Secondly, be flexible – don’t just look at the area in which you live - go where the deals are. And last of all, never put a tenant in a property where you would not have wanted to live yourself at that point in your life/stage of career.

My top property tips

1. Property can’t help but appreciate.

2. Sadly, more and more families are breaking up and there is an ever-increasing need for more homes.

3. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to get on the ladder – the longer you have it the more you get out of it!

4. With property, unlike any other commodity, you don’t have to pay the actual value of what it is worth.

5. You need a negotiator and someone who can source deals for you, you need to be property educated to be property successful. The kind of properties you are looking for are those going through probate, repossessions, divorce etc and you need to find a mentor who will source those deals for you via a network of property people.

About Margaret Wren

Margaret is a 75-year-old property millionaire and grandmother whose property portfolio consists of six properties worth in excess of £1.1 million. These are located across the country in Surrey, Hants, Cardiff, Nottingham, Manchester and Kingston-upon-Thames.

Maragaret resides in her Cardiff house, a property that she managed to negotiate £100,000 off the asking price and she’s worked with property investment expert and TV personality Raj Shastri for over five-and-a-half years, calling herself, “Raj’s Disciple”.

She currently works alongside Raj monitoring deals from start to finish, finding tenants, working with letting agents and organising gas/electricity certificates.  The property slump has meant that Margaret has re-thought her property places and is now holding on to her properties until property appreciates at a better rate, then she will sell the properties and re-coup monies. Luckily she hasn’t had to dispose of any of these properties and all are rented out.

You may contact Margaret on mamwren@aol.com.

For more information on Margaret’s mentor please visit www.rajshastri.com.  

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