Hannah lost The Eviction, then won big time in property!!
28-year-old Hannah Mills narrowly missed out on winning the £20,000 prize in The Eviction 2019 – Property Investors’ Apprentice-style competition. There was no holding her back, though, despite her bitter disappointment at coming runner-up. Hannah vowed to make back the money through property investing. Less than two years later she co-owns a sourcing business bringing in around £25,000 a month, has her own rent-to-rent portfolio and is involved in a string of other big money ventures.
‘I felt so energised by the Property Investors Crash Course’
Hannah was working as a solicitor in Bristol when she was offered a life-changing opportunity to take part in The Eviction in 2019. The only problem was that she could get no time off, so she handed in her notice.
It was a bold step. At the time Hannah was earning £47,000 a year but was convinced that she could succeed as a property entrepreneur. By then she was used to risk-taking, having borrowed £24,000 on credit cards to start a rent-to-serviced accommodation business.
“I didn’t just quit my job. I had three properties in Cambridge that I was managing.
From the income they were producing per month I could afford my liabilities, so it wasn’t a case of I’m just going to do it. I’d already had a bit of training and a plan,” Hannah explains.
Having landed her first ‘big ticket job’ at the age of 25 and bought a house, she had no savings. However, because of her salary, her credit rating was good which helped her to secure low percentage loans.
Hannah picked up valuable tips about property investing from watching Samuel Leeds’ YouTube channel. Then, wanting to find out more, she attended one of the company’s crash courses in London in 2018.
“I was quite sceptical, but I really wanted to get into property, and I liked Samuel’s YouTube clips.”
Hannah had a surprise in store when during the first five minutes Samuel asked each audience member to massage the person sitting to their left.
“To be honest, I was wondering what this was about, but it’s very much about losing your inhibitions. We’re all on the same page, with everyone enjoying themselves, and you just buy into it. I felt energised.
“You can’t come away from that place and not feel energised and to think, do you know what, I’m going to go out and kick a***. I really enjoyed it.”
It was at the crash course that she met her future business partner, Gwyn Thomas. Both had travelled a long way to be at the event – Gwyn from Russia, where he was working at the time, and Hannah from her home in South Wales.
A few months later she left her job and took another gamble by investing £12,000 in the Property Investors Academy for further training.
“My partner Cori said to me the other day where do you see yourself in property and I said I’m going to be a millionaire. She said how do you know? I said, I just know.”
It was that same belief in herself which drove her to leave the legal profession. “I knew it was the right decision. I had to know about property and be around people, living and breathing it because I was so passionate about it. I knew I wouldn’t fail.
“Some people may see it as a risk. For me it was just a stepping-stone.”
Location and knowing the market pays off handsomely
Hannah was dubious about rent-to-rents as a strategy at first but changed her mind when she saw how it worked.
“Basically, you take a landlord’s property and you rent it from them. Then you re-rent it out again. Some people call it sub-letting. If you’re dealing with rent-to-HMOs, it is sub-letting. With rent-to-SAs it’s different because you’re not actually putting tenants in, you’re putting in guests. The idea of it is very simple. You rent it or book it out under your business.”
Hannah couldn’t afford deal sourcers, so she went out and found rent-to-rent agreements herself. She saved a lot of money by managing the properties but made ‘so many big mistakes’ after spending about £8,000 on each property.
Nevertheless, it turned out to be a good starting point for her. Two years later Hannah handed back one of the properties – a one-bedroom flat – and replaced it with a four-bedroom house. The rent and liabilities between the two properties are not much different, but she earns more from the house.
Those initial rent-to-rents are still making her a profit of £2,000-£3,000 per month – even during the Covid crisis, she says.
“One of them is a two-bedroom cottage and for one month I got a £3,000 booking which is crazy in the middle of a pandemic when some areas are really struggling.”
The location and knowing her market proved to be critical. AstraZeneca, makers of the coronavirus vaccine, moved its global headquarters to Cambridge in 2016, bringing an influx of employees. Other hi-tech firms have also relocated to the area in recent years. This has driven up demand in the rental sector, already underpinned by the presence of world-famous institutions, such as Cambridge University and Addenbrookes Hospital.
For Hannah the rent-to-rent model was ideal because it gave her a quick cash flow to pay back her loans. She also knew it would generate more revenue than just buying one property.
She learnt a lot from taking part in The Eviction which took place in a moated castle in Staffordshire.
“We had challenges pretty much every day and whoever failed on those challenges got evicted from the castle. I genuinely would say it was life-changing because I learnt so much from the different tasks.”
During her stay at Caverswall Castle Hannah was involved in deal selling and refurbishing an HMO and would constantly be picking the brains of other contestants. She also gained advice from Samuel and spent a lot of time with Alasdair Cunningham, Property Investors’ lead trainer, who was mentoring her team.
Hannah admits that it still hurts her today that she failed to win the competition.
“I was quite upset because I really wanted to succeed, but I was determined to make that £20,000 back which I did, and some more!”
There were other compensations. The eventual winner, Anthony Wilmott, and another contestant, James Armstrong, have become two of her closest friends in property. They have also co-written a book with Samuel, entitled A Guide to Making Property Compliance Easy!
Mums who worked for Magic Circle law firms drive expansion
After The Eviction Hannah and her partner Gwyn, who is based in Essex, began growing their sourcing business and also buying properties. By the end of 2019 they were earning around £8,000 a month from selling deals to investors. Since then, they have massively scaled up the operation by taking on staff which has enabled them to source more deals.
“We’re doing on average seven to 10 deals a month at the moment, with each deal worth around £3,250,” says Hannah.
Their business, Bespoke Sourcing, has also managed to attract foreign investors who buy four or five deals at a time.
There are five employees on the payroll. They include women who gave up their jobs with top five Magic Circle law firms in London to have children and now work remotely for Bespoke Sourcing.
“They’ve got that knowledge and understanding of big companies and that’s really driven the business forward,” Hannah adds.
Her partner Cori, formerly captain of Cardiff City’s women’s football team who played for Wales, has also joined the business on a full-time basis – along with someone who ‘dips in and out’ finding development opportunities.
Hannah is also involved in numerous joint venture projects, co-owning four houses in one street alone, including one which is being converted from two to four bedrooms.
She bought the house with James for £69,000. Once refurbished at a cost of around £30,000, Hannah is confident that it will sell for £145,000 to £150,000. This will leave them with at least £45,000 to put into other projects.
Hannah and James are also buying another house next door which they managed to secure below market value. They plan to refinance that one, pull out all their money and then rent it out for about £675 per calendar month. The monthly profit on that deal will be around £475.
Moving up to a seven-bed apartment hotel
After setting up her rent-to-rent portfolio and finding lots of excellent investment opportunities, it became a natural progression to move into deal sourcing. But then she found such a good deal on a house in Mountain Ash in the South Wales valleys that she wanted to keep it.
As a result, Hannah and her business partner decided to build a buy, refurbish, refinance portfolio. She secured investment cash to buy the property and they added a third bedroom to increase the value.
One of the investors was a fellow academy member whom she met on the Deal Finding Extravaganza training programme. That particular investor keeps giving them money and in return he receives a fixed return.
Hannah and Gwyn have four refurbishment projects about to get underway for their own portfolio and numerous investor properties which are being done up. Hannah, who is overseeing the work, says she is so busy she is running out of builders.
They also have two rent-to-rents in Newport, plus a seven-bed house share which they turned into a mini apartment hotel with two kitchens and bathrooms and seven en suite double rooms. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, put the brakes on their plans.
“We had literally just launched it when they closed down all the hotels, and we didn’t know what to do,” recalls Hannah.
It was their management company that came up with the idea of renting the hotel to the local council during lockdown to accommodate homeless people. The authority agreed a rent of £7,300 a month which left Hannah and Gwyn with a profit of £3,500.
They also had control of a four-bedroom house in Cardiff under a rent-to-rent agreement which was making £1,500 to £2,000 per month before the Covid crisis.
Now their sights are set on much bigger ventures. They have clinched a lease option agreement on a derelict building and are applying for planning permission to split it into 21 flats. If approved, the projected margin will be £1.2m to £1.6m.
Hannah is clear about her reason for going into property.
“I wanted freedom to live my life how I want to. I didn’t want to be stuck in the rat race, getting up at five in the morning, coming home at eight and hating my job. I had to make it work and I love what I do now.”
- You can always find money somewhere if a deal’s good enough.
- I learnt so much from networking and talking to people who are in property and doing well. You need supportive people around you.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Hannah’s gone from having no savings to achieving financial freedom. Where she’s got to since coming on the crash course is rare. She’s a perfect case study. If someone said to me pick the top ten people you would choose to do a joint venture with, she’d be one of them. If anyone has the opportunity to do business with her, do it because she really knows her stuff, works hard and has a lot of integrity.”
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