Leaving his comfort zone catapults Property Investors Academy student to success
For Joshua Baines coming along to the Property Investors Crash Course was a big deal. It was a nerve-wracking experience walking into a room at a London hotel with hundreds of people. But now the 23-year-old is glad that he pushed himself out of his comfort zone because it has enabled him to leave his nine-to-five job as a kitchen and bathroom fitter to build a promising rent-to-rent business.
‘I wanted to dictate my own future’
“It was probably the biggest thing I’d ever done,” says Joshua looking back on the crash course.
“I travelled to London on my own. I walked into this room with around 400 people and just thought, I don’t know what to do, who to speak to or who to sit with. It was just so nerve-wracking for me. I was a really nervous person. I didn’t like speaking to new people. It was really out of my comfort zone.”
The event, however, proved to be an eye-opener for him and on the first day he signed up for the Property Investors Academy, impressed by the energy in the room and the networking possibilities.
“I’d never been in a room full of such incredible people. I thought this is the environment I need to be in to grow and get out of my comfort zone and I was welcomed straightaway.”
That was in February 2020 and Joshua had recently completed a property flip with his parents. They put in the money and each made about £20,000 after Joshua and his father did the renovation work.
At that point Joshua was searching for a way out of his job.
“I was looking to get an out from the nine to five. I wanted to do something with my own life and be able to dictate my own future.”
Rather than investing in another property with his share from the house flip project, he decided to join the academy instead.
“I had two choices. I could join the academy (an investment of £12,000) or put it into a buy-to-let. I didn’t know anything about property at the time, including buy-to-lets and flips. I thought the academy would give me the skills and knowledge moving forward to almost not need that money.”
After becoming an academy member, Joshua left his safe place again to set up a YouTube channel about property.
“I don’t like speaking on camera, and I don’t like hearing myself back, but I forced myself to do it and I was fine with it.”
Persistence pays off for Joshua
Since completing the academy programme, Joshua has gone from strength to strength and is now completely at ease ringing agents, thanks to his training with Property Investors.
He quit his job to become a full-time student of the academy, completing all the courses back-to-back to learn about the various strategies available to property entrepreneurs. After that, he went ‘a bit nuts’ for several months, trying his hand at the different methods of making money in the housing market.
“I couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted to do. I spread myself so thinly that I couldn’t figure out what worked best for me,” he recalls.
Finally, Joshua settled on the buy, refurbish, refinance strategy. With his trade background and experience of having done up a property to sell at a profit, he thought that would be perfect for him. There was also the added advantage of being based in Middlesbrough where there are a lot of houses in need of refurbishment. However, he couldn’t find a deal.
“For whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to pick deals up. I couldn’t get them fast enough. It wasn’t for lack of drive.”
Determined to make his money work for him, he bought a rent-to-rent deal from another Property Investors Academy member in August 2020.
“I’d done the training and knew what needed to be done. I knew it wasn’t just going to be me paying somebody and sitting back for the money to come into my bank account. It’s a hands-on investment strategy. It’s not passive. However, the person I took the deal from is very reputable and works with a management company that I now use. That allowed me to make it passive.
“To this day I haven’t been to that apartment which shows the level of trust I have in them. It returns me money every month. I wouldn’t recommend doing it if you haven’t got that trust with the person you’re working with.”
The flat in Bristol is let out as serviced accommodation. He spent £6,000 on furniture to enable him to offer first-class accommodation. After paying the landlord his guaranteed monthly rent, Joshua’s margin is about £600. This will allow him to recoup his investment in less than a year and to start making a profit.
Four months after buying his first deal Joshua clinched his own rent-to-rent agreement on another apartment in Bristol after firing out messages ‘left, right and centre’ to landlords advertising on OpenRent.
In total, he sent out around 200 messages and secured a corporate let agreement on a flat which had recently been refurbished. Joshua says that together his two rent-to-rents are making him about £1,200 a month, the equivalent of his old income.
He also signed a rent-to-rent contract in March 2021 on a five-bedroom, furnished property in Cardiff which was being rented out as a house share. His investment in it amounts to about £4,000 which includes set-up costs and furniture and fittings to make it suitable for short-stay lets.
“It will make £500 to £1,000 per month depending on occupancy. Again, I’ve never even viewed that one. That’s down to the management company because I’m in Middlesbrough and it’s in Cardiff which is miles for me to travel.”
The management company views any property he is interested in for a fee of £30 and tells him if it is viable as a business proposition.
“They know if it’s going to work for them because they’re going to be managing it. If it works, they’ll tell me and send me a video. If I want to go ahead with it, they’ll pick the keys up, furnish it and make it live.”
His message to a prospective landlord is short and sweet. He simply enquires whether the property is available for a corporate let for three to five years.
“A lot of people don’t know what it is, but when I mention three to five years their ears prick up. If they’re interested, they then give me a call and I’m on the phone with them, rather than messaging through OpenRent, which is a lot better.”
The fact he already had a rent-to-rent in Bristol stood him in good stead to obtain the second one,” he explains. “I’m open and honest with them. If I hadn’t had one already, it probably would have been tougher. I explain how it runs and that they can see pictures of it. That makes them more open to it and they trust you more.
“I tell them exactly what management company I use and that they’ve got a lot of properties. It gives me credibility by saying the management company are good and I tell them how I work.”
Joshua says people get stressed thinking what they are going to say, but it took him just half an hour of copy and pasting the same message for half an hour each morning until he got a result.
“Again, it forces you out of that comfort zone. Once you’ve sent that message, they’re then ringing you and you haven’t got a choice whether you want to speak to them or not because they’re on the phone.”
‘Property Investors training is so hands-on’
The way the Property Investors Academy teaches its students is very much based on combining theory with practice, so Joshua was well prepared for taking action.
“It’s not: sit down look at a whiteboard all day and read slides. It’s really hands-on and there are people helping you through it.”
Even now, although his training is finished, he still receives mentoring and support, and is part of a WhatsApp group with other academy entrepreneurs who give each other advice.
Putting himself out there has contributed to his success. He viewed another five-bed property in Cardiff which didn’t lead to a deal. But a week later he got a call from a friend of the owner inviting him to view his house instead. It also had five bedrooms and they agreed a rent-to-rent arrangement. The owner turned out to be a builder and is now passing two more of his properties on to Joshua because his wife, who is expecting a baby, no longer wants to manage them.
The academy has also taught Joshua to look at the best and worst-case scenarios and to put break clauses in his agreements so that if one of his rent-to-rents is not working he can pull out.
One of the pitfalls of renting out furnished accommodation for short stays, says Joshua, is the high turnover of guests.
“You can have a different guest in there every two or three days. You’ve got to have somebody there every time to clean it and make sure it’s in good condition, otherwise you’re going to get bad reviews and that’s a downward spiral. You have also got to have a good operation and trust it.”
Joshua is a shrewd operator who has a good relationship with his management company and can see what occupancy rates are like. He also checks out on AirDNA how his competitors are performing. By paying a monthly premium of £16 a month he can look up their bookings and find out how much they are charging. He can also see which accommodation is renting out well. This in turns influences his own charges.
Once his five-bedroom rent-to-rent in Cardiff is up and running he hopes to be earning around £2,000 a month.
Deal sourcing is also on his horizon now as investors latch on to his success and want to be a part of it.
“People are coming to me and saying I want to invest. I want to put my money in with you. It’s great. I’ve wanted that since day one.”
He adds: “I’ve replaced my old income but, in my opinion, I haven’t even got started. I want to set up a management company to manage everything myself. I want to grow my portfolio and other people’s portfolios as well. I feel I’ve barely touched the surface.”
- You’ve got to push yourself to work on your weak points. I wasn’t a people person, but property is a people game. You have to be able to talk to people and speak to them on the phone.
- I learnt quickly the need to be able to sell. Even if you’re trying to buy something you have to sell yourself to the agent for you to get the property.
- I used to be nervous of ringing agents, but you’ve just got to dial the number. Don’t think about the conversation. Just ring the number.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“It’s been great to see how as a person Joshua has grown and developed. At the crash course I tell people you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, you’re not growing. So massive respect to him for doing that.
“He has had the positive peer pressure of being around people doing deals and winning. Now he’s replaced his income and with his latest deal will see his earning top £2,000 a month which is basic financial freedom. He ihas a massive career ahead of him to build a property empire.”
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