Rent-to-rent strategy helps Property Investors student pursue her ‘true calling’
Property Investors Academy student Anne Hubbard has been able to quit her stressful job by laying down the foundations of a successful rent-to-rent business. Anne negotiated her first deal last September on a house share which is making her around £1,000 a month and is about to pick up the keys to another one which will generate a similar profit. She is also expanding into deal sourcing, helped by her husband Jeff. He caught the property bug himself after encouraging her to pursue what she describes as her true calling.
‘It has to be a win-win situation’
Ask Anne for her definition of a rent-to-rent and it differs from the explanation you might expect of ‘give the landlord as little as possible and push up the rent.’
Her answer is specific and speaks volumes about her character as a property entrepreneur who wants to create a win-win situation for everyone she does business with.
“It’s about taking someone’s property, increasing the value in terms of the experience for the tenant and really making it a wonderful home for them – especially if the landlord isn’t able to improve it or is tired of managing the tenants. So, it can be a solution for people going through different things in their lives.”
However, the arrangement has to be mutually beneficial, or she will not take it on.
“It’s a two-way street. You’re helping the owner and you’re also supporting your family, so it has to go both ways,’ she says.
Her initial foray into the property market, and her first deal illustrate her point perfectly. A few months after joining the Property Investors Academy, Anne spotted a rent-to-rent opportunity in Coventry. She was willing the property to be suitable, but when she calculated the return on investment the numbers simply didn’t work.
“If we had taken it on, we wouldn’t have been happy with the income. I wouldn’t have been able to put pressure on the landlord to accept a lower rate just because I wanted to make some change to it. It wouldn’t have been a win-win.”
It was a different story when a few months later she came across a ready-made HMO being advertised on Gumtree in Northampton where she lives. She messaged the agent, asking if the owner would accept a three to five-year lease on the property as a corporate let.
Anne received a reply the same night and she and her husband went to view it.
“It was awkward walking into a house with a stranger in the Covid season, but it was just beautiful. The landlord had gutted everything and put in beds and wardrobes. It was very simple and clean. We were like, wow we could really make this homely and lovely.”
It transpired that the landlord had gone through bad experiences with tenants and the property had been vacant for two years. When he did it up, he was thinking of giving it to the council to put their tenants in but had not gone ahead.
They agreed to pay the landlord £2,000 a month and take care of all the bills in exchange for permission to rent it out themselves at a higher rate.
“In this case, by us coming in and giving him a really good solution, the house is kept up and he gets a guaranteed rent. The tenants are wonderful. You get to choose the good ones. So, it’s been a great experience so far. It’s a pure win-win.”
It was a big financial commitment, she admits, but they had done their due diligence. Anne knew through her training that they needed to research the demand for local rental accommodation and base their charges on that.
“You have to go on SpareRoom and see if there are people looking for rentals above a certain amount. We then knew we could charge that high figure,” she explains.
“We learnt from the first property in Coventry, where the numbers didn’t work, that we needed to make sure we were happy, and all the parties were fine with the arrangement.”
Anne picked up another valuable lesson through the academy which was that she could raise finance to achieve a ‘no money down’ deal. The mother of one of her husband’s colleagues and her daughter both put money in. In return, Anne agreed to pay them interest.
It enabled her to put down a deposit of £2,000 and pay the first month’s rent. She also brought in furniture, bringing the total cost to £4,000.
“The condition of the house was a big plus. We didn’t need to do the carpets. It was a fully- fledged HMO and we had a six-month break clause so that we could pull out if we needed to.”
Anne and her husband collected the keys to the house before they signed the contract, allowing them to decorate the rooms and start marketing the property. As a result, they lined up two prospective tenants.
However, they later found out that the landlord had three agents. One of them advised him that Anne and her husband should pay for insurance and six months’ rent upfront. As they weren’t prepared to do that, they handed back the keys.
Anne rescued the deal by reminding the owner of the advantages they were offering him.
“I sent a message to the landlord saying I’ve got two tenants. Do you want them? He was like, what you’re giving me tenants after everything has fallen flat? I also said: ‘Do you understand we are offering you a guaranteed rent. We will pay the bills. You won’t have anything to worry about. You can sit back and wait for your monthly cheque.’ He said: ‘No, I didn’t know that.’
A week later he accepted the original arrangement. It took from September, when the contract was signed, until December for all of the rooms to be filled. Apart from one tenant who contracted Covid and moved out, the house has remained virtually full since.
“The tenant said he couldn’t stay because he needed his support bubble. We said yes, whatever you need for your life just go do it quickly. He wanted to leave before his tenancy ended and we were fine with it. We can’t hold anyone hostage.
“We also had a student in the house who left, but we got someone instantly back in. There are six rooms. Even for the months when it wasn’t full, we managed to break even. Now we’re making £927 a month profit after all costs.”
She adds: “We’re just waiting to replace the tenant who left. We really check tenants out because it’s a long-term relationship. Having an empty room is better than having a bad tenant in it.”
One Gumtree message led to two deals
Anne’s second rent-to-rent deal came about as a result of the first one. Another agent working for the landlord came to look at the house.
“He really liked what we were doing with the place and offered me another property to manage, an eight-bed house. I said yes, so just from one message on Gumtree I’ve now got two rent-to-rents. The profit on the second one is going to be just over £1,000 per month.”
She sums up her journey in property so far as one of disappointments and then ‘things working out.’
“You have to discipline your disappointment, like Samuel Leeds says. Some days you call the agents, and it doesn’t work, but you just keep going.”
Anne had to demonstrate persistence and determination right from the moment her husband signed her up for the 12-month long academy programme in late 2019.
At the time she was working as an analyst for a pharmaceutical company. Her role was to make sure drugs came in on time. During the pandemic demand was high and the hours were long. Some nights she found herself working from home till 3am.
She built up her business part-time, looking for deals in the evenings, until finally she quit her job on New Year’s Eve, 2020 to become a full-time property entrepreneur.
“I was really stressed at work and I didn’t really have the mental space to think about property. I couldn’t bear it any more.
“When you work so hard at a job, you forget to work so hard for what you really want which is your true calling. This is my true calling, what I’m doing now.”
She was inspired to go into property by her mother who had a block of flats in Kenya, where Anne was born and raised. “I loved watching her managing that. It sustained her through her retirement.”
Anne moved to the UK with her American husband and young family ten years ago. He attended Property Investors’ Deal Finding Extravaganza course to gain an insight into investing in the housing market himself.
The future looks bright for the couple. They are hoping to take on two more properties attached to the one offered to them by the agent, while Anne is also setting herself up to become a deal sourcer.
She is full of praise for the academy.
“The training has been great. There’s a lot to discover with property and finding where you want to be. Nobody teaches you about property at school, so there are really big gaps to be filled if you want to be successful.
“It’s so useful to have other academy members too that you can bounce off ideas with and people ask questions. You can fill them in with what you know and then they can do the same. It becomes a good environment to gel with investors who are doing different things to you. It’s really inspiring.
“I love property and being self-employed, and Jeff loves it too now.”
- If you’re starting out in property, find someone who is pursuing the same strategy as you are and ask them about it – and go everywhere to get any information you can.
- A no is never a no. That’s what I learnt when my first deal fell through and I was able to revive it.
- Be generous and open and honest in whatever you are doing.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“I love how Anne explains that rent-to-rent is when you find a landlord, who might be struggling or is tired, and you improve the house and turn it into a great home. That’s really focusing on the solution. She puts the relationship with the landlord over money. Then the money follows which is the absolute core of what we teach on the academy. It fits with her nature too. As she says, she wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
“To then achieve what Anne has in such a short time, using other people’s capital, and to generate the profit she has on properties she doesn’t even own is admirable. I’m really excited to see her getting more and more deals. Both Anne and her husband deserve their success.”
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