Samuel Leeds’ schoolteacher becomes his pupil to learn about property investing!
Property Investors’ founder Samuel Leeds came close to being expelled from his Christian school for constantly getting in trouble. But there was one teacher who encouraged and believed in him. Deborah Hey-Smith taught the future entrepreneur the key skills he needed in life. Years later, Samuel returned the compliment when he taught her how to become financially free through the housing market after she was made redundant.
‘They call me the financial evangelist’ – Samuel Leeds
Deborah Hey-Smith has been present at some of the most important moments in Samuel Leeds’ life. She can remember him when he was ‘knee-high to a grasshopper,’ coming into the Emmanuel Christian School in Walsall with his brother, sister and his mother who was a teaching assistant in her class.
Mrs Hey-Smith, as Samuel still respectfully calls his former teacher, taught him maths, IT and typing. She saw him grow up with some ‘ups and downs’ in his school life.
“I wouldn’t say he was the star pupil,” she admits.
Samuel laughs at the memory. “I was on the verge of being expelled. I was suspended regularly. I had probably the most detentions than anybody in the school apart from one other person.”
Nevertheless, Mrs Hey-Smith, saw the potential in her pupil. “I used to play around myself a lot at school and get comments on my reports which I didn’t find very helpful. I thought I never want to be a teacher who gives negativity out to the children. I want to be always positive, encourage them, and see what worth they’ve got because I believe everybody has a God-given skill.
“Samuel was very good at communicating. That was his gift and I think that comes through now in his courses. He’s quite quick at thinking on his feet as well.”
She recalls teaching him typing when he was given the task of writing about a biblical character. Samuel naturally chose his namesake. In Clipart, he added an enormous ear and a quote from the Bible which said: ‘God, I’m listening.’
“I thought Samuel as a person wasn’t listening to God, so I kept it on the wall for about two years. Then one day he was sitting in front of it typing away with ten fingers and the word evangelist just came to me.
“I thought that is your calling, to be an evangelist. I feel now that Samuel is an evangelist – not in the conventional way but in a different way through property.”
Samuel agrees. “They call me the financial evangelist. Although I teach property, I’m very vocal about faith and the meaning to life.”
Samuel left school at 16 and began his career in property, buying his first investment house in Bournville, Birmingham a year later after his stepfather put the mortgage in his name.
He reconnected with his one-time teacher when he set up Training Kings, a Christian business networking group which had various branches.
She was at the first Training Kings event in January 2014 and attended meetings regularly, becoming one of the leaders of the Birmingham group. “That is where I think Samuel started to develop as a person who is very outgoing and confident, and the skills which God had given him were being developed. I was very impressed with him and gave him a testimonial,” she says.
It was through Training Kings that he started teaching people about property investing.
Deborah Hey-Smith was also with him in the early stages of his charity work in Africa. She and her husband accompanied Samuel and his wife Amanda, along with two other people, to Zambia. They went there to provide a well in a village. Samuel recalls his former teacher hurrying the builders along after they initially hit a dry borehole. The water came up a week after they left, but it was an exciting experience to see the children and give them their cups to collect the water, she says.
Property Investors Crash Course teaches Mrs Hey-Smith a valuable lesson
Mrs Hey-Smith was again with Samuel at the first ever Property Investors Crash Course. She had never thought about property investing before but had recently inherited her mother’s house in the Yorkshire countryside.
Rather than do up the dilapidated old house, which would incur VAT, a relative loaned the money for a builder to knock it down and put three five-bedroom houses on the land. That way there was no VAT to pay. The houses were then sold which enabled the loan to be repaid.
At the crash course she learnt about all the different strategies available to investors to make money in the housing market.
After the course she visited Bangor in North Wales for her daughter’s university graduation day and while there saw an estate agent advertising a house which would make ‘a great investment.’ The word investment sprung out at her and so she went to view it.
“I remembered what Samuel had said about asking for a lower price. I didn’t mention that at the viewing. I just said to the owner I think this would make a great house for students. It was in a good location, in walking distance of the station and the university. I thought I could do it up as an HMO.”
It was on the market for £110,000 and she made a ‘ridiculously low’ offer of £80,000. This was rejected, but the owner came back with a counteroffer of £95,000 which she accepted. The deal was funded with another legacy from her husband’s parents.
The estate agent put her in touch with a builder who installed gas, new walls, fire doors, smoke alarms, central heating and double glazing. The refurbishment cost £5,000 and then she simply put a bed in the sitting room to create three bedrooms.
The profit from renting out the house is more than £1,000 a month. Deborah also refinanced the property, which was valued at £130,000, and pulled out about £90,000. She took some money out to give her only daughter Abigail a ‘fantastic wedding.’
The other £45,000 was set aside to buy a house in Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. She put £25,000 towards the £70,000 purchase price and is now renting it out to a family. This brings in £575 a month.
‘In between times’ Deborah also bought a couple of unfurnished houses which she had viewed while on a visit to Sheffield to pick up a car from her sister’s house. Her sister agreed to joint venture on one of the properties.
‘Financial education is so important’
Deborah agrees with Samuel that children should be taught about money at school, as well as subjects such as property investing and joint ventures.
She believes the school curriculum should be radically changed. “I would re-write it. I think a lot of it is a total waste of time. It doesn’t actually give the children what they need in life and I think that’s what schooling should be about, giving them the financial education.
“I was blessed to be in a school where I was able to teach people to type with ten fingers, because why teach people to write with a pencil when they type most of the time?
“A lot of things like typing are not taught in school. It’s a fundamental thing, maybe not now so much, but you should be able to use a mobile phone with both your thumbs. Most children can, but I don’t know how to use a mobile phone most effectively.”
Samuel is on the same page. He can type fast and expects people who come for an interview with his business to be able to do the same and know how to manage money, depending on the job.
“When I was in Uganda in 2019, we negotiated with the government to build a school. I said I’ll pay for the school as long as you let me come in and teach money. I think it’s just basic.”
Teaching youngsters about how to generate a residual income which will come in whether they are working or not, or ‘just sleeping’ is also important, says Deborah.
At the age of 63, having a steady cashflow is crucial as she was made redundant and has not yet reached the state pension age. “Property is great for generating a residual income. Now I can live off my rental income. I have to. I’m not old enough to have my pension because they keep changing the age.
“My daughter has just been told her pensionable age is going to be when she’s 75. Who wants to be working till then? Some jobs you can’t physically do when you’re that age.”
Witnessing Samuel Leeds exposed to the full glare of the media
Mrs Hey-Smith has seen her ex-pupil exposed to the full glare of the media over allegations of his training company pressure-selling – something he has always strenuously denied.
She says: “I think very much in this country we have a culture where we build somebody up and when they get to the top, we tear them down. We saw that with people like Princess Diana and Meghan Markle recently.
“I think we have a very bad media. The BBC was built on Christian principles, but those principles have just gone out of the window in my opinion. It’s the same with schools. A lot of the Christian principles, even those the whole country is built on, people just disregard.
“Bad publicity does hurt, but you just have to look at the positives. You’ve got to be true to yourself, and what you believe to be truthful, and get on with it.”
When Deborah attended the first free Property Investors Crash Course, there were just seven people in the room. She was amazed when she returned a second time to see the audience had swollen to around 1,000. She particularly appreciated the chance to work in small teams while also networking.
She adds: “There have been so many people on the property courses who have said things like ‘I’ve got a property portfolio worth £1m in four or five years.’ It’s just amazing what Samuel’s teaching has done.”
“You have to self-educate and be open to change. I had an inheritance, but there are strategies which involve little or no money that you can learn more about on advanced Property Investors courses.”
“Think about your future, especially if you’re young. Where are you going to get that money from if your pension age is 75? Property can give you a residual income.”
“I get returns of 10 per cent plus on my houses through rent. If I put that money in the bank, the interest can be as low as 0.1 per cent. I also like to say that property doubles in value every 10 years. It’s a win-win situation.”
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Mrs Hey-Smith has definitely encouraged me, not just today, but for the last 20 odd years. It has given me the strength to go and encourage people through my training courses and YouTube videos which attract millions of views.
“I’m grateful for her support and so pleased to have been able to teach her about property. She’s a great negotiator and good at getting things done, and cheaply. She’s bought properties in the right areas which are all going up nicely in price. Mrs Hey-Smith is now looking at providing serviced accommodation in Birmingham and deal sourcing to help others become financially free.”
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