‘Sceptical Scot’ becomes Samuel Leeds’ deal sourcing king and business partner!
If there was ever a crown for Property Investors’ most successful student, Alasdair Cunningham could rightfully claim it. After joining the company’s academy, the former mechanic set up a deal sourcing business with Samuel Leeds as a partner. In 2019, Alasdair sold more than 220 deals to investors. He is also Samuel’s trusted lead trainer at his events, inspiring thousands of people with his story of how he became an entrepreneur – even surviving a near-death experience with his mentor along the way.
‘Samuel taught me to work hard – but smarter’
Alasdair became interested in property after watching Samuel on The Week the Landlords Moved In, the BBC One series which challenged successful landlords to live for seven days in one of their rentals, on their tenant’s budget.
As a result, Alasdair went along to the free Property Investors Crash Course to find out more about investing in the housing market. He describes himself as a ‘sceptical Scot’ and on day one thought Samuel was making it sound all too easy. On the second day there was the chance to enrol on the Never Use Your Own Money Again course for £2,000. Alasdair was put off by the cost. It was his wife Lisa who persuaded him to do it.
After that he booked himself a place on the Deal Finding Extravaganza but again had cold feet.
“I was still a little bit sceptical. I arrived and registered but then my nerves and anxiety kicked in. There were 25 people there and I thought, ‘Is it really that easy?”
When he first met Samuel in 2016, Alasdair was suffering from severe depression. He says his whole negative mindset returned when he got to the venue. “I thought this is going to be a waste of three days and I got back in my car and left. I phoned my wife and said we’ve spent £2,000 but it’s not going to work. She said don’t be stupid get back there.”
In the evening, he was relaxing with the other delegates when at one point he found himself sitting on his own. Seeing this, Samuel came over to talk to him.
“That was the moment where I thought, he’s not a bad guy. He’s not just trying to sell to me. He does actually care.”
The next day Alasdair spoke to the Property Investors founder about the academy and the different training modules.
“I remember I was shaking his hand and wouldn’t let go.”
Samuel recalls their meeting too: “He said just look me in the eye and tell me this is true! I said I can’t promise it’s going to work for you, but it works.”
Alasdair says his doubts stemmed from his upbringing. “I’ve been brought up that if it sounds too good to be true it always is. You’re led to believe if you want anything in life you have to work your ass off for it – physical hard labour. I come from a family of labour –
joiners, builders, carpenters. I was a bus and coach mechanic. I was getting filthy every single day and working hard to make money.
“Then Samuel showed me a way of working hard but combining that with working smarter.”
Alasdair became the ‘golden boy’ of the academy. He sold nine deals in as many weeks, making £27,000. However, his old pessimism came back during a day of viewings in Hull. He saw ten houses but rejected them all because he thought they needed too much work.
“I know now they were all perfect buy, refurbish, refinance opportunities but at the time I hadn’t done the training to realise that.”
With viewing forms and notes strewn over the back seat of his car, he told himself ‘this doesn’t work.’ But then on the last viewing, he was informed there was another property he could see the next day.
“I wasn’t going to stay overnight but thought whatever it takes and went to the viewing. It was a fully refurbed four-bed HMO and I sold that to an investor two days later. That made me think, actually this does work if you put the effort in. I’d nearly given up.”
Whatever It Takes is the title of his new property book which explains step by step how to become a deal sourcer. He called it that because Samuel once told Alasdair his success was down to doing ‘whatever it takes.’
Samuel gives his student a masterclass in deal sourcing
The two men are firm friends, as well as business partners, but they nearly got off on the wrong footing. Alasdair had been told that if he brought any deals to the table, Property Investors would help him sell them. However, there was a misunderstanding over the level of the commission.
To make amends, Samuel called Alasdair on a Sunday and told him that if he came to his office with one deal the following day, he would help him to sell it to an investor. Instead he brought him three which he had been working on.
“I brought three deals because I like to over-deliver on everything I do, and I was being cheeky because I knew he might sell all three.
“We looked at the deals, did due diligence, and sent an email out to his investors’ list. Then we just literally held up his phone as it went ping, ping, ping constantly from investors texting and saying show me the deal.
“By eleven o’clock we’d sold them to investors, the money was in the bank and we were sat in the pub having lunch. Seeing that was the biggest motivation I ever needed because I was thinking, I work my ass off to earn £2,500 a month and I’ve done a deal making £2,500 in an hour.”
Samuel showed Alasdair the whole system of how to find investors and put together a programme for him which has now been adapted into the company’s Deal Selling Masterclass.
Alasdair becomes financially free in three months
Following his unofficial masterclass, Alasdair spoke at networking events all over the country to find investors. On one occasion he drove to Cornwall, having been told there would be 40 people there only to find six when he arrived. It didn’t matter to him because he was again prepared to do ‘whatever it takes.’ With Samuel coaching him how to speak in front of an audience, Alasdair built an investors’ list and found deals.
One Sunday morning, he left his home to see two houses in Lincoln and ended up being away for a week because an agent offered to show him more properties. He viewed 52 houses and sold four of them to investors while he was on the road – two of them as he was on top of the Pennines.
During that week he also agreed a lease option on a property and has since built up a small portfolio of them. Two of Samuel’s staff members became tenants in one of his first LOAs in Wolverhampton. He plans to exercise his option to buy another one in Hull in 2021, ahead of the agreement expiring.
He pays the owner of the four-bed HMO £420 a month and then rents out the rooms at a profit. Up until the Covid-19 crisis it was making £1,250 to £1,300 a month, he says. The Polish tenants returned home when the coronavirus pandemic hit. As a result, the house was empty for around four months but is tenanted again now.
Alasdair became financially free in three months and has now systemised his deal sourcing company, Better Sourced Limited. He has a manager who runs the business, and a small number of employees and co-sourcers. Every day he calls them and also has a weekly management meeting. This lasts about ten minutes when he examines the key performance indicators and then takes ‘a nice cheque.’
It has become a passive income stream for both him and Samuel – who jokes that he hit the jackpot with Alasdair Cunningham, with more juicy deals in the pipeline. Alasdair has just bought a four-bed, end terrace house in Bedford for £210,000. He completed the sale before an Article 4 restriction came into force limiting the number of HMOs allowed in the area. He knew the rule was coming and got permission to convert the property into a five-bed house share.
The cost of refurbishing it, which included rectifying some structural issues, is £50,000. Once the work is finished, he expects it to be revalued at £360,000. This will enable him to pull all his money out by refinancing the mortgage and then renting out the accommodation.
“I’ve already got someone to take it off my hands and give me £2,500 a month or I can rent it privately and get £3,500 a month.”
A total of 43 people viewed the house before him but were put off because the upper floor was held up by Acrow Props. The quote to fix it was £36,000. With his connections at the academy and knowledge, he got the job done for less than £4,000.
“People say the academy is expensive, but I saved three times the cost of that in one deal.”
Ugandan charity mission marred by accident on River Nile
In 2018, Alasdair accompanied Samuel and other Property Investors Academy members to Uganda on a charity mission. It allowed him to observe first-hand the work his teacher has been doing to bring fresh water to remote villages and improve educational facilities.
However, they both almost died in an accident while white water rafting on the River Nile.
“I still have flashbacks now and have to see a chiropractor three times a week for a twisted pelvis, but Samuel was in a much worse state after shattering his kneecap. Even so, his only concern was for his team.”
After waiting three hours to be picked up, they were crammed into the back of a six-seater minibus. Alasdair was underneath Samuel supporting his leg.
“Every time we went over a bump he was screaming in agony. He started passing out and I was shouting at him to wake up, you’re not going here. It was the scariest moment of my life.”
Samuel lost 25 per cent of his blood and had to have an operation but told his team the mission had to go on, provided they felt fit enough to continue which they did. Samuel’s brother Russell Leeds took over as leader.
Alasdair has now completed hundreds of deals and says he still works his ass off but for ‘a damn sight more money.’
He adds: “I would pay for the additional training ten times over because of how much I’ve made, the connections and friends, the knowledge and mindset shift. It’s changed everything for me. The biggest change is I believe in myself. When you believe in yourself, you’re unstoppable.”
- Property is about people and relationships, so when you meet agents speak to them and listen because they’ve got problems and you can fix them.
- I keep money in the bank for when I have void periods and would advise anyone else to do the same.
- I’ve had people message me saying how long does the crash course last and where is it? It doesn’t matter. You have to do whatever it takes.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“I’m incredibly proud of what Alasdair’s done and who he’s become. He’s a walking, talking testimonial and I believe he’s only just getting started. He’s the only person I trust to run the Samuel Leeds training events. He gets tremendous customer feedback, and his book is fabulous.
“Sometimes people criticise me for making it look too easy which I take as a compliment. It’s like saying Cristiano Ronaldo makes football look too easy. Whatever you do in life is going to be hard work.”