We did the Financial Freedom Challenge, but what happened next? | Lawton Hopwood, Hopwood Homes
A year ago, in the midst of the pandemic, Lawton Hopwood’s world fell apart after he lost his job. He responded by signing up for a week-long trial of the Samuel365 online coaching programme for just £1. Now he is earning £20,000 to £25,000 a month from deal sourcing after coming joint first in The Eviction 2020 Property Investors competition. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lawton has also realised his dream of becoming a developer which is set to bag him even more riches in the coming months.
‘Losing job was a moment for change’
Talk business with Lawton and you can guarantee he will be wearing the logo of his company, Hopwood Homes Group, emblazoned on his clothing. Branding is important to him. It announces who he is and what he does.
It’s quite a contrast from a year ago in June when the father-of-one was made redundant from his well-paid job as a project manager with a construction firm during the Covid crisis. Then he hid the news from everyone, with the exception of his partner Rachel.
“A bit of it was pride, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of having somebody put their arm around my back and say it’s alright Lawton you’ll find your feet again. You’ll get another job. I didn’t want that. I wanted someone to say look Lawton this is your chance now. You’ve got a moment to sink or swim. You can change your life if you do something. That was the voice I had in my head,” he recalls.
Lawton was well respected in his field and had the offer of other work, but it was property that spoke to him, having always had an interest in it.
“I could have moved myself back into a really comfortable well-paid job, with a company car and phone and all the rest of it, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted long term. I knew it was a moment to change my life.”
He admits he was afraid of losing his house and the fallout affecting his relationship but took action immediately to replace his income. After informing Rachel of what had happened, he went straight on to his laptop to sign up to Samuel365 and bought Samuel Leeds’ Buy Low Rent High book.
During his week-long trial of the programme, the 32-year-old watched the videos to get started as a property entrepreneur, making notes from early morning to late at night.
“You get the online course which I thought was brilliant. I didn’t even know what an ROI (return on investment) was or how to calculate it.
“It was such a big learning curve for me. You’ve also got the Deal Finding Extravaganza on there. From watching that as well I knew I could go out there and do the basics. I also received unlimited mentoring and support for a week.
“For me that quid was everything. Everything I needed to watch, I watched it in that one week.”
The next three months were spent co-deal sourcing. This involved him finding property deals and then passing them to a compliant sourcer to sell to investors. They then split the fee.
It kept Lawton’s head above water before he applied to take part in The Eviction. A condition of the annual Property Investors’ Apprentice-style contest is that applicants complete a video. Lawton made the mistake of putting it off and so wasn’t selected. Fate, however, intervened when he was given a second chance.
‘I said yes, count me in’
The Eviction attracts hundreds of applicants but because of the coronavirus situation several of the 12 candidates chosen had dropped out. As a result, Lawton received a message from Samuel Leeds’ brand and talent manager, inviting him to take up one of the empty slots.
Lawton remembers it well as he was having a meal on a Saturday night with his partner from the proceeds of his co-deal sourcing.
“I said yes straight away, count me in. Then: are you available through the month of November? Yes, I’m in. The only other thing is it starts tomorrow – yes, I’m in. Oh, just one more thing it’s in London. I said yes, I’ll see you there. Send me the address.
“The lesson is don’t think too much about something. If an opportunity comes your way, you just need to jump at it.”
Lawton was expecting to attend a briefing and a dinner the next day only to discover that the competition was starting immediately with the first of a series of challenges.
The contestants were required to complete some training first, but several quickly fell by the wayside. One person was evicted from the contest for coming back late from lunch and another one for failing to finish the training.
The man making the decisions was Samuel himself and Lawton was impressed by how quickly he took action.
“He was showing us an example of how you’ve got to be in real life because you do need to make fast decisions. If I hadn’t made that fast decision in my life, I wouldn’t have been on The Eviction.
“That moment I knew this is not a game. This is a real competition and I need to knuckle down.”
He adds: “It was a whirlwind, an emotional rollercoaster. We got put through the whole of the academy and the Lease Option Bootcamp. I ended up walking away with six lease options from that. It was incredible.
“I sold one of the lease options I secured to another contestant. I’ve still got two of them and then I sold the rest of them afterwards as well.”
That contestant was Evans Willie who was jointly named a winner with Lawton and David Eccles, a budding entrepreneur from Ireland. The prize for each of them was spending a week with Samuel on one of his Financial Freedom Challenges.
If The Eviction was hard work, the freedom challenge was even harder, says Lawton. He also got to see first-hand the work ethic of Property Investors’ multi-millionaire founder.
“From the morning we woke up, to when we went to bed, I could see how switched on Samuel was. Everything he was doing on his phone was laser focused to his business and creating opportunity. Nothing else mattered. I realised that was exactly how I needed to be to become successful.”
Lockdown added to the difficulty of the task they faced. Arranging meetings with agents was impossible, so they had to try to speak to them through letterboxes.
After spending a couple of days in pursuit of rent-to-rent deals and ‘failing miserably,’ Lawton and his mentor adopted deal sourcing instead as a strategy. Within two hours, they had found a handful of deals. When they were posted out in the evening, around 30 people messaged back wanting to buy them.
“I’d never seen that power of sending an email out and then having so many people saying they were interested in a deal. I was looking at all those messages thinking that’s pound signs. I was gobsmacked.”
Financial Freedom Challenge earns Lawton £11,000
Over one week, the Financial Freedom Challenge netted Lawton a staggering £11,000 in commissions from packaging and selling investment opportunities in the housing market. He also secured some deals himself. One of them was a no-money-down scheme to build six houses on land near his home. It is being funded with development finance and will make him six figures ‘easy’ when completed, he says.
Before the challenge began Lawton attended Samuel’s advanced, two-day Development Deep Dive course held at Ribbesford House, his castle in Worcerstershire. It gave Lawton the knowledge and skills necessary to negotiate the deal and get it over the line.
“I’ve always wanted to build luxury homes with beautiful sea or river views. I love architecture and I love the build. I’ve been a project manager and helped build skyscrapers. I’ve got a good understanding of the industry.
“So, when Samuel said come down to the development course, this was my jam because my end goal has always been to become a developer.”
Lawton was impressed by the size of the castle which is being converted into plush apartments. He was given a tour of it, during which Samuel spoke about the ups and downs of the project and how much investment was going into it. His student made notes of all the ‘secret tips’ he picked up and was taken by the Property Investors chairman to view another of his development sites in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
Samuel also gave Lawton lots of advice on how to structure his deal which he clinched during the challenge.
“None of my own money has ever been spent to get this going,” says Lawton. “To get a 30-ton digger on site has not cost me any money. It’s unbelievable.”
He achieved this by agreeing to pay the owner of the land his fee after the houses have been built and sold. The landowner will also receive a percentage of the profits. The rest will be shared between Lawton and his team.
The site already has planning permission and the river views he always dreamed about. Work is due to start in July. Once the development is finished, it will be worth about £2.4m.
Lawton has another similar joint venture on the go in Salford in Greater Manchester where the plan is to erect six apartments and add two storeys to a shop next door. He structured the deal in the same way as his first one.
His aim is to complete three to four developments a year, while also continuing with his deal sourcing. He has recently sold a £1.8m portfolio deal for 26 houses which will earn him a finder’s fee of £36,000. On top of that, he is expecting to make £50,000 from another development site which he is selling to an investor.
The exposure Lawton received from being on The Eviction and the Financial Freedom Challenge has helped him with his business. He received more than 300 messages from people, including some who had been made redundant too, telling him what an inspiration he was.
“I think that’s absolutely amazing because at the end of the day I am nothing more than just a typical northern lad. There’s nothing special about me except I will say I’ve got something about me. You do need to go out and tell the world who you are and what you do.”
His motivation is to build wealth for his son Mason and future generations.
“One of the biggest highs for me was when I overheard my son at rugby talk to his little mate and say my dad’s a property investor and he builds houses. I thought that’s why I do it.”
- Never give up because at the start you have good and bad days. Just remember they’re not always bad.
- We’ve been to the moon as humans. Nothing is impossible. You just have to have a little belief and get around the right people.
- You’ve always got to brand yourself. If you don’t tell everybody who you are and what you do it’s like having a shop with the shutters down trying to sell groceries.
- I learnt on the training to ask questions. Never finish a sentence with a full stop. Finish your sentence with a question. Keep them talking.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Lawton messaged me in June last year saying he had just been made redundant, booked a load of viewings, binge watched my videos and asked me if I could help out. I said you need to join Samuel365.
“He did and look what he’s achieved. His business is making an amazing amount of money now and he is looking to take on staff. I’m so proud of him. Through the wide exposure Lawton has received, he has inspired many people and as a result been able to do business with many people.”
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