From 22 Years Working As A Tradesman For Others, To Working Exclusively On His Own Portfolio!
Simon McNeill attended our Wealth Through Property 2 day course at the end of December 2022. Having worked as a multi-skilled joiner for 22 years and progressed to having his own property business and running the property management of other peoples’ portfolios Simon felt it was time for himself. Simon has wasted no time getting started; less than 6 months after studying the course Simon is already well into refurbishing his first project: two apartments in a grade II listed building.
We spoke to Simon to find out more…
“I was inspired to come to Touchstone because even thorough I knew that I had all of the ingredients to be a successful investor, I lacked the confidence needed to put myself out there.
“One thing I don’t lack is a passion for learning. Having started as a joiner, I taught myself plastering, plumbing and everything needed to refurbish a property (apart from gas and electrics – they need specialist qualifications). From there I started my own business refurbishing houses for other people and managing their projects end to end. My skills are my product – the customer already wants you to work on their house and the more you can do the better the rapport and the better it is for the customer. I got to the point where I wasn’t advertising anymore and got all my customers via word of mouth. I found working on peoples’ homes extremely rewarding – when you work on somebody’s home, you change their lives. There’s a lot of emotion attached to it.
“At some point, I began to realise that all of my work provided value for other people and that I wasn’t actually doing anything for myself. There is a shelf-life on a business based entirely on your own labour and I wanted to add assets that would create a legacy for my current and future family.
“Even though I could do it for my business, was still lacking the self-assurance needed to hold my own talking to other people in the industry from an investor perspective.
“One of Abi’s webinars got me moving. Her story was so relatable and hearing how she did it made me believe I could too, so I invested in the two-day property investment course. I got so much useful information from those two days that I created a file that I refer to often. When I finished the course, I regularly kept an eye on Rightmove, using the deal analysing materials to decide the viability of any properties that caught my eye. One lunchtime, I saw a grade two listed building up for auction for the seeming bargain price of £95,000. The property consisted of two flats and was just off Southport city centre -perfect for the rental market. I knew the street that it was on and knew that it was an affluent area.
“Next, I did my research to see the prices of nearby properties on the market and what this one had previously sold for.
“I also viewed the property and saw that it needed a lot of work – more than just DIY. Off-putting for some, but perfect for me with my unique skill-set. The gable end had collapsed, amongst other things that might put others off.
“Next, I used the Land registry to track down the owners – the best £3 I’ve ever spent. I discovered that it was owned by a London property company who had barely done anything to it in the time they had it. Tracking down their details, I emailed them to see if they would be willing to settle out of auction. From previous experience, I could easily budget the costs and had a great idea of the worth when finished and settled on offering £112,000 for it, budgeting for refurbishment costs of £30-35,000. I estimated it would be worth £230,000 when finished, but was happy that a second opinion from a letting agent predicted £250,000 if the spec was high.
“I shopped around for finance, speaking to a few options and narrowing it down. Based on that and reputation, I took out a 12-month bridging loan with my current provider.
“I have already tidied up the outside and put up a fence and a sign and now it looks respectable. I also sent letters to the neighbours to say what was happening and gave them my number in case they had any questions. I have had responses to say that they are glad that somebody is doing something to it and, even better, created good relationships with neighbours already. Getting the word out there is also great to make sure that I can fill the flats quickly when they are ready.
“I’ve chosen to change the layout to make sure that both flats have separate entrances and their own off-road parking – and I know this will be appealing to tenants. Previously, the kitchen for one of the flats was also through a bedroom – who would do that? Of course that is changing too.
“Now I am well into my project and everything is running according to plan. Being in the industry for years, I have a vast knowledge of what needs to be done. I am all about the finish and know the standard that it needs. I have a plan of attack and am organised and it’s running smoothly. The more organised you are the less stressed you are. I had a thorough plan of work with and timings, costings etc. I know when to bring in each trade so that they are not stepping over each other adding delays and costs and can also do a lot of the work myself. The job is not a big job for me because I’m used to it.
“The biggest challenge was developing the confidence to step forward and level up initially…
“Since attending Wealth Through Property it’s been like a flip of a coin. The confidence that I have moving forward and knowing that I know how to strike a deal, hold myself and be professional is priceless. It’s like it held a mirror up to me and let me know what I and already good and made me do something about what I’m not. Now I ignore my “you can’t do that” voice and like a snake shedding its skin of self-doubt, I relish pushing myself out of my comfort zone! The niggling doubt and questioning has gone – I push myself to be uncomfortable and grow.”
“I followed Abi’s how-to work out your figures guidance and am applying this to my property choices. I know that I deserve to do more for myself and I am.”
“Now, I’ve stopped taking ‘domestic work’ because my properties are my focus now.”
What is next for Simon?
“I want to be well known for offering good homes to people. I’ve heard so many stories of rubbish landlords and don’t want to be known as a landlord that doesn’t do anything, that won’t be me – I want to offer people a quality life of living. My unique stamp on properties will have people saying “that’s a McNeill property – he does great properties.”
“I also want to open up a property management company where everything is dealt with under one roof and nothing is outsourced so that they have no stress. Managing renovations and maintenance, it will essentially be facilities management for landlords.”
What advice does Simon have for other beginner property investors?
“Sometimes all you need to do is look at what’s in front of you and take the next step. A door opens, you step through and the next and do the same. You can’t always see the finish line but you need to get started.
You can’t know everything, you’ve got to be willing to ask and put yourself on the line.
I wouldn’t be where I am without the help and advice of Touchstone and the network of people on the same boat. I also wouldn’t be here if I never got off the starting blocks after taking the course.
I’m a great believer in mindset – what you put in is what you get back.
If a strategy works for you, do it! If it doesn’t, do something different.
If people say no to you, next! Move on and try again.”
What Can Touchstone Education
Do For You?
If you're inspired by Simon's journey and would like to learn more about starting your own property flipping portfolio, Abi Hookway's Flip or Flop: The Ultimate Guide to Property Flipping includes all the tools you need to start finding, funding, and flipping properties in as little as 6 months. And, we’re giving you a copy for nothing!
Don't wait for tomorrow to build the life you've always dreamed of. Start today, and let us guide you every step of the way. Your future self will thank you.
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