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By Nitin Aggarwal

Founder & CEO, Property Deals Insights

OTHER FEATURES

The Property Investor’s Little Black Book

People you can trust are an essential part of your team when you get into investing in property. If you’re using solicitors, conveyancers, lenders, brokers and surveyors for the first time, you never really know how good they are.  

The same applies to trades. If you’re planning to improve the value of your property investments you need to have a trusted team of people who don’t keep you waiting, start on time, do a good job and stick to the agreed budget.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here - what about finding the best deals in the first place? Do you use a local estate agent, a property sourcer or search online?

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So here are a few words of advice on how to have a little black book full of trusted connections who you know will deliver what you want in every department.

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Finding good people

If you’re just getting into property, don’t try and go it alone. There are lots of property networks out there where property investors congregate and share knowledge and advice.

Networking with like-minded people who ‘get’ property is valuable. They’re not all there to grab deals from under your nose - in fact, you may get access to deals that you’d otherwise never know about. When someone has a specific investment strategy and a deal comes up that doesn’t fit, they’ll usually ask around their network to see if anyone else is interested.

Another source of good advice and contacts are property learning events. If you invest in some training, you’ll probably learn nearly as much from the other people on the course. Some will have more experience than you and can offer you a word or two of advice.

Don’t ignore the online forums, if you’re in the right property groups on social media there’s a wealth of advice available if only you are brave enough to ask!

Lots of property experts also have groups where they answer questions or run Q&A sessions. Many of them also write blogs and articles, do podcasts or have YouTube channels too.

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The professionals

Educate your local estate agent about the kind of deals you’re looking for. Buy them coffee and stay in touch so you’re top of their mind when the next great property comes in.  

If you’re into something like Buy-Refurb-Refinance and can purchase unmortgageable properties, either as a cash buyer or using bridging, they’ll be delighted to send you deals that most people just aren’t interested in - because they can’t get mortgages for them.

If you’re planning to use a property sourcer ask your network for recommendations and check out their track record, for deals, for how good they are at finding BMV properties with lots of profit built in and also at keeping in touch, so they don’t fall off the radar, leaving you wondering what (if anything) is going on. Always check that a deal on offer is really BMV and stacks up.

Ask around to find solicitors that are experienced with property investment and can respond promptly to getting the conveyancing processed.  If you’re planning to use bridging, you need to be sure that the solicitor you choose is familiar with the speed that a bridging loan moves at and can keep up.  

As a property investor you’re probably better off with a really good specialist broker, who can find financing that fits your circumstances than trying to find a mortgage or loan yourself.  A mainstream mortgage broker doesn't always have a specialist division or the experience to service specialist investment needs.

Most of the time your lender will arrange a survey, but sometimes you will want an independent survey. It’s worth finding out about local surveyors and how they work to ensure you can get the information you need when you need it. Ask your network and your local estate agent may be able to recommend someone. 

The trades

If you’ve been living in the area where your investment property is located, you may already know a plumber, electrician and decorator.  But not all these trades will do a refurb contract - especially if they’re a sole trader, as it means they won’t be able to service their usual customers (or you’ll find they’ve disappeared off site to do another job).

Most good trades come from recommendation - and always ask what experience they have on refurb projects.  Check whether they finished on time and on budget and ask to speak to other property investor clients.  It’s worth taking the time at the front end, to save time, stress and money later.

If you’re planning to do regular refurb projects, having a reliable team of trades is absolutely essential.  If they’re all independent you will have to project manage the job.  If you’ve ever watched Grand Designs, you’ll know that things rarely go according to plan and when materials don’t turn up on time or are the wrong things, it puts everyone out.  If the electrician can’t complete the wiring, the plasterer can’t finish the walls and the walls won’t be dry for the decorators to paint.

Sometimes it’s useful to find a local company that has a team of trades and will take on the project management.  However, be sure they are very clear about your expectations and ALWAYS build in extra time and budget to accommodate unforeseen glitches.

Due diligence

Building a reliable little black book is all part of your due diligence - as much as checking out potential deals for value, growth potential, rental yield and ongoing costs. How do you know what is the right price to pay for a deal? Most of the money is made when buying a property; buy at the right price and you are sitting on equity from day one. Once you have the right tools and find good people, they’ll continue to be useful again and again.

One final tip: Always have a backup - if your plumber is on holiday or off sick and you don’t have a second option, your project can fall apart, which can be expensive.

*Nitin Aggarwal is Founder & CEO of Property Deals Insight www.propertydealsinsight.com 

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