My 5 Biggest Mistakes in Property + Bonus Mistakes

A few weeks ago I sent a newsletter out with my 5 biggest mistakes in property. 

Didn’t see it, well here they are:

  1. Back in 2013 I was in a rush to get a loft conversion in a property done for a client as they were adamant (or angry) it needed to be complete before winter. The steels on the roof needed to be changed and the mansard walls had to be adjusted. I was so interested in pleasing my client I forgot to get a Party Wall Notice. By the time I realised the roof had already gone on and then the neighbours flagged they wanted one… there was no damage and all was good but I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks, mainly because every single day I was yelled at by said client for being a rubbish surveyor. Lesson learnt, 1. Don’t work with horrendous, bully boy clients, 2. Take your time, clients don’t always know best, that’s why they hired you. 
  2. In 2017 I lost £7,500 on a property deal because a sourcer who I thought was on my team actually turned out to be ‘double dipping’ and getting their fee from the client and me. When the property value came back lower than price agree, the sourcer wouldn’t agree a lower price, nor give me the sellers details. I ended up going via my solicitor to get the right info and turned out this sourcer was getting a % from both sides and the higher the property value the more money they would get (I didn’t buy it but still had to pay legal fees + short term finance costs). Never, ever work with someone you don’t know inside out and actually I won’t work with ‘sourcers’ again.
  3. Take holiday and rest. In 2014 I went to Santorini with 3 of my best girlfriends + my APC (Assessment of professional competence to become a surveyor) revision. Rather than resting, I spent my mornings revising and my evenings revising. I was more stressed out when I left then when I arrived and it did nothing to help… I was referred after my first APC sitting.
  4. On my 23rdbirthday a tenant was leaving, after serving her notice. When I went to collect the keys she attacked me because she thought I had been putting mice through the letterbox to get her to leave (I hadn’t met her before as this was a new client’s property). Luckily a contractor was nearby and hauled her off of me, I was too stunned to do anything! Since, I’ve never gone to meet a tenant, who I don’t know, on my own. I need to know someone first! Luckily, I wasn’t hurt.
  5. I once fired a cleaner after a tenant repeatedly complained about the state of the common parts and escalated it to director level. The pressure was on for me to find a new cleaner from two sides, even though this cleaner seemed to be really well liked at 6 other buildings. A few weeks later I had the tearful cleaner plus her boss turn up at my office to complain about said tenant. Turned out the tenant had racially abused the cleaner, but so that the cleaner didn’t complain the tenant had got her fired. The cleaner went to the police and resigned from the other buildings. I learnt to trust my team more, as I had selected them for the job because they could do it. I never found as good a cleaner for those blocks.

 Those are the mistakes that always stick in my mind and sometimes it’s because I think I’ve been too trusting without listening to my gut. Often people can try to pull the wool over your eyes… but my experience is that it always gets undone.

Incredibly my subscribers started emailing me back with their mistakes. Here are 4 which my member wants you to see!

  1.  I didnt listen to my wife, in 2006 she knew the market was overheating, the difference between property prices and income was disproportionate and she wanted to sell, but i mistakenly thought that prices wouldnt come down, at least not as much as they did.
  2. We bought property at the lower end of the market, with hind sight, i would have avoided flats and only bought houses or bungalows, also i would have stretched the budget and bought in a better location.
  3. I self managed, which at the time,given our financial circumstances, helped the situation, however, the tenant selection process was flawed, and we were tempted to run on emotion and chose tenants who turned out to be unsuitable. and took advantage.
  4. Mortgages, if  i had chosen repayment mortgages instead of interest only, they would have mostly been paid off by now, also,i would have switched lenders to the ones with the best SVR  I would have also extended the term for as long as possible to allow for more breathing space.

Useful right! The biggest learning curves are the ones that are found from learning from mistakes. It’s eye opening, but it happens.

I now want to hear from you. What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made and what did you learn?