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Starting a letting agent at 22?

A very condensed history for me, I studied as a surveyor at university, I was on a sport scholarship and worked part time so was able to buy my first house whilst at uni aged 18, I didn’t want to become chartered so when I graduated I set up my own surveying company but didn’t enjoy it and sold it fairly quickly.  I took a job within a national letting agency to gain some experience within the property market, from there I went on to work in recruitment to develop my sales skills.

After a year being employed I launched my own letting agency aged 22.  That company, Daniel Craig Residential, still runs today, we specialise in portfolio development and management.  Today we own over 300 properties and have over 1,000 properties on our books for other investors.

Over the last three years I have been involved in three grade 2 listed conversions with a total value of circa £15m.  One we have retained and currently let as a block for serviced accommodation in Durham city centre, the second project I sold my share in this year and the third project in Newcastle city centre I am currently working on with an investor.

We deal with everything from low value housing benefit properties to purpose built student accommodation to luxury housing and cover just about every market in the UK.  This year has seen the biggest change to the industry, with the introduction of the tenant fee ban.  It’s hit landlords hard, we have a number of our properties managed by other agents in areas too far away for us to look after ourselves so I have a very good understanding of what agents are doing in response to the fee ban.  The main response has been to increase a landlords fee to make up for the loss in money from the tenant.  We have taken a different approach and kept our fee structure the same, the result has been we have taken on a number of landlords who otherwise would have seen their profits diminish further after years of attacks on mortgage allowances and increased legislation.

More recently we have been approached by a number of individuals looking for mentorship programs.  Over the last year we have tried to find a way to work more closely with people trying to break into the property market and our answer is the launch of our property workshops which centre around one of our investments and are designed to walk new investors through the entire cycle of finding, buying and refurbishing their investment property.  There are some fantastic educational courses out there at the moment but unfortunately a lot of companies are charging huge fees, I’ve been to the open days and we are talking about £25,000 in some cases with the promise of no money down deals and schemes that are quite frankly very risky for a new investor. I wouldn’t pay that sort of money anyway and in reality you’re better off using that as your first deposit! We are coming at this from a different angle, our goal is to be the largest property management company in the North East over the next 10 years and as part of that we want to build lasting relationships with investors building portfolios for whom we can provide a service managing and assisting in developing those portfolios.  Our courses are starting at £1,000 + VAT, as we want to manage and develop long term relationships with our members we have a vested interest in making sure they prepare and research their investments properly.

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