In this interview on The Logros Show – in association with The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – Lee Dinsdale talks to Jamie Hall from Hall & Co., Property Development about his tips for first time property buyers. To discover what those tips are, read on…
Interview with Jamie Hall at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: Good afternoon. My name is Lee and this is the Logros Show in association with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce only on Unity Radio – The Real Sound of The City. We are broadcasting live here from Media City UK. In the studio we have Jamie Hall, good afternoon Jamie. Today we are going to be talking about your company Hall & Co. You are a property developer and we are going to be talking about tips for first time property buyers. Before we get into that tell us a little bit about yourself and the company.
Jamie: I am a director of a company called Hall & Co. Property Development. Myself professionally I’ve been working and studying in construction and property for almost ten years. As a developer we build residential and more recently commercial property in and around the Manchester area. Outside of work I am a relatively normal person to be fair. I have a good friendship network, my wife who is sat in the studio with us, we’ve a baby due in March, not that I’m busy enough already, time is going to become even shorter!
Lee: People listening may be saving up for a deposit and looking to buy their first house. You build property, what would be your top tips for first time property buyers please?
Jamie: I was looking before and I think probably half of the properties that we’ve actually built over the course of Hall & Co. have gone to first time buyers. My top tips for first time buyers generally would be make sure you are buying a property first and foremost that you can afford. That’s really important. There are a lot of properties out there and people end up pushing themselves too far.
I would make use right now of the Help to Buy scheme. That is the government led 80% equity scheme where the government can lend you up to 20% for your deposit so instead of needing 20% plus a mortgage you would only need 5%. The government would lend you 20%.
Lee: Where would you find information on that, that’s good Intel?
Jamie: Go on google and type in help to buy and you will find loads of information about that. So you can lend up to 20% of the property price for 5 years interest free. If you are looking to purchase something quite soon that scheme runs out in April 2021, well not completely but the caps are changing. Currently in the North West and it is £600,000. By April 2021 it will be £225,000 so look out for that because suddenly in can all change.
Lee: Okay, some more top tips?
Jamie: I would say for the first time buyer you don’t always have to look at a new build even though there are schemes available. Look in areas that are up and coming which tend to be places where you will find edgy restaurants, train network or tram network is going to be there. If you can find areas like that and good areas like Stockport, Salford, Rochdale, Bolton, that over the next five years you will probably see double digit capital growth . So if you buy a property now, in five years’ time you will be sat on a pretty good investment.
Lee: What would you say are some things to avoid, top tips? What are things you should be aware of?
Jamie: Make sure you can afford it. I’d say get your ducks in a row before you go out and put a deposit on a house or before you start looking even. Go and speak to a mortgage advisor. There are tons out there that will do mortgage advising for free. I was at a networking event the other day and there was a company based in Macclesfield that do completely free mortgage advice online.
Go and find out and understand what you can afford first and foremost before you start looking.
Lee: I also want to ask, if you are building property and for first time buyers you are obviously looking at the quality of the final product. What do you look for as a business to make sure in terms of the final product that they are getting good quality?
Jamie: We have developed residential property from a million down to a hundred thousand pounds etc. and I always think the quality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. For us we make sure we stay and take special care and attention of the final finishing detail. So its how the tiling in the bathroom is, do all the kitchen units close? Do the worktops fit everything like that. There is a lot of new build developers out there, some are better than others so if you are going to have a look at a new build property, take your time when you go into that show house. Have a look around to see if everything is working. Turn the tap on for example, things like that, people forget but that could end up catching you out later down the line so spend time and look around. It’s going to be the biggest purchase and investment you ever make.
Lee: Now I want to hear the story of how you set up the property company. I know you are in a family run business so we will find out what it is like being in a family run business. First of all let’s go back to what were you doing in college or university and what was the journey?
Jamie: It was a strange one really. Back in college I was just obsessed with playing sport. All I did was play rugby, football and when it came to doing university I applied for Liverpool and Chester. In front of me I had a sports degree to do and eventually I decided – I don’t want to be a PE teacher. I decided to take a year out and in that year I got an opportunity to develop my first property. We bought a bungalow in North Wales and turned it into three holiday lets which we let out for about five or six years in the end. That experience where I was literally on the tools, stripping off the roof, putting stud walls up and really hands on, I just fell in love with it. It was great and suddenly it was a passion and something I could get really get interested in. After that I went to Sheffield Hallam University and did a construction management degree. I finished up with a 2:1 which was great. Then I went into civil engineering for a company called Vinci and after that I managed to get the chance to work with my dad again developing a property and it’s gone from there. We developed a couple, then it was five or six, then it was thirty. It quickly spiralled to where we are today.
Lee: So it’s now a full family run business?
Jamie: Yes, we’re actually running out of family members to work for us now! My dad works in the business, my sister, my wife does a bit of the social for us. My step mum works in one of the parts of our business, my stepbrother used to work for us but he’s gone off to university to do a surveying course. So we are seriously running out of people.
Lee: What is it like in a family run business? How do you escape the disputes, if its Christmas dinner and you’ve had a row the week before about something?
Jamie: Yeah it’s difficult. To be honest it is hard to leave it at the door. There are great benefits to being in a family company; the trust is obviously there because they are your family. You are never be going to be doing each over or anything like that. But it is difficult, you leave the office and then you are going round for Sunday dinner and you may have had a dispute. You have to try and say, that’s family, that’s work and try and keep them separate.
Lee: So as a skill for patience, do you actually learn to say, right we are going to leave this argument outside and then just crack on with, oh well what about the football over the weekend?
Jamie: Yeah, you learn to do it. It was hard at the start but actually it becomes easier. You can have a disagreement about something on the Friday and you can go round for a Chinese on a Saturday night, you can do it.
Lee: That’s a good skillset because relationships whether in the workplace or at home, if you can consciously leave the disagreement outside then you start to develop a better skill of how to improve communication.
Jamie: Yes. Now we have worked together for the best part of almost ten years, we have learnt how to deal with that quite easily. We’ve learnt when to communicate and when not and typically on a Friday afternoon you’ve been through all the disputes and are ready to ease into your weekend. We have our meetings on Monday now so by Friday we have run out of things to argue about.
Lee: Jamie you have also set up a new company around co-working? Tell us about that.
Jamie: Recently we had a new non-executive director and he told us we had to diversify our business.
Lee: Do you mean in terms of not keeping all of your eggs in one basket?
Jamie: Exactly that. Property goes up and down very much so. We needed something when the development market goes a little bit quieter which inevitable it will, to do day to day. We have just launched a co-working brand called Profolk.
It is a co-working space in the centre of Stockport. It is targeted at creatives so it’s great if you are a media person, a marketer, in social media or a web developer. You can come and use us for just fifteen pounds a day. It’s great, we have only been open for two months and we are quite busy already. It’s brilliant.
Lee: We were talking before about advice for first time buyers and how you got into property developing. You are now going to give us some more advice for people listening who are maybe looking at dabbling or wanting to get into property development. You have been doing it for a while Jamie, but maybe someone is a young entrepreneur and looking at buying a property with friends to do up on and sell on. Okay Jamie let’s get into some tips.
Jamie: It’s interesting actually. I had someone recently come to see me. He is a twenty-three year old lad and talking about, how do I get into property development? It’s the first time I have been properly asked that by someone and sat down with them and talked to them about it. This guy works for a family business – they do engineering. He said what shall I do as my first development? I said the best thing is don’t run before you can walk, start small. He asked me where I thought a good place to buy was. I said maybe a two up two down in a place like Edgeley in Stockport would be really good. Find a contractor, do it up and don’t pay too much money for the house. Get involved yourself and run it. After that if you enjoy it, okay do another project, do another one. If you don’t enjoy it don’t do it again!
Property development is not as easy as a lot of people think. They think we just buy a piece of land, get a bit of planning, give it to a builder, sell it and run away and make millions. It’s not like that at all.
Lee: In terms of employing someone to do it for you versus you do it yourself, if money is tight and you can’t afford a contractor, what are things that you should definitely get a contractor in for, and not try to wing it yourself?
Jamie: Anything structural basically. Anything that is just aesthetic you can do yourself, so you can do a bit of painting. Don’t mess about with plumbing, if that goes wrong your house is knackered! Get somebody in that knows what they are doing because that can make or break your property, literally.
Lee: In terms of key skills what do you think you have learnt from getting into property development?
Jamie: I’ve learnt a lot of patience. Between buying and selling a site and finishing it can take years. We are doing a development up in Monton in Salford. We originally acquired that site about four years ago. We only started building in August of this year so these things take time. It is not a get rich quick scheme at all so you have got to bear with it. I certainly feel that I have learnt a lot of organisation as well. We are still a relatively small company, probably eight to ten of us in total and you have got to be wearing many hats. A developer does a lot of different things and the only way you can do that is to be organised.
Lee: Okay we are just going to finish off now as usual with asking our guest Jamie, what is your theory and understanding of what is achieving excellence?
Jamie: I have quite a simple view on achieving excellence to be honest. I really do think hard work goes a hell of a long way. I certainly wasn’t the cleverest at school. I don’t really think I truly achieved well in education until I went to university. I saw it as my last chance to get a good degree and something to put on my CV. Before that it wasn’t really great.
I’ve always been a hard worker. I’ve worked since I was fourteen, fifteen pot washing then up to working in bars. I worked in a bar at university and even now I work for myself and it’s certainly not nine to five. It’s not even eight to six. Its seven days a week and you can’t really shut the lap top all the time even when we are on holiday.
You are checking emails and stuff. I think that’s what makes the difference for me about achieving excellence. I also think about knowing your patch and knowing your market. There’s a great mantra of a non- executive that I have been talking to recently. It’s Peter Jones of Jones Homes, a developer in the Cheshire area. He says you should only ever work at eighty per cent of your capacity. The reason for that is the other twenty per cent of the time you should be doing self-development, learning, looking at the markets, seeing where trends are going. That’s the way you stay ahead of the market, the way you stay successful, and I think that twinned with hard work can help you achieve excellence.
Lee: Great. Thank you very much for coming in this afternoon. This is the Logros show in association with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Last words from you Jamie, plans for the future?
Jamie: Carry on developing both residential and commercial property. We have got a really exciting development coming up in Stockport soon which I can’t say too much about, but that will be really exciting, and carry on achieving excellence in the property market.
Lee: Thank you to everyone, enjoy the rest of your day.
Article Transcription by Terry Capostagno
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