Are you a victim of fraud in property?

Have you been a victim of fraud in the property industry? Unfortunately I have, hence the reason for my silence over the past months. But I’m not going to remain silent any more. 

The property industry is rife with charlatans. Every day I am contacted by people asking for help on how to invest their money into property. And I’m concerned for them. Many chancers will take their money and people are too eager to give it to them to manage on the promises of strong returns. Premeditated or not, too often things go wrong. 

I’m launching a new podcast series “How To Lose Millions In Property” which gives and in-depth look into one large scale, systematic programme of deceit with the goal of warning others what not to do. 

If you too have been a victim and wish to tell your story as a warning to others please get in touch. It can be anonymously if you’d prefer. Be prepared to have evidence of the wrongdoing and not just a grievance. I hope no one ever experiences what I have been through.

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The Job v. Entrepreneur Conundrum

I find myself in something at a pivot point, as the Americans say. It’s a position that many entrepreneurs find themselves but are almost ashamed to admit it. Admission is viewed as failure. It’s the yearning for a job.

The solid, security of the 9-5. A paycheque at the end of each month, health insurance, paid holidays, a pension plan. To go further it’s an HR department, IT department and offices you don’t have to worry about paying for. It’s colleagues and a role you can switch off from at the end of the day and not keep you up in the wee hours of the morning.

The problem is having left employment 15 years ago to set out on my own and raise children, I’m unemployable. I like working my own hours, I’m not great at water-cooler chit chat, I see inefficiencies everywhere and crave the autonomy to press ahead with my own ideas without committee. On reflection I was like that from the beginning of my working career – I constantly saw ways of doing things better. Something my bosses didn’t like hearing from a 20 year old early graduate with only McDonalds, Pizza Hut and a haberdashery factory on her CV.

So where does that leave me now? Probably still unemployable. But burning with ideas, energy and ambition. The only question mark is over the where, what and who. And exciting place to be. Honestly, how many of you self-employed people feel the same?

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Beginning of the end or new beginning?

In early September I received a call which changed the course of my property journey.

While I’d had some concerns about the time delays on projects, lack of accounts and the communications I had (and had not) been receiving, I was so caught up in untangling a 19 year relationship along with supporting my three young children that I’d pushed these niggling feelings aside. However the lack of transparency in the situation was completely at odds with my values. During that call the penny dropped for both of us that things were not as they seemed. Something was awry and we had a lot of work to do if we wanted to rescue the situation and engineer an exit for investors in the nine properties within the portfolio.

The situation took a personal toll. I went through the seven stages of grief simultaneously over three areas of my life – career, divorce and the complete upheaval of my family life. It was unfortunate that the time that my property investments needed me my family needed me more.

– Shock and denial
– Pain and guilt
– Anger and bargaining
– Depression
– The upward turn
– Reconstruction and working through
– Acceptance and hope

Now I flip between depression through to acceptance on a daily basis. But definitely with a lean towards the “reconstruction and working through” stage. I’ve set aside everything else, apart from family, just to focus on exits for investors.

If you are a stakeholder reading this please don’t be alarmed. A lot of work has been carried out at a high level since that fateful day in September. We are in a good place now but there is some mess left to clean up. Those in charge of the clearing up are more than capable and progress has been made.

For those hiding behind fake accounts and WhatsApp groups I pity you. It’s a shame that you are so frustrated in your own shortcomings and failings that you have to dwell on and even fabricate mine. Time will tell.

Thank you for the immense support I’ve received from so many places. When I’ve felt like quitting your messages and calls have kept me focussed. It’s amazing the support often comes not from those you expect but those you don’t. Thank you to the unexpected supporters 💙

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Will it be the roaring 20s? My property outlook for 2020.

“The property market has been especially hard-hit by Brexit-led procrastination over recent years. Transaction volumes are down dramatically since the 2016 referendum, so to are property prices and the number of properties listed for sale.

While the election result and Brexit is now agreed, many of us naïvely believe, or hope, the extended period of limbo will be over. However, much like an acrimonious divorce, we’re likely to have years of negotiations over the financial settlement. We entered the EU, or EC (European Communities) as it was known, in 1973, so leaving isn’t as simple as setting a date and agreeing terms with our friends across the Irish Sea and English Channel. What is the likely impact of these continued negotiations on property as we enter the next decade?

Rental growth in London since the Brexit referendum vote has stagnated. Across the whole of the UK, excluding London, rental growth is at its lowest since February 2013 according to data from the LandBay rental index. Year-on-year rents have increased in UK ex the capital by just over 1%, some seven times that of London.

While the capital’s stagnation has masked the relatively strong growth in the rest of the UK, the impact has now rippled out. It’s unlikely to change as we enter into this period of negotiation. We are still suffering the hangover of tax changes impacting landlords as the government try to push out the ‘Mum and Dad’ buy to let landlord in favour of built for purpose rental accommodation. And with fairly little regulation in the industry, there are arguments to support this view.

London has also dragged down national average property prices and the outlook remains mixed. In the lead up to a final decision on Brexit we had an insufficient supply of property with homeowners anxiously holding on to properties. There should be somewhat of a reprieve with homeowners feeling more confident about selling into a thawed market.

While renewed confidence may provide some support to housing prices nationwide we can’t escape the charts which show that we remain in an inflated property market. Thirty years of falling interest rates and people taking out larger mortgages has led some pundits to believe we’re more likely to see continued slow growth with further declines in prime central London.

Taking into consideration the potentially acrimonious negotiations on the finer details of Brexit and affordability of housing on one hand and renewed confidence in the thawing property market on the other, my view is that we’re not going to see much more than a slight increase in prices as we enter into the 2020s.

If you plot back long enough the last couple of years will be nothing but a blip. While I believe that the long term trend in property will be growth, I don’t expect that the next decade will reflect the rapid growth of the next. Divorce of any kind will always leave an irreparable dent.”

This outlook was included with many more on Property Solvers. Have a read and let’s see how accurate they are at the end of 2020. Will it be the roaring 20s?

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Tour my Rochester home decorated on a £15k budget

I’ve finally got around to posting my new home redecoration. In October 2019 I moved to Rochester, Kent, from Hackney. I’ve rented a tired but cozy house a short walk from the historic centre, and importantly, a short roll out of bed to the children’s school. I left with little more than our clothes and have completely started from scratch

 Given that this is a rental until I can find my dream home, I just wanted to make it homely and comfortable for me and my three children. I set myself the task of spending just £15,000 on everything (including TVs, fridge etc) and all (except the aforementioned items) from IKEA. It took five IKEA deliveries and three trips to the Greenwich store, including £1,100 in returns for things that didn’t fit. The result, in my opinion, is a warm, serene (when the kids aren’t here) home I’m proud of and comfortable in. Even if this house is home for a few years rather than months, I’m happy with that. What do you think? Curious if you can see the value in how I’ve apportioned the funds and if you think it’s good, bad or about right for £15,000.

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