OK, I’m gonna put my second hat on. My property hat. As some of you will know, i’m a property investor as well as an online trainer and affiliate. In fact, this blog started off mainly focused on Property. In this post I cover our property journey as well as our experience with self-styled property gurus and trainers. Some of it is great, some of it quite shocking.
I was an ‘accidental landlord’
To recap, i’d become an ‘accidental landlord’ in 2014 when me and Debs moved to Durham City. I’d lived in my house (nothing flash, just a typical North East terraced affair) since 1996. It was a family house, it belonged to my grandparents from 1924 until they passed away in the early 1990’s.
I moved because of haste really (ok, i’m impatient). We decided we wanted to live in Durham and had already seen a house, but I had to sell mine first, or else rent it out. Renting was the quickest way, so that’s how I ended up as an ‘accidental landlord’. It wasn’t even a proper Buy-To-Let Mortgage, I just asked my mortgage provider to give me consent to let. The rent was going to cover my mortgage, so I was happy. Debs decided to rent her house out as well. She later sold the house to her tenants as they made her an offer that was too good to refuse. Things were going well.
Made redundant at 56
A mere two years after we moved, I was made redundant from work after 36 years. That was a complete shock, but with hindsight I should probably have seen it coming. I was lucky in that i’d paid into a pension for most of that time and was also able to take a tax free lump sum from my pension as I was over 55 years old.
The first few months after redundancy were a roller-coaster of emotions. Sure, I was free of the work grind, but I also felt betrayed. Scrap heap? You betcha! I seemed to spend 3 months reading the paper! It didn’t take long however before I started looking for something to do with my time.
Debs had a business that we’d bought into when I was still working, but we needed to do something else because doing the holiday cover was killing us. It was 5 o’clock mornings sometimes and I was too old for that. With my newly trousered lump sum, we started looking around for other things.
Two failed web ventures
Now Debs is very similar to me in her way of thinking. I was looking online for our solution and our very first attempt was a training website to help people write their business plans. It wasn’t very successful and I’ve got to admit, the subject matter was just dry as sticks. It sank without trace because there just wasn’t enough traffic.
Our second venture was again based online around railway stations and ticketing. We set up a website with pages for all the main railway stations in the UK and linked affiliate links for the major ticket vendors to the pages. This had more success than our first business, but it still only made peanuts. The second ‘business’ went the same way as the first. However, we hadn’t borrowed any money and the website creation I did myself in WordPress using BlueHost. I wished i’d known about Wealthy Affiliate then as well, these websites would have been viable. I made loads of mistakes that I now know about and would have done things very differently back then. But, hindsight is a wonderful thing, yes?
We spotted some property
Around this time we noticed that quite a few houses were going up for sale in my old home town and some of them seemed to be bargains. Now, there are a few dodgy areas in town and we were careful to avoid them. We found a house we really liked but it was a) empty and b) up for sale in an auction. Neither of us knew anything about auctions, so we set about trying to avoid buying it that way.
To cut a long story short, we eventually tracked down the owner, who turned out to be a guy who used to travel to the match on the same bus as me. We didn’t really know each other, but we knew of each other and had a common interest. We made him an offer to his face and he accepted. It was way below what the house was up for in the auction, but he was happy because it had been empty for about a year. The condition was that he withdrew it from the auction. We had to wait 31 days to make any moves, but it saved us £6k. We bought the house for £53k, but we knew it was worth a lot more. In a few months we’d done a bit of refurb and we rented it out. It brought in about £390 per month, but the BTL mortgage was only about £75 per month, so we were happy. We’d had to put about £14k in though (25% deposit for a BTL mortgage and a few other costs).
Reading books and watching videos
We got a bit of a buzz from this buy and started ordering property books from Amazon to educate ourselves more (we basically knew nothing at this point) and started watching YouTube vids. If it was this easy, we’d just continue though!
What we found out from the books and vids was that it was possible to refinance in 6 months and based on the real valuation (we tried for £80k) we could get the deposit money we’d invested back. This would increase our mortgage payment a bit, but essentially we then had a house for nothing (we’d put nothing in nett) and it was still earning us nearly £300 per month profit. Genius stuff!
Found another house
Then a couple of months later we found another house that seemed suitable, just around the corner from the first one. We put in an offer and got it for £16k below the asking price. It was only £45k. We thought we’d be able to get £400 per month in rent, so we did a bit more refurbishment (it stunk to High Heaven). We knocked an internal wall out and laid new flooring and carpets, re-fashioned the bathroom and kitchen and made it look nice. Six months later, you guessed it, we refinanced and got all our money back we’d spent on the refurb. We got £420 per month in rent. Mortgage was about £100 per month.
This was a system that seemed to work well. We now had 3 houses (one ‘accidental landlord’ and two Buy to Lets).
Samuel Leeds Crash Course
Now, we’d continued watching the YouTube vids and came across a property trainer guy called David France. We also discovered Samuel Leeds. Samuel had written a book which we bought and then noticed he was running what he called his free property training ‘Crash Course’ in Manchester, so we booked to go. The course basically covered everything Samuel had written about in his book, but it was more an audience motivational thing. Lots of happy clapping and high-fives. We enjoyed it though.
On the second day of the Crash Course, the content remained fun, but Samuel then began promoting his paid property training courses. In true market tradition, he started high and finished just a bit lower. The numbers were still big though, and he stood in his ‘pulpit’ he started some really high pressure selling, even belittling some of the audience to try to get them to sign up. At this point, I was feeling uncomfortable and ready to walk out. I hadn’t seen this since someone tried to sell me timeshare in Tenerife in the mid-90s.
After a lunchtime period of reflection we stayed and listened some more.
Samuel Leeds DFE/NUYOMA
Samuel talked of making money using LOA’s (Lease Option Agreements). David France also explained these and they looked interesting. Samuel was having another course 3 months after the Crash Course. This was a paid course of 3 days duration and it cost us about £2,900 (between us). We decided to go on this because we still felt there were holes in our knowledge and we still wanted to learn. This course was imaginatively titled DFE/NUYOMA. This was a 3-dayer. We recognised some folks from the Crash Course we’d been to in February and had a good time there. It was only after we left that I recognised we were In the Funnel. Samuel tried to convince us we were ripe for his Academy. That was the next upsell and the method used was to flatter us into thinking we were being asked because he thought we’d ‘smash it’. In reality, what he was looking for was a self-motivated couple of people he could use to vindicate his methods and parade us as his successful students.
We turned down the ‘opportunity’ to join Samuel Leeds’ Academy before we left the venue. Over the next few days I was texted by Samuel and his staff, still trying to get us to sign up for the Academy. It was about £12k and we just didn’t have that kind of money at the time. We turned him down, but I know at the time that some were considering borrowing money to join. Madness! Borrowing money in order to be given an indication they could be Financially Free.
Sarah Poynton-Ryan (Cogito Wealth)
We decided we couldn’t afford to go to any more paid events for the foreseeable future, but we still kept picking up freebies. Sarah Poynton-Ryan spoke at Samuels event earlier, so we trundled down to Milton Keynes for that. That was only a single-dayer, but we turned it into a mini-break. I wrote about it here. There was only a very gentle sales strategy at Sarah Poynton-Ryan’s course, with no horrendous upsell pressure. We enjoyed this one, also the mini break had a lot to do with it. We didn’t learn a great deal new here, but it was free so didn’t expect too much. There were a couple of nuggets in amongst it, including Sarah’s admission that she reckons it took thousands of phone calls to secure a Rent-to-Rent deal. That sounded like too much hard work to me.
Our third BTL property
We continued to look for houses. We continued finding them and making offers. We had a spell of bad luck where the houses were nearly on the hook, but we eventually snagged another one, this time a big 3 storey, 4 bedroom place for only £50k. Again, this one didn’t need too much love and we spent about £2.5-3k on refurb. It rents out for £500 per month. This took us past the £1,000 per month in gross rent. We had also taken in another couple of free courses, one with Martin Roberts’ company (Homes Under The Hammer) and another by Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad empire. Neither of these returned much we didn’t already know.
I joined Wealthy Affiliate and started blogging about marketing strategies and property.
Around this time we found our interests started to move in slightly different directions. Whilst we both still took decisions about the property we found, Debs was taking more of the front foot on that and I was getting more involved in learning about marketing. I joined Wealthy Affiliate in October 2018 and have been studying there ever since. I’m now making an income from this and recommending it to others who want to earn from affiliate marketing and blogging. It’s actually very relevant to property people as well and there’s quite a few property entrepreneurs sharing knowledge there.
Debs has continued her insatiable quest for property knowledge and signed up for a free course with a local guy from Redcar on Teesside who was making a name for himself in property and mindset stuff.
Steven Green (3 different episodes)
We’d both watched Steven Green’s stuff on YouTube and we naturally connected because he’s a local lad made good. Steven was in the army, with tours to all the usual risky places. He started a building company in Redcar when he came out of the army and found he was able to help ex-forces people who were suffering with PTSD and depression. He also started doing property training. Debs went to one of his free sessions in Middlesbrough and then ended up signing up for another paid course in Leeds. I went along for this one and spent the time whilst Debs was training to set up and build a website for a client of mine who runs a Driving School.
Debs liked Steven’s training and was happy to sign up with a full week with him as part of his Elite Group at Raithwaite Hall near Whitby on the North East Coast. These were 12 hour days and were 70% mindset/30% property. She came back absolutely knackered but was totally enlightened by what she’d learned.
I’ve already posted a couple of Steven’s videos here.
Both of these are well worth watching to get a flavour of this guy. The second one is an eye-opener where he deliberately made himself homeless and tried to get a job and a place to live.
Buy to Let Property Number 4 Comes Along
Again, in the background, we were always on the look out for extra houses. A couple of nice looking ones popped onto the radar, we did some research and settled on one to offer on. It was a 3 bedroom corner terrace property that as on the market for £60k and we got it for £53k. The internal structure revealed we could add another bedroom, so that is what we’re doing. This refurb is going to cost us £10k (including a new kitchen and bathroom), but it will make the house worth more if we were to sell later.
Tragedy strikes the property training sector
In just the last few weeks, tragedy has struck the property training sector. A guy had decided to accept an upsell and ended up on a property course he couldn’t afford. He was clearly suffering with a mental health issue, but was also finding the training was not up to scratch for him. He tried desperately to get a refund, but the trainer wasn’t listening and eventually they excommunicated him from the inner circle. The guy killed himself.
This has caused ructions in the Property Training World. There are fresh calls for regulation of trainers and some even blamed this particular trainer for the guy’s death. He could not be blamed directly of course, but the duty of care and treatment of the poor fella left a lot to be desired.
So the big question is, should you ever pay for a guru, and can they be trusted? Well, our answer is that most speak with forked tongue because they’re in it to make money for themselves rather than you.
It’s not about helping anymore, it’s just about making money for the trainer.
Samuel Leeds has just admitted in a video with Grant Cordone that he makes £1m per month from training courses. He says they can’t cope with their growth now, but still want to grow more. That more or less echoes the complaints of some Academy members in that they feel they aren’t getting what they paid for. Samuel used to do all the mentoring, now it’s done by his minions. People don’t pay £12,000 to be taught by minions.
What we think
The other day we sat down and tried to sum up what we’d learned over the last couple of years in our property journey.
We’ve looked at the proportion of our current knowledge of property techniques that can be attributed to the various different methods of learning over the last couple of years. It was a lot more difficult than we first thought, but here’s the conclusions we’ve come to.
Method % of Total Knowledge
Training Courses. 55
But we both agree that :
All of the knowledge we have used to buy our 4 x BTL properties can be attributed to Reading/Videos. We needed nothing from expensive Training Courses or Gurus to do this. We have generated £1,600 per month of passive income without needing to spend a thing on training, perhaps less than £200 on books.
If you want to start earning from property, you can do it. All you need is to educate yourself. It’s not easy, it requires a good deal of patience and detection skills, but it can be done. It’s not outrageously difficult either, but care must be taken and you need to understand the maths involved. It’s all about Market Value and buying at discount.
Gurus and their worth to us (out of 55%)
David France 2%
Samuel Leeds 5 %
Sarah Poynton-Ryan 2%
Martin Roberts 0%
Robert Kiyosaki RDPD 1%
Steven Green 45%
Steven Green thus comes out way ahead in the head to head, but of course some of the training is free and some paid, so it skews things a bit, but what is clear is, you don’t need any guru to make money from property until you require specialist advanced knowledge, and then some are miles better than others (in our opinion).
My final thoughts
My final thought is, if it had been Steven Green that was training him, the guy who took his own life would still be alive today. I feel he was let down badly by his trainer and mentor and when things got difficult it was easier to ignore him than help. That’s not good enough when you are happy to take £12,000 of someone’s money for training and promise to change their life for the better.
Here are a couple of files you might find useful if you feel you may need to complain or ask for your money back.
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