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An interview with upcoming property investor, Josh Shaw

In an honest and open interview with Gemma Bradley, Head of Communications and Marketing for Progressive Lets, Josh Shaw, an upcoming local property investor talks about his property investment journey so far. Here he reveals how he plans to make £10k income per month from his growing portfolio within the next few years, and how and why he started investing in property during his early twenties.

1. Who or what first attracted you to property investment and were you nervous about investing? If so, what were you worried about and why?

I was first introduced to property investing when I was a child as my father had several buy-to-lets and the family business which he ran, had commercial buildings as well as a car park. However, it wasn’t until my early twenties that I actually actioned this interest and started to invest myself. When I started investing, I was very new to property and had very little experience. I thought it would be a good idea to get some training, so I started attending property courses with Progressive Property, a property education company based in Peterborough. At the same time, I started working for a local letting agency which really improved my knowledge too.

I was very nervous when I started investing as I was dealing with huge amounts of cash which, until this point, I had never had the opportunity to do. However, I knew property was a safe investment vehicle and I did my calculations, which made me worry less.

2. When did you first start investing in property and why?

I purchased my first property in July 2012. This was a two bed, semi detached property in Peterborough which I still own to this day. It provides a reasonable yield and was a great property to start with. This was before I even started any official training. However, I could have paid less for it if I knew then, what I know now.

A big reason I started investing in property was that I knew I could not rely on the government to provide me with a pension in later life, as the pension age seemed to be going up and up. I imagine I won’t be able to claim it until my late 90s!

Another reason, this one probably the biggest, came from an experience I had when I was in my early teens. My mum died when I was 13 and my dad was always there for me and my sister. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised it was because of property that he was able to do that. That is why it is imperative that I build my own portfolio to support me and my future family.

3. How old were you when you bought your first property, what was it and what was involved in getting it set up as a rental?

I was 21 when I purchased my first property and was a joint venture with a family member. It was interesting as I did most of the refurbishment work myself (with lots of help from dad). It was a light refurb, but it definitely taught me a great deal about property investment. When the property was ready, I signed up with to a local letting agency for a “let only” service, as I knew I could manage it myself. It was relatively easy from there, and I have had 5 tenants (in this rental) so far, and all of them have been great!

4. How many properties do you currently own, co-own and manage? What are they and why did you choose those strategies? (e.g. single let, HMO, SA etc)?

Currently, I am involved in 9 house shares (HMOs), 2 single lets, 3 commercial units and a car park. The HMO model was born from the property training my father and I did. The majority of the HMOs were previously commercial offices. They were converted due to a reducing number of businesses requiring office space in the town centre. The remaining commercial units are on long term leases, but I have little to do with this side of the business.

5. What type of property investment education have you had over the years and has it helped you? If so, how?

Over the years I have done a great deal of property training, but I cannot owe my success to this alone. My father had a great deal of influence over my journey in property and it is because of him that I have the business I do now.

Other influences include several books by successful property investors, Mark Homer and Rob Moore - they really opened my eyes to property. When I first started learning, my view was that property was a long-term investment strategy, which provided very little income on a short-term basis. Oh, how my mind was blown when I attended my first property event, Progressive Property’s Super Conference 2013…

6. What has the passive income you’ve generated from your properties allowed you to do personally?

It is less about what property has given me so far, and more about what property is going to do for me later that’s most important. Currently, all profits are re-invested back into the business. The reason for this is that I want to build a strong, long term portfolio that I will own for the rest of my life. This in turn will provide for me when I decide to kick my day job in! In some ways it is a pity I enjoy  my day job so much, as I could happily go into property full time. Using the HMO strategy has allowed me to invest in more property as the cashflow from them is so high, compared to the single let model. I am also very proud that we supply over 50 tenants with amazing places to live! I have only just purchased my own home with my wonderful girlfriend, as my strategy was to live with my dad as long as possible, keeping my bills low so I could buy as many investment properties as possible.

7. If you could have changed any aspect or part of your property investment journey to date, what would that be and why?

Apart from starting earlier, I wouldn’t change a thing! All my mistakes have been a learning experience and without them I would not be where I am now. I am proud of every property I own and am grateful for the support and guidance I have had over the years. 

8. What is your next big property goal?

My goal is to be able to make passive income of £10k per month from my property business by investing in more HMO opportunities. When I take it is the biggest question, as I do not have expensive tastes and I am far too young to retire! My plan is to keep building the property business until a point where I am happy - who knows if that day will ever come!

9. What is the best piece of advice you could give another young person who is looking to invest in property but not yet taken the first step?

Put yourself out there… it is amazing how many people are looking for a young, focused individual to work with. Yes, they may be older,  wealthier and more experienced than you, but you have time, enthusiasm and passion on your side!

A bit of advice my dad gave me which I have lived by: “The most successful people in life are those who do that little bit extra”. Most people at my age are out spending their money on liabilities (not saying I do not do this occasionally myself…!), but the most important thing I learned was to invest in appreciating assets, one of them being your own education. I was not a “model” student and struggled with some parts of school. What changed was that found something that really interested me, then the learning became easy and enjoyable.

10. What top tips do you have for young people looking to invest in property?

  • Invest in yourself
  • Buy assets not liabilities. (Credit to this goes to my dad)
  • Delayed gratification. It always feels better when you have really worked and sacrificed for what you want the most. (Credit to Mark Homer)
  • Have fun with it. Property is a people business! The wonderful thing about property is that it can be win/win. No one should have to lose in business.
  • Do that little bit extra and don’t follow the crowd. Remember in times of hardship there is always opportunity.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. I have been a culprit of this over the years, taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed. Fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator but no-one can do everything.

To summarise, the last few years have been a crazy ride and I am not looking at getting off any time soon!