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  • Property-a-holics

    31DoPI #2: 10 Lessons in property, learned the hard way.

    Welcome to Day 2 of "31 days of property inspiration" - our January campaign to help you kickstart your property year with fresh thinking and inspiration.

    Our second article comes from Welsh landlord, business owner, and Property Tribes member Jayne Owen.

    10 lessons in property learned the hard way: Jayne Owen

    A New Map

    2002. For Valentine’s Day, I bought my husband David a copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. After a difficult year I was looking for something more original and inspirational than chocolate.

    His life changed within days. He immediately ‘got’ the principles and metaphorically kicked himself several times over for not listening to his instincts over the previous 15 years.

    Stunned by the impact on him, I thought I would read this myself.

    It did not change my life, but rather my perspective. I too kicked myself – for my naivety and miserably inadequate financial knowledge. A few months later, we had talked, argued, discussed, planned and finally made a new joint goal: we were going to become financially free.

    But let us pause a while to reflect on the journey to this point.

    Starting Off

    1983. I didn’t realise it at the time but I took the first step on my property journey at the age of 22 when I become the proud owner of a flat in Cardiff.

    A few months later I flirted with being a live-in landlord, taking in two young female tenants for a few months. The extra money was superb; the invasion of ‘my’ space was not. I learned ....

    Lesson #1: Some things are more important than money. Having my home to myself and family is one of them.

    In a strange way, property ownership came naturally. Coming from generations of farmers, I probably took land and property for granted but also recognised the responsibility that came with it. Land and buildings had to be cared for, maintained, treated well and above all, had to make money.

    Stumbling Along

    Despite a promising start, the transition from owner-occupier to landlord was tough. Years of accidental successes and mistakes were ahead.

    1987. David and I married, joining together in matrimony my Cardiff flat and his terraced house in Newport. Relocating to London from Wales with our respective jobs, we sold his house to buy a bungalow in Oxfordshire, and my flat to buy a house in Cornwall which we used and successfully holiday let for many years.

    1988-90. In the heady days of the late 80’s, fed up with the long daily commute from Oxfordshire, we splashed out on a bedsit in Russell Square. We now owned three properties: family and friends without exception considered us barmy. And despite David thinking we were on to something with property and letting, we still didn’t quite get it.

    Losing the Way

    First confession: after the early start, I bottled. Naive about finance, investment and of the potential of our situation, I was too cautious. We talked of renting out properties, but I remained swayed by family and friends who ‘knew better’.

    After all, we farmers were used to striving very hard for the money we had, for literally all the hours under the sun. Generations before us declared that to get money, you worked hard; when you had money, you kept it safe. Owning property and renting it out was not safe.

    And besides, everybody said tenants ruined your property and never paid the rent. Way too risky.

    Herewith Lesson #2: Work things out for yourself instead of following the advice of others who have little or no experience.

    Reverse Gear

    The years went on. We became sensible and profitably sold two properties to buy one large one – on which we made our first major loss in the crash of the early 90’s. Had we stuck to our instincts of selling the London bedsit, buying a flat in Windsor and letting out the Oxfordshire bungalow ... but let’s not go there.

    And so we learned Lesson #3: when your instincts stack up financially, listen to them.

    We worked hard (of course) and recouped the loss. We bought another home. Along came a child. We added an extension. We long-term let the holiday home because we never had time to visit any more. The tenant offered to buy so we sold it. Too much responsibility I thought, thus leading to ....

    Lesson #4: Never sell a property unless essential to your plan: avoiding short term hassle might also mean getting rid of gain in the long term.

    1998. We made ‘The Move’ home to Wales to live the rural idyll in an old farmhouse with a couple of acres.

    Second confession. Engrossed in family affairs and the business of day-to-day living for years, I went even further backwards in financial understanding. In retrospect, I discovered ...

    Lesson #5: Always be responsible for your own finances.

    Which brings us to 2002 and ...

    The New Map

    With our new goal of financial freedom, David immediately took great strides. Working with a local estate agent, within a few months he had purchased a commercial property through his SIPP and went on to buy a block of five flats.

    Shortly afterwards, with the aid of a further advance on our house, another commercial with four flats above was added to the portfolio.

    Finding New Roads

    I have loved books since childhood. Whatever challenges come my way, I’m in the bookshop or on Amazon looking for answers.

    Now, with David taking care of property investment, my biggest challenge was financial education. Off to the bookshop again, this time coming out with "A Girl’s Best Friend is Her Money: The Motley Fool’s Women’s Investment Guide" by Jane Mack and Jasmine Birtles, and "Rich Woman" by Kim Kiyosaki.

    Lesson #6 was specific to financial matters: Read and learn as much as you can about personal finance and investing – it’s your future.

    By this time, David had got down and dirty on refurbishment projects to do some real learning on the job. We settled in to a system where he managed the build, I decided interior fixtures and fittings, he handled the tenancies.

    Bumpy Road

    David was definitely the instigator in our property ventures. I was committed, but also working elsewhere, dealing with my mother’s deteriorating health and managing home and family life. Not always successfully.

    The refurbishment strategy worked well. However, my caution kicked in again and I became fractious about one of our properties that cashflowed well but was in an unsavoury neighbourhood. Eager for a new challenge, David part-exchanged it for a plot and we undertook our first new build.


    2007. Wrong place, wrong time. Selling the property was the right thing to do, but we took the plot because it was a convenient to the deal and an opportunity to do something new and different, but without doing enough research.

    Lesson #7 was expensive: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    David was now in property full-time, with me part-time while still doing other stuff. We had now moved to a smaller property, were holiday letting the farmhouse, selling the new build, managing a small portfolio of rentals and doing our best to look after my mother’s property – with another acre to maintain – after she had gone into care.

    With the financial strain caused by the loss on the new build, we were crashing in more ways than one.

    Back on Track

    2009. We had won some and lost some. It was now time to understand more about the world we found ourselves in. We both read avidly; books particularly helpful at this stage were A Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen and House Share Hero by Steve Julien. We committed to Rich Dad Coaching and David attended Simon Zutschi’s Property Mastermind Course. We made a point of getting to know people in property. I found Property Tribes and read even more.

    Lesson #8 was fun: Find a mentor and make a point of getting to know other people in the same field who share your mindset. And keep reading.

    We were off again with new techniques and strategies under our belts. A year or so later, we had more rentals, had disposed of poorly performing properties and set up an HMO.

    Close to being financially free, we still needed top-up income.


    2011. We diverted off course, converting our newly empty and very tired commercial high street office into a restaurant. Renovating a commercial building was a completely different matter to the residentials we had done before, and one where interior design and decor took on a much more important aspect.

    2012. The conversion was successful, but diversion into the business unwise – it turned out to be the right venture with the wrong business partner. We exited having suffered a painful

    Lesson #9: The six people you mix with most often have the biggest impact on your life, so choose business partners carefully – is what they have in their lives what you want in yours? After doing all the due diligence, listen to your instincts.

    During the diversion, our property activities suffered and we had dropped out of the networks.

    We finally learned Lesson #10: FOCUS.

    Full Speed Ahead

    In the latter half of 2012, after more reading and still loving books, I began to think of setting up an affiliate site for books and other useful materials. In November I discovered fellow investor David Bartlett had set up the Property Bookshop. A conversation or two later, here we are.

    And 2013? I feel more excited than I have for many years. Now planning beyond the financial freedom goal, I will be building Property Bookshop with David Bartlett; (husband)

    David will be part of Property Search TV (a new and exciting venture to be launched in January.

    2013 for us will be about focus and commitment.

    About Jayne:

    [Image: 100_0764-150x150.jpg]

    Jayne Owen is a professional property investor and landlord based in Wales. She also offers a technical editing and proof-reader service for property publications through Mozaique Property. She is a contributing editor at PropertyBookshop.

    Visit the "31 days of property inspiration" pop-up category for other inspirational articles >>> here.
    Fantastic post!

    I love the honesty of your story Jayne, so refreshing. There is so much property investors can learn, new or experienced.

    I am also loving 31DoPI great work Nick and Vanessa Smile

    Happy New Year to everyone in the Tribe.
    Find out more about me here...

    The Property Hub
    RMP Property
    Amazing, Jayne - big hat off to you both - that's impressive.


    07 42 777 88 79  Property researcher & collaborative sourcing assistant - consultancy & mentorship at times, by request First Finders (residential & commercial land & property: UK, & abroad) Wessex Property Management Services (facilitation & advisory service for property owners) Golden Gate Gardens (specialist garden and landscape design service)

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Just to clarify if there is any confusion with the two Davids in the last section! I The husband referred to in brackets is David Owen, to whom I am (still) married. I am working on the Property Bookshop with David Bartlett.

    Oh, this could get very confusing indeed ... Confused
    And, for further reading, here are Property Bookshop's top five property books:

    1. When starting out, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is essential to understand the reasons why investing is crucial and why being in control of your own financial future is key.

    2. The Complete Guide to Property Investing Success by Angela Bryant covers the nuts and bolts of property investing and more.

    3. House Share Hero by Steve Julien is a must-read for anyone considering HMOs.

    4. The Housebuilder's Bible by Mark Brinkely is great for learning the lingo and finding out how houses hang together.

    5. Successful Property Letting: How to Make Money in Buy-to-Let by David Lawrenson provides a good introduction and guide to letting.

    Jayne Owen @jayneowen

    Editor and Writer: Your Property Network magazine

    Investor: Mozaique Property, South & West Wales and South West England

    Occasional reviewer at The Property Bookshop (@Property_Books)

    Hi Jayne,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It was most interesting to learn about your and [husband] David's backgrounds when we a few years ago and take some lessons from it. I hope that others benefit in the same way.

    I'm really excited about what 2013 holds for you both and wish you the best of luck and prosperity -- especially with PropertyBookshop.com! ;-)

    Best regards, [non-husband] David
    Thank you for sharing with our members. Brutally honest, and yet with a huge expectation of what the future holds. I have a lot of empathy, reading your potted history since the 1990s, and I share your positive view of the future. I definitely agree that the Kiyosaki Rich Dad Poor Dad is probably the best first book to read for anyone who needs to "get it" about financial freedom. My favourite, however, is Rich Dad Poor Dad 2 - The Cash Flow Quadrant. I spent nearly five years being uncomfortable that, to some extent, I live in all four quadrants. But I am now comfortable with that, since my existence in the E, S and B quadrants is necessary to eventually be only in the I quadrant. All the best for 2013.
    Regards, Gerry
    Thank you for this, I got a lovely sense of getting to know you better Jayne.

    I especially enjoyed learning that you've always loved and valued books. I feel very much the same way too.

    (02-01-2013 09:19 AM)vanessa warwick Wrote:  .
    Finding New Roads

    I have loved books since childhood. Whatever challenges come my way, I’m in the bookshop or on Amazon looking for answers.

    Now, with David taking care of property investment, my biggest challenge was financial education. Off to the bookshop again...

    Lesson #6 was specific to financial matters: Read and learn as much as you can about personal finance and investing – it’s your future.

    All the best for your continued and future successes!


    Author of The Complete Guide to Property Strategies

    "It is the small decisions you and I make every day that shape our destiny" Anthony Robbins



    Thank you for sharing your inspirational property journey in such a candid way and being prepared to share your mistakes so others may benefit from them. I wish you both well in your new venture and for moving forward in general.

    P.S. I am also from farming stock, (scroll down a bit). I would not know one end from the other though Smile

    What a great story, I certainly learned some lessons!

    Above all, I have great respect for people like you that have fallen with their nose to the ground, but have managed to get up and enthousiastically continue to pursue their dreams!
    This is such an amazing forum. Such great advice and quite clearly a lot of you give a lot of time here. I have been stagnant for too long. I have had a few rentals for a few years but that came to a grinding halt when my process of buying renovating and remortgaging to get the next deposit out ended. I added to the portfolio with high risk off plan properties. That all worked out well. I too read rich dad poor dad. Kicked myself up the bottom and now in the mist of a few purchases. One in the uk and one in the US. I too am getting mentoring from Rich dad coaching, that is really helping me. I am now very motivated, selling up and will live on the boat if I have to. Thank you all for your inspiration. I am also booked onto the tigerent course weekend after next in Nottingham. I may have a spare seat if anyone was desperate to go they could join me
    Trying to provide decent homes for decent people

    This is my first post, although i have been a member on Proprty Tribes for several years (i have just been a observer to date), it is truly inspiring to hear real stories and successes, I too love reading books and will most certainly be visiting your website I have for a number of years wished for a 'book club' website with real reveiws from trusted and respected 'real' investors and property people, I have read many excellent and many dis-appointing books over the years.

    Thanks for sharing your storey and been so honest, I started out in property in 2006 in a somewhat stuttery start but determined none the less, i now have a reasonable size portfolio but it still takes 100% of my time and effort, fortunately i enjoy about 95% of what I do though so that actually makes me one of the lucky ones.

    I wish you every success in the future, and to Vanessa and Nick whom I meet many years ago thank you so much for a fantastic site, it has been invalueable to me.