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  • Landlords in Distress

    The Good Property Company | Susannah Cole


    Dear Tribe,

    I wanted to share my experience of being a mentee and investor with the Good Property Company run by Susannah Cole.

    Context

    I have over 20 years’ experience of property investment in London. 15 months ago I joined The Good Property Company – TGPC – mentoring scheme, run by Susannah Cole. I also joined her  VIP investors group. My aim was to consolidate my knowledge and experience in the property world, and purchase property in Bristol to develop into a small portfolios of HMOs via her VIP deal sourcing group.

    TGPC states it sources discounted property deals, up to 30% BMV.  To access the deals,  investors pay a joining fee of £1000+VAT and join the VIP group.

    Sourced deals are 5%+VAT sourcing fee on exchange, and there is further opportunity on some deals to enter into a JV with TGPC, providing the investor is a high net worth individual. In a JV, 50% of the sourcing fee is returned on sale or agreed end-value, plus 50/50 profit share of the uplift

    The following are my personal experiences of the work and practice methods of The Good Property Company.  To date, there is nothing available on the internet. Everything posted is marketed and disseminated by TGPC themselves.

    Many VIP investors like myself live far away and the attraction of a JV is to have no/little involvement with the build process. TGPC promotes a JV model offering local connections, a wealth of building experience, in-depth knowledge of the local market and proven expertise. Projects apparently enjoy a good profit for both parties. In return the investor is responsible for all costs.

    TGPC Joint Venture Terms

    Build costs are deducted from the end profit share. Investor borrowing costs during the build time is  not factored in.

    JV’s are fully controlled by TGPC who handle all builders quotes, contracts and work schedules. There is no pressure to finish projects, as the loan costs are only covered by the investor. In fact, the longer the build time, the greater the potential for a profit share in a rising market, ‘carried’ by the investor paying for the loan throughout the duration of the build

    Deal Sourcing

    Discounted deals are randomly released by text on weekdays throughout the year at 4pm. To secure a deal, the first investor who rings and speaks to Ash Allen, TGPC Deal Sourcer, and transfers £1k + VAT as an immediate holding deposit secures the deal.

    Project 1

    I was offered a house privately by phone by Allen, @ £220,000. I was told it was 30% BMV.

    ​Other VIP investors were not offered the deal. I agreed the deal & a JV partnership.

    Allen estimated work @ c£40k.

    The deal was then circulated to the VIP group, even though it was not available. Investors were told on enquiry they were too late: ‘it was taken’.

    It was advertised as 30 % BMV deal on 11/03/2015, with purchase price of £223,000. This was £3k over our agreement.

    Allen reported to me sudden price increase from £220k to £235k two weeks later.

    Later, I saw agent’s details with original sale price of £250,000.

    Agreed price of £235k, plus TGPC sourcing fee of £14,100, left a difference of £900 from agent’s price if I had gone direct. No BMV – on the contrary it was - Above Market Value.

    During conveyancing, TGPC administration and contact almost non-existent.

    Two invoices were sent at monthly intervals requesting sourcing fees prior to exchange. This contravenes the sourcing agreement of payment on exchange. The third request from Allen included:

    “Susannah mentioned that she hadn’t received the sourcing payment as of this morning. When do you think this might be sent over?” (email 17 June 2016). Exchange took place in July 2015.

    The main area of TGPC competence and efficiency is in issuing invoices demanding money.

    Allen almost failed to send documents on time to my bank, resulting in a completion delay that would have cost me £3k. I drove the documents to the bank at midnight to ensure completion. The acting solicitor, Richard Spencer, commented that this had happened on a number of occasions with TGPC and they needed to get their systems working better.

    JV Partnership and Project Management on Project 1

    TGPC produced one builders’ estimate – not three as stated from Nick Baker of Baker Builds.

    The estimate was raised to £49k – 21% higher than Allen’s original estimate. TGPC claim they purposely over-estimate build work so investors are pleased when work comes in under budget. Not in this case.

    TGPC handle all payments directly. They are not CIS registered and Baker Builds were not CIS registered – Nick Baker had never heard of CIS registration when questioned by another investor.

    TGPC and builders have complete freedom to charge whatever they want. There is no negotiation. Baker told me I was the first investor he had ever met.

    No contract was taken out or signed between TGPC and Baker Builds – work was undertaken on the basis of the estimate.

    Tiffany Akoto, the designated ‘Head of Development’ at TGPC – was the person assigned by Cole to project manage the build. It was soon apparent she was unable to competently manage or comprehend the build. She has poor knowledge, limited experience and lacks understanding of managing build projects. She was put in charge of over £100k worth of projects on my behalf.

    The property clearly needed extensive work and I insisted on architectural drawings. She ignored the drawings and was clearly unable to read or understand them.

    Akoto failed to inform Building Control work was starting; she failed to contact the gas board to ensure that a gas supply would be fitted; she failed to pass on simple instructions from me such as not to cut down a tree in the front garden etc. She told me that once the builder starts work, she drops by every few weeks to check on it, ‘give them a kick’ and that is what is needed.

    TGPC issued no reports, photos or documentation in relation to progress and any issues arising.

    A Drop Box File was delivered onto my computer with the following subject headings:

    Deal Report, Invoice, Legal Documents, Insurance, Purchase Funding, Refurbishment, Utilities, Investor Correspondance (sic), Photos, Refinancing Property, Resale Correspondance Costs.

    TGPC inputted NO data into these files at any point during the purchase and completion process, or during the JV partnership.  It remains as empty - and meaningless - as the day it was first transferred.

    Five weeks into the build I spoke to Susannah Cole - the owner of TGPC -  and told her that Akoto was not fit to be responsible for the project. She agreed, and confirmed TGPC was not delivering as a JV partnership. She suggested a different end ratio split of the profit.

    Two weeks later I spoke to her again, regarding Akoto’s inexperience and incompetence.

    Cole agreed with me that TGPC were not delivering as JV partners, and we mutually agreed that from mid-October 2015, they would no longer be involved in the project.

    TGPC made no attempt to offer anything by way of compensation for their mismanagement of the project, or engaging a Project Manager not fit to supervise the work.

    They did not offer anyone else to take over -  the property was of no more interest or relevance to them.  The JV restriction would be lifted – with effectively TGPC walking away from the project - with, of course, their sourcing fees intact.

    TGPC forgot to lift the JV restriction until I chased them about it four months later.

    I had to continue with the TGPC appointed builder - Baker Builds.

    It was becoming apparent as the build developed, that his team was producing work of an appalling standard.  Initially, he claimed that I had changed the spec – and this was the problem. After numerous snagging lists and a six week delay, the work was ‘handed-over’ at the beginning of January 2016.

    In total, Baker Builds received payment of over £80k.  £50k was paid by TGPC before I took over due to TGPC incompetence.  Baker agreed that the work was not very good, so told me to keep the £5k retention. He maintained that it was partly my fault as I had changed the spec.

    I had made the assumption that a TGPC builder, reported by them as working on many of their investor projects  - would deliver work done to a basic, adequate, compliant and safe standard.

    Building Control refused to pass the work as non-compliant. For example:

    •no inspection chamber for the 5 new bathrooms installed

    •newly fitted window-glass throughout house did not conform to safety standard

    • the ventilation shafts in the bathroom were vented into empty voids – they just had panels screwed over them – deliberate fraud

    * there was no outside flue fitted

    • the kitchen extractor fan vented into nothing

    • the gas installation did not meet safety standards - Baker was unable to produce a gas safety certificate

    • the electrical rewiring was dangerous and non-compliant and the certificate supplied by Baker Builds was forged.

    The gas safety engineer I subsequently engaged reported:

     • the boiler and commission cylinder were not commissioned

    • the pipework did not comply with regulations;

    • there was a gas leak on the gas hob.

    The electrical engineer I engaged reported:

     • no ring continuity to phase (live) or cpc conductors on downstairs

    • at least 75% of all connections under tightened

    • routing of cooker circuit unacceptable

    • cable to incorrect depth and no capping or conduit and no capping to any circuits embedded in walls.

    In other words, a potentially lethal house in relation to gas and electrical issues.

    Further investigation has revealed a systematic catalogue of dangerous and fraudulent work – including charging £2000 for a steel beam to be inserted between an old bathroom and kitchen area - that has never ordered or inserted –the original concrete lintel remains in place. Deliberate fraud by Baker Builds.

    Baker Builds failed to produce a gas safety certificate and failed to produce a FENSA certificate.

    I have reported Baker Builds to NICEIC who have confirmed that they have misused their logo and the company are not registered with them. They continue to use the NICEIC logo on their website.

    TGPC continue to use the company and pass his name on to investors.

    TGPC Response

     I wrote to Susannah Cole with precise details and photographs of Baker Builds work, and in particular the issues of unsafe gas and lethal electrical work, including the forging of certificates. Cole wrote that she understood I had changed the spec, and that as we were no longer in a JV partnership, the builder had nothing to do with her.

    She went to some lengths to explain:

    “ we do not recommend builders – as, if it goes wrong, the person tends to think it is part of our responsibility - when as a recommendation, the most we can say is that in our experience, the builder has so far done a good job for us. as in this case.It is very useful to us to hear feedback on a builder, thank you, especially one we also work with.” (20/1/16)

    It is hardly unexpected that TGPC would wash their hands of any responsibility. In spite of Cole’s comments, there is no question they sourced and engaged the builder initially; were unable to deliver a competent JV partnership – in spite of claiming expertise and experience in delivering many dozens of such projects; and have disclaimed any duty of care.  

    Three weeks later, I spoke with an investor who had recently sourced a deal from them and was about to engage builders. He told me that Allen had introduced him to Nick Baker of Baker Builds. They confirmed he is a builder they work with regularly and trust. In fact, he was the ONLY builder they passed him details on.

    Project 2

    At the same time as agreeing Project 1, I was offered another property suitable for conversion into an HMO - at £235,000. Again, it was not released by text to other investors. I confirmed acceptance. Allen estimated a full refurb of c£45k.

    During the conveyancing and loan offer period for this property, TGPC administration and contact was almost non-existent.

    The Drop Box file remained empty.

    Akoto was assigned to project manage the JV. She obtained a quote from another builder and his estimate was £84k. Almost 100% more than Allen had estimated.

    Baker Builds were asked to quote. After a strip out, they reported the work would cost £122k.

    Allen, an apparently experienced and reliable estimator of build works had underestimated by £77,000 – almost 200%.  I was told by TGPC this was because I asked the builder to follow architects’ drawings – which they rarely use. I stopped the work and brought in another builder who quoted £75,000.

    Akoto was as inept in managing this project as Project 1. Cole agreed that she should not work on the project and TGPC would no longer be involved and the JV restriction would be lifted. In fact, TGPC had never bothered to register a restriction on the property, so the lawyer was spared this piece of work.

    Example of another ‘BMV Deal’:

    In November, Allen called to offer me a ‘great’ deal on a property with development potential. He had secured it for £350,000 – from an asking price of £400,000 – a BMV he told me of over 12%. I declined.  A few weeks later I saw the property on Rightmove and on speaking to the agent he confirmed it was available for £350,000.

    By buying through TGPC, who regularly claim up to 30% BMV, I would have paid £371,000 – or 6% Above Market Value.

    I had started paying close attention to deals offered as I began to see that many of these so-called BMV’s do not stack up.

    I consider that the bulk of properties offered are tired, old houses and flats valued at about the right price for their condition – and often over-valued once you add TGPC fees.

    Final figures do not include the investor’s loan and accompanying costs, legal fees etc. TGPC have no pressure to deliver work quickly and after dragging a project out for 9 months or more - it is easy to claim in a rising market that profit has been realized. This is not true profit – it is merely taking advantage of a rising market and slow building work to take advantage of this market. This practice does not affect TGPC as they are not paying costs and take their profit at the end – whenever that is.

    Changing Agreed Prices

    I understand that raising the agreed price after paying the deposit and agreeing the deal is a common practice of TGPC. The company insists investors never speak to vendors, thereby ensuring that enquiries as to the ‘original’ agreed price cannot be ascertained.

    Likewise, investors have limited/no opportunity to share information.  It is only because I joined the TGPC Mentoring Group that I could begin to piece some of this information together.

    In Conclusion

    It is remarkable that in the internet age we live in, there are no reviews on line from any investors who have worked with TGPC. These could include good and bad reviews. All claims they make are derived from their own marketing and extensive internet presence.

    For my own part, to date, I have only spoken to others who have had poor experiences with TGPC regarding property investment. Figures are distorted, timelines are exaggerated, careless mistakes are made and unverifiable facts are claimed.

    From my experience on the Mentoring Course, almost nothing that is taught in theory is practiced by TGPC with their VIP investors.

    Perhaps the silence regarding JV projects delivered with such poor returns, unprofessional conduct and shoddy standards relates to investors feeling ashamed or embarrassed.

    As an investor, it is easy to feel a bit stupid and naïve – and it can be hard to come forward and be open about not making as much money as one hoped, or not enjoying the fruits of a deal as claimed.

    I know of a significant number of other investors who have had disappointing experiences with investing with TGPC.

    I present the facts and figures of my experience, so that others can read them and then make their own decisions as to whether they wish to invest with TGPC.

    11
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    Katherine

    Thank you for having the courage to start this thread detailing your experience.

    Easy to say, and I hear many stories from mentees, but I have always said (likewise has Vanessa) due diligence is probably two of the most important words in any investment - not just property

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    Full time Landlord in WestYorkshire, mentor and property education to new and inexperienced PRS investors. 25+ years of working knowledge. Accredited NLA member & RLA member http://www.landlordgeoff.co.uk [color=#800080]

    A very comprehensive and well presented comments about Renovation, JV's and Deal Sourcing. These are some of the most common issues novice property investors fall into. It is surprising TGPC may have made these mistakes, perhaps they have a scale'ing issue and may need to take time to re-assess there processes and procedures.

    In regards to the dodgy builders - id be weary of putting blame at TGPC door, builders are builders - its very hard to find good and competent companies. You certainly need a competent project manager to watch over them!


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    THIS PROPERTY TRIBES ACCOUNT IS NO LONGER USED.
    DO NOT SEND PRIVATE MESSAGES.

    --- MORE INFO HERE ---

    YOU CAN REACH ME AT BESPOKE FINANCE or MY TEAM AT 08009202001

    C'mon Adam! Scaling issues!! Who cares. 30% BMV is a pipedream that is only ever really offered in this packaged way by sourcers. I don't think all sourcers are bad (far from it) but having been one I know that when people say they can supply an (implied) unlimited amount of property at 30% BMV or "off market" its a mirage.

    Realising this I create Repolist. It does part of the job that sourcers ought to do. It can deliver to your inbox a shortlist of properties requiring refurbishment in areas that are defined by you the investor. You can negotiate with the vendor, you dont have to pay a dodgy "reservation fee" and there are never ever issues with viewing a property. Repolist will not find you a builder, make decisions for you or project manage your refurbishment but £9.99 + vat can easily save you £14,000 as evidenced in this post.

    See my recent post - RepoList now has "cash buyers only" search option

    To Katherine Klinger - It sounds like you have had an awful experience. I do not suggest in any way that you are responsible for the way that you have been treated. Perhaps you might consider trying to recoup some of your losses through the legal process. The situation that you have described, if true sounds like a clear breach of contract. I hope that you are able to get this matter resolved quickly.

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    Founder of Repolist Ltd, the UK's largest real time database of repossession and refurbishment properties.
    Find out more:
    RepoList Website

    C'mon Anthony! Im sure your not comparing paying for properties at OMV because they need investment via Zoopla/RepoList to getting 30% off of the OMV. That would be rather silly but a very nice sideway into a plug for your service, very smooth - I like it.

    I dunno why these problems arrose, I did mention scaling Issues as you dont half see TGPC arround a lot these days. My comment was more arround two points - busineses can and do make mistakes (scaling) AND busineses can improve via constructive critisism like this (process and procedures).

    1
    1

    THIS PROPERTY TRIBES ACCOUNT IS NO LONGER USED.
    DO NOT SEND PRIVATE MESSAGES.

    --- MORE INFO HERE ---

    YOU CAN REACH ME AT BESPOKE FINANCE or MY TEAM AT 08009202001

    Adam, I dont believe in BMV just price and value. Furthermore I dont think the big investors i know take any of that guff seriously. 99% properties offered by sourcers are actually available on the open market through Rightmove/ Zoopla etc because the vendor is trying to sell them at the best price that they can get. I think if you re read the original post the property was actually available more cheaply in the market than it was through the sourcer.

    The price you pay for a property is down to your situation and that of the vendor at the time you shake hands. 30% discounts in the current housing shortage! When did you last see one of those? Which vendor in the current housing market says "I'd like to sell my house with minimal advertising at a discount?"

    There are people that through their circumstances, are forced to accept quick low ball offers. You are most likely to find them if you make lots of offers, or perhaps through auction (Repolist automates over 180 auction houses nationwide). Finally I'm very proud of Repolist and I only bring it up in forum discussions when it is specifically relevant. If you look back through my posts you will see that 90% of my comments have nothing to do with sourcing or Repolist. On the accusation of "smoothness"  Thank you :-)


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    Founder of Repolist Ltd, the UK's largest real time database of repossession and refurbishment properties.
    Find out more:
    RepoList Website

    Perhaps our conversation has moved away from relevence of this topic. You can get BMV properties in this market if we forget the north/south divide (your in london right? the anomily ) there are distressed sellers of every type all over. That may not be focussed on obtaining the "best price" but more focused in obtaining funds quick of a certain amount for a specific purpose. You know this, so not realy sure what the comments were about.
    (p.s. I last seen one a month or so ago - go to completion soon I hope. Dont worry no JV/Sources involved - just me and a few spreadsheets.)

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    THIS PROPERTY TRIBES ACCOUNT IS NO LONGER USED.
    DO NOT SEND PRIVATE MESSAGES.

    --- MORE INFO HERE ---

    YOU CAN REACH ME AT BESPOKE FINANCE or MY TEAM AT 08009202001

    I can't get my head head around paying a sourcing fee by a party that still has skin in the game?

    The benefit to the company in this case that finds the deal is that they get half the profits for finding & managing the deal without the finabce , and the benefit to the investor is obviously they get half the profit for financing (enabling) the ptoject to go ahead. Win-win.

    Obviously if the deal is sourced and then passed on the deal finder should receive a fee for the work they have done, as their financial interest in the project is then over.


    Sounds like double charging

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    Hi Adam,

    If TGPC cannot stand behind a builder's work, then they should not recommend them imho.  Mentees are paying for introductions to trusted suppliers, not any old person that they could have found themselves.

    The fact that TGPC continues to recommend this dodgy builder is also a concern.  Katherine has notified TGPC of this shoddy work but has learned from other mentees that the builder is being recommended to new intakes, despite this.  Do they have an affiliate arrangement with the builder?  If so, was this disclosed to mentees? These are the kind of questions that will now arise and require answers.

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    Vanessa It would be a very silly business operation, if they are not receiving a discount OR refferal fee for recomending builders for projects. I hope Susannah Cole is in business to make profit and maximize such profits where avaliable.

    If the said builder are as bad as described, it would be suppriseing to me if TGPC has not dropped them and replaced them with an alternative for future projects. It should certainly be under concideration if not already.

    To your point - When does a builder become a trusted builder? or rather a better question is how many renovations should you do with a company, before you reccomend them to others?
    Sure this builder sounds awful - but - id not agree with your opinion to say that if you recomend someone you are responsible for there actions (well, unless they continue to recomend them after bad reports).

    1
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    THIS PROPERTY TRIBES ACCOUNT IS NO LONGER USED.
    DO NOT SEND PRIVATE MESSAGES.

    --- MORE INFO HERE ---

    YOU CAN REACH ME AT BESPOKE FINANCE or MY TEAM AT 08009202001

    Adam, this company put out a white paper detailing the things that they learned in their first 100 deals. They also claim to have sourced i believe £45 million of property for a value of £30 million.

    I fully accept that stuff goes wrong from time to time and that refurbs are not a science however; the admission that appears to have been made by them that the project manager was not competent, goes to the core of the service they offer.

    Furthermore, the 30% discount does appear to massively inflated. Finally the builder that they employed and by the sounds of things, continue to employ sounds such a long way below competent...They really need to respond to this.

    Sadly most people dont get it this wrong when they do things themselves following due diligence and research. Why pay someone £14k?? 

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    Founder of Repolist Ltd, the UK's largest real time database of repossession and refurbishment properties.
    Find out more:
    RepoList Website