A property investor who uses Viewber
Meet Howard Giblin - a property investor from Bristol who has turned his passion into a business. An honest and insightful case study.
I have found my passion in life, but like many people, my day job isn’t it. I absolutely love property, there is something unbelievably addictive about combining an entrepreneurial mindset with my interest in design and construction. The challenge is turning a passion into a business that can supplement and ultimately replace my corporate salary to offer greater choice over the way I spend my time.
I do enjoy my day job, and there are some common threads between the property sector and my role as an associate director at a construction company building large projects across Europe. I’m proud of the buildings I’ve handed over and am grateful for the chance to work around the world. I was often filled with excitement to experience working in a new country, but when I boarded a flight to Finland in January 2020 something felt fundamentally different. Past excitement had been replaced with a frustration to leave my home life and a sense that my day job had more control over my life than I was comfortable with. Enough was enough, and during that flight I drafted a resignation letter which one day I will hand in when I achieve my goal to work in property full time.
I am fortunate that my property "journey" commenced a number of years ago, starting with a hands-on renovation to a residential home and some single let properties in the South West and Midlands. They are sound investments and provide reliable returns but on that trajectory it was going to take longer than I was willing to wait to reach a goal of working in property full time. I needed a new strategy.
I was aware there is a big difference between setting goals and executing a plan to achieve them. I carried out further research on different strategies which I thought would allow me to achieve my goal and felt that providing good quality student accommodation was the best option for me. To validate this, I sought the guidance of an experienced investor and under their mentorship I went on to further develop my strategy. I subsequently undertook extensive market research, area and deal analysis, gained compliance knowledge and had guidance on creating a business model that can be repeated and attract investment.
With a scalable strategy in place - it was time to take action. The world had changed though and there was now a pandemic affecting everyone across the globe. Aside from distress and health concerns everyone shared - there were travel restrictions and economic measures deployed by the government like the stamp duty holiday which poured fuel on a property market that already had pent up demand.
In a heated market you need to react quickly, and I couldn’t compete against people who lived locally - I didn’t stand a chance, so the only way for me to buy property was if someone else viewed it on my behalf. Estate agents are understandably reserved about accepting offers from someone who hasn’t seen the property themselves, they can’t get a sense of how reliable the buyer is and there is an added risk they could pull out when they do see it. My research had led me to a different investment area so I didn’t have any past relationships to rely on. Property is a people business, and I was conscious that anybody viewing properties on my behalf needed to be professional as they were ultimately an extension of myself and my new business. I researched different options for viewing properties and decided to proceed with Viewber.
I proceeded with viewings and chose the option to view properties via a live streamed video. As with any process it could be refined with time and experience, I learnt to ask better questions, provide further description in advance of the viewing and provided annotated mark ups for key areas I wanted to look at. There are obviously risks associated with buying property like this, but it gave me the confidence to adjust my refurb calculations and submit offers on a couple of houses. I was overjoyed when one was accepted - the strategy was underway! I followed this up with a home buyers survey and was happy to find that there was nothing new picked up which hadn’t been identified during the virtual viewing. Virtual viewings have solved my travel problem and is now a service I factor in as one of my costs of doing business. It also has the added benefit of being quicker and more sustainable.
The conveyancing process was slow, but it eventually completed and I was able to collect the keys in person. As I approached the house for the first time there was a suitable blend of both the excitement of opportunity, and the anxiety from the reality that there was no going back. I am pleased to report that there were no hidden horrors and the due diligence carried out with pictures, virtual viewings, surveys and ongoing open communication was all accurate. It has been a whirlwind ever since I got the keys - the renovation works are well underway, the letting agent is preparing adverts and now I’m starting to turn my attention to finding that next property with the confidence that the demand is there.
Any regrets? None so far. There are challenges with building a business around the constraints of a day job, but I feel energised by future opportunities and it makes the hard work, early mornings and late nights all worth it. There have been plenty of lessons learnt along the way, but these have all offered a chance to implement something new and it is all going to make the next one easier. I am a firm believer that nothing worth having in life comes easy - and hope that putting in the hard work will offer an opportunity for more choice in the future.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or if you're interested in any future projects or investment opportunities.