My vintage year was 2003. I was followed for 24 hours by a camera crew to make a TV program about young entrepreneurs. By then I had 100 people working for me selling buy to let mortgages and turnover from mortgage sales was £7 million a year. In 2003 I also purchased my first built to order super-car, a Ferrari 360 Spider. I visited the worlds best hotel and had a suite with a butler at the Burj al-Arab in Dubai. In 2003 my property portfolio made me an extra £1 million in 2003 without lifting a finger. It was a bitter sweet year though as I also lost one of my dearest friends in a car crash at the end of 2002. My friend David was one of the first people to start working with us, he lived with my wife and I for three days every other week and the same with my business partner on the alternate weeks for several years. That all started whilst he was going through a messy divorce. He continued commuting between Norwich and Halifax for work even after getting re-married until the saddest day of my life. I received a call telling me that David’s his car had left the road and flipped several times killing him instantly. He’d left our office only a few hours before and was on the way home to see his new wife and new born baby. It was that which changed my outlook on life forever and was also the reason I started to enjoy my wealth. We never know how long we’ve got left. As they say, there are no rehearsals in life.
At the end of 2002 my property portfolio had grown to be worth £4 million. Plenty of this had come about by capital appreciation and remortgaging to release deposits to buy more properties. Nothing has compared to the growth I witnessed in 2003 though. OK I was splashing out a bit (some said I was just being flash) but I kept the balance of having the equivalent of 20% of the value of my mortgages in cash too. I had my reasons for doing both.
How I made a million in 2003 without lifting a finger
It’s hardly fair to say that I made a million, I didn’t really, the property market made it for me. During 2003 the value of my property portfolio increased by 25%. At the start of the year my portfolio was valued at £4 million, at the end of the year the valuers said £5 million. I didn’t buy many properties in that year, I was too busy enjoying other things, but nevertheless, my portfolio was worth a million more by the end of the year than at the beginning. Lenders had also stretched their lending criteria to 80% LTV and there were some cracking fixed rates around so I took the opportunity to remortgage my whole portfolio. I released a net £1 million. I recruited a full time property manager to look after my portfolio and started making my plans to build my dream home in Central Florida, on a hill (there aren’t many in Florida), overlooking a lake. It was to be my place to escape the British Winter weather, I had fallen in love with Florida.
As I mentioned in an earlier article in this series, I had religiously kept to a one hour goal planning session every Saturday morning. I kept a book of goals. Each goal started with a heading and a page or two of space to add detail. Every Saturday I would add new goals, add details to existing goals and write how I felt about attaining goals I’d previously set. If you are wondering why some of the words above are written in blue let me explain. I genuinely believe that the goals you write down and regularly review are the goals you achieve. The words in blue were all on the page I wrote about my dream holiday home. The address of my dream home was number (not disclosed) Hart Lake Hills, Winter Haven, Florida. I hired a realtor and told him what I wanted and this was the first plot he found for me – spooky or what? When I first met the builder he asked whether I had any ideas of what I wanted the house to look like. I showed him my book of goals and all the details I had written and he was gobsmacked as I’d also dated them as I’d written them.
Am I just lucky?
Well I think you can see from these articles, I’ve had more than my fair share of luck, both good and bad. Somebody once told me that luck stands for Labour Under Constructive Knowledge. Was I just in the right place at the right time? Well yes I was, but so were millions of others were they not? I’m sharing these stories in the knowledge that some will be inspired and others will resent me. I know that I’ll never be able to please all the people all the time but if I can inspire other people and they can learn from my trials and tribulations then that makes me happy.
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OTHERS ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES
Part four – My first property management checklist
Part five – Buy to Let Maintenance Budgets
Part six - Do landlords have to provide lawnmowers?
Part seven - Landlord, Tenants, Dogs, Pets
YOU ARE HERE >>> Part eight - Vintage 2003
BONUS ARTICLE >>> My relationship with Leathes Prior Solicitors and Property118
Part ten - Online Letting Agents Review
About Mark Alexander
Mark and his family have been investing in property since 1989, initially in the Norwich area but more recently across the length and breadth of England. Mark created Property118.com as a social network for landlords with a vision of becoming the UK's best respected online property community. Mark is also a freelance internet marketing consultant to law firms Email - firstname.lastname@example.org