Property Gurus

David Lawrenson of looks at property gurus and wonders what makes them tick.

On Property Gurus

What is with these property gurus, I often wonder? And why are they not more like me?

In order to find out, I have read a bit about other property gurus in the last couple of months.

I thought it would be worth getting some of their books to see if there is anything I could learn.

Sure, some had some good ideas about how to make money as a property investor and / or a landlord, though there were no stunning insights that I had not come across before.

I guess that lack of stunning insights is not surprising when I already read up so much from property websites, magazines and even in the newspapers. My recommended regular monthly reads are Property Investor News (which I have got for at least ten years), YPN magazine (which has got increasingly good over recent years, and not just because I now write for them every month!) and the magazine of the National Landlords Association. (I have been an NLA member for twenty odd years from the days when it was rather oddly called the Small Landlords Association – and you get the magazine mailed to you as part of your membership fee).

Get my two books for landlords and then subscribe to at least one or two of these three magazines and you will be doing just fine.

Keep an eye too on websites like Property Tribes, Property 118 and Landlord Zone – and you could become a real professional.

Property Gurus and Their Activities

What I find a bit odd is the activities of some of the property gurus themselves.

Why do they work so hard?

And why has actual property investing for their own account been allowed to become such a small part of what they do?

What is all this nonsense about “giving something back”?

I guess they are not as easily pleased as me? Maybe I am lazy? Maybe I am happy because fast, expensive cars, racehorses, overseas villas and large boats hold little attraction for me. Perhaps this is the reason?

So, let’s have a look at the evolution of some property gurus businesses.

Well, they always start off investing for their own account. Then, once they have 20 or 50 (it can vary) properties, they realise they want more. You could ask why, when if they have done things right, this kind of investment could easily bring in over £150K a year after a few years. Enough for most people, one would think.

But they want more and one way of doing this, whilst overcoming funding constraints imposed by the banks is to use Other Peoples’ Money (or OPM as its referred to by some in the know). All good – and this can make sense. If you lack cash and other people will lend to you or give you cash in return for equity, then fine, why not?

Also, it gets useful to use other peoples’ expertise too – you could call this “OPE”. There you are – another new acronym! This is also sensible and can also be great to better “leverage”, (another key term in the guru lexicon, that one), your own time.

Property Gurus and Education and Networking

This search for others’ money and others’ time can naturally follow from networking activities.

The idea is you go to property networking meetings and you can find people with expertise and cash. Some investors go to these meetings looking for good places to invest in property that will give them a better return than in the stock market or from bank interest. And so, people meet up. The investors find the property investment opportunities and the people needing investment, find the investors. Everyone is happy. It’s a really smart system and it helps the little guy out. Perfect capitalism! And with the internet facilitating access to crowd funding, it has got even simpler.

The writers of these books often expand into property networking meetings – running them and facilitating them. It’s a logical step. From there many of them also set up property education courses, teaching people everything from sourcing deals to how find and use other peoples’ cash and expertise and how to find and structure property deals.

It is all good – and if the books are to be believed the gurus doing all this work absolutely love it.

Part of what they love is helping other people to success in property.

Well I like doing that too. I do it via my occasional seminars and via my one to one consultancy. But, come on, for some gurus, it sounds like that by helping other people to “financial freedom” in property, they are providing some huge good to society.

I think that is pushing it a bit.

If you want to give something back in property, then get involved in reducing homelessness more directly. There are many charities that need your help!

But maybe I’m the one at fault.

I certainly have never been interested in running a multi-faceted business comprising training and education arms, networking networks and meet ups all around the UK, financing arms, letting agencies, the list goes on.

This all presumably involves staff, big business issues, lots and lots of work – all the things I wanted to give up when I stopped working for other people nearly twenty years ago. But this is potentially worse, because you will have equity and risk in the business too.

I say, why bother? I make enough from my portfolio of properties. I enjoy that and I enjoy the contact with tenants and my suppliers and tradespeople.

The Hands-On Property Guru – Me

Yes, I am hands on – which of course is a cardinal sin for many gurus, who would say I am not leveraging my time by using a letting agent. Maybe they are right, but that’s the thing you see, I really like property and I like this aspect of it. I like finding good tenants and helping tenants by ensuring excellent management of my properties.

What I don’t like is running a massive property education and networking empire with complex and multiple websites, massive E Commerce, staff, etc.

I just don’t get it. And I don’t need to do this. But then, maybe these gurus need to do this, because they like the big cars, the fast racehorses and the big boats. Maybe that is the difference.

There are other gurus like me. There are quite a few others who write the odd book, give the odd bit of advice and speak occasionally at seminars. They don’t run huge operations either.

I can think of Tom Entwistle, Mark Alexander, Richard Bowser, Tessa Shepperson and Kate Faulkner off the top of my head. Most of these folks are investors in property and do very well from that and all have some involvement in helping other investors and landlords, but they are all happy running slightly smaller to mid-scale operations, in which they presumably have less issues to worry about.

Surely, that is a better way to live and a way to be a more “self-actualized” and happier guru.


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