Fiona Fullerton

From: Mike .


I have always been incredibly nosy. Even as a small child I used to love exploring other people's houses and would marvel at the way they lived. I had friends who lived in tiny terraced houses and friends who lived in castles, so from very early on I was exposed to both ends of the property spectrum.

I, however, was brought up in a series of rather bland, Ministry of Defence houses as a result of having a father in the Army. The locations may have been exotic - Africa, Singapore, Germany, USA - but the houses most definitely were not.

Maybe this is where my love of interior design and decorating sprang from. It certainly is a mystery to my parents how I came to know about Georgian fanlights and bullion fringe, when I spent my childhood surrounded by magnolia painted walls and 1960s teak furniture. I was screaming for a bit of chintz.

Having entered the movie industry at the age of 11, I started saving my pennies and bought my first flat at 19. Discovering a hitherto untapped flair for decorating, I managed to create a haven of Sanderson gorgeousness out of a woodchip nightmare and sold it on for a tidy profit.

This pattern was repeated a couple of times until I was eventually living in the heart of Knightsbridge, London, a mere bomb-blast away from Harrods. It was also my first foray into the lettings market, as no sooner was I ensconced in my two-bedroom apartment than I was whisked off to Hollywood.

It was then that I realised how much money could be made from letting good flats. It was 1983 and I made 15 per cent yield on my capital in the first year and 12 per cent in the second. I bought the flat for around £87,000 and sold it in 1989 for £240,000. By my calculations I made 176 per cent on my initial investment, which brought a 23 per cent
return year on year for six years. Not bad. But timing is everything. I sold it just in time.

This is one of the reasons for writing this book. I discovered a knack for making money out of property and surely, If I can do it, you can do it too. It just takes a little know-how, a few tricks and a lot of stamina. They say a property doubles in value roughly every seven years, but in fact you can double your money within a year, if you have the right property, in the right location. If you regard your home as business investment, however long you intend to live there, by enhancing its potential you are increasing its value.

I continued trading-up until 1994 when I decided to go into the lettings market properly. Having sold a really lovely place in Chelsea, South West London, I bought two flats with a view to developing and letting them. This gave vent to my creative urges even though I was still working as a busy actress.

But, oh dear, I made many ghastly mistakes as a landlord and have based this book on what I have learnt as a result. For example, I bought a studio flat (difficult to let) on Chelsea Embankment (no transport links for miles and no parking) and painted the walls terracotta (most tenant's don't want red).

So now I seek advice from my lettings agents before I Buy to Let and they give me a rough idea of the projected income from the property. I'll buy a place that is fairly run down, in a good location, redesign it, do it up and let it. I also take care of the management myself. All the flats have off-white walls, neutral carpets, up-to-the-minute American-style bathrooms and are fully furnished with quality furniture. If a tenant is going to pay a hefty rent they want a home from home that is comfortable and well equipped.

After the birth of my daughter in 1995 I started writing more frequently for various newspapers and magazines, in a bid to stay at home. This led to the discovery, by the Daily Telegraph, that I was, shock-horror, A LANDLORD and they offered me a 12-week stint as a guest columnist, writing about my experiences on the property ladder.

Two-and-a-half years later I was still writing my column and was also presenting television programmes on the subject. Much to the amusement of my family and friends I was being called a 'property expert' or 'property guru' when in fact I was just applying my knowledge and experiences that had been gathered over 24 years of dealing with estate agents, solicitors and removal men.

But property is the new big thing. The subject seems to dominate dinner party conversation and the media. There are so many television programmes devoted to house-related issues that cookery is in danger of being relegated to the second division. I now know what it must be like to be a doctor. People keep rushing up to me and saying things like
'I've got an attic, do you think I should convert it?' or 'My tenant won't pay his rent and now his Egyptian belly-dancer girlfriend, who has athlete's foot, has moved in with her four children and the neighbours are complaining. What should I do?'

People love to talk about property. I suppose we all have to live somewhere but the idea of property as an investment is finally taking hold. The Buy to Let scheme has obviously helped the small investor like me and now landlords are popping up all over the place. Discussing your returns and your tenants over dinner is far more fun than arguing about the best place to ski this year.

I'm still making mistakes but loving it all the same. My Buy to Let portfolio is still growing and, because I do the management as well, the hassle factor is growing too. As for buying and selling, I'm still interested on a development basis but I think we've found our roots here in Gloucestershire. If all goes according to plan, I won't be
leaving this house until I go to meet that great landlord in the sky.

[Introduction from How to Make Money From Your Property by Fiona Fullerton]

Just thought you might get some inspiration from Fiona's story.

Regards, Mike
 
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Reply: 1
From: Owen .


I read that whole thing thinking it was about you Mike and thinking you had been hiding a very successful life from us all!!!!!

Sounds like an interesting read though, even if it's not about you.

Owen
 
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Reply: 1.1
From: Sergey Golovin


Thanks Mike,

Interesting comment she makes there - "...Furnished with latest American bathroom..."
In Australia we prefer European design kitchens and bathrooms.
Does it mean that Americans do get excited about Australian bathroom ware?

Serge.
 
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Reply: 1.1.1
From: Michael G


Hi,

Maybe american means, everything is backwards, just like the way their toilets drain? :p

Michael G
 
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Reply: 1.1.1.1
From: Mike .


Hi folks,

In that intro Fiona says she Lets her properties as: "...fully furnished with quality furniture."

I've noticed that the trend here in London is to rent properties fully furnished.

In Australia Property Managers advise the opposite. The PM of my place wouldn't even let me leave the washing machine or dryer. He said tenants prefer to use their own. I had to sell the dryer and the washing machine is in storage until I get back, which could be years!

Any comments on the furnish or not to furnish debate?

Regards, Mike
 
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Reply: 2
From: Geoff Whitfield


Mike,

It sounds like a good book. But I could not find mention of it- in a real bookshop, on and Australian book website, or Amazon.com.

Any more details please?
 
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