James Davis of Upad
This weeks Notable Property Person is James Davis – is it only two years since he launched Upad? It is such a large player now. Here he tells us his story.
1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
12 years’ experience of being a residential landlord gave me an in-depth understanding of the frustrations faced by renters looking for their ideal place to live. At the same time I also knew from my own experience that – for landlords – finding tenants was very time consuming. Identifying the need for a service that took the hassle out of property rental for both parties, my foresight was to harness the power of online to tackle the challenges faced by a sector that had traditionally operated offline. Upad.co.uk was launched in 2008, and is now the UK’s largest online lettings agent.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
My initial exposure to the world of property was as an ‘accidental landlord’ at the age of 22. Unable to afford the purchase price of a property in London having just finished university, I was still keen to get on the property ladder. I persuaded my bank to lend me the money to buy a house big enough to enable me to rent out several rooms in order to generate income to help pay the mortgage. This was before the time of buy-to-let mortgages, and the bank requested I submit a business plan to the bank before it would loan the funds.
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Running a successful ‘disruptive’ online business with the support of a fantastic team and an exceptionally supportive wife and family.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
Landlords operating as business. So many run an advert just in the local paper; and whilst there are pockets of the country this works well; 90%+ of tenants are searching online, across 100+ of property portals. Landlords need to get their listings in front of as many tenants as possible to minimise voids. Distribution is key so pick up some free top tips here.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
The UK shifting to a more European housing model where it is common place to rent; the quantity of UK landlords has grown by over 150% in the past 4 years alone.
7. We have a general election coming up – what would you like to see in the winning parties manifesto as regards the private rented sector?
LHA payments direct to landlords and incentives for renovating housing stock.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
Indeed, it is an exceptionally helpful and essential way for companies and individuals to communicate today. Traditional print media has had its day unfortunately.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
Treat your property portfolio as a business and ‘be prepared’; leaks always occur on a bank holiday!
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
There is a wealth of information available online and many physical meet ups to chat with like minded individuals. Research and understand the space and then ‘get on with it’, making calculated decisions.
Thanks James. We’ll all watch out for the ‘Death of the Amateur Landlord’ campaign! And good luck and continued success with www.upad.co.uk!