1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
Hi, I’m Sarah Beeny – probably best known for presenting property shows on Channel 4 – usually whilst heavily pregnant.
I recently launched free to use www.tepilo.com, which is now a market leading private property website, changing the way we buy, sell and let houses. The company was recently voted one of the top 100 small businesses in the UK, top 100 startups and shortlisted for website of the year.
In 2005 we created the online dating website, www.mysinglefriend.com which has been a phenomenal success and hopefully changed the attitude to online dating in this country.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
My father was an architect and so I was around building sites all my childhood – I guess it’s in my blood.
I set up my own property development and investment companies when I was 24 along with my brother and my husband.
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Apart from my children….improving lives and changing the way people think about things with the web – Mysinglefriend and Tepilo both do this. I love the process of taking a new project to market – it’s never easy, but fantastically satisfying if it all goes to plan.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
Yes, things seem to be moving in all directions. Tepilo is constantly developing, but we have a big marketing campaign coming up, some apps launching and we’re working towards an overseas section to the site. There’s also a properties wanted section that’s nearly ready to go.
I have also been restoring a listed building in Yorkshire and there’s a new show out in November, I hope, following the restoration. We’re hoping to have this up and running as a wedding and events venue very soon.
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
Legislation that keeps coming in to overcomplicate things. It doesn’t make anything any easier. I think that we will see increasing demand for rented accommodation as people find it harder to get on the property ladder – so there needs to be a solid and robust system to handle this and protect both landlords and tenants – and actually the wider community.
Properties need to be safe to let and well maintained and there should be a body there to deal with complaints and arrange adequate training and knowledge.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
Short term or holiday lets are in much demand and give a greater return at the moment, but any residential let will soon see increased demand. There’s still a big housing shortage in this country, so there will be some drastic rethinking required.
As the sales are slightly slow at the moment in some areas, it should be a prime opportunity to get some great deals for buy to let landlords – even more so as first time buyers are struggling to find finance.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the private rented sector?
Stop legislating as though the landlord is the bad guy and accept that there are just as many if not more difficult tenants as landlords – encouraging long term commitment between landlord and tenant would give greater stability all round.
Education is also a must – there are a growing number of “accidental landlords” – who through no real fault of their own have ended up renting their properties and need information, advice and also protection.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
I think what makes it powerful – is once you have built up a trusted network, getting good advice is really quick. I can see the view that it may become the new search. If I wanted to find the best roofer in Oxford – a tweet is all it might take to get a few good recommendations back – much quicker and simpler than searching on Google.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
Never underestimate how much building work costs – it only makes it more painful in the long run. Proper planning, taking plenty of advice and working out an accurate budget will build the foundations of a successful project.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
Get a good qualification that enables you to move around the industry whilst earning a good salary. Learning a trade can be really valuable and save you considerable money when it comes to renovating a property. Time in the industry will enable you to adopt your own way of doing things and find the best people to work with to achieve the best results.
Many thanks for that Sarah. All your plans sound exciting but I am particularly looking forward to seeing the restoration show in November.
To find out more about Sarah see her web-site here.