It is a great pleasure to have Lisa Orme as my NPP this week. Lisa has been in property for quite a while and has a lot of wisdom to impart. Here is her story.
1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
I’m Lisa Orme but you may also see me referred to as Lisa Williams. I can assure you I’m one in the same person! Orme was my maiden name and Williams is my married name. Most people in property circles know me as Orme so I tend to stick to that.
My husband, Stuart and I, started Keys UK Limited almost ten years ago; we started out as letting agents but got the property bug and spent the next 8 years or so investing in and developing property in the Midlands.
When the credit crunch hit and things went quiet we started our own mortgage brokerage. A lot of people thought I was completely mad, but it’s a brilliant addition to our business strategy and I had no idea how much I would love it.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
We read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (affiliate link) and that was our epiphany moment.
Wanting to ‘get into property’ we started the letting agency working from home in addition to both having full time jobs but quickly realised it was the landlords who were making the money.
So we sold an endowment policy that would never give us the promised returns and used the £40k it gave us to buy a property to refurb. We sold it and made a £40k profit – a 100% return on our investment. That was it we were hooked and started to build a portfolio.
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Overall I’d have to say working for ourselves for ten years. Not having a regular wage is pretty scary; terrifying at times! But we’ve always been able to adapt ourselves and our business to the marketplace and find a way through whatever has been thrown at us.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
Yes, a few things in the pipeline.
We are currently redesigning our website and various aspects of the mortgage business as part of a big relaunch for our tenth anniversary in the New Year. Keep an eye on www.keys-mortgages.com.
We are also working on a project that will revolutionise property investment. This should all come together in the next 3-6 months and will pull together many aspects of what we’ve done over the last ten years.
In the longer term I plan to develop a number of retiree developments with a difference – I think the grey property market is a much overlooked area that holds huge potential and I intend to capitalise on that with my own twist.
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
The biggest problem for the sector as a whole is going to be a lack of property supply. Rents are well overdue a rise but it’s a rise that many tenants are not going to be able to afford let alone with housing benefit cuts looming too. Sadly the same people priced out of the house buying market are also likely to find themselves priced out of the rental market too.
The government has sold off much of its stock, isn’t building any more, nor are house builders or housing associations and we have an increasing demand for homes. The two don’t correlate and it will be rents first and then house prices again. This is not good for society even if it proves profitable for landlords and is a real dichotomy.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
Ironically the same as its greatest problem. I see a big increase in rentals on the horizon and with prices low and likely to go lower it offers a real opportunity for landlords. The lenders certainly feel the next 3-5 years offer huge promise for buy to let and I think we will see the tide turn in this regard.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the private rented sector?
It has to be direct payment of housing allowance to landlords. The aim of the previous Government to encourage benefit claimants to take responsibility is admirable but completely unworkable. Many will admit they aren’t good with money or paperwork and don’t want that responsibility thrust upon them.
This plea isn’t just for the landlords it’s for the tenants who end up being evicted. Let the tenant take real responsibility by deciding that they aren’t able to manage their money and reinstate direct payments as soon as possible.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
Yes I do; I’m on Facebook but confess not to have really tackled that yet as a media – to be honest I’m just fed up of being spammed all the time on it!
Twitter I love and run two accounts – my general musings as a landlady and human being via www.twitter.com/LisaOrme and my business account which includes tips and info on finance, etc via www.twitter.com/KeysMortgages.
I’m also on Linked In and I’m sure it holds huge promise too but again not really got to grips with it though have made some interesting connections.
I’m a rather chatty type person so I think that’s why Twitter appeals!
Social media has played a huge part in my entire property career; I’ve been blogging, posting on forums and writing articles and newsletters for most of my time in property but really just for the fun of it as I haven’t had anything to ‘sell’. When I launched the mortgage brokerage I just put out the feelers in the property community and have been rushed off my feet ever since. Over two thirds of the industry have left due to the economic climate but we are thriving and in no large part to our social media strategy that we didn’t even know we had!
Moving forwards for us and the industry as a whole it cannot be underestimated. Information is just so easily available about just about anything. If you can find out about typewriter ribbons made in Mongolia believe me you can find out whether someone is worth doing business with! If you don’t get yourself a good web presence someone else will fill that void for you and you may not like what results.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
I think it would be to have a plan B, C, D, E….! No matter how much you try to plan something factors completely beyond your control seem to always get in the way.
You can plan and plan and plan but nothing prepares you for real life so while it’s good to have a plan don’t be too inflexible that if you get a curve ball you can’t reassess and change direction when you need to. Not only that but isn’t it boring to have your life completely mapped out in front of you; let it take its own course sometimes – you might be surprised where you end up.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
1. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve never lost money in property; they’re lying!
2. Don’t get caught up in the get rich quick – property is a long game with a few quicker wins along the way.
3. Have a contingency fund of several thousand pounds at all times; property is not a cheap investment and things can and do go wrong – regularly!
4. Great deals will come along when you least expect them and you need to be in a position to move quickly when they do. Cultivate cash rich investors well before you need them.
5. Get good advisers; solicitor, accountant and mortgage broker. Be choosy and pick them like you would your own staff and when you get good ones don’t skimp; pay them well!
Thanks Lisa, and I so agree with you about housing supply on question 5!
If you want to contact Lisa, her web-site is www.keys-mortgages.com.