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Gavin Wise

Looking after tenants helps me look after my business

How a focus on supporting tenants and providing good quality family homes has helped Paragon customer Gavin Wise develop a near 40-strong property portfolio – with more to come.

“I like to build a relationship with my tenants. I provide good quality family homes, keep rents fair and respond quickly to any requests. Good communication is key and, so far, it is working well for my property business.”

Establishing good working relationships is important to Gavin Wise, whether that is through his own financial advisor business or through his lettings operation, which will consist of 38 properties by the end of 2020.

It’s an approach that has stood him in good stead. Gavin has only had one bad tenant experience in nearly 10 years of letting property and enjoys strong renewal rates. "I typically take out a five-year fixed rate when I buy a new property to let and that gives me certainty and also provides my tenants with a level of assurance too”

Gavin began his property business at the age of 42 in 2012 after establishing a successful independent financial adviser business in Hartlepool - Wise Financial Consulting – five years earlier.

Over the last eight years, he has concentrated on building the property business through focused acquisitions, targeting three-bedroom family homes in and around the Hartlepool area. He predominantly lets to young families in the sub 35 age range, making sure that his properties offer garden space and good quality kitchens and bathrooms.

“A key piece of advice is to buy where you know,” he says. “Don’t try to get rich quick by buying in locations you don’t know or understand because you can come unstuck very quickly. We have built our business steadily over the past eight years. I know what property works for us and what is popular with our target tenant group.”

Another piece of advice he offers is to build a strong contact book of individuals and organisations related to your property business, including tradespeople, solicitors and lenders. Gavin has worked with Paragon, and other lenders, developing his portfolio.

“The people at Paragon fully understand portfolio landlords, what drives them and what they require. It’s a lender that is simple and straightforward to deal with.”

Gavin plans to accelerate his property business over the next 12 to 18 months, aiming to double the size of the portfolio. His strategy is based on investing for yield and income and not putting too much emphasis on capital gain, so investing in the right kind of property is important.

He says: “The portfolio has grown steadily so far and we’ve taken opportunities to buy when we can, but I really want to grow at pace now. However, we won’t deviate from our strategy and start investing in cheaper houses, even if they could offer greater capital gains potential. I find tenant issues become greater and returns impacted.”

Interestingly, coronavirus hasn’t been an inhibitor for the business. Gavin says only one of his tenants has experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic, but she has now cleared her arrears. “She communicated with us throughout,” he explains. “Her partner lost his job so it impacted them financially for a while and we were able to help out. She’s now cleared her arrears and is back on her feet.”

He concludes that despite not getting into property until his early 40s, it has always been a passion of his. “I had always had a desire to invest in property but it wasn’t until my business started to make money that I was in a position to do so. I wanted to invest in a different asset class and property is something that always appealed.”

He added: “I am passionate about this business and property; it’s something that has always interested me and I really think you need that if you want to build a successful portfolio. If you think tenants or property maintenance is a burden, it’s not the game for you.”