Who wants to be a property millionaire? Ex-Harrods manager did it… and so can you.
An ex-Harrods fashion manager has revealed how she ditched her London life and moved nearly two hundred miles north to build a £1.25m property empire.
Kim Firmin has forged a new career buying and refurbishing houses with her husband Keith after she suffered burn-out while working at the famous Knightsbridge department store.
The 34-year-old had been commuting for two hours each day from her home in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, which she shared with husband Keith, who had been working in the capital for the Metropolitan Police.
Both were finding their well-paid but high-pressured jobs were placing a huge strain on their lives.
Kim said: “I ended up on medication for depression and seeing a counsellor, so I knew that something had to change and the London career path wasn’t going to work for me long-term. I knew there was something bigger and better waiting for me.”
During one of her daily train commutes, Kim spotted an article in a national newspaper for an event on how to become financially independent.
“I thought, ‘I should do that,’” she said. “I went to the workshop and it taught me about investing in property, how to raise finance such as bridging loans and how to analyse property deals.
“It really opened my eyes.”
Kim, who had since left Harrods and was managing Basler’s flagship Knightsbridge fashion store, decided to take the plunge - leaving the world of retail behind to become an estate agent.
She took more property courses and workshops while extensively researching the property market.
Kim said: “My wages were dramatically reduced but so was my commute, which gave me extra time in the day to research the property industry and allowed me time to view houses and meet builders on my days off.
“I could see the potential of building a property portfolio and knew it was a better long term plan for our futures.”
Meanwhile, after nine years with the Met Police, Keith was dealt a financial blow when he was told his pension would be drastically reduced amid Government cuts to police budgets.
He said: “I’d had no interest in property up to this point - that was Kim’s passion. But because of the pension cuts, we decided to start investing for the future and since then we’ve never looked back.”
The husband-and-wife team snapped up their first property, a run-down three-bedroom Victorian red brick terrace in Liverpool for £49,000.
They spent £8,600 completely refurbishing the property into a smart home in just under a month.
Buoyed by their initial success, Kim and Keith soon started buying more properties, continuing to target areas where they could achieve good rental yields, across Merseyside and Lancashire.
Using short-term bridging loans provided by us, they would buy tired and damaged houses - often repossessed or in probate, and use their own money for renovations before letting them out on longer term buy-to-let mortgages.
However, while living in Hertfordshire, they’d been travelling to their investment area multiple times a month, which meant paying out for hotel accommodation, food and petrol to build their portfolio which now numbers 13 properties worth about £1.25m.
So, to reduce costs and grow their business further, they took the decision to move 170 miles North, where they bought a ‘fixer-upper’ of their own near Warrington, Cheshire.
Kim said: “After several years of building on our knowledge and experience, we’re now sourcing property deals for others and offering coaching to the next generation of investors, as well as growing our own property portfolio and doing up our home. It can be a lot of hard work sometimes but very rewarding.
“I can start and finish work when I want. I have the freedom to choose my colleagues and clients, and can grow and develop my business skills on my own terms. My confidence has grown massively since regaining that control.”
Keith described the couple’s new life as “incredible.” He said: “I honestly didn’t think it was going to be as good as it has been. We get to spend a lot of time together and it makes such a difference from when we were both working long hours in our jobs, and missing all the family occasions. Now we have a great life and a successful business.”
KIM AND KEITH’S PROPERTY INVESTMENT TOP TIPS
- Make sure to do your research and know the market before you start investing – it’s an ever-changing landscape so it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on
- Spend time building positive relationships - business is all about relationships, with brokers and lenders, for example
- Plan the finance for your project ahead of time – ensure you have accounted for all costs at the start of the project
- Find an experienced finance broker – discuss your projects with your finance broker to help them find the most suitable products, whether it's a buy-to-let mortgage or a refurbishment bridging loan
- Don't compare what you’re doing to what others are doing – every house, project, aim is different and that’s what makes the process so exciting
- Invest in a way that works for you – set yourself an objective in the beginning and work towards it
Although we endeavour to lend within the shortest possible timescales, this is not always achievable in 100% of cases.