Sam Collett: How the award-winning female property developer achieved her dream and why she's looking at bridging

Sam Collett: How the award-winning female property developer achieved her dream and why she's looking at bridging




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By Dawn Murden

 

Samantha Collett, 34, is an award-winning property developer and investor from Hertfordshire, who with her ambitious and bubbly personality has soared to success quickly. Sam has a nationwide portfolio of 50 properties worth a total of £4m, and a Staffordshire based management agency, Gorgeous Homes, up and running for two and a half years. Yet there is still much more to come from the 5”2’ entrepreneur...

 

“My company is doing great and we’re still growing, someone even tried to buy it last year, and for me that signified its true success,” she says.

 

Sam’s property projects are located all over the country, targeted at first time buyers, at an average price of between £125,000 and £150,000.

 

“I’m currently looking for a new project to keep me on my toes. Recently at auctions I’ve been looking at quirky properties like World War II bunkers, chapels, and I almost bought a sewerage works that I wanted to turn into a leisure complex...” she continues.

 

Sam was working at a small advertising company and despite a £10,000 pay rise, ditched her office life without looking back. Swapping ads for auctions, and her phone for a paint brush, she began renovating the property deals she scoured out of the hundreds on offer at auctions across the country.

 

“I worked at the company three and a half years and even though they gave me more money, it wouldn’t have fundamentally changed my life. I had £15,000 from the company shares scheme and I then took out a mortgage with Build Store. They lent me 95% of the purchase price, and 95% of the renovation cost, allowing me to buy the property and do it up.” Sam explains.

 

“Although, today the products only offer about 75% because of the current climate.”

 

Property clearly runs in Sam’s family, with her late father becoming a small-scale property mogul when she was a teen, yet it was a chance encounter with a stranger in the pub that led Sam to make the career change.

 

“His life as a property developer sounded really interesting, he inspired me and still inspires me today,” she says.

 

And now Sam is considering bridging finance. The self styled property developer hasn’t used it before, but is considering the short term finance sector for current opportunities coming up at auction which have short completion deadlines.

 

“When I started up I was very lucky because I had, and still have, an exceptional broker who would get me exceptional deals,” explains Sam. “The bank usually managed to get the money through in the nick of time but it was very stressful. My bank manager is great, but I do sometimes wonder if I could have done more with a bridging loan.

 

“I’m looking for that new challenge, and becoming more creative in how I finance projects, now that I’m in a good position.”

 

As well as her other ventures, Sam owns the website Virtualletz.com, which enables users to search for landlords or tenants in the UK for free. Being a landlord herself Sam understands how hard it can be for landlords to contact tenants, and vice versa.

 

“I can see how the recession had affected some landlords, and value for money is critical. I launched the free site to aid communication between landlords and tenants.

 

“I wanted to do it before anyone else did as I may as well be my own competition, and now we can offer extra agency services such as gas and service checks to our users.”

 

Sam’s activities haven’t gone unnoticed and last month she won the National Landlords Association West Midlands Property Woman Award 2010, for all her efforts in the property sector.

 

“It feels fabulous to have won an award for a job I love doing. It’s all about having fun for me, although of course I need to make money!” she says.

 
 

The property industry is often thought of being a male-dominated environment but Sam says she’s only ever been treated with respect as a female property developer, despite having been underestimated at times. 

 

“Some people don’t take me seriously, at auctions for example, but really that works to my advantage as they don’t expect me to outbid them!” Sam explains.

 

Unlike some often impersonal world-wide corporations, the property entrepreneur doesn’t mind if her company remains the same size, because she wants to look after the people who got her to where she is today.

 

“It’s a people business; it’s about keeping people happy. I still want to look after tenants I’ve had for five years the same way I do new ones.”

 

Sam has a long list of tips to pass onto any wannabe property magnate, but there are a couple she feels are most important: “One auction tip I swear by is always bidding last, otherwise you’re fanning the flames of the price you’ll pay, and however tempting, don’t accept the free wine – drinking and bidding don’t mix!”

 

She says the key thing to remember when going into property development is knowing the sector and your market inside out by doing your research, and a great finance deal is useless without finding great property deals.

 

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