Wednesday, 23 August 2017

‘I’m a real property nut

REGULARLY attracting an audience of nearly two million viewers, BBC’s Homes Under The Hammer is now in its 16th series

REGULARLY attracting an audience of nearly two million viewers, BBC’s Homes Under The Hammer is now in its 16th series and approaching its 10-year anniversary. Martin Roberts has presented the show since it began more than nine years ago, and has visited nearly 1,500 properties all over the UK in that time.

The show’s format is a simple one: we see the property before the auction, see who buys it, find out what their plans are….then return a few months later to see what happened.

Martin, who was born in Warrington, bought his first place at the tender age of 22 when a fixed interest mortgage rate of 15 per cent was considered reasonable. Unlike the one per cent options available now, it left him with massive bills to pay.

He says: “My first property was £22,000, but the monthly repayments were massive. It was really difficult as I wasn’t earning much and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

“The government incentives today like NewBuy and FirstBuy are great if you meet the criteria but I do see first-time buyers all the time who are really struggling. Deposits are a challenge for anyone to get together, including myself, so if you can use one of these schemes they can be a massive help to get you started.”

Martin, who has presented several TV programmes including Wish You Were Here...? and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, has owned a wide portfolio of different properties.

While he has more experience developing older properties, Martin is thoroughly impressed by how cheap to run, easily maintained and energy efficient new homes are. When he isn’t working on a new DIY project or travelling around the country filming Homes Under The Hammer, Martin is delivering weekend training workshops in which he gives aspiring investors a thorough grounding in topics like how to raise finance and investment strategy.

Meanwhile, he managed to spare some time to answer a few questions for the Standard.

Where did your interest in property come from?

My dad was always doing up houses and he was DIY mad. When I was growing up, our home was constantly in a state of chaos.

My grandfather was also a bit of a property entrepreneur — he had a whole street of houses in Liverpool — so it is in my genes.

When I sold my first property in Stockport for double the amount I’d bought it for I realised that I could make a decent amount of money from property developing. I came away with £20,000 profit — much more than my yearly earnings working at a local radio station. I’ve now been investing for 25 years and love the whole process. There is no buzz like spotting the potential in a property and then transforming it.

How do you enjoy working on Homes Under The Hammer?

I absolutely love my job and have been involved with the show from the pilot episode. There have been many fascinating stories and some incredible properties including a Tudor mansion, a Napoleonic fort and a water tower.

There have been nearly 1,000 episodes and the team have visited at least 2,000 properties. As a property nut I enjoy everything about it, but the most rewarding thing is when people tell me they have taken our advice and it has really worked for them. I never get tired of hearing that.

Have you ever been confronted about encouraging people to use property as a money maker at a time when first-time buyers are struggling?

Personally, no I haven’t because I go out of my way to help people invest sensibly and not in the ‘gung ho’ manner that we were seeing before the crash.

Intrinsically, property is a good thing to get involved in and it is still a safe investment if it’s done right. Obviously, for first time-buyers, getting the deposit is a lot harder now but it means that people are forced to really think about what they are doing.

What are the pitfalls of buying at auction?

I am continually advising people that if they are considering buying a property at auction, that they visit it first, have any necessary surveys done, get an estimate of works to be carried out and study the legal pack — yet I still come across people that buy ‘blind’! This is a very risky strategy.

When looking through auction catalogues, it can be easy to be seduced by the seemingly ‘give away’ guide prices of some of the properties featured. Particularly in today’s market where there are plenty of repossessions entering the auction rooms, there can often be properties up for auction where the guide price seems a real steal.

However, before getting carried away about the possibility of snapping up a real bargain, you should ask yourself why the property is being listed with such a low guide price and as always, do your research! Don’t go just on price alone. If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

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