When you invest in the UK you will need a team of people to work with you. The table below includes a list of the skills and companies you will need on your side as you navigate the challenges of investing in a foreign country.
|MENTOR||FOREX DEALER||BANK MANAGER|
|INSURANCE BROKER||NETWORKING CONNECTIONS||LANDLORD COUNCIL|
|BUILDING INSPECTORS||AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGENT||BOND ORIGINATOR|
It can be quite a challenge keeping track of what proof of identification Kate the solicitor asked you to send through and by the way, when last did you heard from Pete the originator? Did he schedule the follow up meeting around Lloyds and their proposal for 3pm today – or was it two days from now?
I have implemented a few simple techniques that have made my life a lot simpler.
- Create a new email address to be used solely for your UK property investments. I pay R9 per month for a website through Afrihost and with the website, I get two free email addresses. Priceless! This way, emails related to our investments don’t get lost in the masses of personal emails I receive on a daily basis.
- Keep a spreadsheet of the people you are in regular contact with along with their email address and contact number. In fact, include anyone you ever speak to on that spreadsheet! Last month, Adam our Managing Agent sent me an account from Welsh Water and I immediately replied saying I had no idea who Welsh Water was or why they wanted payment from me! I then checked my spreadsheet and discovered I had actually been in touch with them over a year ago. Urgh! I had to confess to Adam that I did in fact know all about it.
- Key learning: create a spreadsheet AND refer to said spreadsheet!
- Reply promptly to all emails received. More often than not, the property investment will be something of a sideline that you try to juggle while holding down the job that actually pays your home bond and the kids school fees. It is easy to let the days slip into weeks and in some cases, forget to respond completely! Remember that you are investing in a foreign land where you more than likely have no credit history. Think of your email interaction as being as important as building that credit score only through your emails, you are building a character reference. People in the industry are connected and if you fail to respond or don’t respond timeously and clearly, Tracey the sourcing agent is less likely to keep you informed when a hot new deal hits her books.
- Pick up the phone. Email communication can so easily be misinterpreted and before you know it, Frank the builder no longer wants to address the leaking tap in the newly renovated flat because he thinks your last email was too demanding. Where possible, try to communicate via skype so you can see each other – so much is lost when you can’t see the other person’s expressions. If skype is not an option, pick up the phone and speak words to each other. It will help keep communication channels open and ensure there is no room for misinterpretation.
- If you feel there is an issue around a certain topic, do not allow the time lag between the issue identification and your action to resolve it to grow. While chatting to other investors, you discover that you are paying 10% more for your property insurance than they are. You allow that knowledge to stew over a week instead of immediately calling Candice your insurance broker and allowing her to explain possible reasons. The longer the lag, the more room there is for mistrust and, potentially, additional costs to mount. After chatting to Candice, it turns out your property is insured for bricks and mortar plus basic household contents – the cost was indeed justified!
Make sure you take the time to implement and follow these easy steps. After all, clear, consistent communication is the cornerstone of all successful relationships.