Life & Culture

Double up to win


I learned early on in my career that it would be almost impossible to make it big in property on my own. I was good at finding the right stock but finding the cash hasn't always been easy. That hasn't changed. Everybody knows that at the moment, the banks are reluctant to lend in any significant way.

I did my first joint venture when I was 20. I found a property, approached someone I knew to put up the money, bought it, turned it and split the profit - all on a handshake. Imagine.

My first big joint venture - and probably one of the best deals I have ever done - was when I bought the Jesus Hospital Estate in Bethnal Green, east London, in 1980. I paid over £1.2m - a fortune for me at the time and I couldn't have done it without
a partner.

For the first 20 years of my career I did most of my joint ventures with three older men for whom I had enormous respect. Sadly they are no longer alive.

Today, property companies have JV partners of all shapes and sizes. Some are formed to assist funding and others are the result of a deal that someone has brought forward. Some are with individuals - not necessarily property professionals - who make quick decisions. And sometimes they will form alliances with other property companies. Having partners means having extra eyes and ears.

Almost everybody in property does JVs but they don't always admit to it. "I own this", "I own that", they tell you. You have to take it with a pinch of salt.

Property is a people business. Good relationships are what make it work. Few things are more important in life than a good name so you need to treat everyone you come across with respect and keep your word. It's common sense but it pays dividends.

I would advise any young investor to be open to doing deals with others but you have to go out and find people. Go to charity functions, business breakfasts and any industry event that you are invited to. Don't sit in the corner. Talk to people. They will want to do business with you and even if they don't, they might know someone who does.

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