“I always say if I can do it, anyone can! When I was 23 I was only earning £7500 a year as a legal secretary. My husband and I separated when I was 25, leaving me alone with a nine-month-old baby. My daughter and I had to live in just one room, as I had to rent out our other two bedrooms and lounge to pay the bills. It was awful having strangers living in my house; I felt I’d lost all my privacy and independence. I decided then I had to turn my life around to give my daughter a better future.
Instead of being a legal secretary, I wanted to become a lawyer so I began a law degree. It was tough working full-time and going to lectures two evenings a week. I’d often get up at 4am to do my assignments. But on the day my divorce came through, I qualified as a solicitor and got a promotion, with a better salary.
After two years of saving for a deposit, I was able to afford a run-down, three-bed house near work and my daughter’s school. I rented out my old marital home and accidentally became a landlady! In 1999 I then bought my third property in London (a flat in Chiswick).
Having started with nothing, by 2000 I was earning more as a lawyer than I ever had in my life, so I continued investing. At one point in 2004 I fell victim to an armchair investor scheme and nearly went bankrupt. After that, I decided I had to look after all my investments myself.
Over the past 15 years I’ve built up a multi-million pound portfolio of properties, which I either renovate and sell on, or rent out. After what I’ve been through, financial independence and security are so important to me. My daughter has followed in my footsteps and we now run the property business together.
My mission is to establish the biggest network of female property investors in the UK. I want to empower women to take control of their finances, how I did.
So here’s how you too can make money:
1. Overcome your fear of failure. First, forget the idea that only ‘business people’ become property developers. With the right education, anyone can be a successful property investor.
2. Do your maths. If you’re looking for a buy-to-let property, generally you’ll need a minimum of 25% deposit. Allow for the cost of renovation work, letting agents and property management fees (unless you’re planning to manage it yourself). With a buy-to-let mortgage, your broker will need to know that your expected rental income will be at least 125% of your monthly mortgage payments. This is as much to protect you, as the landlady.
3. Choose your location. If you want to rent to students, your property needs to be 5-10 minutes from a university – students like to be able to crawl into their lectures! If you plan to rent to families, you need a residential area near good schools, whereas professionals will want good train links. If the investment area isn’t near your own home, do you have local contacts who could visit the property in an emergency?
4. Build a support network. If you’re starting out, you’ll need an experienced property mentor to guide you. Even now, I have two mentors who help me. Plus you need a good mortgage broker, builders and a reputable accountant who can make sure you pay minimum tax, but keep you safe legally.
5. Learn on the job. If you’re looking to become a full-time investor, you could start off working as a letting agent, managing agent or ‘sourcing agent’, finding properties for other investors who are too busy to scour houses. It’s a great way to learn the ropes!
Bindar Dosanjh is an award-winning landlady, property investor, mentor
and lawyer. She started out as a secretary and now has a
multimillion-pound portfolio. www.bridgespropertymentoring.com