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'It's no holiday' - literally

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I don't do stocks and shares, I don't do bitcoin, I am not even sure what FOREX trading is. Received wisdom is that wealth is best retained by diversifying your portfolio to weather the storms of financial life.

When your strategy hits hard times... 

I have no interest in any of the above. Perhaps I am stuck in the 'concrete operational' stage of development because if I can't see it, touch it or smell it I move along.

Property is, therefore, my natural resting place (along with cash, but who doesn't like cash during lockdown?). My diversification is limited to within this sector. Like most landlords, I started out in single let properties, these have happily chugged along for most of my adult life alongside me. A bit like having children, ultimately rewarding but a responsibility along the way. When I quit the day job I decided to try and maximize my previous investments by moving into serviced apartments Pompey style. No glamourous steel and glass structures with far reaching City views for wealthy business-folk, your straightforward Portsmouth street properties were what I had available so that is what I used.

First off was a 2-bed flat in Orchard Rd, part of a small freehold block. I had qualms about the location, not the 'best' part of Southsea and close enough to Fratton Station to hear the trains. The location proved to be its selling point. Back then there was no competition to speak of away from the traditional seafront locations, visitors by train, as well as workers at Fratton Park and in Town kept me full.

Over the last 4 years competition has warmed up and you can now stay in houses and flats all over town, from 2 nights up, at very reasonable prices. I used the additional income to start the slow but steady renovation of my portfolio, figuring that next time a 'major renovation' was required I would be too old to care.

I moved on to gradually change use of my flats. In 4 years I have gained a half share in a small hotel, manage properties for other landlords as serviced apartments and have slowly but surely brought my own portfolio into the 21st Century, with thorough renovations, funded by their end use as holiday flats. Use in this way keeps the places pristine and ready for sale at the drop of a hat. Where one door closes (as the serviced apartment market has) another opens and it's back to focus on the single lets for a while until we can open up again. Does anyone need a lovely fully furnished and equipped apartment for a few months? It has given a vital edge in the lettings market and seen me through (hopefully) the worst of the pandemic. The features and extra expense of furnishing that I shied away from as a landlord have enabled the business to adapt easily in difficult times.

On a more serious note, the serviced apartments locally have seen a mini-boom in shady bookings from drug dealers and people traffickers, please could HMO owners be aware that their properties are also being targeted by such criminals and be vigilant for multiple comings and goings at their properties. Don't hesitate to take any suspicions to the Police. As the respectable tenants and bookings have dropped away the usually small proportion of dodgy guests have continued with their activities so give the authorities a hand to get these shady operators out of our beloved Portsmouth.

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