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Life from the sofa...


 November is creeping into December. It is a full 2 months since I have set foot inside any of my holiday let properties (broken ankle…still!) and my imagination is running riot with imagined disaster.

A clear head for business 

I don't see myself as a visionary but it is very true that someone is needed to hold the show together. In your own brain this is known as executive function, it is 'being the ringmaster of your destiny', bringing together various tasks, ideas and organisational skills to make stuff happen, the same applies in a small business, whether that of a landlord or other. Someone has to have this function to make the business happen. When you work for yourself the buck stops with the owner on many matters and your executive function must meet with reality for the business to succeed.

My hands-free ambition will be tested once again in forthcoming months as my first investment for the new business takes shape. Due to complete in the next 2 weeks is a disabled-adapted bungalow in Plymouth (I am a true Portsmouth investor, nothing more than a mile from home) it should be ready for guests in the next couple of months. I managed a trip to see it this week for the 'ouch!' visit. This is the one where you dig deep into the requirements of the building to get it into shape for its next purpose. Flashing the cash at this stage is always painful, dragging a tired property to holiday let standard is exacting and invariably expensive, you have to share your vision, appoint builders and trust that their standard matches yours. The 'little extras' that make it a good holiday let cost more than you want to spend but create good reviews and a property that will hold a steadier course than if you cut corners. This particular property has a few new challenges for me, external wall insulation is needed and there is a sizeable garden to maintain as well as the usual kitchen and bathroom rip-out and decorating. It will be great though, with back up demand from the local Hospital for discharged patients in wheelchairs we are optimistic for its future.

The bungalow market seems to be the last portion of the market relatively free from investor attention. Over recent years the market in regular houses has been under intense scrutiny from the training organisations in a continual reinvention of the use of a 3-bed Victorian terraced house. Everything from the 3-to-7 HMO strategy, the 2+2 housing benefit strategy, the social housing strategy, mini-mo and the traditional single let. This has resulted in an abundance of investors competing for these properties. Bungalows, with their staid image, gardens and higher maintenance costs are the new left-behinds in my view. IMHO, with an ever-aging and increasing disabled population they are a sound purchase, and, having identified a good purpose with our disabled holiday lets, we are ready to go.

The intangibles of the business, such as enthusiasm, pride in work and team spirit are lagging a little due to my absence. The cleaning manager has let it be known that (once again) she will not work over the Christmas period, she has announced that she cannot work weekends yet is complaining that there isn't enough work. Why is it that just prior to Christmas everyone goes off a bit? Feeling that she will leave before too long, do I jump in with our usual Xmas meal and bonus? Or is she just waiting for that to formalise her departure? Scrooge or not? Answers on a postcard please…

On board USS Small Enterprise, Star Date 2022
Looking forward to a relaxing retirement (just not...

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