Day in the Life of a property developer – DILO

I have helped expat clients navigate the UK property market to invest whilst the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) ‘holiday’ was in place. I too decided the timing was right to turn developer and take on a renovation project to capitalise on the last wave of tax savings. When buying in the South it’s best to take all the savings you can get!

Surrey developer

I did a lot of desk research and Due Diligence on deals in the Surrey market. I found one in July of last year. My offer was based on an affordable purchase price. I had worked out the costs involved to make the house liveable. My second offer was accepted and I have been progressing the project steadily since. 

There have been plenty of challenges along the way, including dealing with: Estate Agents, banks, lawyers. As well as hitting the SDLT deadline. It’s then been a question of getting planning permission and trying to find a decent builder. A decent builder who has a free slot and who can provide a reasonable quote for the work.

The last few weeks I have spent mostly scouring the Schedule of Works developed in conjunction with my architects. I am seeking alternative ways of doing things. Including researching substitute materials that might work out more cost-effective.

Energy Performance Certificates – EPCs for Developments

One of my drivers has been to target an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grade of ‘C’. This is to partly future-proof the energy performance of the property. The rules governing qualifying buy-to-lets are due to tighten to a ‘C’ EPC grade in the next 3-4 years. This has meant I’ve done some desk research and talked to an EPC Assessor. I have sought to get an insight into the way Retro-fits are assessed vs new builds. Talking to a Building Control Officer has helped check acceptable U-values of insulation material.

According to the EPC assessor, new builds are assessed using a SAP calculation. A SAP calculation uses lots of data points as input to the grading and summary provided on the EPC register. U-values are taken from the prevailing Building Control standards. But for retro-fits the original build date is used. As well as a pared-back calculation based on the area, volume and floorplan. This means the assessment is less rigorous. That could either help or hinder the final assessment, but it isn’t possible to tell until the day of reckoning and assessing.

This level of research and negotiation is the type of service I offer you my distance investing clients as part of my bespoke sourcing service. So if you would like to hear more about working with me then please message me or use the link to book a session

My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients investing at distance.

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Rishi dishes property investors curveball

Rishi Sunak delivered a big tax-and-spend budget to the UK last week, but what does it mean for property investors?

The property market was buoyed through covid by the Stamp Duty land Tax (SDLT) cuts. This coupled with the pent-up demand, which was an overhang from the prolonged and tortuous Brexit negotiations. This resulted in a surprising 10.6% house price growth over the year to August 2021*.

With this Budgetary overlay how will property investors be affected?

On the one hand there was some positive economic news:

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts for the UK have been revised to the positive:

Economic scarring from Covid has been revised down from 3% to 2% as a drag on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Public borrowing is forecast at £183 bn in 2021/22 vs the original £234bn

And there are negative pressures:

The tax burden will rise to 36.2% GDP by 2026/7 the highest since the 1950s

The national Insurance increases to cater for the health and social care levy, will hit middle earners and low earners although the bolstering of the Minimum Wage lessens the impact for some lower earners

There are likely to be rises in Council Tax bills which will add to the woes of energy and fuel prices. The Treasury has assumed annual rises of 3% as a minimum, with the expectation it could rise by 6% a year for many years to come.

These measures, combined with higher inflation will squeeze real incomes, as wages don’t keep pace.

And there is the added uncertainty of the UK’s relationship with the European Union which exacerbates the already strained international supply chains. Not only for day-to-day availability of goods but also for developers, and investors undertaking refurbishment work. OBR figures indicate that UK-EU trade dropped by 15% compared with 2019 while non-EU trade fell by 7%. This suggests there is a net Brexit impact of about 8%

Are you a Pensioner?

If so you will feel the discomfort as the Triple Lock on pension sums is suspended. This is likely to cost each pensioner on average £2,600 over the course of 5 years. The Triple lock guaranteed growth of: either 2.5%, or in line with average annual earnings growth, or inflation – whichever is the higher.

And ISA limits are frozen until at least 2023

This compounds the effect of persistent low rates for mainstream investments and savings accounts. This might maintain property investing momentum, as investors turn to property for better returns

How to Navigate the Property market?

In the property sector the much-anticipated increase in mortgage interest payments, may just be around the corner. Many of you younger investors and homeowners may not remember the time mortgage interest rates rose to over 15% in the late 80’s. So whilst we aren’t entering those realms necessarily, the interest rate rises will be the biggest since the financial crisis. The OBR expects the Bank of England to raise the Bank Rate from 0.1% to 0.75% by the end of 2023, which will translate through to mortgage repayments.

This is a time for you to take stock and not mortgage to the hilt, whether investing or buying a home. Rates can go up as well as down. And consider locking into a predictable low rate now.

Cladding and Mortgageability

There are still distortions in the property market cause by the Cladding fiasco, particularly in city centres. Without the EWS1 forms (External Wall System Cladding assessment) many properties are unmortgageable and consequently pretty much unsellable. This has helped push up the prices for the mortgageable stock available on the market. A double whammy for sellers and you buyers.

The Budget announced the Cladding Levy on builders with over £25m annual profits. This will contribute to the £5bn the government has committed to fixing the cladding crisis.

This levy is a bit indiscriminate, given it does not necessarily hit the builders who are responsible for the situation. But will nevertheless affect new development investment decisions and is likely to affect new build prices. This could impact the future supply of housing and fuel price rises, not dampen them.


Investors among you take note that not all infrastructure investment works well. Take the Freeport status, conferred on eight cities and towns in the Spring Budget, heralded as boosting the nationwide economy though lower tax regimes. The OBR’s analysis suggests this simply alters location choices, rather than boosting the overall national economic picture.

So investors, it is worth realistically assessing whether the Infrastructure boost is real or flimsy.

UK Budgetary implications for you property investors in summary

The market is likely to polarise with new build becoming more expensive and resales looking better value for money.

Larger scale Developers are likely to include more of the tax burden and higher build costs into their retail property prices.

Second hand homes might look even better value in comparison. We could see more distressed sales as the reality of the higher cost of living bites.

Undertaking developments has greater uncertainty currently for you with build costs higher, planning departments more overstretched than ever and lead times ever longer. So if you are taking on projects, think carefully about where you can minimise risks, either through mitigating any planning downside or minimising build changes and working with professionals with integrity.

If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail

My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients.


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What opportunity in the UK property market for expat investors?

UK property: Sales

As we are nearing the end of the final phase of the Stamp Duty (SDLT) holiday at the end of September (on the first £250k of property purchases) it seemed apt to reflect on how it may have helped or distorted the market.

The volume of UK House sales declined in July after the 1st main SDLT holiday ended. Tax data showed that residential purchases were 63% lower than in June. So the number of housing transactions fell, but what effect did it have on house prices?

A recent article in the Financial Times quotes a study by the Think Tank Resolution Foundation which reveals that the biggest house price rises were in areas that least benefited from the SDLT tax cuts. So the SDLT holiday may not have distorted pricing as much as many people think.

UK property: Rental market

On the rental side, more Institutional Investors are coming into the rental market, attracted by the demand, returns and stability offered. Today’s rental market has changed dramatically. Demand has continued to increase, with 1.7 million more rental households in 2017 compared to 2007, according to the ONS.

Build to Rent

Institutional investors are entering the market at scale with Build-to-Rent. Purpose-built Build to Rent is a new concept in the UK, which started around 2016, but a model common in other countries like Germany and elsewhere in the European Continent. It means tenants rent off a Corporate landlord. In theory tenants are offered a more consistent service level, in return for higher rents when compared with some of the private rentals on the market.

Landlords like: John Lewis, Legal and General and now Lloyds Bank is the latest to enter the housing market with the intention to buy and rent out 50,000 homes in the next decade. They may offer longer tenures that many tenants crave, but are likely to push rental prices up.

Future for UK First time buyers?

In the end the market may be shaped in a different way. Still difficult for First Time Buyers, as prices are so buoyant and inaccessible. Yet with more rental stock potentially becoming available, the UK housing market could start to look a bit more like Continental Europe in nature in the future.

This presents opportunities for investors in the buy-to-let sector. As prices are still inaccessible for many and the rental sector becomes more homogenised and potentially expensive, renters will still want character, individual properties in the right locations. The bigger block build of Build-to-Rent won’t necessarily be in the optimum locations that many individual, resale properties might be

If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail

My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property firm that finds the right investment properties for clients.

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What role does ‘gut instinct’ play in property?

When you make decisions you think things through and tend to have a ‘gut instinct’ about whether the decision is right. Sometimes a decision might be based on instinct, rather than what the logic of our brain tell us.

‘Gut instinct’ or intuition accesses accumulated experiences in a synthesised way, so that judgments are formed and action taken without any logical, conscious consideration.

Think about when you’ve gone to view a property, you might instantly take a like, or dislike, to it from the outside. It may look old fashioned, ugly and run down from the outside and you may know from past experience that this is a good indicator, that the inside is likely to be in bad shape. So your ‘gut’ or intuition, tells you that, based on previously seeing neglected properties this won’t be for you if you don’t want to do any renovation work.

Yet another investor might be drawn to the ugliest properties, perhaps because based on past experience they can generate the highest yields and cashflow if they are in the right area and serving the right tenant type.  

These situations create an ‘emotional tag’ linked to a previous experience which influences decision-making, more than objectively assessing the pros and cons of a situation. This means that to protect decisions against bias, you first need to know when you can trust your gut feelings, confident that they are drawing on appropriate experiences and emotions.*

So when can you trust your gut during property investing?

We often push ourselves outside our comfort zone to achieve things we haven’t achieved to date. This can sometimes create the same sort of feelings of unease we feel when we are about to make the ‘wrong’ decision.

So how do we tell the difference?

I talk a lot about Due Diligence, in essence doing the research and checking things out before making an investment decision. This can play an important role in helping understand if we are feeling uncomfortable because we are stepping outside our comfort zone or because there is a real cause for concern.

Role of Due Diligence on property investment decision-making

Before you part with any money, or sign any legal contract requiring future payments, then it is key that you carry out appropriate checks not only on your potential investment, but also on anyone you might be investing with and the professionals you might use along the way.

Whether that be visiting the local area and comparing comparable prices, rental returns, taking stock of the infrastructure, transport links, schools and health care or checking out a developer’s or builder’s reputation, as well as all the legalities.

So once you have checked things out and taken an objective view of the investment opportunity you can use this to supplement your subjective ‘gut instinct’ and check if the gut instinct is based on:

  • identical or similar situations and whether you have experienced this feeling sufficiently to know that the gut instinct is sound?
  • whether you learned the ‘right’ lessons in the past or are not remembering the situation accurately
  • over-reliance on someone else’s judgement to form your decision, who will have a different set of experiences and judgments.

There is a place for pushing yourself outside your comfort zone as well as using ‘Gut Instinct’ in property investment. The key is to use due diligence tools and techniques to introduce objectivity to the decision-making process and distinguish whether that gut feel of unease is because you are trying something new or because there is a genuine, logical reason for it.

If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail

My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients.

* Strategic decisions: When can you trust your gut?” published by McKinsey Quarterly in March 2010 based on Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein work

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Navigating Life as an Expat Investor?

As an Expat you may be an experienced worker whose skills are in demand around the World or in a specialist niche in the Oil, Gas and Energy industry or have started working straight from University and embarked on a career with a multi-national firm. Continue reading Navigating Life as an Expat Investor?

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Expat investors what’s different about what you seek?

Following an exploratory business trip to Dubai, I reflected on what Expat investors look for when buying investment property back in the UK. This can be for wealth-building reasons, to provide for a family or as part of lining up a retirement plan. Continue reading Expat investors what’s different about what you seek?

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Expats take note of latest UK Property consultation

Populist or Protectionist? Demand dampener or driver?

The latest UK HMRC consultation about levying a stamp duty surcharge on non-UK resident investors, potentially affecting Expats and Foreign national buyers alike, comes on top of Continue reading Expats take note of latest UK Property consultation

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Buying Investment Property right is a PRIVATE matter

There are many things to take into account when buying investment property in the UK or Germany, but this PRIVATE acronym might help as a start point, particularly with so much change afoot on the European and UK property scene. Continue reading Buying Investment Property right is a PRIVATE matter

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Make building Britain great again

Apart from welcome big news items like bringing forwards higher personal tax thresholds and more help for the transition to Universal Credit for those on benefit payments, there is mixed news for UK property investors and owners. Continue reading Make building Britain great again

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