Like a lot of his generation, 26-year-old James Tucker hasn’t always had a rosy view of landlords. First at university, then during a year’s internship, he lived in HMOs that “just weren’t the best”. His brother Harry, a couple of years his junior, can tell similar stories. “There wasn’t much choice,” says James, “so you had to go with the sub-par property that was on offer.”
Today, though, the two Londoners have their own HMO in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, on the not-yet-finished Crossrail route between Maidenhead and Slough. “Now I know the regulations about room sizes and so on, I’m wondering if some of the places I lived in were even legal,” adds James.
An inheritance a couple of years ago put the pair on a sounder financial footing, which left them pondering how to invest it. “Property has always been an interest of ours, so that was one of the first places we gravitated to. But in terms of looking for a franchise, we basically stumbled across PPP.”
Until November 2018, they’d been going it alone, looking for properties to renovate in the north of England. For four months, they travelled up and down the country at weekends, with nothing to show for it. “We realised that because of our inexperience and perhaps our age, we weren’t getting any traction at all,” says James.
“I think it was on an online forum that we stumbled across PPP and I started reading up about it. Initially I was thinking, ‘Why would you pay all this money to a franchise when realistically we could do this ourselves?’ I was quite negative, but Harry started looking into it a lot more. He’s slightly more analytical than I am, so he delved into PPP’s business model. We went to one of their Discovery Days and started to have conversations about their offering.”
PPP’s track record appealed to them, but it took another four months of due diligence before they signed on the dotted line. “As hard as we tried, and we literally were trying absolutely everything, we couldn’t find anything negative about them.”
On LinkedIn, they asked Franchise Partners for their candid opinions. “I was maybe a little bit sceptical, thinking it seems too good to be true, but once we attended their Discovery Day, spoke to other Franchise Partners, looked at other business models and case studies, we quickly realised that they’re not just making these facts and figures up.”
For James, the process has been “fantastic”, largely thanks to the mentor he and Harry were assigned. “They help you from the get-go in terms of finding out what type of property to look for, what’s good, what’s bad, locations, all the way through to doing the viewings. We must have looked at about 20 different properties over two days. So many different things can trip you up, and having someone to handhold you through the whole process was hugely valuable to us.”
With their first tenants now settled in, the brothers have ambitious plans to build a large-scale property brand with a compelling online presence. “We will be looking for investors, but it’s still early days. Harry’s background is in the marketing world, so he’s very much focusing on that.”
As James readily concedes, “landlords have a pretty bad reputation. I want housemates who rent from us to think, ‘James and Harry, they’ve been fantastic. Whatever the issue is, they sorted out straight away.’”
Would he recommend joining the franchise? “A hundred percent,” he says. “It’s obviously a huge decision. You have to pay a pretty hefty sum upfront and then the ongoing costs, but you recoup that cost pretty quickly.
“I wouldn’t say jump into it straight away, but I would, hand on my heart, say definitely look at PPP. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t even think we’d have put an offer in on a house. We’d have literally been going backwards and forwards, not getting anywhere.”
Read more about Platinum Property Partners www.theafa.org.uk/members/platinum-property-partners