Robert is one of the most experienced and respected residential property professionals in the UK. Formerly Global Director of Residential Property at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), he also ran a £500m residential portfolio. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and a member of the residential committee of the British Property Federation.
Personally, I diversify heavily. That is central to my portfolio, and key to what is excellent about Property Partner. At last, we have the ability to invest smaller amounts in a larger range of properties – but it’s also about diversifying in the right way. Here is how I approach it:
I’m majored more towards capital growth – I’m not so fussed about a regular income at present, but this doesn’t mean I haven’t sought out a balance. The capital growth potential of Flats 1, 5, 6 and 7 in Tower Mint Apartments, for example, were a perfect balance with the solid yield of Sandars Maltings in Gainsborough.
The English regions offer different risk profiles, and balances of total return. So I’ve ensured a mix of property within, and outside of London. Finch Heights in Hastings is a good example of a property I’m invested in. The town is enjoying significant regeneration, while across the wider Southeast, house prices grew 10.7% in the past year according to the Land Registry, with Savills predicting further strong growth in the years ahead.
I’m also careful to diversify within London, and will avoid overexposure to individual boroughs within it. I’m a huge believer in Crossrail – and have ensured a good mix of properties from both the East and the West of the line, although I am slightly more biased to the West side, which is where I live. A great example of an investment that will see huge time savings with the arrival of Crossrail is the Vantage building in Hayes. I missed out on it initially (I was on the road when it launched) but managed to buy into it on the Resale market.
I personally prefer houses to flats, as there’s no service charge, they’re more efficient and you have more control, like Kentlea Road in Thamesmead. However, they’re harder to deal with as an investment – you don’t often buy multiple houses, so don’t tend to get as many discounts. Also, we often buy the freehold for the flats we purchase for Property Partner, which gives us the efficiency and control I prefer when looking at property investments.
I also like newer builds – they require less maintenance and are more efficient. After 2018 you will not be able to rent a property with an energy rating of F or G – so renting older properties that aren’t properly insulated could prove troublesome. At Property Partner, we will only purchase refurbished period properties that are well within the energy ratings. Plus, they’re attractive to look at, so there is always high demand for them.
Each property is an individual investment, and important to consider on its own merits. Kings Highway, Plumstead is a great little house on a lovely common. Being in such an attractive location, it would sell well in a strong or a weak market. Rubicon court in Romford benefits from a great position, right in the centre of town: walking distance from to the square and the station – which is of course, on Crossrail.
Geared properties, those offered with a mortgage, increase your risk but also your potential returns. You’re more exposed to movements in the property market. I’ve always kept a balance between the two – but I’m weighted towards property with gearing, because I feel confident in the stability of the market and believe that interest rates will remain low for the short to medium term.
Everyone has their own opinion on property, and things that they like about it, which means we sometimes have biases. I myself can be guilty of that at times, despite knowing the hard facts – but that’s also what is enjoyable about property. The great thing about Property Partner is that we give you all the information to form your own opinion, and to make investment decisions. You can be the manager of your own property fund.
Take your own stance on the market, and view some of the properties available on our marketplace now: