Rugby and rentals make great team, says RL star
Bradford Bulls captain Matt Diskin loves rugby but he also has a long-standing passion for property. Sharon Dale reports.
IT’S easy to see why young sports stars are tempted by the trappings of fame and money.
Flash cars and designer fashion are hard to resist when you’re a teenager.
“Professional rugby players earn between £20,000 and £150,000 a year, so they aren’t in the Premiership footballers league but it’s still a lot of money for a young man and there are a lot of temptations, including gambling and drinking,” says Yorkshire rugby league star Matt Diskin.
Matt, 30, enjoyed success with Leeds Rhinos and is now captain of Bradford Bulls, but he has invested his wages wisely.
His main passion off the pitch is property and he has put his money into bricks and mortar rather than squandering it on fast living.
After studying geography and PE at A-level, he worked with his uncle cleaning windows for a few months while concentrating on his game until Leeds offered him a full-time professional contract. He bought his first property with his signing on fee.
“It was in Dewsbury, which is my home town. Instead of wasting my money on buying a sports car I used my commonsense and bought a house. But the real eye opener came was when I damaged my knee in 2004. It made me realise that I wasn’t always going to be able to play rugby. That’s when I started seriously investing,” says Matt, who also studied sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University through a Rhinos backed scheme.
“I chose property because it’s something I understand. It’s visible and it’s tangible and it’s a simple investment model in many ways. My interest grew from there.”
His first three buy-to-lets were in and around Dewsbury and all needed work, which he tackled with the help of friends in the building trade.
He now has 17 rentals, all twoand three-bedroom terraced houses or semis and all within a 30 minute drive of his home in Gomersal
“I don’t buy remotely. I like to go and look at them and see then before I buy and I am stringent with tenant references and checks.
“I’ve only had one bad experience where a tenant damaged the house, but on the whole it’s been really positive. I even have one tenant who has added a conservatory and double glazing to one of my properties,” says Matt.
He used a letting agent at first and then managed the rentals himself. He also took on buyto-let properties belonging to fellow players. This hands-on experience led him to establish his own eponymous lettings agency in 2008.
Matthew’s merged with the Millennia property group but he has since bought out his partners in the company to create Roost.
The new lettings agency, which covers Leeds city centre and North Leeds, was formed in partnership with Nick Statman, who has put his own 180 properties on Roost’s books.
This has given the firm a good start in a highly competitive market.
“There is a lot of competition but playing professional sport has taught me many skills, which I carry over into the business, namely focus, drive, professionalism, team-work, tenacity, attention to detail and mentoring.
“My own experience as a landlord and lettings agent also helps. Customer care is top of the agenda. The biggest issue I had with lettings agents in the past was the lack of feedback.
“We’re also offering landlords a Roost Boost, which is six months rent in advance as an incentive to come with us,” says Matt, who is managing director of the company.
His ambition is to buy out other lettings agencies and eventually franchise the business across the country.
It’s a tall order for the professional sportsman, who also oversees a building company, Beyond Construction, and Aquabright, which provides commercial contract window cleaning.
“I’m lucky that I have a lot of energy and I don’t need much sleep. I only need four or five hours a night,” says Matt.
He gets up at 6.30am and helps get his three young children ready for school before he drives to training, which ends at about 2pm. Then it’s into the Roost office until 7pm. After spending some time with his family, the laptop is out again and he works until at least 11pm.
“I am very systems orientated and I make sure everything operates quickly and efficiently. I have some fantastic software that helps us minimise voids and maximise rental income and that helps.”
Far from adversely affecting his rugby, Matt says his other jobs help it.
“Rugby is my number one passion and always will be. But it’s really intense. The property business is totally different. It’s actually good for my mental state and helps me switch off from the pressure of sport. It’s also something I can do when my playing days are over, though I always want to be involved in rugby league at some level.”
ROOM TO GROW: The Old School at Whixley offers flexible living space and the possibility of letting an annexe for holidays.
ON THE BALL: Matt Diskin, rugby star and lettings agency boss.