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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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.”

www.roost.co.uk

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.

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