Ex-teacher Kala is top of the class with an A in prop­erty

Former teacher Kala Ra­je­sawran took lessons in prop­erty in­vest­ment and is now a bricks and mor­tar busi­ness­woman. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

AF­TER suf­fer­ing a se­ri­ous ill­ness Kala Ra­je­sawran took the heart­break­ing de­ci­sion to leave the teach­ing ca­reer she loved.

It was a dif­fi­cult time but she bat­tled through and has emerged as a suc­cess­ful prop­erty en­tre­pre­neur.

“I was teach­ing re­cep­tion and year one chil­dren, which is quite phys­i­cal and the ill­ness and op­er­a­tion I had meant I just couldn’t do that any­more. It was very sad but when I started get­ting bet­ter I be­gan look­ing for some­thing else to do.

“My hus­band and I had two ren­tal prop­er­ties so I de­cided to try and build on that,” says Kala, 40, who was re­cently short­listed for the Na­tional Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion Prop­erty Woman of the Year.

Rather than learn on the job, she de­cided to en­rol on a course for would-be prop­erty in­vestors.

Many of th­ese cour­ses were dis­cred­ited in the af­ter­math of the buy-to-let boom. But although Kala’s lessons cost about £8,000, she says they were the cat­a­lyst for success.

“I took the view that I wanted to ed­u­cate my­self on the sub­ject and ev­ery­one needs train­ing when they go into a job they know noth­ing about.

“They gave me the tools and the con­fi­dence to buy more prop­er­ties and I went from hav­ing two to 12 in the space of two years,” she says.

She be­gan in 2010 by re­mort­gag­ing her own house in Dews­bury and two buy-to-lets she had bought in 2003 and 2005, with her hus­band, a hospi­tal con­sul­tant.

She used the eq­uity to in­vest in 10 more homes in Leeds, Brad­ford, Wake­field, Don­caster and Barnsley. She re­cently bought three more bring­ing her port­fo­lio to 15.

She now acts as a finder for other in­vestors through her Wake­field-based com­pany York­shire Prop­erty Deals and has launched her own let­tings agency York­shire Prop­erty Let­tings.

“The course taught me how to re-fi­nance and where to look for dis­counted prop­erty and mo­ti­vated sellers and that was really use­ful,” she says.

“I don’t buy at auc­tions. In­stead, I have good re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal es­tate agents, who will come to me if they have a mo­ti­vated seller and a house that needs to be sold quickly and cheaply.”

As she is now able to buy in bulk, she has built con­tacts with de­vel­op­ers.

“They won’t sell one prop­erty at a big dis­count but they will give you a good deal on seven or eight. When they come to an end of a devel­op­ment they want to move onto an­other site and that’s the best time buy,” she ad­vises.

Her own ren­tal prop­er­ties are a mix of semis, ter­raced houses and apart­ments. She doesn’t buy at the lower end of the mar­ket and she shuns ren­o­va­tion projects.

“I have clients who want a project and who want in­ex­pen­sive houses at the bot­tom end of the mar­ket. I can help them find those and I can have them ren­o­vated, but I don’t want those kind of places for my­self.

“My prop­er­ties are mid mar­ket and are a mix of old and new. If I buy old ones they don’t need a lot of work. It’s less has­sle that way.

“I choose a good rentable area and make sure I have a good ren­tal yield,” says Kala, who set up her let­tings agency af­ter be­ing dis­ap­pointed with the way her own prop­er­ties were man­aged.

“There were a lot of is­sues that came from not com­mu­ni­cat­ing well with the ten­ants, which was an­noy­ing and if they or­gan­ised main­te­nance and re­pairs the charges were very high. I knew I could get the same job done for half the price. The more prop­er­ties I had and the more it made sense to do the let­tings my­self.

“It also means I can of­fer my clients the full package. I can find and let prop­er­ties for them. So now I have about 40 land­lords and just un­der 100 lets on my books.”

Apart from be­ing an A-grade stu­dent – she came top of the class on her course – the se­cret to success, she be­lieves, is build­ing up trust.

“I am very hon­est and trans­par­ent, so if an agent or de­vel­oper comes to me with a prop­erty and I can’t take it I say so im­me­di­ately. If I can, they know I will see it through. I’m a good, loyal cus­tomer,” says Kala, who is branch­ing out into Lon­don, where she is buy­ing apart­ments for her clients.

“I have clients here and abroad in Dubai and South Africa and a lot of them are keen to put their money in Lon­don, so I am down there a lot at the moment ne­go­ti­at­ing deals with builders, which is ex­cit­ing.”

She also hopes to fran­chise her busi­ness and set up men­tor­ing cour­ses us­ing her teach­ing skills.

Though she works long hours, some­times 9am to 9pm, she has no re­grets about her ca­reer change.

“I miss work­ing with the chil­dren, but I love prop­erty. It is hard work but it’s fi­nan­cially re­ward­ing if you take a long-term view. It’s also flex­i­ble and it suits me. I like meet­ing peo­ple and you get to meet lots of dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties in this busi­ness.”

For de­tails of Kala’s let­tings and in­vest­ment com­pa­nies visit www. york­shire­prop­ertylet­tings.com; www.york­shire­prop­er­ty­deals. com

NEW USE: This former shop has been trans­formed into a stun­ning con­tem­po­rary home thanks to its owner’s de­sign skills and vi­sion. It boasts a pri­vate roof garden and while the prop­erty re­tains its tra­di­tional ex­te­rior, the in­side has been re­done with a con­tem­po­rary feel.

FAST TRACK: Kala Ra­je­sawran won a car for be­ing top of the class on her prop­erty in­vest­ment course.

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