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.
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.