Alex Williams: How to turn a property disaster into a success

In this interview with property expert, Alex Williams, Alex shares how he got into property, and the type of innovation and creativity he needed to turn his early disasters into successes. Alex builds on the lessons from the previous stories he shared with us on essential property mindsets and strange but true tenant stories.

For those with bad connections, we’ve written up a brief excerpt of the stories in note form below the video. However, when you have time and a stronger internet connection, we do recommend you listen to Alex Williams as you will get more out of his stories.

The notes from our interview with Alex are below the video.

How to lose money in property

Originally, Alex was studying and living at home and saw how many of his friends were renting houses. So, he bought a house for him and his mates to live in, made £30 a month before maintenance and needed to get a part-time job to pay for it. Looking back, Alex admitted that he would never have bought the property if someone had actually told him about the responsibilities of being a landlord.

Of course, back then there were no regulations to worry about. As a result, Alex could rent out the house to whomever and only had to keep the house standing (but, of course, he was living in it at the time). Due to all the maintenance costs, and other costs that come with property ownership and his lack of experience, Alex actually lost money on the property for the first five years.

Alex then began his post-graduate course and got a job part time as a lecturer, a DJ, and as a computing consultant. So, with his savings he bought another property, and then he got another one. Then he decided that he was going to stop buying properties due to all the building work, maintenance, and the regulations that were being implemented.

Disaster strikes! 17 per cent interest rate

Disaster struck! During the 70s interest rates were going through the roof. Thankfully Alex managed to get fixed interest rate mortgages that allowed him to ride the 17 per cent rates, at a mere 12 per cent. For 8 to 12 years the properties cost him money every year. It seemed that Alex’s property investment journey was doomed from the start.

However, Alex took some time out, sat down and had a think about his situation. He realised that in order to get an income from his portfolio he’d have to invest in his properties. So he set about turning his houses into homes.

He put an advert in the paper that said his property had a washing machine, and he was inundated with calls. Back then it was common for landlords to do everything wrong, so finding a place that wasn’t damp and horrible was a godsend. His strategy was paying off! By investing more into his properties he could charge a higher amount of rent, and dramatically lower the length of the void time in his properties.

As Alex became more experienced, he started evolving his business model to bring him continued success. For example, Swansea is primarily a student town. As more people got involved in property investment in Swansea, they naturally focussed on students. As a result, Alex evolved his property strategy to focus on young professionals.

Alex’s add value strategy

Alex also began to focus only bought properties that he could add value to. Many of the properties he’d bought were designed for 8 to 10 occupants. He realised that, in the future, people wouldn’t want to share with that many tenants. So, he split up them up into flats with three to four people to secure his future tenancy and looked at how to add conservatories and loft conversions.

Huge thanks to Alex Williams for chatting with us and sharing his insights. If you haven’t watched the video, please do as there are a lot more insights than in our notes. If you found the Alex’ story useful:

In the meantime, if you enjoy reading about people’s property success stories check out the following articles:

Finally, if you are starting on your own financial freedom journey, you will find the following articles helpful in spring-boarding you into a new chapter of your life’s dream:



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