We caught up with Stuart Williams, Founder and CEO of London-based BTL property investment specialists, Thirlmere Deacon
PR: How did you get into property and what is your current role within the industry?
SW: I have worked in the property industry for the best part of two decades. Having worked for one of the biggest names in the sector for 10 of those years, I chose to set up Thirlmere Deacon to ensure that I was in charge of relationships with both developers and clients.
This move has allowed me to meticulously pick and chose which developers I work with and which projects to take on. The company has strong and highly positive relationships with clients and we help them secure their futures and provide for their families, no matter what the national/global economy does.
PR: What makes Thirlmere Deacon different from other property investment companies out there at the moment?
SW: We offer property investors the chance to work with a company that is itself building its own property portfolio, but also has experienced consultants at the helm. The journey is important for both parties, so the whole process is handled with thought and careful consideration, supported by expertise and bespoke advice and opportunities.
With over 40 years of combined experience in the UK property sector, Thirlmere Deacon uses this knowledge and expertise to present clients with exclusive investment opportunities designed to truly maximise returns. Over the last decade, Thirlmere Deacon’s team has sold over £250m worth of property throughout the UK, in many of the major cities including London, Manchester, Belfast, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds.
The firm has unrivalled knowledge in a range of asset classes, including residential apartments, purpose-built student accommodation and commercial hotel suites. Investors can also trust us as we have many team members who are growing their own portfolio along with investors. This enables Thirlmere Deacon to advise and share their proficiency and first-hand experience in these asset classes, to ensure clients gain the most from their investment.
PR: Has investor sentiment changed due to Covid, what changes have you had to make to compensate this?
SW: Unlike the last recession, which was driven by the property market and the banking crisis, this time around the market looks very solid. Banks have enough funds in their reserves, the demand for buy-to-let is still high. If anything, we are actually experiencing a minor correction, driven by the lack of physical activities during the lockdown.
Many investors are sitting with money in the bank, unsure what is on the horizon regarding the likes of Brexit and the pandemic. We are giving them a great opportunity to invest in new property developments in the North West, which will deliver great yields and some real financial security in these uncertain times. We are also supporting property investors to diversify their portfolios into new asset classes, such as HMOs, commercial property and student accommodation.
PR: Early indications predict a 'property scramble' as the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline approaches. How are you able to help potential investors successfully navigate this?
SW: We’ve meticulously sourced options for investors that will allow them to benefit from the stamp duty holiday, but equally have options that are due to complete after the holidays proposed end date, these later completions factor in different features and benefits for the investors. Therefore once again, we go back to our ethos of what works best for the individual investor. Putting square pegs in round holes just to meet the stamp duty holiday may not be the best course of action.
PR: As more evidence points to a two-speed property market opening up between London and the rest of the UK, have you seen a shift in attitude amongst your clients on where they are preferring to invest?
SW: Once you realise that the average property price in London is £462,000 and live yields barely creep above 3%, you don’t have to be Warren Buffet to deduce that there are more exciting markets outside of the capital. London will always be my home and the place where I opened my property account, but at the moment, funds are performing better in other towns and cities across the country and investors are enjoying cheaper prices and stronger returns.
PR: What advice would you give to investors going forward into 2021?
SW: I think the advice I’d give to investors is to continue to concentrate on what it is you are trying to achieve and remember that the property game is one best played with a long-term focus. Going into 2021, chart or recalibrate your goals - whether they are to just get a better return on your savings, grow a passive income stream or replace your main income stream altogether, the main focus should be long-term.
I have often said that there are indeed quick wins to be had in the property market of course, but when buying with a short-term view, hoping to cash in after a year or 2, you put yourself in the lap of the Gods. Whereas, portfolios measured and built long-term will always deliver. A big influence in my life says – “it’s not about get rich quick, it’s about building wealth for sure.”