Reece Richiardi is 25, and has both his own property portfolio and sources and runs projects for other investors. He started out at just 21.
"I always thought I’d be a professional footballer,” explains Reece. “I was good, but it just didn’t work out and I’m not afraid to say that I was a bit lost for a while afterwards. I’ve tried working a few regular jobs - like in a call centre - but I’m afraid I’m just not cut out for it! I’m dyslexic, I like to be active, and I like making my own choices. I guess I’ve got an entrepreneurial soul!
"My uncle was a big landlord, and I sort of learned a lot from him without realising it. Whenever I wasn’t at school I was labouring at one of his properties, and it was natural to start working with him again. I literally worked my up, became more involved in his projects and set out on my own with my own business and my first property - an HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) in Doncaster - at 21.
"Things were going well for a while, but I made a lot of mistakes, and by 22 I’d lost the lot. But I picked myself back up again, learned from it, and started over.
"One of the biggest lessons for me was about liquidity. I thought I wanted to be a huge landlord with a massive portfolio and hundreds of tenants. It turns out tenants are hard work, and you can’t spend bricks and mortar!
"The fact is it doesn’t matter how much stock you’ve got, how much it’s worth or if you’re a ‘theoretical’ billionaire - because if it all goes wrong you can’t get at the money. Even the big guys can go bankrupt if they don’t get the cash flow right.
"Now I work with partners, and I’ve got 10+ joint properties, mostly in Doncaster and Leeds. But what I do now is first and foremost about investment, and I do more sourcing and project management for other people - spotting the properties in up-and-coming areas, doing the conversions, and selling them on.
"If you can get the financing in place, I’ve found the bigger the project or deal, the easier it is to run. There’s so many people at the small end of the market competing for properties and tenants, and getting bogged down in physical buildings and the idea of being a traditional 'landlord'.
"For me property is just an avenue to make money - you don’t have to own it yourself. You do have to know the market, though.
"Up North, it’s all about yield. You’re not going to get the same appreciation you get down South, and your strategy has to reflect that. It’s important to diversify both your portfolio and your business, consider multiple exit strategies before you put your money where your mouth is, and research, research, research.
"Because I’ve learned all that the hard way, I’ve also got involved with training - speaking at events and mentoring new landlords. My family came from nothing, I struggled at school, I’m a failed footballer and I’ve never had a proper job. I figured if I can learn, anyone can, and I can help them on the way. I can tell people not to do what I did - and talk about how to look at property in a different way.
"I’ve found that for the most part, young people are much more ready to see property as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. And I think the way we use technology is also going to revolutionise the market - how we source, build, work, manage, and even learn about property.
"At the moment I’m working with my partners on a big project that’s all about seizing on that opportunity for change and disruption in the sector. They say that change is the only constant, and how you prepare for it and deal with it is the difference between failure and success.
"Property certainly isn’t what I thought is was 4 years ago. It’s actually far more interesting and more exciting!"