Nicki’s Property Journey…

Our student Nicki Stumpf joined the Fielding Financial family in October 2019 and hasn’t looked back! Her most recent Serviced Accommodation project is in Exmouth, Devon which she and her partner successfully won at auction back in December 2020.

In today’s blog post we chat with Nicki about her journey and most recent serviced accommodation project.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey with Fielding Financial…

Although I grew up in the UK, I moved to Vienna when I was 18 to join the Vienna State Opera ballet company. In a nutshell, after an amazing 12 years I decided to hang up my pointe shoes and took a gap year, back packing around Australia, this was followed by another year training to become a Pilates instructor in New York before settling back again in Vienna.

My first property investment was a buy-to-let flat in Hounslow, it was 1995 and I was living in Vienna, the lender gave me a residential mortgage on a buy-to-let investment with just a 10% deposit, oh how times have changed!

Then in 2002, my partner, Christian and I bought another buy-to-let in Putney, only to then sell them both to build our own home, it was no longer 1995 and I could not get a re-mortgage as an expat for love nor money…or so I was told….oh how I wish I’d met Gill earlier!

In April 2019 we took the plunge and moved to the UK. I Joined FF in October 2019 and haven’t looked back! Having upped sticks and re located, building a business with cash flow was essential, so armed with a couple of buy-to-let investments secured in 2017 we decided it had to be a HMO next. We completed on a 5-bed HMO during lockdown, we’ve also had an offer accepted on another buy-to-let, this one still hasn’t completed though due to some technicalities with the lease. I’ve since completed my mentorship with the fabulous Nick Barnet!

Tell us about your most recent serviced accommodation project…

Our serviced accommodation project is in Exmouth. My grandparents lived here so I spent most of my summer holidays there as a child, so as well as knowing that the figures stacked, it was nice to be investing so close to the heart.

With boom-cation looming and my fascination with auctions as a strategy, we were thrilled to be the successful bidders on this little gem in December 2020. Purchased at £67,500 through 247 Property Auctions, a pleasing 3k under what we were prepared to pay, the refurb and fees came in at £15,000, with an end valuation of 125k!

It’s small, sleeping just two but being a stones through from the beach makes up for that!

Christian gutted the entire flat and it just so happened that a plumber, sparky and chippy had purchased the ground floor flat at the same time as us, so we enquired if they would be happy to take on another project, which they were!

One of the Fielding students were selling some of their serviced accommodation furniture so I grabbed a bargain, the bed and mattress and then accessorised around that. The interior design is my favourite part, I leave the number crunching to Christian, dancers can only count to 8!

Property development    

Why did you decide to choose serviced accommodation as an investment strategy?

Serviced accommodation wasn’t actually something we’d really thought about doing, it just sort of came up!

However, we’ve really enjoyed this little project and the end results are just so rewarding. I suppose it aligns with our cash flow strategy, although we were tempted to flip it, but it’s going to stay in the portfolio. Our eldest dreams of joining the Royal Marines and so it’s proximity to Lympstone could work out well!

If you would like to learn more about serviced accommodation see our introduction blog here.

What has been your favourite part of working on your serviced accommodation project/s?

Aside from the speedy auction transaction, which went flawlessly and felt so easy compared to regular conveyancing, I’d say it was the excitement involved in watching our first ‘proper’ property refurb project transforming from ugly duckling to swan!

My favourite part in the whole process is probably the interior design, I hate clutter and have quite a minimalist approach, I love choosing colour schemes and the staging of the property for photos was so much fun!

Property development  

What has been your biggest challenge so far with your serviced accommodation project/s?

During the build it was little things, like breaking our backs getting a cast iron bath out of the property in order to save some money!

Now, it’s just making sure I have a system in place to answer emails and secure bookings, working out how we can organise our welcome baskets without having to pop down every time a new guest arrives etc.

What are your top tips for someone who is just about to get started in serviced accommodation?

  1. Crunch the numbers and work out if once you’ve paid council tax and all the bills, it’s still going to give you more cash flow than letting it as a regular buy-to-let.
  2. Make sure something about it will make you stand out from the crowd, for example, location, a theme or design.
  3. Find a good, reliable cleaner and work out a solid plan for your booking system.

What’s next for you?

Finishing our own residential project, it’s a back to brick bungalow extension and full refurb. We need to get settled in before the kids move out!

Another auction property is quite high on the list and we have our eyes peeled for large houses that we can convert into flats or another high cash flowing HMO.

Inspired by Nicki’s story? Check out her stunning self-catering apartment in Exmouth.

Do you want to learn more about investing in serviced accommodation?

See our Serviced Accommodation Online Course here.

Serviced Accommodation Online Course

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