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Don’t Feed The Sharks

Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of propertyCEO, comments

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a particular networking event that had been organised by one of the nationwide property training companies. The host was lovely, the event was well organised, and the audience engaged. They even provided some nibbles. So, as those sorts of gigs go, it ticked all the right boxes. But nibbles aside, the main reason it’s remained lodged in my memory was down to a brief but mildly surprising conversation I’d had immediately after my talk. A lady had approached me, wanting to know the ins and outs of small-scale property development, which I was pleased to share. Afterwards, she thanked me for my advice and told me how wonderful it was that everyone in the property community was so helpful and lovely. She’d recently started taking an interest in property and was amazed at how caring and sharing the people were.

Now, I’ve worked in the property industry for around 40 years, and it’s fair to say that I’ve seen all sides of it, both the good and the bad. But one of the sweeping statements you won’t catch me making any time soon is that all property people are lovely. Yes, I’ve met some truly amazing people, but I’ve also encountered my fair share of property people who I’d use very different words to describe, but for brevity and printability, let’s call them ‘unlovely’. So, I was somewhat intrigued by what had prompted her comment. It turns out that the lady in question had decided to get into property six months previously and so had signed up for the various property networking events in her area. And it was her experience in these groups that helped forge her glowing perception of the property community.

And herein lies a reality check that many property people should make a point of experiencing. Some do it the easy way by being warned beforehand and taking all necessary precautions. Others find out the hard way by getting royally shafted by someone who saw an opportunity to take advantage of them. And no matter whether you’re a new investor or a new developer, the lesson is the same. Namely, some people will happily throw you under a bus despite their benign appearance. Where there’s muck, there’s brass, as the saying has it, but in property, unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Wherever there are sizeable chunks of cash involved, plenty of operators are happy to leave their morals, fair play, and business etiquette at the door. Sharks swim in these waters, but they usually come disguised as dolphins, making them difficult to spot until you’re minus a limb.

In my experience, these sharper operators don’t usually frequent property networking meetings looking for victims, which is why, just like thousands of people, I’ve found these networking events full of very nice individuals and a culture fully geared towards helping others. 

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