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Back From the Brink

The London based property entrepreneur Martin Skinner talks with PIN editor Richard Bowser about the highs and lows he has experienced in recent years and how he is currently developing his property development and investment businesses

Martin sold his first IT business in 2000 and after two years he set out to create a buy-to-let portfolio around Canary Wharf in East London. In addition he also built up a group of businesses providing property investment, building and management services. These were mostly House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and smaller developments, initially with private clients and then ultimately on joint ventures (JV) in £200m worth of property with fund managers.

Unfortunately the Credit Crunch struck and for many people in property everything suddenly changed and Martin describes his own experiences.  

"Our biggest JV partners didn't pay for the work that we had carried out on the properties and I then made the eternal mistake of borrowing money to keep working on the JV properties, on the promise that we would get paid next week.

"They didn't pay us at all for three months and were always very tricky after that. Nine months later the loans we had taken out were called in along with our personal guarantees on them and I was made bankrupt. That led to a very painful period with people (including some former partners and friends) grabbing assets where they could.

"This coincided with my fiancé Magdalena and I having a delightful but somewhat awkwardly timed little surprise called Jack and we really had to adopt a siege mentality to save our home from repossession. Against all odds we managed to buy back some of my old personal residential portfolio with the mortgages still in place - many of which then were temporarily in negative equity. This was only done with both our two mothers having faith in our respective abilities and lending us the money to do this, and so we owe a massive 'thank you' to both of them.

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