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Every Day is a School Day

Kelly Lemon talks with the west Midlands based landlord and builder Sue Elkington

For this investor, property was initially a hobby that turned into her route out of poverty, "I have never been motivated to be rich, I am just terrified of being poor again."

Unlike many investors Sue was not motivated by the usual mantra of 'freedom from work constraints or I wanted to sack my boss'. Instead it was Sue's childhood that shaped her desire to progress in property.  

"I lost my mother when I was just seven years old and I was left with my dad and elder sister. Over the next year it got no better as my father lost his own mother and father. We really were as poor as church mice and as my dad became more reclusive his bills stacked up. I was extremely bright and managed to get into a rather exclusive school which, unfortunately, put more financial strain on us. Every friend I made had a family that owned their home and this was a concept I simply had never come across on our council estate. I really think it was way back then that I saw property ownership as security and knew at the age of eleven that it was my ticket out of hiding from creditors and to feeling secure."

Many now know Sue Elkington as the refurbishment expert with multiple projects under her belt so it comes as no surprise that her love for DIY started early. "Throughout my childhood I'd always been a hands on type of kid who saw everything as a thing to be taken apart then put back together. The best thing about my dad being DIY challenged is that I got to do all the odd jobs around the house or they simply didn't get done. I loved it and all things relating to property. I didn't know it then but I'd fallen in love with dovetail joints and its been my most enduring love ever since."    

At the age of nineteen Sue bought her first property for £6,250. She was working as a civil servant and the two up two down was
all she could afford. "I moved in on 20th December 1976, it was cold and I had nothing set aside for Christmas but I had raised people's expectations beyond imagination by recounting to everyone who knew me I had actually bought a house. I'd had the cheapest option on a survey, 'a drive by' which confirming it existed. My heating didn't work and there were perished joists due to a lack of ventilation along with numerous other problems. There were times I wished it had collapsed as I just hadn't realised my skill set was hopelessly inadequate to cope with what I was now facing.

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