For many property investors HMOs are the 'buzz' word and are seen as a cash cow. For Nicole Bremner though, they are a chance to make cash for different reasons. The East London property developer made money on her first four projects by converting existing HMOs into luxury family homes and selling them for a profit. Nicole, a mother of three, is also somebody who doesn't like debt despite being currently involved in 14 separate projects. As such I am curious to find out how this Australian born property developer has managed to grow from a million pound pot to multi million pound developments in such a short space of time.
Nicole and her now husband, Michael, moved from Australia to London and worked in the City. However, when Michael was re-located again the couple got a taste of property investment. "I became an accidental landlord in 2007 when we moved to New York and let out our London flat in Clerkenwell that we had lived in. I then renovated a flat in Austria in 2007. Upon returning to London in 2009 I renovated the London flat and sold it into a hot market making a good profit. It was around this time that we bought a 400 square foot dilapidated former vicarage in East London and I started the renovation process. I loved the process but I didn't realise that this could be a career option. In 2012 I was still unsure of what to do when I 'grew up' and my husband and I discussed property as a career option. I really liked the flexibility that property allowed me. I had three kids by then and it allowed me to be at home with them around school hours and attend all their events while still working. I also loved that it was analytical, creative and allowed me to contribute significantly to the family income."
When Nicole bought and renovated the vicarage she had her family in mind as the end goal was to live in the property. However, after successfully project managing the build she decided this was the career for her and the couple agreed on an amount of money they would put towards Nicole's new venture as seed money. "Michael and I allocated £750,000 to purchasing our first property in Hackney. After months of searching and submitting unsuccessful offers I realised that there was too much competition in this bracket and I needed more cash. Michael agreed to give me a bit more of our savings and I purchased our first development for a shade over £1m. I spent about £300k on the renovation and sold into a very buoyant market for £1.895m. The market was growing at 20% per annum at this time in Hackney, one of the fastest house price growth areas in the UK, so to be honest I could have done nothing and still made money."