In the last 18 months or so we’ve seen a sea change in market sentiment in some areas, with a more subdued property market in London and the inner commuting belt, whereas locations such as Manchester are experiencing strong buyer demand. As such, I was looking forward to hearing the opinions of Chelsea-based investor Thierry Lemaire as I have seen him on a number of occasions over the last ten years or so at various property events. Thierry arrived in the UK over 20 years ago from France to complete his final year of a degree in mechanical engineering and a combination of circumstances led to him settling in London.
“Like many, I loved the student life and stayed on to do a Masters degree at Middlesex University. I then had a choice to make, whether to do compulsory military service in France or to work for a French company abroad, which is what I chose to do and so found myself working in Wantage, Oxfordshire using my degree in project management. I then moved back to London to work for another French company but after some two years of regularly travelling abroad with work I became weary.
“In 2002 I was bored with travelling, but a business trip to Denmark had an unexpected twist when I slipped over in a hotel shower cubicle, was trapped with some serious back pain and unable to move. It was 4am in the morning and the steam from the shower, which I could not reach to turn off, then set off the hotel fire alarm and the place had to be evacuated!
“I managed to get home to London but was unable to work for five months due to the slipped disc in my spine. I was then given a choice of having surgery but was told there was a 25% chance that I might end up in a wheelchair so I chose the long road to recovery and had physiotherapy. And it was in the waiting room of my therapist when I came across the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book by Robert Kyosaki and which then led on to my property investing career. I initially signed up to a weekend course and then looked at various programmes to broaden my education in property but did not have the funds to do what I wanted.