This month's opening words from my interview will highlight just where Ross Harper is at in respect of his property businesses. "I've bought over 1,000 properties in the last five years". This underlines that we are profiling a serious 'player' in the property industry, particularly in terms of the Scottish residential market.
We met up recently to talk about his development project in Glasgow and since then Ross has received a prestigious industry accolade in winning the Property Development of the Year award at the Property Investors Awards. More on the development project later…
The first obvious question is how Ross got started in property: “I studied land economics at university and unfortunately graduated in 1993 into a recession with zero jobs available, so then I trained as an estate agent with Countrywide. Thankfully I had a good career and bought a buy-to-let property, which I subsequently sold for a profit of around £25,000 and so decided to do this full-time. I did this till 2008, but then like many had to reset, and so I started again.”
Ross explains what he and his team do on a day to day basis: "I've a team of people who work for me. I buy and trade deals, hold some and also now am doing a very challenging development project. I do all sorts of things and every time I look to buy or create a business I look to create a vehicle so that it can work efficiently. As an example, around five years ago I wanted to buy and sell through auctions but I could not trust the auctioneer so I set up an auction company Auction House Scotland. Part of my market research on auctions was to watch 20 episodes of Homes Under the Hammer! Contrary to what people assume, we rarely buy through the auctions, but we do sell them through that route. My businesses are inter-connected in that I also own a building company which does my own stuff and for other people.
“However let’s be clear, I am not a hands-on person at a building site and have no desire to be so. My key aim was to be a property trader and buy discounted properties, so I also set up a company to acquire stock from motivated vendors. We then can exit from the trade through my estate agency, through an auction sale or privately. As I own the constituent parts that means I am in control of the sales process and have an exit for each property that we purchase.