Property development can be a risky business and as such, just like many a marriage in modern times, unfortunately business partnerships fail and for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, that situation has not occurred for Liverpool based investor Phil Melia and his partner Karl Winter who over the last six years have completed nine projects together, from initially converting a three bedroom semi-detached and in the last few years, moving onto developing larger listed buildings.
Their success in creating profitable development schemes was acknowledged in November 2020 when Phil Melia won the coveted awards of Property Investor of the Year and Property Development of the Year at the annual Property Investors Awards. I asked him about the progress of their company Winter Melia Developments and also about the specific scheme that led to the award wins, and how it all came together.
“Karl and myself have been best friends for many years,” says Phil, “and yes it was in 2015 when we decided to acquire our first property together. I have had various businesses since the age of 16 across a multitude of sectors, including clothing, furniture, interior design, hospitality, technology, electronic and property development. Karl has over 16 years experience in construction having worked his way up from apprentice to head foreman for one of the biggest developers in the North West. And so we decided to join our skill sets together in 2015 and created Winter Melia Developments, which started with a three-bed semi we bought at auction, and we have since organically scaled the business together.
“A partnership is something I have always avoided across my other businesses but mine and Karl’s relationship is like family so there is a very high level of trust and respect for each other and we both have a value add across different skill sets. No partnership is ever 100% plain sailing but no matter what happens, we know we have each other’s back so it works for us.”
So how did that first purchase occur? - “Initially we attended a number of auctions but failed to get something suitable, and at one point we were wondering if we would ever find a worthwhile project. Finally we did and bought it at auction. We still have that first semi-detached property as part of our rental portfolio. We then went on to buy bungalows with the right roof pitch and substantially increased the footprint with large dormers at the rear.
“Since then we have done a number of projects together and gradually scaled up our activities. By chance we then came across a listed building in a really nice part of Liverpool, which was up for sale at auction. We did pay over the odds for it but I am glad we did as we then converted it into five apartments with a commercial unit on the ground floor. Once again we have kept these ourselves and rented out the units. On the larger projects we are doing nowadays we look to retain 20% of the units and sell on the remainder. Buyers like the fact that we are retaining a long-term interest in the buildings and therefore can have more confidence that the build quality is sound and is done to a good standard.”