Why property and how did you get into it?’ This was my opening question to Alicia Barlow and she gave a refreshingly honest response. “From a young age I wanted to create wealth but also to have a lifestyle whereby I enjoy my work but which also gives me time for myself and my family. Education was highly valued by my parents and yet I chose not to go to university despite achieving good grades at A-level and it caused some friction with my parents.
“I went on to work for a small accountancy firm just outside of Manchester as a trainee accountant. After four years I had qualified and was then given an opportunity to head up a business development arm of the company, which at the age of 24 was quite something as I thought there were far more experienced people in the firm than myself. That role, which I did for two years led to a board level opportunity in a consultancy for three years dealing with business development and then working on a by contract basis with SME businesses.
“At that time I was focused on each project, earning good money but working very long hours and then my son came along and that led me to refocus my priorities so that I had a better balance to my life between work and family.
“I then stumbled across a property education event with a company which no longer exists but that opened my mind to the opportunities in property investing. Overall, I had a good experience on that three-day event and am still in touch with some people from it. Some of it was a bit far fetched with some of the case studies we were shown, and with my accountancy head on it did not add up, but I learnt a lot.
“We started out by doing ‘flips’, buying and selling, but in our personal names with my husband. Initially, we used our own capital but then we started to attract funding from others, which allowed us to scale up and do more deals using ‘angel investors’ as well as using bridging finance when appropriate.”
Alicia then went on to explain how they transitioned into a buy to let approach with the aim of holding property for income and not for the trading profits from ‘flips’.