After the summer months, December is my favourite time of year. I can often be found popping back to London for a festive fix and a potter along Piccadilly, admiring Fortnum’s Christmas window displays and constructing my imaginary list for Father Christmas. This time of year, also brings much reflection and celebration as it’s awards season. The highlight for SME developers and property investors is the Property Investor Awards founded by Cyril Thomas, which I flew back especially to co-host and what a night it was!
Nine exceptional winners scooped up ten awards between them – yes, and one lady (Xuan Meng of Cozy Haus did the double and took home two awards. But this annual event is no one-night wonder. The process actually takes most of the year, with nominations opening around March and culminating in the awards ceremony in late November. The judging occurs over two days in September and it’s a process I thoroughly enjoy. Not only for the chance to hear what property peeps are up to, but also to discover potential new business partners and to learn from my fellow judges – all experts in their respective fields, like Jay Howard of Hammered Auctions, Mike Bristow of Crowd Property and Property Investor NewsTM magazine’s very own Richard Bowser.
I’ve had the privilege (and it really is) of being a judge for two years now and Jay is a few years ahead of me in experience and describes the judging days as “insane”. I must admit it’s pretty full on. Two full days reviewing EVERY applicant for each of the ten categories to determine the finalists and ultimate winners – that’s a LOT of data. But it’s so worth those “wow” moments when we uncover something blindingly brilliant that an applicant has structured, created or achieved, which sets their deal apart from all the others in the field (“happens more often than you’d think” Jay adds).
And the discussions can get pretty heated! There’s a good deal of banter (primarily led by Jay, that’s why we’re friends) and sometimes I’m just grateful to get a word in edgeways. That is the beauty of having such a diverse panel of judges (there’s 23 of us), we all come from different perspectives and value slightly different things; clearly I have a major focus on the numbers, but also the person’s story matters to me. Jay loves the creativity and ingenuity a deal shows, being the genius that he is with degrees to his name. So what exactly are we looking for? What makes a winner a winner?