Ex-maths teachers and Britain’s most prolific buy-to-let landlords – Fergus and Judith Wilson – have agreed to sell almost their entire property portfolio to Arab investors at a sum of around £250 million.
The couple first revealed plans to sell their vast portfolio back in July 2014 and believed that they would only get around £100 million for it. A year and a half later and having sold around 100 properties to Chinese and Indian investors for £25 million, they have struck a deal worth 2.5 times their original projection.
Mr Wilson, who told the Financial Times that he expects the deal to be completed by the first half of 2016, claims the properties – complete with tenants – are being sold at market value with a ‘token’ £1 million premium.
It was almost 30 years ago when the journey began for Mr and Mrs Wilson, who started their empire in 1986 when house prices were low. They gave up their teaching careers and started by only purchasing new-build homes and re-mortgaging them when the prices rose.
The empire, which now spreads across much of Kent and includes areas such as Ashford, Maidstone and Folkestone, was at one point being acquired at a rate of 1 property a day.
Whilst talking to the telegraph, Mr Wilson spoke of their success:
“It was remarkably easy because no-one knew what they were doing. I didn’t care if I didn’t make a profit as long as I owned the properties…I knew they would rise in value eventually.”
The agreement with investors will mark the end of a successful, if not at times controversial era, which saw the couple send 200 tenants on housing benefits eviction notices and Mr Wilson fined £1,500 for attacking an estate agent following a dispute about a boiler.
Mr Wilson will be sad to see it end and said:
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself… it’s been a happy, happy ride, a hobby that’s got out of control. Sometimes, years ago, you’d be buying a house for £35,000 and you’d be arguing over just £500.
‘You couldn’t do now what I did. It’s partly because they will not lend at the higher levels of before. If I was starting again I’d be pushed to get a 75 per cent loan as a landlord.”
The sale of the portfolio follows legislation changes that will mean buy-to-let is no longer as lucrative, including stamp duty changes and changes to mortgage interest tax relief.
Mr Wilson, who believes David Cameron is trying to prevent a situation like his happening again, leaves aspiring buy-to-let landlords with one pearl of wisdom – “buy where it doesn’t flood”.
BT www.propertysurveying.co.uk 10/12/15