When Cathy Colston gave up her corporate career with Boots after 22 years in a bid to redress her work life balance, she decided to invest in property.

She saw property as an opportunity to do something that enabled her to use her commercial and customer service skills and create lifelong assets that would be a legacy moving and an income now.

Having almost taken that route at 18 when considering a degree in real estate, and then successfully converting a commercial property with her sister which she inherited in 2005, Cathy knew she had a passion for property.

“My experience of property investing prior to leaving Boots was minimal,” said Cathy. “When I left and decided that I was going to get into property on a full-time basis, I decided to educate myself. I trawled the internet, read books and went to networking events and spent a lot of time trying to understand what options there were, learning as much as I could.”

Cathy’s first purchase was a four bedroom buy-to-let house, but what she really needed was a cashflow strategy that serviced the costs associated with running a rental property, as well as providing an income.

With the changes in the financial and mortgage markets, Cathy believed there was a need for high quality accommodation for professionals who were not yet ready or able to step onto the property ladder.

After working with a mentor, she went on to invest in student and professional HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in Cardiff, where she was originally from. Cathy’s portfolio was doing well, but she still wanted to learn more about property investment so that she could maximise her returns in an increasingly competitive market.

Her mentor pointed her in the direction of Platinum Property Partners.

Cathy added: “I was in this for the long term and I wanted to make sure that every pound of money I spent was going to give my tenants the best rental experiences, and the best return on investment for me. Joining PPP was about being part of a community and continuing to build my knowledge and expertise with people who had already built successful portfolios in the professional HMO world.

“I wanted to make sure I got it right first time – it’s very easy to lose £50,000 at the drop of a hat in property and mistakes are often very expensive in more than just a financial way.”

After attending a Discover Day, both Cathy and her husband Alistair, a chartered surveyor, felt inspired and motivated.

Cathy joined at the end of 2011 on a five year franchise agreement and has since purchased and refurbished eight HMOs following the PPP model, as well as continuing to develop her property portfolio outside of franchise.

She believes her business has scaled at a much faster pace than it would have if she’d continued on her own and her eyes have been opened in terms of wealth creation, pension planning and joint venture opportunities.

“I have been able to use equity in my own home to help me build a successful property business of scale with the help of PPP”, added Cathy. “But where PPP adds the most value is in the continued learning – not just about property, but on a personal level too. I never miss a regional or national workshop because I am always learning something new despite my experience. There are also ways to learn about other investment strategies and further develop your skills.”

Cathy was not looking for a franchise opportunity when she discovered PPP, and doesn’t look at it this way now, even four years on. She sees PPP as an investment in a property business model and her family’s future.

Cathy concluded: “Joining PPP is a five year investment for the rest of my life and my children’s lives. It’s an investment over a short period of time that gives you lifelong and generational value.

“Most importantly, it’s the positive feedback that we get from our housemates that makes it all worthwhile.”