Just 16 months after joining PPP, Liam and Claire Gallagher have reached a notable milestone in their journey – two HMOs and 16 tenants.

“We have just checked in our 10th and final tenant into our second HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) and have also refilled two rooms in our first HMO, so we now have two fully occupied HMOs – It certainly is a good feeling!

Not only have we clearly seen the positive effect of the 10-bed on our rental income, but there is also the element of ‘two for the price of one’, i.e. 10 bedrooms as opposed to the network average of six, which was the size of our first HMO. As such, we have less property management and maintenance considerations and will ultimately be able to achieve our financial goals with fewer properties than we had initially planned on. Therefore, with now having the experience of both bigger and smaller HMOs, we are increasingly inclined towards focussing on bigger properties.

It took just over two months to be fully tenanted from point of ‘ready to rent’ in the 10-bed property, which was somewhat longer than it took for the six-bed property. We didn’t get a huge reaction to our advert launch and started to wonder whether the property was simply too big for potential tenants. However, it was certainly reassuring to talk with fellow partners in the area who gave us the confidence to ‘Keep the faith – they will come’.

We subsequently found out that that the timing of our advertising was far from ideal. We started advertising at Easter which, according to the SpareRoom presentation at the recent National Workshop, is the quietest period of the year. This certainly surprised us a lot as we, like most people, expected Christmas to be the quietest.

On the first property, we had the advert up for a month prior to it being ready to rent and so it was occupied very quickly by comparison. A number of initial viewings were held whilst the first property was in full refurbishment – in fact, the first room was taken with a cement mixer feature in situ! However, due to the size of the second property, we felt that it would be preferable to commence viewings when the property was much closer to the finished article. All things considered, we now feel that with clear communication with potential tenants from the outset, we will be reverting to optimising our advertising – get them up earlier and refresh them more often.

As for the 10-bed household, it has become a male (eight in total) dominated IT household. It certainly was not our plan, but it has very much gone this way – six of the ten tenants are IT professionals from broadcast and media engineers to programming consultants and a systems architect.

On reflection, the IT dominance could be in part due to our broadband connection investment. We not only went for the Virgin 152 connection, but we installed a data cabinet to ensure that the 152 input could be fully accessed and utilised throughout the whole house. The IT guys were initially surprised, but ultimately impressed by the infrastructure investment that we had made, and everyone from an IT profession took a room on viewing. In fact, a couple of the guys are now able to work remotely from the house as they are able to securely access their work networks due to the system. Other than that, it’s a great property in a great location.

As this was our second time tenanting a property, we took a slightly broader tack with regards to age. As the saying goes, ‘age is just a number’ and you can get too hung up on that and let good potential tenants go if you rigidly apply a strict age range. For us, peoples’ mind set and personality are much better filters to apply in deciding whether we think that they are going to be a fit in the house.

As it happens, we’ve got two people in their mid-20s, five in their 30s, two in their late 40s and one person aged 51 and everyone seems to be getting on great. Interestingly, our two female tenants are the only two locals from the Warrington area and everyone else has either relocated to Warrington or are working in Warrington – half of the tenants are Monday to Friday stayers. This just goes to show that HMOs are not only suitable for young professionals looking for high quality but affordable accommodation, but also anincreasingly mobile workforce.

It’s now time to move forward with project three and four!”

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