Teacher, Marketing, Optical Technologies


Kettering, Northamptonshire




Supportive community, sense of achievement, minimised mistakes and legacy for their children

A shared dream

Linda and Damian's journey began in 2017 when they first met and discovered their mutual interest in property investment. Damian already had a portfolio, and Linda brought her extensive experience from commercial insurance, teaching and trades, but had never actually pursued property investment. That was, until Damian listened to a podcast about Platinum Property Partners (PPP).

Intrigued, they attended a Discovery Day in Birmingham in October 2019. The event left a strong impression on them. "It sounded too good to be true, but we wanted to know the downsides, warts and all, to make an informed decision," Linda explains.

Following attendance at one of the National Workshops, where the couple were free to sit with and speak to whomever they wanted, they were encouraged by the openness and supportiveness of the PPP community. “Also the fact that there were so many Alumni Partners – if it wasn’t good, then people who were no longer tied to the franchise wouldn’t have stayed around!” adds Linda.

They signed up and officially started their journey on March 1, 2020, going sale agreed on their first property within three weeks.

A Covid catastrophe?

Their first investment, a semi-detached property on a nice residential estate in Kettering, Northamptonshire, faced immediate hurdles due to the Covid pandemic. The sale, initially agreed upon in March, didn't complete until October. "The support from PPP during this time was amazing. They quickly moved bootcamps and workshops online," Linda recalls. “And although the virtual format lacked the personal touch and incidental conversations we preferred, we knew they were doing the best they could during unprecedented times.”

The refurbishment process was not without its difficulties either. Conducted during the second lockdown, there were unavoidable delays as well as resistance from a challenging neighbour.

"We had to manage work schedules meticulously to minimise disruption, particularly with much of the street remaining at home" Linda says. Despite these obstacles, they converted the property into a six-bedroom house – two ensuites and another four bedrooms sharing two bathrooms - maintaining high standards and achieving full tenancy within three months.

"The sense of achievement and the supportive network have made it all worthwhile. The expertise and knowledge of the PPP head office team, mentors and Power Team of suppliers, who cover not just property development and management, but assistance with running your business too, are the things that make PPP so unique and successful.”

Linda McGillivary

Problematic projects

Still navigating the challenges of the pandemic while working full time too, and a little wary after their experiences during the first project, Linda and Damian planned to take a short break. However, they could not pass on the opportunity to buy their second HMO.

Opting for a detached property this time, in a cul-de-sac location with existing buy-to-lets located around it, they turned it into a stunning six-bedroom shared house, with the potential option to create a seventh bedroom under Permitted Development and apply for Sui Generis planning consent in the future.

It let almost immediately, but the refurbishment was not without its challenges either, with difficulties finding a new and reliable builder.

“We wanted to use different builders for this project, but our first choice didn’t work out”, explains Linda. “This caused a delay to the house being ready, but the replacement builder and team of contractors we got in were amazing, and we ended up with a fabulous house.”

A further unexpected opportunity then arose with a care home in Kettering. Although they didn’t have the funds to take on the property themselves, they utilised the PPP network to source a passive investor.

Linda comments: “We weren’t financially ready for this project, but with there being so many options with it, as HMOs but also other models, it wasn’t a risk to buy it.”

Calling on the expertise of the Partner network and PPP’s planning department, Linda and Damian put an application in for all potential developments, but there were issues internally at the local authority.

In the end, they split the property and created one five-bedroom HMO and one three-bedroom (unlicensed) HMO all with an en-suite or private bathroom, taking their portfolio today to 20 rooms over four properties, while also managing 12 rooms for another Partner.

The three-bedroom property also has the potential to double in size, so Linda and Damian may convert that into a licensed HMO in future.

Reflecting but no regrets

Linda and Damian’s time with PPP has not been without its difficulties. They joined when the market was high and interest rates were low and have subsequently had to deal with huge market fluctuations, not to mention the pandemic.

Alongside some issues with builders and planning, they also faced difficult neighbours, high build costs, the proposed Renters Reform Bill and even more legislation as well as a negative media bias against landlords.

But the couple are determined to turn these challenges into triumph, and say they would not have wanted to build their HMO portfolio without PPP.

Linda explains: “The myriad of legislation and the complexity of building and operating HMOs means that we would have made many more mistakes, and possibly fallen foul of legislation purely through ignorance, without the expertise and support of PPP.

“Also, since coming out of covid, we have had the opportunity to take advantage of the network that we’d heard so much about – and it delivered all that it had promised – and more. As well as making new business contacts we have made many new friends, and have an informal support network comprising Partners with a wealth of experience of HMOs and PPP who we can call on whenever we need help – and if the person we’re talking to can’t help us, they can always tell us who can!”

Although the process has been slower than they would have liked, and not without hard work, they still believe this can give them the time freedom they desire and a legacy for their children.
“Our only regret is not doing it sooner,” says Linda.

“Yes, it’s given us more grey hairs (or fewer hairs in Damian’s case), but also many more options for the future. It’s been hard work, but we expected that for higher returns, and it’s actually been enjoyable. We’ve gained so many new skills, and so much confidence. The personal journey as well as the professional one has been well worth all the trials and tribulations.”

Their goal is to expand to six properties by 2025, a plan adjusted for the realities of the current market and personal circumstances, and at some point, take a step back from the management side.

While the business hasn't fully replaced Linda’s salary yet, it is steadily progressing and generating overall a pre-tax net profit of 8.7%. As a result, Linda was able to leave her job on her 55th birthday, and they still remain confident in the model, so much so, that they are now Affinity Partners, managing two properties for another Franchise Partner.

Reflecting on their journey, Linda emphasises the importance of resilience and community support.

Linda concludes: "The sense of achievement and the supportive network have made it all worthwhile. The expertise and knowledge of the PPP head office team, mentors and Power Team of suppliers, who cover not just property development and management, but assistance with running your business too, are the things that make PPP so unique and successful.”

Franchise partner stories

Our Franchise Partners come from all walks of life. Some have a lot of property experience and others have very little, or none. But all of them are now enjoying the income and freedom that come from partnering with Platinum.