I was born at the bottom of the garden, on a yacht on a deep-water canal in the Cayman Islands. And if that isn’t a good start to life I don’t know what is.
I did my first property deal back in the sixties when I was barely a teenager. My mother wanted to buy a plot of land to build a house. She was having serious trouble doing the calculations. And that is where most people go wrong in real estate, they just cant do the maths. I put the whole thing into some simple equations which we took to the bank. The bank manager simply couldn’t handle being shown how the deal worked by a twelve year old kid. So that was my first failure. It was also my last. I learn fast.
Fast forward a few years, and I have a wife and a son, and we are looking to move. This time I am ready for the bank manager. I am also older, so he wont look a fool if he doesn’t understand my reasoning. But I make sure he does understand. He still wont lend me any money, but he lends it to my mother.
We buy a ruin in deepest Somerset. We move in. We are young, poor, keen, inexperienced, and the next two years are hard work.
I learn to be an architect, and draw plans for renovating the house. I learn about surveying, and read up how to make cement, do plumbing and fix the electrics. I then take on renovating the old cottage, and building a substantial extension on the side.
I do everything from digging the footings to putting on the chimney-pot. I rip all the old stuff out, put in new plumbing, and completely re-wire all the electric circuits. I then decide that although I hate building, it is making me money, so I build another house, this time from scratch.
I am supposed to be a writer and a musician, but I need to pay the gas bill, so I buy run-down houses, do them up, and sell them, and then move on.
I bought land in the sixties just as prices were beginning to rise, and sold again in 1972 just before everything crashed. I bought again in the mid seventies, and sold again. I bought in during the early eighties, and screamed at everyone I knew to get out before the crash towards the end of the decade. I was buying again in the summer of 1991, and by 2004 I was advising my clients to stop buying, or even sell. I am largely out of the market as I write. In short I have managed to foretell every market crash and every boom since the late sixties.
When the internet turned into the world wide web in America in 1991 I was busy learning how to program computers. When the service started in the UK in 1992 I was already online at a teaching establishment in West London. It was not long before I started my first website. This led to me experimenting with a property website in 1995, which has grown into the Unique Property Site, which is the third busiest property website in the UK.
I have been writing real estate newsletters since 1997 advising clients how to deal with conditions in the real estate markets of the world, and my writings and property listings have been covered by the media world-wide, from Australian t.v. to glossy magazines in Japan, and from Dubai to Canada. I have also made several appearances on UK radio.
I effectively invented Buy to Let back in 1991, creating a portfolio which was designed to produce a pension by 1997. I wrote about this in a book I called Buying to Let, My Pension, which I tried to get published in 1993. Every publishing house I took the book to laughed at the idea. Property was dead in 1993, and no-one wanted to know.
I moved to Spain and got involved in land transactions there, and more recently I started creating computer courses for City & Guilds, and wrote several books on Desk Top Publishing, and Creating Businesses on the Internet, which were published by Addison Wesley and others. I also started the UK’s first internet courses at the University of Westminster in 1995. I have also had my own online presence since the beginning of the world wide web in 1991, and now run the UK’s third busiest property website (or at least, it was the last time I checked).
I have travelled through over 70 different countries and currently live on a farm in the Algarve. I run a music publishing company and a recording studio, and make short movies.
I am currently making a pilot movie for a proposed series of 30 minute documentaries for t.v. about My Unique Friends, which will feature the strange homes that some of my friends live in. The first will feature a home built into a cave at the source of a river in Andalucia, in southern Spain, and which is used as a yoga centre.
When it comes to real estate I know what I’m talking about. I have been in the business for over forty years; longer than anyone else currently out there. Whatever it is, I have probably been there and done it, and got the bruises to prove it. If you want me to write about something, you know where I am, you only have to ask.