Lee Jones, founder of The Lettings Room and The Investment Room, in conversation with The Property Chronicle
Lee Jones is the owner and director of The Lettings Room and The Investment Room based in Stocksbridge, Sheffield. Specialising in the North he manages 4,000 properties and currently has 1,000 units under construction. (In 2018 The Lettings Room won agent of the year at the South Yorkshire awards).
How did you get into property?
“While studying for a PhD in Chemistry at Leeds University I bought a house, divided it into flats and rented them out to students. I quickly saw the potential for development and the opportunities that a captive rental audience offered. While working as a sales assistant at a high-end retailer selling to Premier League football teams, I went into partnership with several players. They financed my property developments and I split the profits with them on exit. This taught me a valuable lesson about the power cash can give you in a market that can present liquidity problems.”
Where do you source your stock?
“After the crash of 2008 many of my purchases were from bank repossessions. I realised I had to offer clients something different – selling discounted property in a distressed market was attractive to only a few. As my letting agency grew I realised the rental demand could be channeled into my portfolio. I started offering clients two-year rental guarantees (typically 8– 9% pa) which provided a more passive approach for those who wished to ride out the slowing market. Two years guaranteed rental and an initial discount proved popular at a time of QE and low interest rates. It is fair to say that these are still big factors in our clients’ decision to invest.
“In the last few years, as the banks’ bad debt portfolios have been cleared, we have moved away from buying individual units to converting office blocks, mills and buildings out of the ground.”