On today’s Engaging Marketeer Podcast, I am speaking with property developer and investor Toyin Ayandare.
Toyin was sitting at home and watching episodes of Homes Under the Hammer, which many of us (including myself) have done, and she thought “I could do that!”. She went out to property auctions and bid on properties and didn’t win any of them, but she didn’t give up and eventually she won a property at auction. She developed that and made money on it, then built her portfolio, went into property mentoring, and now has an eight-figure property business.
I spoke to Toyin about how she did that and how she suggests other people could also replicate her success. Here are some of the highlights from an interview well worth a listen to in full:
Toyin on her podcast
Darren: What sort of advice do you give on the podcast you do?
Toyin: I mainly just share my story and try to make people understand that financial freedom is not something that’s just nice to have, it’s a necessity.
I also want to make them understand that irrespective of your background, where you’ve come from or how late in the day you started, you can definitely do it! Being a female in a male-dominated world of property developers, I’ve learned that it’s very possible. Yes, we’re not that many but we’re not being intimidated by that.
…on getting started in property
Darren: Where did you start? What was your first venture into property?
Toyin: I actually started by watching Homes Under the Hammer. I had my second daughter and wanted to be an intentional parent, which meant that I needed to be more available, and not working nine to five, or even nine to six or seven. I was thinking of ways I could actually make the income and be accustomed to the lifestyle I already had without having to start all over again.
So with property, I just thought “I’ll try it” and went to auctions. Looking back, that was very brave, because by binge watching Homes Under the Hammer they don’t tell you everything! I just told myself if I could make a certain amount in six months then I was definitely not going back to nine to five. And 10 years on, I haven’t gone back!
Darren: Did you have an idea of particular property you wanted?
Toyin: No. The preamble to that is the fact that I’d gone to several auctions and I was getting outbid every time. At this point I had absolutely no one I could ask any questions to. I used to phone around and look on Google and nobody knew anything! I wanted to know how I could even make up the money in the first place to buy property, and I was told that you have to “buy cash”, which was really difficult.
Because I was getting outbid, I was thinking there was something wrong with my numbers, but the key thing here was persistence, being resilient and not taking no for an answer. So I kept on going until I eventually found the property. I think I decided that I was prepared to make a loss, and I needed to get past that first stage because I was not going anywhere, although that’s not necessarily anything I would tell any of my mentees they should do now.
It’s a good thing I did though, because obviously buying that property meant I was able to go to the next stage, which was working with builders, going through the sale and the rest of that, but once I did that I thankfully didn’t lose any money on the property. It wasn’t a major brand or a major profit, but the fact that it could let me get to that stage, and believe you me, before I actually even was able to sell that property, I had bought the next one, thinking “okay, I know how this works!”
…on role models
Darren: When you were a child, did you have role models that were successful
Toyin: No. I’d always looked up to my parents, but looking back at my childhood I don’t think I really had anyone that was directly successful. When I did find someone, I just admired them from a distance, but I wouldn’t say I had any direct guidance.
Thinking about my secondary school days and university days, I was always asking questions and looking at how I could actually get connected to people. All of those questions I asked at the time may not be directly relatable to where I am right now, but I think what it did was give me an insight into the fact that it is possible, and that whatever I set my heart to do, I can achieve.
Darren: That’s a great message for everybody to follow
Darren: Do you think if you’d had property mentors at the beginning, you’d have done things differently?
Toyin: If I’d had mentorship there are some mistakes I wouldn’t have made, but there are two ways to learn – you learn by your mistakes or you learn by other people’s experiences. The size of our portfolio is great, don’t get me wrong, but I know it could have been easier and faster if I had had a mentor. I’m thankful for my journey though.
…on Covid’s effect on serviced accommodation
Darren: As somebody who’s really into serviced accommodation, how did Covid affect it?
Toyin: I think because we had been in business for a few years it helped us, because the portfolio would probably have been able to pay for itself. We’re very thankful for that because the fact that we could keep our staff, we could keep selling, we could keep the properties we had and could stay afloat – that was the aim really. The last thing I wanted to do to any of the staff was to say “sorry, you’ve got to go.”
However, the service accommodation element itself was definitely hit because we had properties that were locked up and doing nothing. Even when we had requests from NHS staff and key workers, we couldn’t actually take them because we didn’t have housekeeping available, so that was so difficult and unsettling.
The good thing was once we came out of Covid, we had properties available to rent out whereas a lot of people were still trying to see whether they wanted to start the business again, so that really was key for us – the multiple streams of different property income, as well as the fact that we are we stabilized.
…on estate and letting agents
Darren: When someone is talking to a letting agent about using a property for service accommodation, obviously it’s a conversation that has to be handled very carefully. Is there any advice you can give for people that want to do that and how to talk to the agents?
Toyin: In terms of tips, unfortunately some rookies and those that have not actually done it properly have service accommodation operators a bad name, but there are still a lot of agents that will want to help you, so make sure you have a good a contact point.
Try and get a personal relationship with them. If you’re into football, for example, you can start talking about football, or anything else that is besides the property. You’re almost reassuring them by telling them about yourself, and eventually you get to the property. Now, because of that conversation and relationship, they are able to listen to you clearly. I think it’s very much about the relationship you have with the agents and building solid relationships with them.
Toyin’s one piece of advice
Darren: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever either received or been given?
Toyin: Well, it was a bitter pill to chew at the time, and I was actually very upset when I got it, but I think I’ve learned that your first loss is your best loss. Sometimes it’s really key to know when to stop flogging a dead horse and understand when you need to reject and get help. I think that’s very good advice, especially for entrepreneurs in the business world
Darren: That’s a fabulous piece of advice. Google, for example, is notorious for axing projects before they lose too much money on them.
I really hope you enjoyed this episode of the Engaging Marketeer podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on our YouTube channel, as well as on your favourite listening platform.