Another Property Investors videographer becomes financially free…..
Ceri-Ann Williams was working as an actress when the coronavirus pandemic struck and wiped out her bookings. Deciding she needed an alternative source of income, Ceri-Ann studied Samuel Leeds’ YouTube property videos and then set up a serviced accommodation business. Along the way she secured a job as a videographer for her mentor and is now financially free after taking up paid-for training with Property Investors.
‘My life was turned upside down overnight’
Before going into property Ceri-Ann worked in film and children’s entertainment. The latter is something she has in common with Samuel Leeds who also entertained children at parties before becoming a successful property entrepreneur.
Ceri-Ann jokes that like him she too can perform balloon tricks, but her bubble burst when Covid hit and she saw her livelihood snatched away.
“Literally my whole life turned upside down overnight and I had no work. My bookings just disappeared. I had the money in my bank account and that was it to last me the whole of Covid and no one knew how long it was going to last.
“I just thought I don’t ever want to be in this situation again. I’d paid so much money for my training, and I didn’t feel secure in my industry. I was always waiting for the phone to ring. I needed something else.”
Ceri-Ann had already been looking into providing serviced accommodation, having seen an advertisement about it on Instagram. It appealed to her because she thought she could fit it around her life. The pandemic persuaded her she needed to take action, although she realised it was not the best time to be offering furnished, short stay accommodation.
Instead, she spent the first lockdown studying Samuel’s free property videos and then in July 2020, when restrictions were eased, secured her first deal. It was a moment for celebration but one that quickly turned sour as she struggled to make the business work.
Ceri-Ann says lack of experience and not having the right training meant she ‘completely mucked it up.’
“It wasn’t systemised. I was double booking. I was having panic attacks. I hyperventilated one day because I just was so overwhelmed. From doing nothing during the lockdown and then suddenly having all this responsibility, like getting cleaners in, was a nightmare.”
Eventually, after finding herself having to do the cleaning, the landlord took the property back from her. Without the right contract in place, there was nothing she could do about it.
Rent-to-rent course changes Ceri-Ann’s fortunes
Instead of ‘running for the hills,’ Ceri-Ann realised she needed to get properly educated and invested in training with Property Investors. At that point, due to the ongoing Covid situation, it had been put online.
After watching it all in a few sittings, she came to the Rent to Rent Revolution course and subsequently clinched a deal on a one-bedroom penthouse with a ‘stunning’ terrace in Reading.
Ceri-Ann found it through one of her friends who was an estate agent. Ceri-Ann’s mother, who is a property manager, gave her a reference.
“I was quite lucky in that way and my mum has helped me so much. She’s really in the know in property.”
Having learnt how to systemise a serviced accommodation property and make sure it ran like clockwork, Ceri-Ann negotiated a four-year deal with the landlord. She agreed to pay him a guaranteed monthly rent of £1,095. In return, she looks after the property and is allowed to rent it out on a nightly basis. It sleeps up to four people as there is also a sofa bed.
She furnished the place, remembering to provide teaspoons – something which her previous landlord had been forced to point out to her. From her training, she also knew where to position the wi-fi.
“Small details like that matter and they were things I hadn’t even thought of.”
By now Ceri-Ann was addicted to her new life as a property entrepreneur and went all out to obtain another rent-to-rent serviced accommodation agreement. Through her mother she found a large flat with high ceilings in Reading town centre which fitted the bill.
“It needed a bit of renovation. I said [to the landlady] why don’t I project manage the renovation, and then get it on a company let so you don’t have to worry about anything. You just show me what you want, and we’ll source it and renovate the whole flat for you.”
The landlady agreed to Ceri-Ann and her mother carrying out the work. The rent is £690 a month, with both properties returning a profit of about £750 per month. During the annual Reading music festival she can make that in just one weekend, she says.
‘My rents helped me become a homeowner’
In April this year, Ceri-Ann added a third serviced accommodation property to her portfolio. This one she owns.
“There was just something in me I wanted to own my next one. I used all the rent-to-rent money I was getting and borrowed some more from an investor to buy another one-bed in Reading.
“It’s opposite the hospital in the best location. I renovated it in three days. They were minimal changes, but they’ve made such a dramatic impact. I put it on Airbnb with the basic photos I bought the property with, and it’s already booked up till mid-July.”
Her investment in training paid dividends even on the Rent-to-Revolution programme. It cost her just £1 to book onto the course. Then she won £200 for finding the best deal in the room. She also persuaded her brother to join the Property Investors Academy.
“It didn’t take much persuasion. He was blown away by Samuel and his training and the education he gives away for free. He owns an SA as well in Reading. Me, my mum and him all do it.”
They cover for each other when one of them is unable to host a guest because their accommodation is full.
“We’ve got pretty much a 100 per cent occupancy rate, give or take one or two nights per month.”
A lot of her business comes from workers relocating to the area who need somewhere to stay with their families. For long-term bookings, like the one she has just received, she is offering a discounted rate of £67 per night but is saving on the cleaning costs because the family is there all the time.
On top of that, she has a mortgage of £500 and the prospect of soaring bills to contend with. “Even so, it’s still decent. It’s definitely worth doing.”
When the bills go up, her prices will also have to increase to make up for the deficit, she points out.
The Rent to Revolution programme, which she attended last December, was pivotal in helping her move on her business.
“It just changed everything for me. I networked with like-minded people. That was a big thing for me. I was in a room with over 200 people. I just thought, ‘How can I get in this environment? I need to be around this all the time.”
By coincidence, a position as a videographer became available with Property Investors the week after she finished the course.
“I said in my application I just want to do this job to give back to Samuel because I’ve had so much education from him. I’ve been to film school. I know how to work cameras.”
Ceri-Ann now has a full-time role with the company, heading up the YouTube channel. She also films and edits Samuel’s Winners on a Wednesday interviews with successful students. In April, she was one of those interviewees herself, talking about her property journey so far.
Ceri enjoys being around the Property Investors team and the academy.
“Samuel has created like a mini family within the academy and team and I absolutely love it here. I enjoy the variety as well when we’re on the road [making films].
“Even at the training programmes people come up to me. I can advise them comfortably and it feels great. I can totally understand why Samuel does this. I’m sharing the information that I learnt. If he had just kept that to himself, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”
There are challenges. “The hardest thing about Airbnb is being on call 24/7. That’s the next step, getting a property manager to take that off me.”
She also had a call at three in the morning from a guest who was locked out asking her to bring some replacement keys.
“Being on call all the time is challenging for me and makes you realise how responsible you are. Before I had no responsibility. I was just getting the calls and going to jobs and then just getting on with my life. I have to make sure my phone is near me.”
When the time comes to appoint a property manager, Ceri-Ann will be looking for someone local. She also now has a key safe and a back-up key safe for ‘idiotic emergencies.’
Laundry proved to be a problem initially but again she found a solution, paying a cleaner an extra £5 to remove it at the end of a let and take it home with her.
The best thing about property is the financial freedom, she says, and seeing her account topped up every couple of days by an Airbnb booking.
“I stay at this consistent bank balance which for me is unreal because I spend quite lavishly now. I buy myself nice clothes and I am about to upgrade my car. I also like to treat my boss to dinner.”
- My advice to someone who wants to get into property is to get training. Don’t make the mistakes because it will affect your mental health. I thought panic attacks weren’t a real thing. They are and you feel like you’re dying. If had had the right training early doors I would have avoided all that stress.
- Find a cleaner you can trust.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Ceri-Ann binge-watched my YouTube property channel and got enough information to do it but not enough training to really do it properly and avoid all the pitfalls. Property is a business. She trained to be an actress. If you want to be an electrician or a doctor or anything, you have to get a formal education.
“Ceri-Ann is the second of my videographers to become financially independent through my training, following on from Amelia Asante who I helped in one of my Financial Freedom Challenges. She too, I’m pleased to say, has stayed with us because she loves what she does.”
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