Financial Freedom Challenge sets jobless man up for life
‘I managed to make the impossible possible with Samuel Leeds’ help’
Unemployed dumper driver David Eccles wanted Samuel Leeds to do the ‘impossible for him’ – to make him financially free when it seemed all hope was lost.
But like all successful people, Samuel only ever sets himself achievable goals, as reflected in the title of his self-help guide, Do the Possible, Watch God do the Impossible.
So, when Property Investors’ multi-millionaire founder arrived at David’s home in rural Donegal, he came armed with a practical plan to make his dream come true in just a week.
David was a joint winner of The Eviction 2020 and the Financial Freedom Challenge with Samuel was his prize.
It turned out to be quite a test. The Irishman had no money to invest in property. That was the premise – to make him financially independent from scratch so that he could afford to move out of his parents’ house and set up home with his girlfriend.
The first part of the plan was to secure a rent-to-rent agreement which would give David a passive income. But with a patchy mobile phone signal and intermittent access to wi-fi Samuel had his work cut out. Even if he could get on to the internet to help David search for deals there was another problem.
Sites like Rightmove and SpareRoom don’t list properties available for renting in Ireland. Samuel realised they literally had to hit the ground running if they were to have any chance of success.
They decided to take a short drive across the border to Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
“Derry is the closest city to where I live and I know the area and market, so that’s why we went there,” says David. “I could also self-manage the property.”
They headed for the university area on Samuel’s advice that where there are students and jobs then there is a demand for rented accommodation. The city centre is in walking distance and there is also a hospital nearby. It was the perfect place to begin their hunt.
Their luck was in. Samuel and David found themselves in a street popular with students and spotted an estate agent’s sign.
“This was the only agent on that street, so Samuel said to me why don’t you just go in and speak to them,” David recalls. “They only had one property not let out by students and it was the only one with an HMO (house in multiple occupation) licence. That was what we needed. To really make money you need five bedrooms, and it was vacant.”
One hour into the challenge David had already booked a viewing. The house was within sight of the university and just 25 minutes from where David lived. It was also in good condition and fully furnished.
David discovered through a search on Gumtree that he could rent the rooms out for £350 to £400 per month. Based on that, he negotiated a rent-to-rent arrangement whereby he would pay the landlord a guaranteed monthly rent of £650 a month and pocket the profit.
Samuel had previously rung letting agents to check the local market for rental properties. They advised him that the period between September and July was when David could expect to let the accommodation to students.
“I got a message afterwards from the agent saying I robbed the deal! It was a real bargain.
“We took advantage of the fact that the property had been lying vacant for 11 months during Covid. Samuel said let’s put in a short-term let until September and then get the students in. That’s when we’ll make the money from September when the students return.
“The landlord was really motivated to do the deal because he had no rent coming in and the amount that I agreed to pay him worked for me. It was a win-win all round because the agent would also get a fee from the landlord for finding us.”
David was cock-a-hoop to get a rent-to-rent deal on day one. The only hurdle was finding the £1,300 down payment, made up of a deposit of £650 and the first month’s rent. He agreed to it on condition there was a break clause so that he could pull out after six months if the arrangement wasn’t working out as expected.
If he could raise the cash, the rooms would be listed on Airbnb until the students came back for the start of the autumn term. A check on the site showed that one similar house was fully booked until April 2021. As long as they adhered to the same rules as hotels, which were open for key workers and essential stays, they could take bookings too.
Challenge shows how property investing works in the real world
One of the benefits of the Financial Freedom Challenges is that they demonstrate how property investing works in the real world. Samuel has now completed similar challenges with the other two winners of The Eviction – as well as undertaking two himself. Each one is documented by a videographer, showing how to generate cashflow with no funds to start off with.
David was guided through the practical steps to success throughout his week with Samuel. This included checking whether the house could legally be let out to five people and that it complied with HMO regulations. During the viewing Samuel even paced out each bedroom to check it measured the minimum required size of 70 sq. ft.
David also made sure the property could be rented out for short stay lets to people relocating to the city or contractors working locally who needed a temporary base.
Samuel decided the best way for David to get the deposit he needed was to source a deal. So, they took to the road once more, setting off early for Belfast to track down some property investments which they could package and sell for a commission to investors.
They arrived just before 9am and David immediately went in search of a coffee. It proved to be a good move. He found a man serving refreshments who knew of someone trying to sell a house. It needed a lot of work doing to it, but it could be refurbished and refinanced.
David called the owner and they arranged to view the house that day. Samuel and David also found other potential deals and went on more viewings. After negotiating hard with estate agents, they bagged a few below market value property investments.
Samuel says: “I was impressed with David’s construction knowledge. He knew how much things would cost to fix up. Also, he knew every street in sight which really helped.
“When we got back to the hotel, I booked David on a virtual property networking event and told him he needed to do a 20-second pitch to try to sell the deals that he’d found.”
David rehearsed his pitch and then delivered it but became disheartened when he failed to sell any deals. The next day they got off to an early start again to go in search of more opportunities, casting their net further afield.
They did their due diligence by speaking to architects, builders and planning consultants to ensure the deals they found really were good before selling them. David’s confidence was boosted when his offer of £112,000 on a house was accepted.
The two men also viewed another house with a long garden. Samuel suggested that the property could be moved back to create a car parking space at the front. This had already been done elsewhere on the street, so he felt sure they could get planning permission.
He also arranged for David to pitch his ‘juicy deals’ to a much larger group of around 200 investors signed up to his Samuel365 training platform.
“I must admit I felt nervous, but Samuel told me to have high energy – and think of Irish music!”
This time he was allowed five minutes to sell his deals after making sure he knew his figures off by heart so that he could reel them off if questioned. He told his audience his properties were cheap with a high rental demand and would make a good profit.
It worked. David was bombarded with calls. In the early hours of the next morning £2,486 flowed into his bank account from a man who had bought an HMO deal off him. It meant he could finally pick up the keys to the rent-to-rent property.
“I was so happy. I couldn’t believe how far I’d come in a week. I felt overwhelmed and wanted to live there myself it was so nice. I thought of taking one of the rooms and renting the other four out, but Samuel said this one could make me £500 to £600 a month and if I got one more rent-to-rent deal I could rent my own place.”
It was at that point that David revealed to his guru that his uncle had given him a piece of land with perfect views in the countryside. With all of his family in the trade, it was his long-term dream to build his own house there and settle down to a quiet life.
He wanted to show Samuel the land straight away, but Samuel told him they needed to get the house he was now managing onto Airbnb to get some money coming in. They also still had two deals to sell which would generate more cashflow.
David achieved the possible. The house is now fully booked until the middle of August 2021 and he sold the deals for just under £4,000. His star was rising too, with more investors queuing up to do business with him.
Now it was time to look at that land.
‘I wanted to build my dream house on top of a hill’
David planned to build a two-storey house overlooking a lake and then revalue it so that he could pull all his money out – effectively a no-money-down self-build.
However, it was on top of a hill with no permitted access. Samuel had doubts that the development would get planning consent because it would interrupt the skyline views. After visiting the local planning department his fears were confirmed.
David concluded he couldn’t afford to build his own house and decided to look for a lease option agreement instead. However, there were no homes for sale or to let in the area where he wanted to live. So, he spoke to another uncle who owned a house with sea views which was close to a town.
He has now agreed to buy the house in five years’ time for £200,000 and rent it in the meantime. He will live in it rent-free for the first year while he refurbishes the property, and then pay 400 Euros a month after that.
Since then, David has continued to make progress. He sold another deal for £2,500 and has set up his own estate agency business which he plans to operate from Northern Ireland. He is also hoping to joint venture on a project to build three houses on a piece of land in County Antrim with an estimated gross development value of £1.7m.
“I’d never go back to my old job. It was hard and the hours were unpredictable. Sometimes I’d work 84 hours a week. I was earning £16 an hour. Now I’ve made £2,500 in one day. With the property game you still work but the money is scaleable.”
“A lot of people think you need money to be a property investor. They think it’s risky and you just need to get a well-paid job. I thought that too, but I’ve changed my mind. You can take your own action. Property works. I proved it and Samuel proved it, and he’s an inspiration to us all.”
- I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without the training. You need to do that, so my advice is to enrol on the online Property Investors Crash Course and Samuel365.
- Being persistent is an important quality to have. You do get a lot of knockbacks. I got gazumped on one deal, but you just have to keep fighting through.
- if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. Samuel believed in my ability and brought it out. Now I believe in myself. That’s how you get results.
- I thought three viewings was a big day out when I started this, but if you look at 10 or 12 houses in a day, you can pick the best three.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict:
“David has come so far in such a short space of time. The training and the Financial Freedom Challenge have given him the skills to find investment opportunities. He also sold a rent-to-rent deal, after the week was over, to fund a trip to Liverpool. He can go on to do so much more with his business. I’m very excited for him.
“I even managed to get back in time after the challenge for the birth of my daughter. It’s definitely time to celebrate with a pint of Guinness!”
Watch David's challenge here — https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…
Connect with David and see his new website: https://www.ecclesestates.co.uk/
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