First winner of The Eviction turns £20,000 prize into property gold!
Since winning The Eviction Property Investors’ challenge in 2019, Anthony Wilmott has used his prize money of £20,000 to secure financial freedom in spectacular style. Anthony put some of it into renovating his old house, as well as five lease option apartments to give himself a rental income. He then went on to make over £200,000 from deal sourcing in six months after teaming up with another contestant in the Apprentice-style competition. Now they are working together on seven-figure development deals and have raised more than £1m in investor finance in the past year.
Anthony triumphs in property contest after hitting ‘rock bottom’
It was Anthony’s unerring enthusiasm that led to him being invited to compete in The Eviction two years ago. He was always on the front row at training events in the Property Investors Academy and the first to put up his hand when asked a question.
His passion brought him to the attention of Samuel Leeds and his coaches who appreciated his commitment and drive. Along with eleven other budding property entrepreneurs from around the country, Anthony arrived at a moated castle in Staffordshire to compete in a series of tests centred around different property investment strategies.
Two days before the challenge began, Anthony moved into a new house. After handing over the keys to his partner, he said: “I’ll see you in a month because I am winning when I come back.”
His prediction came true. After each challenge, one contestant was evicted from their room within the medieval walls of Caverswall Castle until finally Anthony was declared the winner.
It was a victory for him in more ways than one after years of struggling with his mental health.
In 2018, he hit rock bottom after a previous partner left him and his job as a retail manager at a large supermarket chain was under threat of redundancy. Stuck in a house he couldn’t afford to run on his own and with no money for repairs, his life was in danger of spiralling out of control. In a quandary as to what to do next, he turned to his brother for help.
“I remember reaching out to my brother who was an electrician at the time and saying maybe I can come and work with you. Maybe I can train to be an electrician or get into a trade. I was knocking on over 30 and didn’t really know what I was going to do.
“He said that’s great, you can come and work with me, but actually long term we’re looking to get into property. I thought that sounds amazing, but I can barely keep the roof over my head, let alone buy another house.”
To give him an idea of what that might involve, his brother suggested he watch Samuel’s YouTube videos. Initially, Anthony confesses he was unimpressed.
“I thought who is this absolutely crazy guy I’m watching these videos of? This isn’t really for me.”
However, the more he delved into the subject the more it interested him until he decided to attend the free, two-day Property Investors Crash Course.
“The crash course completely opened my eyes. I was going to these free events, like the crash course and other networking events, and thinking this is really achievable. Coming from a position of no money it is doable, if you can network and make the right connections.”
Anthony had been expecting Samuel to appear on a video and someone else to be hosting the actual event. He was amazed when Samuel walked out on stage.
“I was like oh my God, he’s actually here. He’s taken the time to come out and teach us this. I said to my brother I’m going to be friends with that guy.”
After the crash course Anthony did ‘everything in his power,’ to take up Samuel’s advanced training. Even a car crash on his way to the Deal Finding Extravaganza course, didn’t prevent him from arriving on time, thanks to his mum who drove him to the event.
“Nothing was going to stop me from pushing forward with this. I’d made commitments to myself that I was going to get into property. I could see the position I’d come from in rented accommodation and how I now wanted to provide great houses for people. I was really making it my mission. Ever since then I’ve gone at it 100-mile-an-hour and never looked back.”
He paid for the Deal Finding Extravaganza with his credit card and was soon picking up invaluable tips from Samuel about which strategies to pursue. Anthony was looking at building a portfolio of buy-to-lets and taking on buy, refurbish, refinance projects. Instead, Samuel advised him to focus initially on strategies, such as rent-to-rent and deal sourcing, to bring in money, and then pursue his long-term goals.
“Coming to that event was life-changing, even in the first ten minutes. Delegates were asked what their strategy was. Being always the first to put my hand up, I told Samuel what mine was. He said that was stupid. I was never going to get where I wanted to be because I was looking at a long-term strategy when I didn’t have the finance. That lightbulb moment gave me the motivation to do it in the way he suggested.”
A month after attending the Deal Finding Extravaganza in September 2018, Anthony co-sourced his first deal. Samuel had promised to give him £1,000 to fix his car if he viewed 40 properties in a fortnight. Anthony fell just short of the target because he wanted to concentrate on selling the deal. He earned the £1,000 instead by passing on the deal to a sourcer who sold it to his list of investors.
Anthony sold two more deals after that and in January 2019, took out a loan to join the Property Investors Academy. “I love the free crash course and free networking events. They’re a great eye opener but I wanted to be around people who had invested in their education.”
At the time he was in debt but judged that he had a salary coming in and could afford to sign up.
“It was a tough commitment to make but the pain of doing that is what drove me to push forwards.”
Covid crisis forces a rethink
It was through the Property Investors Academy that Anthony met James Armstrong and the two of them started looking at deals together, including a commercial to residential venture. It didn’t go ahead, but it familiarised them with the process of dealing with planners and architects.
Then in April 2019 they were both chosen as contestants in The Eviction. During one challenge they negotiated lease option agreements on five apartments. After the competition finished, they kept them on, renting them out as serviced accommodation.
It was the start of a frenetic period of activity. Anthony took on another serviced apartment in Sheffield and together they secured another three in the city to add to their burgeoning portfolio. Anthony also completed two buy, refurbish, refinance projects.
Not content to stop there, Anthony and James began looking for deals that they could sell to investors.
“After leaving The Eviction we made over £200,00 in deal sourcing in a six-month period. We were grafting hard. We managed refurbishments for our investors along the way.”
Recently, Anthony and James decided to hand back their five lease option apartments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and changing market conditions.
“We needed to change the terms of the contract to make it financially beneficial to us and the owner because the cash flow wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to negotiate the contract, so we made the business decision to step away from it.”
They also dropped two of their four rent-to-serviced accommodation apartments in Sheffield for the same reason. The other two are in the city centre and have been rented out during the pandemic for short and long stays. However, the Covid crisis has forced them to rethink their strategy.
“There are going to be a lot of changes with planning regulations and permitted development, so we’ve decided to change our strategy to more commercial conversions and development.”
Anthony has agreed to joint venture with James on a scheme to convert a disused pub into six apartments. They have also lined up another commercial to residential project involving a Grade II listed building which Anthony describes as his ‘secret project.’
“Even Samuel doesn’t know what it is. Once we’ve got the planning through James and I will take him there and do a full presentation. I know his jaw will hit the floor when he sees it.”
On the development front, they are joining forces with one other investor to build 14 houses on land in the North West. They raised the money instantly, he says, having had their confidence buoyed by seeing a big builder developing a large plot across the road.
Life has had its ups and downs for Anthony, but it is property which has kept him going. At his lowest point, he sat in his bath, filling up a bucket with hot water because he had no heating in his house.
“I remember it to this day – and this is the fuel that keeps me going – thinking is this really it? Have I worked my whole life for this? In 2020, I lost my dad. He was a great person. He was a complete rock and supported me the whole way through my life and then all that’s left is paperwork and closing accounts. All his life amounts to is the memories we’ve got with him. I don’t want to leave that for my daughter, my mum, my partner. I want to leave a legacy, and that is what drives me through all the tough stuff every single day.”
He adds: “My daughter was born four months ago. She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m excited about the future.”
- My best advice is to make sure you network. I’ve become part of an accountability group with some of the people on the academy. They helped me through to where I am now. We keep each other accountable and we help each other push forward. If you haven’t got that network of people around you then, when things get tough, you’ll just go back to watching TV. You won’t be self-accountable.
- If you want to get into property and are serious about doing it, the Property Investors Crash Course is a great place to start. If it’s a whim, then it’s not for you.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Anthony came to me with nothing and has grown to the point now where he is doing massive deals. He’s made money from deal sourcing, became financially free from his rent-to-rents and he’s got lease options. Anthony is the perfect example of the progression on the property journey. I even go to him for property advice now!
“He also spends so much time sitting with people on the academy, mentoring and sharing his experiences and taking people on sites. I’m so thankful for what he’s given back to the business.”
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