When Izabela Zyskowska first encountered Samuel Leeds, she barely understood English and knew nothing about property. Now, after joining the Property Investors Academy, she has 26 rent-to-rents on the south coast and is turning her attention to buying houses for redevelopment. The mother-of-two was also one of the contestants in The Eviction 2022 and has been ‘killing it ever since’ in the words of her guru Samuel who hosted the Apprentice-style competition.
‘I got my money back from the academy in 10 months’
Most months Izabela goes away somewhere. It is one of the perks of being financially independent through property.
When she started out, it never entered her mind that she would go on to achieve as much as she has, she says.
“I love challenges and I want to learn new things, but I didn’t think I could be successful. I just wanted to try. I’m a person if I want to do something I do it with my whole heart.
“Then I thought I love travelling. It would be so lovely to go on holiday once a month. Since April almost every month we travel somewhere. It’s amazing when you’ve got the funds to follow your dreams and that was my personal goal.”
It was a friend who introduced her to the world of property investing, inviting her to go along to a networking meeting in Eastbourne where she lives. Samuel Leeds was one of the speakers and she was quickly drawn to him, even though her lack of English was a problem.
“I didn’t understand much. I didn’t understand much about property either, but I saw his energy, his calculations, how he talked to me even though I didn’t understand all his words. I just felt like I’m going to get this. I’m going to follow his path.”
For the next five years Izabela, who also has a cleaning business, received regular emails from Property Investors, but still they were incomprehensible to her. Despite the language barrier, she knew her English would improve, and then she would find Samuel again.
And that’s exactly what happened. “Suddenly I found him on YouTube just like that. I wasn’t even searching for him. He just came to me and that changed my life. It was something about rent-to-rent and I thought I’m going to sign for the £1 course in Brighton.”
After attending the Property Investors Crash Course Izabela progressed rapidly. Using savings, she enrolled on the academy without hesitation and has never looked back since.
“Actually, we’d been saving for the house and that’s probably why I didn’t even tell my husband. I just transferred the money from a few accounts. I was ready to invest in my education.
“In 10 months I got my money back, plus I sit on many properties. It’s a passive income from controlling other people’s houses. So, I can still buy a house if I want to. I’ve got an income and education, and I can teach my children a better family lifestyle.”
‘My first two flats made £2,000 a month each in the summer’
The first of her 26 rent-to-rent agreements was for a studio apartment which continues to rent out well. As her company was new then, she had to pay six months’ rent upfront to secure the deal. It amounted to £3,600 but the apartment was close to the sea and the train station.
“I really wanted it. I just fell in love with the flat and it was in the perfect place,” recalls Izabela.
While the first deal, which was obtained through an agent, was the hardest to get over the line, it paved the way for the others that followed.
“In fact, this first deal helped me with the other deals because with my second deal I didn’t pay any deposit and just one month’s rent. For my third deal I negotiated two and a half months’ free rent.”
These days the opportunities come to her. “As soon as you get your first one everything comes easier. Now I don’t even need to search for properties. They just come to me.”
Izabela studied Samuel Leeds’ books extensively before setting out to find her first property. She also listened to him for a few hours every day, even when she was in the car, drawing on his energy to drive her on.
Her patch is in Eastbourne and Brighton which has proved to be a fertile hunting ground for her. During the summer the first two flats she took on each earned her £2,000 per month, she says. With her business partner, she also took control of a five-bedroom flat which notched up a profit of £3,500 in the first month.
The proceeds from renting out the properties as serviced accommodation are continually reinvested into the next deal to pay for furniture and any deposits required.
For Izabela this constant recycling of cash has been the key to expanding her rental empire. She pays a guaranteed, monthly rent to the landlord and in return is allowed to rent out the place at a higher rate.
“Using an agreement contract you rent it on a nightly basis. I use it as a serviced accommodation for my guests and I charge super rent which allows me to build my income on someone’s property.”
She rented the flats she has in Brighton from a tired landlord after convincing her she could give her the income she desired without having to run it herself.
“At the end I didn’t even pay her a deposit. She was so nice and she’s so happy I’m successful. It didn’t work for her but she’s happy I can do it.”
Having an education in property is crucial, Izabela believes. She agrees with her mentor that running a successful serviced accommodation unit is not just as simple as putting it on Airbnb. You need to have a channel manager or synchronise your calendar to avoid double bookings. There are other requirements too, such as having key safes, and it needs to be legal. In some areas, there are restrictions for letting this type of accommodation.
She is enthusiastic about Eastbourne because it provides her with a steady cashflow.
“Some people think this is very small town and possibly not many guests might visit. However, I just realised Eastbourne is a town for retired people, so my income comes regularly compared to Brighton. The nightly base is much higher there. However, most of our bookings are during the weekends.
“In the long term the profit is similar but in Eastbourne I’ve got consistency and it comes every week and month. I love my town. It’s brilliant.
“Before I started, I studied the patch really hard – plus my cleaning company covers a lot of serviced accommodations and houses in Eastbourne and Brighton. I knew the occupancy rate and based on this I knew I would succeed. I spent hours on the due diligence.”
Izabela also researched the holiday lets advertised on Airbnb and booking.com checking the calendars of individual properties to see how often they were booked in a month and what the owners were charging.
“When I do my figures, I always look at the best scenario, worst scenario and possible scenario. If on a 50 per cent occupancy rate I can earn at least some money, or even £100, I know the deal will be good.”
She sets the bar much higher in reality. If her margin is likely to be less than £200 per month, she looks for a different deal. It has proven to be an effective method of achieving an excellent return on investment.
Her first two flats, which made £2,000 each in the summer, also gave her a healthy profit in the winter, way above her target when they are only booked for half the month.
“The one in Eastbourne makes £600 and in Brighton about £800. I had just 50 per cent occupancy in October.”
Property investing becomes a family affair
It was only when Izabela started to be successful that she finally confessed to her husband that she had signed up to the Property Investors Academy.
“I didn’t want him to feel I would be a failure. I was scared he might not like it, so I didn’t tell him until I started to be successful after three months or so.”
Her husband, who is a builder, has since joined her in the property business. They have also set up a separate maintenance and lettings company to manage their large portfolio.
“He’s happy now and takes on lots of responsibilities. He texts and messages the customers and helps me with the bills to see who’s paid and not. I hate to do that. I just like to go and speak to people,” she explains.
Her grown-up daughter too has caught the property bug and become financially free in her own right after signing up to the Property Investors Academy last year. She also invested her savings in her education and now has properties in Brighton which make her money.
Izabela saw that her daughter was struggling to find a direction in life and so took her to the £1 crash course.
“I didn’t tell her anything about property. I just wanted to see if she felt it was something for her. Immediately she said yes, I want to do that. I’m doing the same with my son. When he turns 16 in a couple of months, I’m going to take him to the crash course because I’ve got a feeling as a mother he might be interested as well. He’s good at school.”
For her it is crucial that her children understand the value of business.
“I started as a single cleaner, and I know how hard it is to work physically for 10 to 12 hours every day. They don’t need to do it like that and to have to calculate every penny [thinking] am I allowed to buy shoes today? I don’t want that situation.”
Rather than working for money, she wanted to give them the knowledge of how money can ‘work for them.’
It is certainly working well for her. She now has her sights set on buying houses which she can develop.
“That’s my next goal. I feel I’m the master with rent-to-rent and I just want to go to the next step which is BRR (buy, refurbish, refinance). I want to invest in property up north and use my husband’s company to renovate it. [I will] either sit on a house or just sell it and get the money back.”
The entrepreneur adds: “I work many hours, but I love it. This is more for pleasure, not for the money. It’s amazing.”
- It’s never too late to start in property.
- A lack of English is not an excuse.
- Create your reality.
Samuel Leeds’ verdict
“Izabela is like a shining star in the academy. Everybody is so inspired by what she’s done, particularly as she hardly spoke any English when she first saw me. She’s changing her whole family and the next generation. She’s been a dream to work with and this is just the beginning.”
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