Roofer quits laying tiles to reach new heights with Samuel Leeds

From being a roofer Stephen McLaughlin has become a professional property deal sourcer at the age of just 21 after joining Samuel Leeds’ academy. Working alongside two other entrepreneurs, he also runs a serviced accommodation management business with 55 units live and more due to come on stream. The portfolio is expected to generate £15,000 to £20,000 a month on top of what Stephen earns through selling investment opportunities – and he hasn’t even finished his training yet.

‘My boss paid for me to do the Deal Selling Masterclass

The drive to be successful goes back a long way with Stephen. His father left the family home when he was young, and his mother passed away when he was eight.

“In the back of my mind I was always thinking if I’ve gone through the hardest thing in the world why can’t I go and be successful?’

Stephen knew he had the qualities to do well. He was willing to work hard and had determination. Even so, the odds were stacked against him. Born in Edinburgh, Stephen lived in a deprived area where there was not much opportunity and was just seven when his mum fell ill. Her wish was that he be brought up by her brother.

She felt the education and opportunities there were better, and she was right, says Stephen looking back.

“All my family was in Scotland. That was a hard decision for everyone to take but everyone respected it because those were her wishes.”

Growing up with his uncle in England, Stephen was an average pupil at school, but his teachers saw his potential.

“They’d always say we know you’re going to be successful. They could see it in me. I was quite clever, but I couldn’t sit still and concentrate. The standard way schools are set up you have to take exams. I wasn’t good at that.”

He left at 16 and went to college to study construction and then became a roofer. His ‘gaffer’ was a role model to him. He had a business and was his own boss which appealed to the youngster.

As they lay tiles, the two of them would have discussions and concluded there had to be more to life than having to work. 

“We were always trying different things. We tried crypto. We got burnt from that quite badly and lost some money that he invested. Then it was my turn to pick what the next step was.”

By chance Stephen was due to visit his family in Scotland and stay with his cousins. On his arrival, he was stunned to find their situation had changed. The last time he had seen them they were living in a council house. Now they were in a new build home and had one buy-to-let, as well as a refurbishment project on the go.

“It blew my mind. I said how the hell have you gone from here to there and it was just property. I was asking so many questions. The whole trip was just me bugging them about how they got into it and how they did it.”

One of his cousins told him there was a way of getting into it without using any money. Stephen got the ‘property fever’ and did some research online which was when he came across Samuel Leeds on YouTube.

At the time Stephen was carrying out some roofing work in Brentwood for a developer who was knocking down a bungalow and building houses on the land. He was making ‘serious money’ and it sowed a seed in Stephen’s mind.

“All these things started to click in my head. Then I dragged my boss to the crash course.”

He paid for Stephen to take up further training after seeing how passionate he was.

“My partner was also with me at the time. She was vouching for me. She said you haven’t shut up about property. He believed in me and paid for me to do the Deal Selling Masterclass. He spent £2,000 and did it as well.”

Stephen was 19 and had never seen that much money in his bank account. “Basically, I was borrowing £2,000 from my boss and I was like it’s fine. In my head it’s no, this is not fine. I need to make this work.”

Before attending the masterclass, he tried to bring a deal to the event and was making calls ‘like crazy’ to landlords without success. Then one of them called him back on the first day of the class about a rent-to-rent proposition in Great Yarmouth. A mentor helped him to package up the deal and he pitched it in front of Samuel Leeds.

“Samuel was showing us how it’s done, picking up the phone and selling deals live. I made sure I sat at the front with my hand in the air making him see me and then I managed to get on stage and sell the deal.”

Impressed with the potential returns, Samuel emailed the details to his investors and sold it for £2,000, passing the finder’s fee on to his student. 

“A week later I found another deal, packaged that up and sold it for £3,000. From there my mind was made. This works. I’m going to focus on this and master it,” remembers Stephen.

After these triumphs, however, the young entrepreneur struggled to make any headway, not being plugged into the environment at the course.

“For eight months I didn’t make a lot of money. I made about £1,000 co-sourcing with some people, but I was trying every day.”

Around the nine-month mark, he decided to enrol on the academy, vowing to sell enough deals to fund it himself, which he managed to do after three months.

‘Deal selling brings in £80,000’

Stephen rapidly made progress after signing up to the year-long academy programme. “I’ve not even done my whole year yet but in the last few months we’ve been doing £20,000 a month in deal selling – brought in around £80,000 as of today (February 2024), with plenty in the pipeline.”

The serviced accommodation management business is also flourishing. Called Short Stay Bristol, it provides a service to investors who buy a property through the company and want someone to manage it for them.

“We’ve now got an office and we’ve just hired some staff. We’ve got a full-time property manager and finance staff member. We’ve also got our own maintenance team and a couple of clean teams now. It’s scaling up,” explains Stephen.

His day-to-day job involves setting tasks for the staff, stacking deals and focusing on bringing in investors.

Stephen has teamed up with two experienced operators in the industry. “One of them was a letting agent who had his own business for 20 years and another one was managing rent-to-SAs in Bristol for five years and built his own portfolio of over 40 units.

“We realised very quickly that together we were the complete package. We had a flow of properties coming in from the letting agent and the knowledge of the area.”

Stephen had the connections through going to networking events.

“We’ve currently got about 55 units that are live, and we’re committed to another 15. We expect that to be making us £15,000 to £20,000 a month. That’s not including the deal selling. Combining that it will hopefully be £40,000 a month.”

Stephen adds: “I don’t know how anyone is OK with a normal job any more because you have to be doing something else. You have to find a skill that is paying you serious money nowadays to get onto the property ladder.”

There is a difference in mentality between successful and unsuccessful people, he says. Those who thrive carry on even when they get knocked back, whereas the rest give up and go back to what makes them feel comfortable.

“This for me is uncomfortable. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. I’ve had to do that many times over the last two years but that’s how you grow. My comfort zone is expanding every time I step outside of it and that’s been a massive difference.”

His biggest challenge at the outset was fitting in his property activities with a job that involved long hours.

“When you’re in any job requiring you to get up at half five in the morning and sometimes getting home at 7pm at night and trying to build something, you’ve got to be seriously dedicated. That was hard but I did it. I was spending at least two hours every day in my evening making calls to landlords and trying to secure deals.”

Stephen made enquiries about all kinds of properties, even garages for rent, just to get experience in ringing landlords and perfecting his script. Then he homed in on the deals he was really interested in.

“When you’ve only got a couple of hours a day to build a property business you don’t have the luxury of choice all the time. You’ve got to perfect your script so that when the perfect property does come up, I know I’m going to get a viewing and secure the deal.”

The businessman found investors through networking and regularly posting his deals on social media. When he had sold one or two deals, he also used his testimonials to attract more clients.

The first investment opportunity Stephen sold after his initial deal selling training was a rent-to-rent property in Ware, just outside London in Hertfordshire. Stephen had predicted it would make the investor about £100 a night, based on a 70 per cent occupancy rate. 

“It turned out he was getting 90 per cent occupancy and £160 a night. He became financially free from that deal, trained on finding more deals himself and built his own portfolio. That gave me more gratification than any money in the bank, transforming someone’s life situation.”

It has not all been plain sailing for Stephen, but he believes in facing problems rather than hiding away from them.

He and his colleagues took on one property which looked to be an excellent investment, but then no bookings came in. It was outside their usual area. So, they found a tenant for the property which covered the rent and moved the investor over to another deal in their patch.

“That was a problem, but the investor was then talking about investing in more deals with us just because of the way we handled it. That property is still making us £200 a month.”

Being on the academy has been amazing, says Stephen who has benefited from the members sharing tips and seeing his guru Samuel selling deals for thousands of pounds.

“It makes you rethink everything. That’s the power of it and seeing it’s possible.”

Stephen has already achieved one goal which was to appear on Winners on a Wednesday. Now he wants to buy properties. It would have taken him years as a roofer on around £2,000 a month to save the deposit for just one house.

He feels his mum would be proud of him if she saw what he has accomplished. “We were like best friends when she was around. So, I know she’d be rooting for me and be my number one fan.”

Stephen’s tips

  • You can’t just wake up and decide to do deal selling. You need to get trained, put the time in and get around the right people.
  • If a problem comes up, the best thing is to face it. If you hide away from the investor or the agent that’s when it goes really bad. 

Samuel Leeds’ verdict

“Stephen had loads of energy when I met him but his maturity in business and the way he’s got so much experience now is a vast change. It’s a true ‘rags to riches’ story. I’m so impressed and proud of what he’s achieved, and I know this is just the beginning.”

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