People from all walks of life flock to hear Samuel Leeds talk about the creative strategies that have made him a multi-millionaire – and not all of them are new to the industry. Chris White, who owns a real estate agency in Portugal, has attended several Property Investors’ training events to broaden his knowledge, scaling up his rental business as a result. He also made over £1m on his first property development after coming to the £1 crash course.
From working in kebab shops to selling properties in the sun
Bricks and mortar have made Chris wealthy, but he doesn’t come from the ‘property world.’ He started out as a cook, working in kebab shops in Grimsby where he grew up, and went on to achieve the accolade of being the youngest head chef in France at the age of 17.
After hopping across the Channel, Chris stayed abroad permanently. He became a holiday rep in Spain and had a succession of other jobs before finally going into property in 2005.
“I got my first job in property when I was 24 in Spain, selling property in 22 different countries. It was a massive learning curve.
“My boss at the time pushed us so hard. He’s a great, inspirational guy but we worked seven days a week, 15 to 16 hours a day travelling around doing back-to-back exhibitions. It was when the market was booming, and everyone was buying overseas,” recalls Chris.
He established his own estate agency, Ideal Homes Portugal, on the Algarve in 2012, selling properties in the sun to international clients such as Duncan Bannatyne, of TV Dragons’ Den fame who bought a villa from his company.
Today, Chris employs 50 people in two offices, with an additional 150 support staff, such as cleaners and maintenance workers, looking after his villas and apartments.
He retired at 40, leaving his CEO Angela Worrall to run the operation, but is still very much a wheeler and dealer in the market.
The entrepreneur has also been on a personal development journey for 11 years, enrolling on courses to pick up tips from the best trainers in the business, including Samuel Leeds.
Chris flew over from Portugal in 2018 to attend his Crash Course in Peterborough and couldn’t believe how many people were in the room.
“I thought there would be 50 people and there was over 1,000. I was amazed. I paid £47 to sit at the front.”
The father-of-two also came along to a Samuel Leeds Academy event and was equally impressed. In his words, he ‘hoovered up all the information’ and applied it to his business.
‘Samuel Leeds has been a true inspiration’
It was after the crash course that Chris got an opportunity which he likens to ‘divine intervention.’ The company owner accompanied Duncan Bannatyne on a trip to Ghana with Operation Smile which provides surgery for children with cleft conditions.
Chris spent 10 days in Africa and saw a baby having an operation to ‘fix’ her smile which was a life-changing moment, he says.
“After that I sat down with Duncan and said, ‘Would you ever invest in property with me?’ He went, ‘You find the correct development’ and I remembered what Samuel taught me at the £1 event. I went out and found the correct development.”
Chris identified a piece of land on the Algarve on which to build five houses and bagged himself a bargain.
“It was up for sale for one million and I negotiated the price down to 600,000. The seller said he wanted the money that day, but I didn’t have it. So, I negotiated back up to 650,000 and he gave us two years to pay for it.
“I had to get some money to put it down on the development reserve and then run around and find the investors. That was pressure.
“It cost about £1m to build. It was finished after I attended my first £1 event. Literally, that event made a million profit. It was insane. I have Samuel to thank for that.
He adds: “We won the developer of the year award for that one. Each house sold for about 550,000. They’re five minutes from Quinta do Lago – huge town houses with four bedrooms, four en suites, plus an extra bathroom, luxury finishes and a swimming pool.
“One of them we manage for rentals. My only regret is not keeping it all. I should have refinanced the whole thing and me and Duncan could have made 3-400,000 a year.”
On a visit to the UK, Chris returned to another Property Investors training session and once more got the chance to make money, this time with a far bigger proposition.
“Again, after doing Samuel’s event an opportunity appeared to buy seven blocks of apartments. So, I went back and negotiated with the bank. They were bank repossessions which were fully furnished and already rented,” explains Chris.
“It was Samuel’s mum who helped me. I was on the phone to her and said, ‘How can I get the rental yield and turn it up?’ After a 20-minute phone call I was like, right I’m off.”
Chris used his negotiating skills to acquire 118 apartments for £20m when each one should have been up for sale for around £250,000, based on the building cost alone, he says.
Since then, the property tycoon has progressed to making even greater margins. “I’ve done quite a lot of developments. I haven’t just gone from five to 118. I’ve sold big developments. I know how to sell. I’ve got a big company and a big sales team. There’s very little downside to it, so I bought.”
He adds: “We sell developments in Lagos, and I negotiate a fantastic deal for all the clients. I go to see the developers and I say if we sell all of these in one day give us a big discount and that’s big for me.
“The last development we sold there was 79 units, each one priced at about 600,000. We sold them in two hours. That made 55m.”
Samuel Leeds has been a ‘true inspiration’ to him, Chris says. “He has changed everything in my business. The influence he had on my rentals company was massive because it sped everything up. I learnt how to advertise better. We now have 144 rental properties.”
The businessman has also completed a highly lucrative rent-to-rent deal and continues to follow Property Investors’ founder on YouTube, although he prefers his live events.
“One of the things I loved that Samuel taught was to ‘make it their problem.’ I use that in everyday life. If I go to the airport and they say you can’t get a window seat, I ask them what the solution would be. Then they’re like OK. I make it their problem.”
‘I bought this pink house in the middle of nowhere’
Portugal is by far the best country for property investment, believes Chris. “People don’t realise how good it is. It’s a sleeping giant. The interest rate is around four per cent and you can still get 80 to 90 per cent finance.
“I advertised a two-bed, two-bathroom apartment for 1,000 Euros a month and 77 people applied for it. You’re probably cash flowing around 400 Euros a month. It’s a bank repossession. People from the UK can get 90 per cent finance on a bank repossession.”
Chris also bought a property in Vale do Lobo for around £410,000 after obtaining a 100 per cent loan on it because he is classed as Portuguese.
“One of my team members did a light refurb and furnished it for 16,000 Euros. It was rented out at 3,000 a week in high season. I kept it for three years and sold it for 575,000. I moved that money to another property and that’s the way life should work.
“My best one is my own personal house. I bought this pink house in the middle of nowhere. It was like a Barbie house. I bought it from the bank for 420,000. They were really strict on the mortgage, making me run on a treadmill for the medical.
“This was in 2019. I weighed 20 kilos more. I was smoking 20 fags a day and drinking. I never do that any more.”
Chris borrowed a further £200,000 to do it up and then rented it out, taking his family to Thailand for a holiday during the summer. The next year he turned it into a serviced accommodation holiday let, remembering what Samuel had taught him.
“It’s on the market for 2.9m now. Last year it rented out for 83,000 for seven weeks. The numbers are just crazy. I don’t have to pay anyone because I’ve got the management company.”
Chris’ biggest challenge has been overcoming the ‘imposter syndrome’ because he left school at 15 with no formal qualifications.
He is also dyslexic and has had to be resourceful. His family often didn’t have enough money for food when he was a child which was what made him a chef.
“I used to cook from the age of nine. Then we lost the house. Dad wasn’t on the scene. We moved to Cornwall when I was 11. Cornwall’s a great place to live, but the property market is so expensive, and we could never get back on the ladder. So, it was always ingrained in me property is a great investment.
“I remember my parents telling me the first house they ever bought in Grimsby cost £1,800 and then they sold it for £6,500. That also stuck in my mind.”
After leaving school Chris persuaded his mum to sell her car and buy him an ice cream van. She drove it while he served the ice creams in the back.
Chris also had a car wash business. “One lady paid me with a boiled egg and then it reminded me I’ve got to ask for the 50p to clean the car. I got some friends to help me and paid them 25p.”
Recently, Chris returned to Cornwall when his brother had a heart attack after previously surviving cancer.
“I thought he can’t work any more. I’ll get him some money. I’ll go and see some real estate agents. This lady found me a property for £85,000 with a £2,000 a month rental yield on it. I spent one day with her and gave her a free holiday out of it. So, she’s going to come to Portugal to see us and stay in a villa for free for a week.
“It’s what goes around comes around. They help you. You help them.”
Chris makes a point of helping others. His real estate team was recruited from supermarkets, bars and restaurants. He has also earmarked 67,000 Euros from the sale of his 118 apartments to fund a garden and a swimming pool at an orphanage in Albufeira.
He remains a firm fan of the Property Investors Academy. “There’s so much high energy there. People talk to me about other property trainers, and I say no, you want to go to Samuel Leeds.”
- Proximity is power. I’ve got next to the nicest, kindest people in the world. It’s about being in that environment.
- If you want to get into property, talk to some estate agents and be fearless. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- When the right deal comes along, go for it. Act fast.
- I take my son to the gym and my daughter loves swimming and dancing. You’ve got to get your fitness up there. Energy is key.
Samuel Leeds Verdict
“One of the things I’ve learnt from Chris is that to be super successful in business you don’t have to be ruthless. They’re really hard-nosed on Dragons’ Den. You don’t need to be like that in real life. In fact, being kind and compassionate helps you.”