Samuel Leeds student and psychologist discovers power of property on maternity leave

Child psychologist Lamara Williamson came to a £1 Property Investors Crash Course while on maternity leave. Within a year, after also joining the academy, she had secured five rent-to-rents and was able to cut her working hours to spend more time with her family. Now Lamara, who is expecting her third child, is planning to use the buy, refurbish, refinance strategy to provide accommodation for youngsters who have suffered trauma. 

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‘I realised you don’t need thousands of pounds to get into property’

Property is in Lamara’s roots. Her father set up an HMO when he came over to this country from Jamaica and it gave her a passion for it. She wondered how she could get into property too. Then an opportunity presented itself when she was on maternity leave.

“My friend invited me to a £1 course. I thought I have no idea what this is, but I’ll just rock up. I rocked up and I thought, oh my gosh this is my entry point. I don’t need to have thousands of pounds to be able to get into property,” Lamara remembers.

At that point in her life, while expecting her daughter, she was at a low ebb in her job. 

“I felt quite frustrated and low emotionally. I felt I wasn’t necessarily being heard. Then I thought, I’ve got two kids. A lot of my time has been sucked into employment. There must be more.

“I love psychology because I’m called to do it but equally when you’re given a family, you’re also entrusted to raise them and be present. In going to the crash course, I realised this was the vehicle to use my maternity year to learn something new and to try it.”

Having been introduced to the concept of rent-to-rent, Lamara then took part in a week-long boot camp which ‘changed her life.’ Subsequently she joined the Samuel Leeds Academy where she met her business partner.

“We just really connect, not just because we’re both good in business,” says Lamara. “We connect on a human level and for me that’s important when you’re looking for a business partner.”

As she was on leave, Lamara was able to throw herself into her studies which contributed to her rapid progress.

“I said if I can make this successful and have the option at the end of the year to be in employment fewer days and spend more time with my kids then for me it’s worked.

“I ended up going back to work for just two days [per week]. So, property worked.”

‘All these skills I’ve learnt bring money’

Over the last year Lamara has managed to build up a successful property business, working in tandem with her partner. 

They met at an academy dinner when they were sat on the same table.

“We just connected about life. We were talking about Rich Dad Poor Dad and she said she’d given her son a copy to read. I’d not long read that book and it shifted my mind. Then we saw each other again at another dinner and she said I’ve got this deal. When we looked at the numbers I was quite interested.”

They decided to go into the deal together and since then, they have gone from strength to strength. “We’ve got three rent-to-rents together and I’ve got two more. So, within a year I’ve been able to get five rent-to-rents bringing in about £3,000 a month,” explains Lamara, adding:

“We worked well together, and it came together quite easily. Her husband is very hands on and so’s mine. So, her husband would do a lot of the DIY and my husband would do a bit.”

The mother-of-two estimates that she spends just under an hour every day, or seven hours a week, managing the serviced accommodation properties. She acts as the channel manager, advertising them on multiple platforms to generate as much cash flow as possible and updating the listings.

“I find it’s so much easier doing it that way. It works around everything else I do in life.”

As well as managing the rent-to-rents, Lamara also has a buy-to-let with her husband and her own consultancy as a psychologist. Juggling all these competing roles requires good organisation, she says.

Lamara has also been fortunate to have an excellent support network in both her husband and her mother who believed in her vision.

“My husband is amazing, and my mum has been a such a great source of support. My mum’s in her eighties. She always wanted to go into property herself, but she never created the opportunity. She had fear and she said, ‘Lamara, I like the fact you want to take the risk and just do it. So, I want to support you. If it means I’m caring for the kids whilst you’re out doing the courses and looking for things, I’ll support you in that way. She could see I had that drive and she wanted to help to facilitate that.”

Lamara avoided telling other people in her family what she was doing because they would think she was ‘mad.’

“I weighed up who I shared what with and at what time. I felt there was wisdom in that.”

Now that they have seen what Lamara has been doing in property and what she has achieved, she is happy to share her tips when they ask her questions. 

The part-time entrepreneur feels that as a woman she has had to assert herself more than a man working in the industry. Landlord association meetings are dominated by men, although at the last Property Investors Academy dinner over half of the 300 people there were women.

“It’s not been easy to navigate, but being aware of the differences has helped me to know how I can present in those different contexts. I try to forget about the fear and just put forward my point and think less about what people may think about me.”

Her confidence grew as she secured more and more deals and she was able to network without feeling inferior as she had done previously. 

“It shifted my mind that anything is possible. I’m no longer scared of zeros upon zeros after numbers. It’s money but it’s just numbers.

“It’s boosted my confidence and helped me in my work with psychology on the business side thinking Lamara you’re great. If there’s something you don’t know, go and find somebody and they can help you to know it. In my head there’s no barrier because there’s always a way to find something out.”

She praises Samuel Leeds for helping to bring her on. “Samuel is really gifted at developing people. I remember him asking me on one Mastermind call (a weekly mentoring session for students), ‘Lamara, what’s your next deal.’ It kicked me to get on with those agents and find a connection. I ended up finding a rent-to-rent in a couple of months.

“I’m really thankful to the property network that Samuel has created but also the tools he’s given us through his experience. I say to my husband there’s no excuse for us ever to be poor because all these skills I’ve learnt bring money.”

‘Since being on the academy I’ve made my money back three times over’

Thanks to her training, Lamara has also derived an income from finding property deals and selling them to investors.

“I’ve sold about 10 deals in the last year with my business partner. I didn’t want to deal sell but then I realised having the tools I was quite good at it. I’m good at building relationships. I’ve got a very good story that I share with agents that helps them to know I’m reputable.”

She believes fear and lack of knowledge prevent people from becoming successful in business which is why having a financial education is so important.

“I agree with Samuel when he says that schools don’t teach you how you can become more valuable, get a pay rise, be more assertive, be entrepreneurial and produce more.

“That’s why it’s about educating yourself outside the school system because I remember learning about Pythagoras. I’ve never used that in life. But what I have learnt is how you creatively create different side incomes.”

Lamara invested £10,000 in her training with Property Investors which made her think she had to make it work and ‘fast.’

“Since being in the academy I’ve made my money back three times over. It’s what you’re required to invest at the outset that can determine your level of motivation and commitment. 

“For me it was because I’d invested that amount there was no place for failure. If you’re not sure you need to go find somebody because you need to make sure you get your money’s worth.

“I definitely got my money’s worth over and over.”

Lamara and her husband took their two children with them when they were decorating the rent-to-rents. They are still young and played games while their parents worked but she hopes they learn from seeing what they do.

As they get older, she plans to talk to them about how they can make money and make it work for them.

“It’s not just about having money sitting in the bank but how they can build interest on that, what they might invest in and risk taking with money. It’s about taking calculated risks and helping them to understand how they can challenge societal norms.

“That’s one of the legacies I want to teach our children. Be different. Don’t feel you need to go with the crowd because that doesn’t always cut it.”

Lamara has experienced failures in business but points out those have been her greatest learning points teaching her what her values are in business.

“One of my values in business is to be honourable. If you say it fulfil it and if you can’t then equally say it.”

When Lamara saw the money start to roll into her business account that was when she realised investing in property really did work.

“I remember our first property had gone live in the June and then by the August we had £6,000 to £7,000 in there based from putting this property on Airbnb and having contractors in.

“I was like my goodness this is in less than eight weeks. That’s when it became real.”

During two days of coaching in a small group of students Lamara was encouraged to think about her broader goals. Afterwards she left knowing that she wanted to move on to buying and doing up houses and then refinancing them to raise capital.

The part-time businesswoman sees that as a way of marrying her purpose in life with property.

“I’ve always wanted to help young people who have experienced trauma. So, one of the things I want to do is build HMOs and be able to provide accommodation for young people, whether it’s those that are in care or mother and baby placements – and being able to help them to set up their own lives and show them that they can do anything. 

“It’s about opportunity, knowing how to take action, and having the network. That is my purpose and I’m looking forward to seeing how that comes to fruition in the near future.”

Lamara’s tips

  • Keep your mind positive and keep yourself in the right environment.
  • Look at your skillset and see how you can use that to turn money.
  • When you have a business partner it goes beyond connecting with the pound sizes. It’s about how you connect outside.
  • Money follows honour-ability.

Samuel Leeds Verdict

“Lamara has achieved great things in property. Also, in the academy network everybody speaks so highly of her.  On every Mastermind call her name will come up somewhere along the line with people saying Lamara said this or helped me with this. She’s been a massive asset.”

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