60 Seconds with Jean Liggett, CEO and Founder of visionary property investment consultancy, Properties of the World
After spending 20 years in the media industry, you founded Properties of the World back in 2011. What made you swap journalism and advertising for bricks and mortar?
I enjoyed working in the media but felt it was time for a change. I’ve always loved architecture and buildings and can remember being in Venice with my family when I was 15 years old and finding I preferred looking at the buildings as opposed to the paintings! I wanted to take control and stop working for large organisations as well as have the freedom to set my own rules and raise the bar on what other property agents were doing.
What makes Properties of the World stand out from other investment agencies in the market?
At Properties of the World we ensure that we visit each of the developments we offer and share our experience of the visit. We avoid using CGI images and share real pictures of the properties and surrounding areas. Our team has years of combined experience in blue chip organisations – finance, insurance, recruitment, management consulting and the media – which truly sets us apart from the average agency. Most importantly our buyers say we have a highly personalised approach and feel we become friends with them over time.
Talk us through a typical day at your St John’s Wood HQ?
It’s a real team effort. We check our emails to ensure we are up to date with client enquiries, then the sales team meet to review where each of our clients are at. I regularly meet with Jade, our Marketing and Communications Manager to discuss media coverage, promotions, lead generation and online activities. I also speak to developers and prospective partners to ensure existing projects are on track as well as source fresh opportunities.
What has been your biggest challenge over the last 5 years in property?
My biggest challenge was deciding to employ staff. Until March 2014 I was doing everything myself and I wanted to ensure that I had enough revenue to pay an employee before I employed them. My mother wanted me to stop working 24/7 and offered to lend me some money to help pay an employee’s wages. Well it worked; within two weeks of my first employee Beverly being at the company, we made three sales and things took off from there.
Property has traditionally been a male dominated industry, how have you found being a woman in property?
I don’t think about myself as being a ‘woman in property’. I just happen to be a woman. Perhaps, this is a function of how I was raised by my parents who encouraged me to go for anything I wanted to. When I worked at EMAP in Peterborough on the motoring and motorcycling magazines, there were almost all men working there. I quickly got used to mucking around with the chaps and gender was never anything to go by when determining someone’s skills or capabilities.
Properties of the World offers a range of investment opportunities across the UK, what types of properties and locations would you recommend investors to consider in 2017?
In an uncertain climate following the UK’s Brexit decision I would recommend hotels and care homes. In times of economic and market uncertainty, these two property classes provide certainty and security for investors. To list just a few reasons why; these types of investments provide a fixed rate of return over 10 years, have a considerably higher yield than residential buy to lets of up to 10%, and incur no extra costs during ownership. Investing in a hotel room or care room will give the investor peace of mind as they are exempt from stamp duty and are fully managed which mitigates risk.
What opportunities have you invested in personally and why?
I invested in a hotel room at Llandudno Bay Hotel in Llandudno, a World Heritage seaside town in North Wales that attracts visitors all year around. The property was being converted into a four-star hotel of which there was a shortage and the returns were excellent at 10%. It was also fully managed with no extra costs incurred during ownership. To me, it was a no-brainer.
If you could give investors one piece of advice, what would it be?
To be open-minded about what they’d consider purchasing. Buyers tend to stick to one type of property purchase such as a residential buy-to-let, yet their investment objectives can be better met by buying into say, the commercial property sector.
Lastly, you are originally from across the Pond, what do you miss most about the USA?
I miss seeing my friends and family and just how friendly and open Americans are – you can make a friend in the time it’s taken to read this interview!
For more information, please visit http://propertiesoftheworld.co.uk/ or call +44 (0)20 7624 5555