Barry's Personal Profile View my company profile
I happened to check my profile today for the first time ever and noticed there have been over 1,500 "viewings" of my completely empty profile.... presumably a lot of people reading my raving, ranting but (I hope) factually and technically coherent posts were curious to know a little about me?
Thanks for reading all this,
I first became a landlord in 1996, while still working in IT (which I'd been doing since the start of the 80s and was by then a senior freelance manager).
Within 5 years of being both a part-time, but already very 'hands-on', landlord and full time IT professional I made the decision to abandon my successful and quite lucrative IT career to concentrate full-time on slowly growing and closely managing the properties.
In the early days I did absolutely everything myself - from finding tenants (using things like faxed-in "voucher ads" in Loot back then, long before emails or web-based advertising in this sector), managing lettings, property maintenance (luckily I have a lot of practical skills, but as the number of properties increased we used contractors more and more, and for about 3 years had 2 full time maintenance/handymen working for us too) and of course all aspects of the business side.
I say "we" and "us" because after a while my wonderful wife got fully involved too - she's much better at dealing with tenants than I am, plus good at making decisions about refurbishment specifications and so on.
As the world changed around us, and also because we got busier, we started working increasingly with agents - initially for "finders only" but now 'fully managed' on several properties and one day they can look after the lot!
One of the main problems for us (more for me, not so much my wife) has been that over the years I've carefully developed and refined our own tenancy agreements, as well as some simple but useful processes and paperwork - but the agents seem unable to use any of that if they do full management. Unfortunately all of their tenancy agreements look poor quality to me and not as good for our business by comparison!
Until recent years I had no regrets about that decision to switch from IT to property, but now I increasingly wonder if we'd have been better off if I'd concentrated on software and/or consultancy and perhaps built a solid business in that instead while keeping property as a useful sideline. There were so many great opportunities and I turned my back on all of them.
A real regret I certainly have is in not exiting from property in the UK, selling everything and reinvesting in something new abroad while still young and healthy and equally importantly before tax laws affecting tax residency and CGT changed fundamentally and very significantly in what I see as a greedy and ill-judged attempt by the government to take money from us (and anyone like us) but in practice just inhibiting and discouraging business and flexibility (if we'd sold CGT free for the properties in our own names then our buyers would still have paid what used to be stamp tax, and our company would have paid a lot of corporation tax for its sales, so instead of the government benefiting everyone lost out and we're all stuck with it).
As the years have passed since then we've seen spectacular sustained growth abroad in the sectors of interest to us in those counties and cities in the Far East we liked and would have opted for. Meanwhile here in the UK performance has (at least in my opinion, and by comparison, and after carefully taking exchange rates etc into account, and not helped by years of 'quantitative easing' and all the rest) - been very lack-luster. It's also been increasingly hampered by detrimental legislative and taxation changes coupled with rapidly changing social and cultural factors making a landlord's - or agents - life increasingly (and I think unfairly and uncomfortably) difficult.
Over those nearly two decades since moving from IT to full-time property I've developed quite in depth knowledge of relevant landlord-tenant law, both for "let" properties and also freeholder/leaseholder legislation - something I'm extremely involved with these days for various reasons. (In my IT days, particularly during the 90s as a project and later program manager and at times IT director/CTO or whatever, I got very much interested in contract law as well as to an extent intellectual property Law or IP, but not bricks and mortar property law back then).
So now you know quite a bit about me. Another thing of relevance, I suppose, is I was diagnosed with "terminal" cancer in 2014, after getting increasingly but mysteriously ill the previous year. I was then thought to have only 3-4 months to live, but over 4½ years later I'm still here - now on "borrowed time" and very much dependent on the private health policy I luckily took out more than a decade ago and without which I'd almost certainly already be dead by now (anyone out there who believes they can trust their life for long-term illness care to the NHS should try it for themselves). Anyhow, that's another thing - other than tax and whatnot - that makes it extremely hard for us to move anywhere.
Life eh? For a while it seems to stretch out in front of us with unlimited possibilities. Then we find how short it is; time passes so quickly and there are more boundaries in all directions - many of them invisible but still uncrossable - we don't have to stray far before we start to find them.
Despite the frustration of it all, and the vagaries of life, we're doing just fine and actually I feel both contented and very lucky indeed.
In case anyone is curious about my profile image - it's a snapshot the patient records on my first oncologist's bookshelf. A brilliant, as well as very charming man (and a rather old fashioned / old-school one as you can tell from his filing system) and one of the growing number of people who've each contributed so much to keeping me alive. My medical history since being diagnosed with cancer is just one of the many folders in the photo - so mine (representing me) is just one of the many very similar looking folders, and that's how I see life and death in perspective.
A thought provoking quote of uncertain origin - it turns out to be much older than it might at first seem - that I'd like to share with you (and apologies if you think it corny or trite or have hear it before) is:
The past is history, the future a mystery, but the TODAY is a gift which is why its called 'The Present'!
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