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Andrew McCausland
Andrew McCausland
Managing Director
2879  Profile Views

About Me

After 12 years as an army officer I went into business as owner / manager of a chain of health clubs. After project managing some conversions for our new clubs I got the building bug and started residential property renovations.

I started investing in property in 1994 and, after doing quite well at buying and renting, I ended up setting up a lettings agency to manage them, and a building company to complete the works. We got more local investors placing their properties with us to manage and my building company was carrying out all the associated repairs and renovations. The early years were great fun, as Liverpool was made Capital of Culture and the whole area underwent a renaissance.

Most of my efforts at the start went towards growing my own property portfolio. However, the management side of the business was becoming an important and interesting aspect of my work. I enjoy meeting novice investors and talking through their ideas - trying to find the ideal property based on their aims and aspirations.

The lettings business ended up being based in a small retail unit we owned in Wallasey; we simply moved in when the previous tenant didn't renew their lease. It was not in the ideal location, was too small almost from the start, and was not a great advert for what we could do. I thought it hardly mattered as we were rarely there. We were too busy on the ground with building sites and dealing with tenants.

After much soul searching I ended up buying the Cleveland Hotel, an 1847 built pub and hotel that had been let go to rack and ruin. It was on the corner of Hamilton Square, Wirral's original professional and commercial centre. The Square has one of the highest concentrations of Grade 1 Listed Georgian buildings outside of central London. It is a fantastic place but, like much of the local area, had suffered lack of investment over the past decades.

We seemed to buy at the right time as the area is now undergoing a rapid transformation, with chic apartments being formed in the Georgian square and lots of local improvements. The plans for Wirral Waters, potentially Europe's biggest building site, put Hamilton Square firmly in the centre of all the redevelopments.

We rebranded as Hamilton Square Estates Ltd on moving into the new premises. We now have large offices and plenty of space for the building business in a great location right in the centre of things. A big car park helps as there is a lack of free parking locally.

I made the upper floors of my building into a 7 bed luxury HMO, so the income from this offsets all the office costs. We positioned ourselves as a hybrid agency - a great local base but charging internet prices for the whole range of estate agency activities. My team now source investment opportunities for other investors, project manage the redevelopment works as required, rent and manage the properties on an on-going basis. Our clients range from the person struggling to raise finance for their first house purchase through to a corporate client selling 120+ properties prior to moving off shore.

I have been doing this a long time now and still bounce out of bed ready to attack the day! I love the whole property business and the many and varied people I meet. I have made more mistakes over the years than I care to remember, but hope to have learned from them. I am very lucky to have a great office manager and a fantastic site manager who do most of the work for me. This allows me more time to deal with investors, and gives me the opportunity to sit on a number of local Council committees and homeless charities.

my expertise in the industry

Buying, selling, investing, taking lease options, building and enjoying all aspects of the property business since 1994.

Andrew's Recent Activity

Andrew McCausland
We were lead sponsors of the Wirral Council Private Landlords Forum yesterday, where we had around 100 local landlords gather to hear speakers talking on a range of subjects effecting the PRS. I spoke about Section 24 as I felt there was still a lack of knowledge or understanding of the implications of this appalling legislation on landlords. My estimate was that about 20% of landlords in the room had not even heard of S24 and a further 40% were unaware of the implications for their business. People who read these type of blogs, us property nerds, have been discussing this for over 12 months. However, despite the great work of Steve and Chris et al the message has not filtered down to smaller scale landlords, particularly those who self manage. Most striking of all was the sense of unfairness of the plans. The very rich (supposedly those targeted by the measure), companies and RSL's are unaffected. The middle earning investors who planned for their future now find these plans in ruins through no fault of their own. After the budget all the discussion was on the change to SDLT and S24 seemed to get lost in the background. There is the referendum later this month and it is rightly dominating the airwaves and no doubt will do for months afterwards. Getting the mainstream press to discuss anything else at the moment is very difficult. I am sorry to say that I think the NLA are correct in their assessment of the chances of a judicial review. However, I believe Chris and Steve are right to try and push the matter more to the fore of landlords minds. The more publicity the better. If we are to get any change it has to be by working together to influence politicians (particularly Conservative ones - if only because the next election is planned for after implementation of S24). The Government is not listening so I suggest targeting specific MP's (and Councillors) in their constituencies. Let them feel the anger this generates. Make sure they are aware of the damage this will do to individuals and businesses, often built up over many years. Explain to them in person how this will not achieve the intended results for the housing market. Tell them you will have to raise rents to offset the obvious losses. I don't suggest we take to the streets (we are not the French, after all). However, The Conservatives championed localism as an ideal. Organise locally and show our politicians the strength of feeling about this. Lets all support the judicial review process. But also start agitating for change at the local level. There are enough private landlords out there who can flex their political muscle if we act together. Agencies like the NLA, ARLA etc. can then play a vital role in bringing the diverse groups together to try and stop this before it destroys the plans and dreams of many ordinary men and women.

From: Andrew McCausland 10 June 2016 11:46 AM

Andrew McCausland
Interesting article. My only complaint is with whoever drew up the mapping and their reasons for drawing the boundaries as they did. My area of interest is Merseyside and North Wales and so took particular note of this part of the map. Three points to note are: 1. Wirral is part of Merseyside and should have been included within their boundary, not Clwyd. Wirral currently has some of the highest yields of anywhere in the country, even higher than Liverpool. Inclusion of Wirral within the Liverpool map would have pushed Merseyside to the very top of the returns table. Prices in Wirral are some 10- 15% lower across the range than comparables in Liverpool, but rents are almost identical for all property types outside the immediate Liverpool city centre area. 2. Wirral will be included within the area of the Merseyside metropolitan area under control of the new Metro Mayor from next year. So far, so dull. However, Wirral will then be subject to the policies of new Mayor, with devolved powers that affect housing, transport and inward investment. The Mayor is likely to be Joe Anderson, the current Labour party Mayor of Liverpool. You may or may not like some of his policies but he has a good track record of leveraging in funds for the city region. His policies for housing and transport in particular look credible, and he has a very good track record of representing the Liverpool region on the international stage, bring in more investment. 3. There are huge programmes of infrastructure improvements and inward investment on both sides of the Mersey that should push values on at pace equally in Liverpool and Wirral. These are being instigated by Peel Group (owners of pretty much the whole of both banks of the River Mersey) under the banners of Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters. House prices do not yet reflect these major upcoming changes and so yields will remain high in the medium term until prices reflect these improvements to the Mersey basin area.

From: Andrew McCausland 09 May 2016 10:55 AM

Andrew McCausland
These are not "tax breaks for landlords", but normal expenses associated with running any business. If GSK borrow money to build a new factory they would off-set the cost of the interest against their annual profits, as any business would do. The same applies for any of their other normal business expenditure. Why should you consider landlords to be different from any other business people simply because the asset they invest in happens to be a house for someone else to live in? Is this idea being floated simply because the small landlord is an easy target for government, whereas a company like GSK would have the ability to take HMRC to task if they even suggested these new rules applied to them? The government and local authorities need the PRS to invest in more housing to meet current and future needs. If you change the normal accounting rules for BTL and make it a special case, different from any other business, you will destroy the industry. How can you disallow certain expenses from private landlords without also changing the rules for RSL's, REITS and the multitude of PLC's which also invest in housing? What about the build to let industry which is in its infancy? Do you suddenly disallow most of their expenditure from their operating costs? If so, you would kill it stone dead - and goodbye to the government's target of an extra 200,000 homes we need each year. There has been a lot of recent talk about the interest landlords claim back from the taxman. We need to move way from this idle chatter and see landlords as operators of businesses - nothing more, nothing less. Only then will we have a proper discussion about the PRS and its place in both the business world and the wider community.

From: Andrew McCausland 22 June 2015 09:44 AM

Andrew McCausland
Well done Tessa Shepperson for articulating so well the feeling of many others of us in the industry. I have been blogging about this for some time myself and wholeheartedly support any action against the rogues and rip off merchants. I am an agent, developer and landlord and I am weary of trying to defend my businesses against the charges that are constantly being touted by some politicians and the media. We charge less than £100 to set up a tenancy and no further fees for the duration of the tenants stay in the property - be that 6 months or 6 years. We charge landlords a small one off fee as well, and add no charges, mark ups, "administration costs" or anything else to their agreed bill for the services we provide. Our profit margins are comparable to any other service industry. And we are not alone - there are many other agents doing a good job for a fair price. Landlords and even tenants are in the positions of power. The agents will only survive if landlords place their properties with them and tenants use their services. Placing a property with an agent should be considered as important as any other financial transaction for investors in the BTL business. You don't have to use the well known names with the shiny offices to get great service. The cost of those offices and all those branded cars is coming straight off your bottom line. Most landlords are financially astute people. They worked hard to get the capital together to make their investment in property. Why some of them then switch off their brains before they make their final decision, where to place their property for on-going management, still surprises me. So come on landlords - exercise your financial muscle and place your properties with management companies who will look after your best interests. Making that decision requires thought and effort. Getting it wrong, as we see from the Foxton's storey, can seriously eat into your BTL profits.

From: Andrew McCausland 19 June 2015 07:18 AM

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