60-Second Interview: Carly Houston & Kirstin Adam
This month we speak to Brighton-based sisters Carly Houston and Kirstin Adam, who only started their property business three years ago. In that short time, they have grown a porfolio that is now wo...
This month we speak to Brighton-based sisters Carly Houston and Kirstin Adam, who only started their property business three years ago. In that short time, they have grown a porfolio that is now worth over £2 million, which includes multiple HMOs and flip/development projects all over the city.
What do you specialise in?
HMOs in Sussex (providing accommodation for people facing homelessness) and development/flip projects in prime Brighton & Hove locations – buying, refurb, selling, converting houses to flats and title splitting for sale.
Describe your property credentials in one paragraph?
We have an HMO portfolio in and around Brighton with over 40 tenants. We have replaced both of our incomes in less than two years and successfully joint ventured with other investors. We recently bought our fourth and fifth development projects, which provide great returns for both ourselves and our investors.
When did you first become interested in property?
Our first investment flat was purchased in 2009, but we didn’t get into property seriously until 2013 when we decided to attend Simon Zutshi’s Property Mastermind Programme.
Why were you specifically attracted to property?
We both wanted to change our life situations and stop trading our time for money, working for other people. It’s been about taking control of our own destiny, giving ourselves the freedom to choose how we spend our time and creating a great quality of life for our family.
Where are the best UK property hotspots at the moment?
For us, we very much plan to continue investing in the South East in and around Brighton. Brighton is a great location because of its proximity to London and the fact that it’s an amazing place to live. It also can’t increase in size too much as you have the sea on one side and the South Downs on the other. That means prices can only really go up as the demand gets stronger. It also has a knock-on effect in the surrounding towns.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Just do a deal. It doesn’t have to be the perfect deal, as long as it stacks, you will learn so much from your first deal.
This was great advice that came at the right time for us as we were contemplating whether to go for a specific property or not. On the back of that advice, we went for it and it’s turned out to be a great deal. People often get analysis paralysis and fail to take action because they are waiting for the ‘perfect deal’. As long as you know what you are doing and don’t buy a lemon, just get out there and do it!
Worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Can’t actually think of any – we just filter out the bad things people say and focus on being positive and solution-focused.
What are your top five tips for anyone thinking of building a property portfolio?
Educate yourself – you need to know what you’re doing
Don’t try and do it alone – find people to work with, whether that’s Joint Venture partners or just getting the right experts in to help
Find a strategy and stick to it – avoid the scatter gun approach
Network your socks off
Work on your mindset – if you don’t have the belief that you can do it, you won’t succeed
Do you think it’s hard being a woman in the property business?
No – it hasn’t been for us anyway. If anything, we think it’s been an advantage as we probably stand out more as women. People remember us, also probably because we’re sisters and Scottish. I think in property people respect action takers, those who know what they are talking about and show integrity in how they operate, regardless of whether they are male or female.
What is your proudest achievement, either in your personal or professional life?
We both have personal achievements we are proud of, but I would say collectively our proudest achievement professionally was being selected as some of the top performers in our Mastermind group. It wasn’t just getting the accolade itself, but the hard work and perseverance we put in to achieve it.
Where do you see your business in five years time?
We will continue to build our HMO portfolio, although we don’t want too many properties. We would like to keep going on the development side and do some bigger deals in the future. Hopefully, in five years time we will be in a position where we are just enjoying what we have created and won’t be doing much work at all! Although having said that, we’re not ones for sitting around, so we’ll probably find something else to do. We’re very interested in how we can continue to work in the social housing sector and provide much-needed accommodation.
Who or what is your inspiration?
I think our biggest inspiration is probably each other. We are very similar in lots of ways, but also completely different. We bring a different perspective to each other’s lives, which ultimately inspires us to grow and become better people.
How do you relax?
Spending quality time with the family. We always have Sunday dinner together, which is pretty chilled and relaxed. We both enjoy yoga and holidays. Although I wouldn’t say we’ve done that much relaxing over the last couple of years. Things are definitely calming down now. We’re getting more organised and into a flow with our projects so we do have more time than before to relax.
Five words that best describe both of you?
Friendly, funny, determined, compassionate and adaptable.
Where would you choose to live if you could live anywhere in the world?
Where we are living now – Brighton. We can’t think of anywhere better to live.
What three things couldn’t you live without in your home?
My children, husband and underfloor heating (Carly). My three cats (Kirstin).