60-second Interview - Jason Harris-Cohen, Open Property Group
We spoke to Jason Harris-Cohen, Managing Director of the Open Property Group, the leading guaranteed cash buyer of property in England and Wales. With a portfolio of over 100 properties, we chatted to him about investment hotspots, property yields and the future of his business.
What is your company name?
Open Property Group.
What do you specialise in?
We are a professional property buying company that purchases residential property and land throughout England. We focus on quick sales where vendors choose speed and certainty over trying to achieve the highest potential price. Moreover, we are professional landlords and developers.
Describe your property/investment credentials in one paragraph?
I am the founder of the Open Property Group, a regulated house buyer and member of the National Association of Property Buyers and the TPO. Over the past 10 years I’ve bought and sold over 500 properties and we are now positioned as one of the leading house buying companies in the UK with an unrivalled reputation.
When did you first become interested in property?
When I was 15.
Why were you specifically attracted to property?
My uncle was a shrewd investor. I also watched various property programmes and felt that owning property could provide me with financial freedom and enjoyment.
Where are the best UK property hotspots at the moment?
Bristol, Manchester, Middlesex and the South Coast.
Are there still profits to be made in property investment?
Yes, although margins are being reduced and the medium-term outlook is more uncertain. New build property provides an interesting opportunity, as VAT is reclaimable subject to meeting the qualifying criteria.
What returns should potential investors be looking for when buying property as an investment?
A minimum of 5% NET gross return per annum after all fees have been paid, including: management, service charge and ground rent, void periods, compliance certificates and maintenance. Always make allowances for these costs.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You get back what you put in.
Worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don't buy a property because prices will fall.
What are your top five tips for anyone thinking of building a property portfolio?
Research, choose your location(s), know your product or market, keep learning and read.
What is your proudest achievement, either in your personal or professional life?
The birth of my two sons and when we reached 100 properties in our portfolio.
Where do you see your business in five years time?
We want to grow the portfolio with higher yielding investments and find new finance companies to leverage and expand our business. We are aiming to expand our development company too and build more affordable homes for millennials and young families.
Who or what is your inspiration?
Richard Branson and Tony Pidgley, founder of the Berkeley Group. My inspiration is the fear of failing.
Business you wish you owned/launched?
Ikea and Berkeley Homes.
How do you relax?
Gym, holidays, wining and dining.
Five words that best describe you?
Tenacious, considerate, driven, street knowledge, professionalism.
Where would you choose to live if you could live anywhere in the world?
What three things couldn’t you live without in your home?
Bed, TV, my PC.
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