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What sort of egg are you?


The egg is an amazing thing, the curvature of the shell top and bottom provide its strength, its integrity.

However, if you chip away at the shell, this integrity is eroded until there is little or no shell left.

It’s still an egg although its integrity has gone!

People are like eggs, what type of egg are you?


My afternoon with John Paul from The Castledene Group


I had a really interesting day on Monday of this week. I spent the afternoon working with John Paul who is Managing Director of the hugely successful and award-winning property based, The Castledene Group.

The Castledene Group has been operating in the North East of England area since 2008 and is the local company with the local presence. They are one of the biggest lettings agents in the North East of England with over 1,000 properties in their managed portfolio and strongly believe in their strap line

We are big enough to cope but small enough to care.”

Castledene have developed through a mixture of organic growth and careful acquisition of existing Letting Agents. John Paul has clear and decisive expansion plans for 2011 including the opening of further Castledene branded agents across the North of England.

The Castledene Group provide professional lettings, construction and property management service, which embraces the principles of quality and customer care. We do Offering specialist services all under one roof, their aim is to make the property experience more enjoyable for all involved.

John Paul is passionate about development and sustainability in the North East of England and in particular the town of Easington where John lives, works and invests himself.

With this in mind, and the current economic climate with the threat of a potential ‘double dip’ to the UK housing market, John Paul and his team at Castledene are now advocating to investors that they put into each and every property investment a minimum cash deposit of at least 25% of the purchase price.

Due to their detailed knowledge and contacts within the local housing markets, Castledene can minimise the amount that the investors have to put into the purchase at the outset.

John says, “My clients are the most important part of my business and their continued prosperity allows me to develop and grow my own business”

As part of the property investment service, Castledene can offer the use of their team of property professionals including mortgage broker, solicitor and insurance broker. All of these professionals are passed on at cost price, which is negotiated on behalf of their customers by Castledene.

Unlike many package deal companies, the use of any in-house company, including Castledene Construction for the refurbishment works is entirely optional and has no effect on fees payable.

Should you want to find out more about The Castledene Group you can visit their website at or telephone 0191 427 4000 for property management or 0191 427 4007 for property investment.

If you would like to comment on this article our discuss any of the content on this site, please contact me on 07960 753550 or via email or to visit our website on

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Walker Fox visits Leeds PIN meeting


Last night I attended the Leeds PIN meeting (Property Investors Network) at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Leeds city centre.

The meeting was held in a ground floor function room in the hotel with seats set in a traditional theatre layout facing the speakers table at the front of the room, their were chairs set for around 40 guests.

I attended with friend and colleague John Paul from The Castledene Group, John had travelled down from County Durham to see if he could meet a few more people in advance of speaking at the PIN Manchester meeting next week.

We arrived at 6.00pm for registration which for us, merely involved writing our names on a sticker to wear as we were both pre-registered onto the event. Interestingly, for new attendees (as we both were) our names were underlined. This was to highlight us as ‘new people’ to other new people so that we all felt more comfortable and not alone.

By around 6.45pm the room was almost full and people were mixing well and chatting between themselves. I had the pleasure of meeting my youngest ever property investor yet, a young gentleman age only 15! He was telling me about his latest deal whereby he negotiated a purchase of a property worth 67k for an agreed price of only 36k, wow! I thought, what a negotiator!

The meeting was opened by Dave Price who is the local host for Property Investors Network, Dave ran through a brief agenda and also advised that this months free prize draw for those who had pre-registered for the event would be a free place on one of Simon Zutshi’s training days.

We were presented with a local Lettings Update by Lee Sykes of Concentric Lettings in Guiseley, Leeds shared with the room some interesting information such as an increase in rental demand of around 19% in Q3 of 2010 along with a note of caution due to a new trend emerging towards bogus letting agents who are tricking prospective tenants into parting with deposit bonds and advance rental payments for properties that don not actually exist.

Leeds PIN something new this month, it was entitled ‘speed networking’ this concept involved the delegates being split into two groups facing each other. You were then given 30 seconds to tell the person opposite about yourself and what your involvement in property is. After 30 seconds, the roles of speaker/listener were reversed. Each minute, the person on the inside line moved down a place and the process was repeated. The general concensus was that this was a great way of meeting new people without waffling on. However, 1 minute per person would have been a better time period.

The main speaker for the event was Glenn Ackroyd. Glenn shared with us his background from growing up within a state benefit culture on a Bradford housing estate through obtaining his first job at the local county court to becoming a successful property investor owning over 100 properties.

Glenn spoke at length about the importance of a good strategy and explained how he faced financial ruin at the onset of the financial crisis back in 2008 and the steps that he has personally put into place since in order to protect his portfolio and now has the opportunity to share some of these strategies with others. Incidentally, Glenn will be having an in-depth article published in the December edition of Your Property Network magazine on this subject.

After the main speaker there was a general networking/discussion period. As it was around 9.00pm I said goodbye to a few people and made my way home having thoroughly enjoyed my evening and an intention to attend the next event in the New Year.

If you would like to comment on this article our discuss any of the content on this site, please contact me on 07960 753550 or via email or to visit our website on

You can also follow us on Twitter.

NMD -What do the LENDERS say on the matter?


A really interesting debate blew up at the weekend on the social web. It seemed to originate from the posting of a video interview between Vanessa Warwick & Lisa Williams (Orme) for PT-TV.

This lead to one of th most censored and abusive threads I have seen on a property forum, you can read the current thread on Singing Pig here

Following on from the PT-TV video, Phil Martin recorded his own three part series apparently looking to dispel the ‘NMD scaremongers – Your time is up!’

It’s been claimed that if you purchase a property that is worth 100k, for only 75k the 25% equity can be used as some or all of your deposit, we are talking about ‘existing stock’ here.

I contacted the following mortgage lenders. Each one is a member of the CML and there contact details were obtained from their respective websites. All names used are actual names obtained during the telephone calls.

I asked the question…………..

“Are you happy with me using an equity deposit of 25% of the value of a property that I may consider purchasing?”

Here are the answers obtained…..

Aldermore Bank Plc – 0333 321 1000

If the valuer values the property at 75k we would require a full deposit. If the valuer values the property at 100k we would require a minimum 5% cash deposit from you. However, we would not accept the application as the maximum vendor gift is 5% of the value, you are asking us to allow 25%

Santander Bank – 0800 023 2761

A very nice lady called Michaela told me ‘Irrespective of the value of the property, we would require a minimum 25% deposit against the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE PAID

Accord Mortgages – 0845 1 200 882

Theresa said ‘We don’t actually provide Buy To Let mortgages at the moment however, in any event you we wpould only provide you with a maximum of 85% funding against the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE of the property.

Birmingham Midshires – 0845 300 2627

According to Michelle, they will only finance up to 75% of the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE PAID and are not interested in the value of the property apart from THE ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE PAID, the rental coverage and the applicants income as well as credit history etc.

Lloyds TSB Mortgages (Cheltenham & Gloucester)– 0800 783 3534

Debbie told me that they will only lend up to 75% of the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE PAID irrespective of the value of the property, they would require a minimum 25% deposit and the use of existing equity was not allowed

Natwest Home Loans – 0845 702 3845

‘All lenders require a minimum 25% deposit for Buy to Let mortgages’ according to Bal, the maximum loan to value is 75% of the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE she said. No lenders to the best of her knowledge would allow equity in the property to be used as some or all of the deposit for a Buy to Let mortgage.

Paragon Mortgages – 0845 849 4040

Michelle Bailey went and checked with their underwriters who confirmed that they would only lend against the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE at a maximu loan to value of 75% and not the value of the property.

First Trust Bank – 0845 6005 925

Again, Brian went off and checked with the mortgage retention team to check, he came back and advised that they would only provide a maximum loan to value of 75% of the ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE and that the balance must come from the purchasers own funds.

The Mortgage Works – 0845 45 45 400</u>

I spoke to Andrew on the telephone who was very thorough it obtaining questions asked by the underwriter. Firstly, they will not lend against any sort of financially distressed sale. Secondly, they will only lend a maximum 70% against the <b>ACTUAL PURCHASE PRICE PAID</b> they will NOT take into account any equity acquired as part of the purchase.

From the study undertaken, its quite clear that…

  • You can’t use conventional High Street (CML member) finance to purchase No Money Down!
  • Lenders will not accept equity that you have gained in the property as some or all of your deposit!
  • All lenders require you to disclose the actual price paid and base their offer of funding on this, not the value

Please feel free to challenge any of the above, I have provided all of the links to enable contact to be made. I’m intrigued as to which BTL lenders are allowing these ‘legitimate’ NMD practices to proceed.

My findings are also published on the Property Tribes forum

What’s in a brand?



Branding is very important, it’s often advocated to make this branding personal. However, a note of caution before you make your decision. A quick ‘google’ search will often display the competition.

No doubt there will be a few people who spend a lot of money on SEO however, search engines and in particular are constantly reviewing their algorithms to ‘beat’ SEO optimisation and currently approximately 78% of search results relate to social networking sites!

I could have chosen ‘Rob Hubbard’ although when I google this I appear in last place on Page 1, nothing at all on Page 2 and in seventh and eighth place on page 3.

This is almost exclusively due to the fact that another Rob Hubbard takes centre stage as being famous for his work relating to the Commodore 64 computer. Incidentally, he is from up the M62 in Hull.

However, a google search on my business name ‘Walker Fox’ reveals much better results as this name is un-encumbered by someone famous!

My ‘Walker Fox’ appears in first, third, fifth, seventh and eighth position on page 1 and seventh, eighth and ninth on page 2.

The vast majority of these listings are via social networking sites and my continued input reinforces this brand and profile and drives the listings up the search results.

Well worth considering your brand name before committing in my opinion.

Spotlight on Northern Property Tribes


I was recently interviewed by Vanessa Warwick (@4_walls) of Property Tribes about the Northern Property Tribes which is an offline Property Networking event based in West Yorkshire. With a non-sales agenda, it attracts many property minded people and speakers who are also property investors themselves.

The Property Investor Show 2010 – My thoughts


I attended The Property Investor Show held at Excel, London last month

More recently, I was interviewed by Vanessa Warwick of Property Tribes (@4_walls) to find out what I had enjoyed and learnt about the experience.