How Kim Opszala built an HMO portfolio and replaced her income in 18 months by using creative acquisition strategies
Kim Opszala is a multi award-winning solicitor and, alongside her husband Mike, co-founder of KoMo Properties. They decided to start investing in property with the goal to replace Kim’s income, as her high-energy corporate solicitor lifestyle involved long hours and was beginning to affect her physical and mental wellbeing.
Although they had initially intended to grow slowly and organically by saving deposits every few years, after deciding to educate themselves through Simon Zutshi’s Mastermind programme, they realised it could take years to replace Kim’s salary.
Instead, they implemented an approach of using more creative acquisition strategies. This allowed their cash to go a lot further and achieve a lot more than it would have done through traditional purchasing methods. Over the years, they have utilised rent-to-rent and purchase lease options as well as buying their own properties.
Kim and Mike decided to concentrate on HMOs, which are one of the highest cash-flowing strategies for investing in property. Until the summer of 2020, their portfolio consisted of just single lets and professional HMOs in Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Northampton. Then last summer, they branched out into student lets in Northampton on the recommendation of a letting agent, and, despite it being a universally challenging year, haven’t looked back.
Over the past year, they have acquired a total of four student HMOs. They started with rent-to-rent, tested the model, then converted a property secured with a lease option, and have recently bought two more. Although they love the student market, they have no intention of converting the entire portfolio, as the Covid fallout taught them the importance of a diversified portfolio.
One of the main advantages about student properties is the ability to be bold with the interior design. Their first house was inspired by Kim’s Cuban heritage, where biophilic interiors are common. They love having the elements of nature incorporated into the design, so have used materials such as wood paired with bold colours.
Compared to professionals, they have found the management of student HMOs very different. It’s often the first time the student tenants have lived away from home, and they therefore don’t have the life experience that professionals do. On the other hand, the overall management is easier over a 12-month period as there is only one check in and check out, no council tax and each tenant has a guarantor.
Within 18 months, Kim was able to replace her income and this has given her the freedom to choose if and when she works. Investing in property has always been about having time to enjoy life, rather than hitting financial targets or getting a certain number of units. That said, however, Kim and Mike confirm they will always be open to exploring opportunities that may arise.
Subscribe to YPN magazine to read the full article in the August 2021 issue, where Kim talks through two student HMO case studies.
Watch Kim talking Ant Lyons through a purchase lease option case study in this video …