A conversation with property investor Nick Smith about his Lake District estate
If investing in property calls for resilience, then investing in an estate, complete with eight-bed house, three-bed cottage, a boathouse and woodland, in my view merits an award for courage. But courage is something Nick Smith and his business partners have in spades. Although Nick would probably argue that it’s less about courage than it is careful thinking, planning, risk assessment and a long term view.
I know from experience about the challenges of investing in a big property. In our case, it was a six-bed farmhouse in the Welsh hills that we rented out as a holiday let sleeping up to 14 people. On the plus side, the income from the peak season weeks was fantastic; the downside was that it was difficult to let during the mid- and off-season weeks. Too big for your average off-season holidaymaker, we had to get creative about attracting different types of visitors and groups to fill these weeks.
Nick and his partners have taken a different approach with the Lanehead estate in the Lake District, which we spoke about in the May 2021 issue of YPN. While the cottage, Lake House, is a traditional holiday let sleeping up to six people, the main house, Lanehead, is an entirely different business in its own right.
Instead of appealing to tourists as a residential house, this property has a different planning use – it is classed as an education centre. As such, the team’s aim is to attract people who run courses, retreats, events and corporate away meetings. Of course this business has been affected by Covid, but Nick and his colleagues are in this for the long term and they quickly adapted to meet the challenges thrown at them during 2020 and 2021.
Living where we do on the Welsh coast, I’m keen to get back into the holiday let market over the next couple of years and talking to Nick has encouraged me to think about possibilities beyond the traditional cottage model. I’ll keep you posted!
To read the full article about the Lanehead estate and Nick’s approach to property investing, subscribe to YPN magazine.