Becoming financially free at the age of 22 is extraordinary. Yet Evie Stockford has achieved this phenomenal goal in just three years, after starting a property business when she was 19.
How did she do it? And, perhaps more importantly, why did she choose to go down the property route instead of following a more traditional career path?
The choice to start her own business was, she says, a bit of a no-brainer. She had always wanted control over her own destiny so turning to self-employment as soon as practicably possible was a natural move.
That she should start a property business, however, happened by accident rather than by design. She knew about and understood the concept of buy-to-let but never considered it because of a lack of capital. She had never heard about any other strategies or ways of investing in property … until she came across Paul Preston three years ago and attended one of his courses.
It was through Paul that she discovered the rent to rent strategy and its potential for getting started in business.
Rent to rent has had some bad press over recent years. In some cases deservedly so where a rent to rent operator has been either fraudulent or incompetent. However, in the hands of a capable, responsible operator who knows what they are doing, it can offer an excellent way to start investing in property. Or, as for Evie, it can present a great business opportunity.
Needing little in the way of start-up capital (relatively speaking in property terms), rent to rent is a good way to build cash flow and to do so quite quickly.
Rent to rent is not Get Rich Quick
Evie makes it clear that this is not a get-rich-quick strategy. It can demand a lot of work and effort up front to get established. In her case, one of the biggest challenges was that starting so young acted against her when it came to gaining credibility with landlords and agents.
To overcome this, she armed herself with knowledge and thoroughly researched the HMO market in Oxford, where she operates, so she had ready answers to all the questions that were raised.
Getting her first rent to rent property over the line was a challenge and quite costly because she had to pay six months’ rent up front to compensate for her lack of experience. It was a big investment but, she confirms, “the best thing I ever did!” By the second deal, she had proof of concept and that she knew what she was doing, along with valuable experience and more confidence.
What is financial freedom?
A basic definition of financial freedom is having enough money to cover all your outgoings plus some left over to enjoy life. The actual figure that amounts to will vary from one person to the next.
One of the great benefits of starting young is that the amount of money you need to become financially free is much lower than it will be when you have more responsibilities and commitments.
Evie was earning a very basic salary from her day job when she started her property business in April 2019. At 19 her financial commitments were minimal. Six months later she had replaced her income and was able to quit her job.
To date, cash flow has been her top priority and even after quitting her job, she decided to take on a part-time role to boost cash flow. Once rental properties are up and running they don’t take up all your time, so she used her spare time to top up her earnings and funnel more into the business.
Fast forward 18 months, and the property business now supports both her and her partner. They are fully focussed on it with plans to grow and start building a buy-to-let portfolio alongside the rent-to-rent properties. Her chosen location of Oxford is challenging for buy-to-let as it is so expensive, but she is committed to the area. As well as being a great place to invest in property over the long term, having been brough up there she knows the town like the back of her hand.
The current portfolio incorporates a mix of HMOs and serviced accommodation, and she has found that multiple income streams from different strategies is an important consideration in light of the pandemic.
Evie shares two of her Oxford property case studies, one serviced accommodation and one HMO, in the February 2021 edition of YPN, in a feature about investors who have started and succeeded in investing in property within the last two years. In the case studies, she goes into the numbers and the challenges of each deal in detail. (You can subscribe here to read this and explore lots of other investor stories and case studies in the magazine or on the YPN app.)
A lot of people assume that you need pots and pots of money to start in property, but Evie’s experience is proof that this is not true. Having money to hand helps for sure, but you don’t need to have hundreds or even tens of thousands sitting in a bank account before taking on your first rental.
Looking back over the past three years, Evie admits that establishing the property business was more time-consuming than she had expected. “Property is often sold as a dream, get-rich-quick, passive income. That’s a lie! It’s hard work at the beginning and life changes, but for the better.”
She wouldn’t have it any other way and is delighted with the lifestyle she has created. The hard work has paid off, she has more control over her life and far more flexibility than she would if she were working for an employer. What a way to start your working life!