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2 X Maths Teachers + 700 Houses = 1 X £240m Buy-to-let Empire

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An article from 2006 on the Wilsons, buy-to-debt entrepreneurs

2 x maths teachers + 700 houses = 1 x £240m buy-to-let empire

House prices in UK will never crash, say Mr and Mrs Wilson of Ashford, Kent. And they should know

Patrick Collinson The Guardian, Saturday December 16, 2006 Article history

If you think house prices are already outrageous, look away now. According to two former maths teachers from south London, who are Britain's buy-to-let king and queen, the property market will never crash.

Husband and wife magnates Fergus and Judith Wilson have just signed a deal to buy their 700th house. If things go to plan, they will become the country's first buy-to-let billionaires. Every week they buy another house - and on one day alone spent £10m buying 40 properties off a distressed developer.

In the early 1990s the Wilsons were marking maths homework and writing school reports at a Blackheath comprehensive. Today their property empire is worth £240m - almost all of it within commuting distance of the Eurostar terminal in Ashford, Kent. They put their personal wealth at £180m - leaving them on a par with Anita Roddick and singer Phil Collins in the Sunday Times Rich List. And with property prices climbing at £40 a day, their personal wealth rises by £28,000 every time they get out of bed.

This week Britain's biggest lender, Halifax, issued a warning that the unexpected surge in house prices witnessed in 2006 would not continue and that 2007 would see increases of 4% at most.

But Fergus Wilson predicts that prices will double every seven years and says the typical property he owns - a £200,000 two- to three-bed starter home - will cost £400,000 by 2013, £800,000 by 2020 and £1.6m by 2027.

In Ashford town centre, every estate agent knows the Wilsons. "They own great big chunks of the new-build estates around here, particularly Park Farm," said one. "They have single-handedly pushed up prices in the new developments, buying them off-plan and renting the lot out. It's tough for first-time buyers. As soon as a suitable property for a first-time buyer comes on to the market you get three or four buy-to-let investors putting in offers. You'd like to be able to sell it to a young couple but you just can't."

Like other Ashford agents, he did not want to be named for fear of upsetting the area's biggest landlord.

The Wilsons are probably the least assuming and most well-mannered multimillionaires you'll meet. Fergus, 58, has no chauffeur, no minders and certainly no bling. Judith, 56, is still more schoolmistress than millionaire, firm but polite with the occasional steely glare. They didn't even get a leg-up from wealthy parents. After leaving Goldsmiths in the early 1960s, Fergus spent a period sleeping rough in Greenwich Park. "I know every blade of grass in that park," he says.

The move into property investing came by accident. "A house a few doors down from us in Maidstone came up for auction," says Judith. "We went along and bought it for £98,000, even though we had just £10,000 in the bank. We only found the mortgage afterwards. At the time, it was the scariest thing I'd ever done. Today I don't bat an eyelid when I buy a house."

The plan was to sell their existing home and move in - but after a chance approach by a company looking for a temporary rental, they decided to let out their old home. It became the base for a pyramid of properties bought by constantly remortgaging and using equity from rising property values to put down a deposit on yet another house.

The business took off in 1996 when interest-only mortgages became available, replacing costly repayment loans. By the time interest rates fell below 4% in 2003 the Wilsons were buying a house on average every day.

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal that 750,000 buy-to-let mortgages have been granted since 1996, worth around £17.5bn. The typical buy-to-let investor has a "portfolio" of four or five properties. The secret of the Wilsons' success was focusing on Ashford, where prices in the mid-1990s were much lower than surrounding areas in the south-east, even with the impending arrival of the Eurostar terminal.

The Wilsons bought only new-build two or three-bed terraces and the occasional semi. They never buy the flats so beloved of other buy-to-let investors - "they just give you endless hassle".

When they buy, it has to be a house - although a small two-bedroom one, where the yields are best. Developers, they say, only ever want to build three- and four-bedroom "executive" homes, leaving a permanent shortage of small homes with gardens. When they find them, they snap them up and let them to professional singles or couples. "We have couples where one works in Lille in France and the other in south London, and Ashford is literally their half-way home," says Fergus.

The Wilsons rarely take holidays. But they do own 10 racehorses - and are frequently derided in the racing press as the eccentric Kent couple who keep entering no-hopers in top races.

The medium-term target is to own 1,000 homes, but more immediately Judith is putting the finishing touches to a new property bond business. It will be launched in January, offering virgin buy-to-let investors the chance to own a 5% share of new properties that she'll source in the Kent area. If it takes off, her ambition of becoming a buy-to-let billionaire may well become reality.

:lol:

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I would like a follow up article interviewing them now, again in 6 months and every 6 months for the next 2 years, just to see how their sentiment has changed

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"They have single-handedly pushed up prices in the new developments, buying them off-plan and renting the lot out. It's tough for first-time buyers. As soon as a suitable property for a first-time buyer comes on to the market you get three or four buy-to-let investors putting in offers. You'd like to be able to sell it to a young couple but you just can't."

I was about to go on a rant about how the Wilsons are the scum of the earth, but the actual problem is the system which allows them to do this. One couple should not be allowed to buy 700 houses, pricing out countless FTB's in the process.

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That Eurostar connection must generate a lot of demand for their properties!

:lol::lol::lol:

I don't think it stops there anymore. :rolleyes:

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It's these Maths teachers they're a tricky lot, you can't trust them! ;)

Yeh, they understand algebra and stuff. :o

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Yeh, they understand algebra and stuff. :o

Actually you'd be surprised at how little most maths teachers understand of economics, compound interest and even algebra. I have had to teach a number of colleagues how to solve even simple questions.

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Actually you'd be surprised at how little most maths teachers understand of economics, compound interest and even algebra. I have had to teach a number of colleagues how to solve even simple questions.

We had a bloke who used to sneer at people who kept their earnings under the bed. Missing out on interest and all that. Didn't seem to appreciate they missed out on paying tax, too.

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But Fergus Wilson predicts that prices will double every seven years and says the typical property he owns - a £200,000 two- to three-bed starter home - will cost £400,000 by 2013, £800,000 by 2020 and £1.6m by 2027.

£1.6m in 19 years time...??? He might be good at maths, but his grasp on realism is quite poor imo.

Also, it is quite unjust that people like this can horde up so much property. Nothing will be done about it though.

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  • 399 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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