The idea of starting a business that evolved around property started initially when we first began looking at the Algarve as a place to invest. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my training and development work for over thirty years property development has always been my hobby and my passion. Perhaps now being a ‘still young 60 years old’ was the time to start a new career and spend my days doing what I enjoy best?
I’ve already stated elsewhere on this blog that I’m the daughter of a builder and I have no siblings. Consequently Dad didn’t have a son to pass on his skills to, there was only me. He built a large bungalow in England at 30 years of age with the intention of it being our family home for the rest of his life. Despite only being 5 years old I clearly remember being with him as he worked evenings and weekends to complete the project. I was smitten with the building bug. I hero worshipped him and he allowed me to do small inconsequential jobs on site which I of course believed to be very important.
As an adult both my parents took an avid interest in the properties I bought, renovated, lived in for a couple of years and then sold. Their advice and support was invaluable but I realised from an early age I had ‘the eye’. What is that you may ask? Well, it’s the ability to see beyond what is there when you look at a property. The ability to imagine with a practical eye what it could become by re-configuring rooms, new design and new decoration. Both my parents had it so I just assumed everyone had it. It was much later I started to realise it’s not such a common gift. Friends often asked me for my ideas on how they could remodel properties they had bought. I also realised I could purchase an unwanted (by others) property for far less money and see a greater return on investment.
One of my greatest frustrations whilst living in Norway was the very high cost of buying building materials and employing labour compared to the UK. So our main criteria when we started to look for a property in the Algarve was it should be something where I could use my gift. An older unloved house that we could buy for a reasonable price and be transformed into something great at a reasonable cost.
Exploring the idea further of me starting a business with property we wondered how many other prospective buyers would prefer to buy a renovated character property rather than a modern apartment? Should we buy, renovate, sell and then start the cycle again?
So for a while this was my business objective. But would it be a sustainable business renovating and selling on average one property a year? Would there be enough activity to retain my sanity by keeping me busy enough? Probably not.
Further development of this idea led us to expand the model by imagining a business whereby I found clients who liked the idea of a renovated character property but without the eye were daunted by the prospect of buying a wreck and then didn’t have the time or energy to oversee the project. After all one of the most popular TV programme genres is how to renovate your property from your armchair.
Over the next few months we overcame challenges, frequently had to put our frustration to one side and spent increasingly more time every month in Portugal pursuing our goal of purchasing our first property. To be really sure any property was absolutely watertight and to avoid making an expensive mistake there are so many things to ask and get verified.
The realisation dawned that not only was this not an easy task (even for someone with a lot of experience buying and selling properties) but for anyone with little time or energy it probably contributed to so many foreigners taking the easier option of buying a spanking brand new apartment. May I add by the way there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a brand new apartment if that is what your heart desires.
During the same time period some Norwegian friends of ours. after only just starting to look for a used apartment in the centre of Tavira, were quickly holding their hands up in horror at the work and frustration involved to find a suitable place. As both were working full time they were having to rely on the accuracy and responsiveness of local estate agents at a distance.
A natural conclusion based on all this information was to create a business, independently, not working as an estate agency, but with a strong network of reputable agents and other professionals to do all the work that finding an elusive property takes for our own clients.
Living in Algarve was now born….. as a Property Sourcing consulting company working directly for our clients to help and support them purchase a property specifically meeting their needs. We even include access to ‘the eye’ in the price!