Mortgages and Homes
Updated: Wed, 06 Mar 2013 12:56:12 GMT | By

Can Robbie Fowler teach you how to make a fortune from property?

The former England international has set up an academy to teach people how invest in property

Robbie Fowler in his playing days [Image © PA]

He used to score goals for a living, but now Robbie Fowler is sitting on a multi-million pound fortune as a result of some wise property investments.

And he's starting an academy to teach people how to do the same...

The former Liverpool and England international striker has been investing in buy-to-let over the past decade and is now said to be worth £28 million.

And he's offering to teach the next generation of property investors the tricks of the trade, in the form of the Robbie Fowler Property Academy, which is running a series of free two-hour workshops in London this month.

Of course, Robbie himself won't be there. But his 'lead trainer' will, and they will talk you through everything from how to improve your credit rating to "setting optimistic yet achievable goals".

You probably won't be surprised to hear that, while there's no obligation to buy anything at the workshops, there will be "additional education products and services" available should you want them.

Getting your hands dirty
I'm not sure how useful a two-hour seminar, covering all sorts of vague self-improvement rubbish like "generating the motivation and confidence to succeed", will be in helping anyone to kick off a buy-to-let portfolio.

The fundamentals of investing in property are fairly simple.

You need to buy a home that will be consistently desirable to tenants.

But that's a lot easier said than done...

Who can invest?
First, let's look at who can invest in property and become a buy-to-let landlord. A couple of years ago everyone and their dog had bought a buy-to-let property, and at that time it made sense. Demand was good, there were plenty of lenders, and even if your property wasn't knocking tenants dead, chances are you'd make a few quid from its value jumping.

Things are rather different now, and buy-to-let should only be viewed as a long-term investment. You simply can't rely on capital appreciation anymore; the important thing is a property that will never (or almost never) be empty.

The lending environment has changed too. Lenders are stricter about who they will lend to, more insistent about how the rent needs to be more than your monthly repayments. Being a landlord is not a hobby, not a punt to take with a spare £40,000 that you have sitting in your savings. It's a serious, expensive and potentially time-consuming venture, and should be treated as such.

Finding a property
The most important aspect of all is finding your investment property.

The first thing to think about is the type of tenant you want to attract. Are you going for students, city professionals, families? Working out who you want to appeal to will help you work out the type of property you want.

Next comes location. You need to buy in a place that will appeal to that desired tenant. So if it's a commuter, you need to be near to public transport, if it's a family you want to have good schools and amenities nearby.

It's really important to not let emotion get the better of you here. You need to pick a property as an investment, not because deep down you quite fancy living there.

Finally, do some homework. Speak to letting agents in the area, check out letting listings in the local papers or online and work out exactly what the demand - and typical rent - is likely to be in the area. You need to make sure the numbers add up before you sign on the dotted line.

The table below breaks down the average rental yields in the final quarter of last year, based on research by buy-to-let lender Paragon.


Average yield

East Midlands


London (central)


North West


North East


East of England


South West


West Midlands


London (outer)




Yorkshire & Humber


Getting a mortgage
It's one thing to be confident enough to sort out the mortgage on your own home yourself. Sorting out a buy-to-let mortgage on your own is a different task entirely.

That's because many mortgage lenders will only lend through mortgage brokers. These lenders - the likes of Paragon, Kensington and The Mortgage Works - aren't names you see on the high street. The only way to get them to lend to you is by getting independent advice.

But that's not the only reason to use a broker. The lending criteria on buy-to-let mortgages can be very complex, and a good broker will know which lenders will be most likely to deal with you in your circumstances. They'll also be able to help you to ensure the sums add up!

Managing your property
OK, so you've found the right property and you've got the finance sorted. Now you need to work out who will be responsible for managing the property on a daily basis.

If you live nearby and want to keep your costs to a minimum, you might elect to do it yourself. So you'll be in charge of advertising it, choosing the tenants, negotiating and collecting rent. It will also be you that gets the call at one in the morning to let you know the boiler's broken down.

The alternative is to get a letting agent to manage the property. This is a sensible move if you live miles away from the property, but it doesn't come cheap. For full management of the property you may end up handing over up to 15% of your rental income. Letting agents also tend to attract a lot of complaints, as we examined in New letting agents laws needed.

Is it worth the hassle?
With rents rising hugely over the past couple of years, coupled with significant demand from tenants who simply can't afford to buy their own home, becoming a buy-to-let landlord might seem something of a no-brainer.

But, in practice, being a landlord can be a vastly different experience.

If you do decide to invest in property, it needs to be a decision that you make with your eyes wide open, aware of everything that can possibly go wrong. It shouldn't be done on a whim, simply because a former footballer has made a go of it.

06/03/2013 15:54
"With rents rising hugely over the past couple of years, coupled with significant demand from tenants who simply can't afford to buy their own home, becoming a buy-to-let landlord might seem something of a no-brainer."

Well of course people can't afford to buy their own home when already wealthy individuals strip the market of affordable housing by stockpiling property for their own financial gain! With the current financial state of people requiring 100% mortgages and house prices being ten / fifteen / twenty times that of an average income, people are forced in to expensive private renting and lining the pockets of others instead of being able to have a home of their own! How can you develop communities and sustainable societies when everyone is living on a short-term lease? 
Property, housing and homes should not be used as a commodity, as they are a necessity!
18/03/2013 20:48
jeezus wept its easy. first get a job that pays £50k a week. then buy shtloads of cheap properties, then rent them out. all you have to do is get a job(pro footballer maybe) that pays that kind of money. simples
12/03/2013 14:55
Be wary of so-called experts trying to teach you how to make money. If the market was that lucrative they wouldn't be wasting their time trying to make money out of teaching you the 'tricks of the trade'. The Internet is full of stories about conmen telling you they can turn you into a millionaire through day trading, property etc. I'm amazed Robbie Fowler has put his name to this, but then again given the nature of the gullable British public it's likely to make him a profit!!
07/03/2013 06:51
Well here in the South East the net yields after costs for me are 5% and that's without having mortgages on the properties. I employ an agent to find the tenants and then manage the properties myself on a day to day basis to keep costs down. Rents are rising though although most of my tenants are long term (one has been with me for 15 years) and paying around 10% less than the going rate. All my properties are well maintained by me and any problems are dealt with same or next day. Voids are virtually no existant and when a property becomes available it is quickly let. The value of the properties have fallen in recent years and have not recovered and are still around 15% below their peak of the summer of 2007.
19/03/2013 13:20
I've been making money from property development for years, you'd have to be a moron to get it wrong!

It's easy to fix a place up then shift it on for a profit, the hard part is spending the cash before the tax man comes calling ;)
06/03/2013 22:09

Which rents are these?. In the north west rents are stagnent and will remain so after April when the new legislation kicks in.

Properties which I used to just put sign up to let them now have to be advertised and take months to let

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