The moment I knew property was right for me came when a stranger knocked on my door to ask if he could buy the house I’d just renovated, writes Tim Heatley of Capital & Centric. I was 21 and I’d scrambled a deposit to buy somewhere in Salford, a little terraced home I had every intention of living in.
It was run down and in desperate need of love, I spent the summer meticulously doing it up. I loved the idea I was adding value to the street simply by restoring the house to its former glory. I ended up selling it on for more than double what I bought it for.
That was the penny drop moment. I understood I didn’t have to be super skilled in construction, a vision of how regeneration added to a community was enough. I’ve carried that with me and its now central to what we do at Capital & Centric.
My path to property was slightly unconventional. I tanked my studies at Manchester Met in the 90s, getting a third in Law, mainly because I was distracted by more exciting side hustles. It started with buying weird and wonderful art pieces from students and selling them online around the time of eBay’s infancy.
The art turned to cars. I upcycled (almost de-pimped) old bangers, gave them some TLC and flipped them for a profit. I would usually sell to kids who were off to uni and wanted something retro and stripped back. Through these restoration deals I inadvertently acquired some acumen and confidence, and a spirit for creating something new from something old. I was always going to be a rubbish lawyer anyway, I was far too interested in creating the vision than documenting it.
Property is not famed as a colourful industry and this unjustified perception must be challenged. Yes, the technical aspect of development is essential to any project, but we need to ensure others know there’s more to property than construction and architecture.
That thrill I got, when I sold that first house and moved on to the next project – a corner shop conversion that my then-girlfriend-now-wife spotted – has never left me. It’s just now I get it tenfold, taking on some of Manchester’s biggest mills.
That’s why I’m so keen to make our Regeneration Brainery – a free education platform for young people to get into property – a success. We shouldn’t rely on bright, diverse young people getting into property by chance, so we wanted to show them the sheer scale of careers on offer and the soft skills that will set them up. The Brainery is a practical way to right the industry’s wrongs. We still have a way to go. To attract and retain talent, it’s the responsibility of all in the industry to demonstrate that property is an attractive environment that welcomes people-centred approaches to development.