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Interview of Peter Grant
Written by the Property Investor Today team
Peter Grant, Sandstone Group

Who are you?

Peter Grant, founder and CEO of Sandstone Group (formerly Grant Property). Out of hours, my passions include skiing and sailing. I have two kids and a dog.

What is Sandstone Group?


Sandstone is a UK-based residential property investment and management company. Headquartered in Edinburgh, we’re active across ten UK university cities.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve helped clients in 40 countries to invest in over 3,000 residential properties, representing around £1bn of assets.  

How do you help property investors?

We help clients to build portfolios of residential properties, which we rent to students. Our core services include sourcing, renovation, furnishing and ongoing rental and management.

We’ve added new services to include annual portfolio reviews, green upgrades, bespoke reporting and a sales service for when a client wants to exit from their investment.

Tax also plays a major role, and we help clients with structuring. Where relevant we enlist the help of Deloitte, Grant Thornton and Dickson Minto to meet the demands of larger private clients and Family Offices which are typically investing in building portfolios upwards of £10 million.

What is the Sandstone REIT?

The Sandstone Residential REIT PLC launches this month. Listed on the Guernsey stock exchange, it will follow the tried and tested philosophy of Sandstone over the past 25 years. It allows private investors, Family Offices, Fund Managers, Charities and personal pensions to invest into residential property, in a hands-off way. With bank gearing of a maximum of 50%, average returns are expected to be 17% per annum.

The REIT will make it very easy for clients – old and new - to access the asset class. As well as diversification and ease of access, clients will benefit from a tax efficient structure. It also flows with the UK government’s aim to help professionalise the private rented sector.

There are very few residential REITS in the UK, and the Sandstone REIT has been created with large institutional investors in mind. It builds on our experience of creating, managing and selling two large scale (£100m) funds.

What other services do you provide?

Our services have often been described by clients as ‘unique’, as everything is under one roof, and because we cover 10 university cities.

In addition to the core services, we aim to go carbon positive as a business over the next 12 months. Property accounts for 52% of global warming, and it’s the number one issue for our tenants who are under 30 years of age, so it has to be high on our agenda.

Since 2006, we’ve cut our emissions by 30%, by changing how we renovate properties. We aim to go carbon positive in 2021/2.  

How does Sandstone Group benefit tenants too?

Student tenants benefit from great properties in great locations, which are environmentally friendly. We combine traditional features with modern interiors and high safety standards. We call it Aspen.

We’ve also recently launched an upgrade service for properties which are ‘of an age’ to bring them to the same high (green) standard. We call it Aspen light.

Location, internal quality and low energy costs all result in student tenants typically staying for 2-3 years. That’s also a win / win for landlords who enjoy very high occupancy.

What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

I’m incredibly proud of having happy clients, who re-invest and tell their friends. That’s all possible because of our people, who are amazing. We’ve been Investors in People (IIP) accredited since 2004, and we were awarded the IIP gold standard this year. Our people have shown real flexibility and resilience during the COVID pandemic, allowing ‘business as normal’. We’re getting ever better at attracting amazing talent and nurturing it.

The REIT really propels us into a new era, looking ahead to the next 25 years.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

The most enjoyable part of the job for me is interacting with clients. Many clients have become good personal friends. And friends have become clients. I’m incredibly proud of how their investments have performed, and our role within that.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing estate and letting agents at the moment?

Big picture, the biggest issue by far, is the imbalance of supply and demand. That’s bad for the consumer. We simply aren’t building enough new homes in the UK, so prices and rents carry on rising. For 25 years I’ve listened to governments saying they’re going to fix it. They haven’t, and there’s no end in sight.

The second challenge facing the industry has to be the sheer amount of government red tape. It’s well-meaning but often crazy and badly thought through, and certainly not joined up. It’s an enormous barrier to entry and favours larger, existing players.

What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2021?

For 25 years I’ve accurately predicted that prices will rise in line with the long term average of 7% per annum. And rents will rise by 5-10%, especially in prime locations. I think it’s more of the same, driven by supply and demand.

Country house or city apartment?

Either. As long as it’s traditional Georgian or Victorian. High ceilings, good room sizes, traditional features. I’m not a fan of new builds for a number of reasons. Room sizes tend to be small, ceiling heights are low and they make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Trendy roof terrace or garden?

Garden. I like trees over chimney pots.

What is your favourite room in your home?

It has to be my home office, if only because I spend so much time in it. (It is pretty cool, though). I’m not sure I remember the world pre-pandemic and pre-Zoom video meetings.


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