Welcome back to our Women in Property Investment series, where we focus on women who are breaking down barriers in the world of property investment. This week, Property Investor Today profiles Emily Bruce-Watt, founder of property management company Air Peace of Mind.
Despite the current political turmoil surrounding Brexit and the general election stalling the UK housing market, there’s still interest to invest in London, particularly in the short-term lettings market, with one Airbnb manager hitting a £1 billion milestone.
In fact, recent studies show that London has the most Airbnb listings in the world (59,300), almost double New York and Paris. The number of online travel agency listings (including Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com) in the capital has increased from 33,715 in 2016 to 70,533 in 2018 – a growth of 110%.
What’s more, further forecasts from property management company Guesty reveal that there are around 1,300 professional property managers operating in the UK. The company supports growing managers to get out of the rat race and service a gap in the market.
One of these is ex-lawyer-turned-professional-property-manager Emily Bruce-Watt, who founded Air Peace of Mind and has grown a management portfolio from 1-180 properties in just three years, quickly becoming a success story reflecting the short-term rental boom.
After being constantly frustrated that the management company that she used took a massive cut on her asset whenever she let her own flat, Emily decided to rent it out on Airbnb herself.
In 2016, she realised that there was a gap in the market to manage other people’s homes by delivering a high standard of service but for a reasonable fee. She had the potential for changing her career and having a lifestyle shift by leaving her full-time job, renting out her flat in Battersea and moving into a bedroom in a shared property. In doing so, her own property was able to fund the start of her property management company.
Within three months, Emily had gone from managing three properties, from a shared kitchen table, to managing 35 properties and had moved to the shared office.
Today, Air Peace of Mind manages over 180 properties predominantly in West/South West London for between £100-£2,200 a night.
Emily strongly values transparency, with all growth being organic. She charges her clients (the owners) a fixed commission fee, and has always acknowledged that owners are giving her their biggest asset, and the huge responsibility and trust this entails.
Owners of these properties have ranged from actors, jewellery designers, entrepreneurs, teachers and artists, to retired couples or those wishing to supplement their income to enjoy a better lifestyle and get a better life balance.
Extremely passionate about hospitality and delivering an exceptional experience for guests and owners, Emily has been a ‘London Superhost’ for two and a half years (having received 80% 5-star reviews) and she personally inspects every property and meets every owner.
Since launch, the company has enjoyed triple-digit growth and now employs eight full-time staff, and is hiring another four. With the firm continuing to expand, it’s safe to say that Emily is one of the leading lights in London’s short-lets market.
This is part of an ongoing series focusing on women in property investment, with the next article appearing on Friday December 6.