Property is a mainly white male industry. It’s impossible to know exactly what the barriers are due to race because they’re often hidden. There is research which shows that black women founders are less likely to raise investor capital.
We have succeeded in raising private investor finance and traditional commercial lending but we can’t know if we’d have received more funding at better rates if we weren’t black women. What I do know is that being a black female property developer still raises eyebrows on site. When my sister arrives to meet with architects, builders and other contractors on site, they are often surprised. I’d like it to become unsurprising to see more diversity in property across the spectrum from developers to investors.
What can be done to encourage more people from the black community to get involved with property development, investment and the property market in general?
I would encourage those of us already investing to be more visible and open about what we do and how to do it. What delights me is hearing from other black men and women that my story inspired them to get started in property, too. The property ownership rate is 29% among black households compared to 63% of white households owning their property in England and we need to change that.
Is the property market diverse enough, or does it need to do more to encourage greater diversity, especially in the highest positions of power?
Property is not diverse enough and we certainly need to do more to attract more people into property. I’d like to see more mentorship opportunities in property for young people from diverse backgrounds. I work as an Ambassador with Every Child Needs a Mentor to inspire young people to consider property development, investment and business as an option.
(Stephanie, left, with her sister and co-investor Nicky)
Tell us a bit more about your involvement with property and your background outside of property.
I invest in property with my sister Nicky Taylor. We own a multi-million pound portfolio of multi-unit blocks, commercial property and HMOs. We’re creating an education and accommodation trust to focus on providing beautiful affordable homes for people who struggle to access them.
We’re also co-founders of award-winning property management and development company, HMO Heaven, and co-Founders of Rent 2 Rent Success which has inspired hundreds of people to get started in property. Since we started in property and achieved success quickly we have been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider and The Telegraph.
When I was a teenage single mum on benefits, I struggled to pay for groceries and would have found it hard to believe I could own my own home, never mind develop a portfolio of properties. As I young mum I remember walking into a local letting agent in Birmingham. As I approached the desk, the receptionist looked up and said “we don’t have anything for you”.
I wasn’t with my son at the time. She just looked at me and decided that she didn’t want to offer any of their properties to me. My experience is not an isolated one. There have been a number investigations and reports finding racism in letting agencies.
The memory of that day has stayed with me over the decades. It is a thrill now to be able to help people like me who struggle to find safe, affordable homes. Letting agents are gatekeepers to much of the private rented housing sector and it is an incredible feeling to be able to move from tenant to portfolio owner and be able to offer beautiful affordable homes to people who often struggle to get them.
Do you think there is still a gap in the market for more property networks and/or resources in the black community?
Definitely! It is sometimes viewed as controversial to have black property, investment or business groups. However, when the level of property ownership and investment is so much lower in the black communities, there is such a need for them. The Black Property Network organised by Ayesha & Tony Ofori is an incredible resource and a great place for people to start.
What would your advice be to others in the black community who wish to get involved in property?
My advice to others in the black community is that if you want to get started in property, Yes You Can!
You can get started in property with little money
You can sack your boss, if you want to
You can create a life you love and live it on your terms
The establishment won’t tell you what is possible because it’s in their interests to have people in debt and tied to working in jobs that, very often, they don’t like.
Many people believe, like I did, that you need to be ‘rich’ to be a property investor and you need to have the ‘right connections’ or a family background in property investment. None of that is true.
There are property strategies that allow you to make money from property without owning it, like rent to rent. When I first heard that there is a way to make money from property you don’t own, I was sceptical. Since then, we started our rent to rent business, HMO Heaven and grew it to attract contracts worth over £2 million in under three years. Following our success running a property business where we benefit from the cashflow but not any capital uplift in property value, we started buying and developing our own properties.
We wanted to spread the word about what is possible so we’ve written the book on rent to rent. Our book Rent 2 Rent Success is the number 1 best-selling book on rent to rent, it’s our ethical 6 step system to get started in property without buying it. It’s a great way to get started in property if you don’t yet have the means to buy investment properties.
And for everyone, the end game is to buy property and benefit from the increase in the value of the property as well as the cashflow each month. Owning assets turboboosts your ability to create wealth and enables you to leave a legacy for your family and way beyond.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so fulfilling?
What’s most fulfilling is helping others succeed too. Maria Opaniran is a busy mum of three and an senior IT project professional who started working with us in our Rent 2 Rent Kickstarter Programme and grew her own cashflowing rent to rent portfolio. Not only that, the very first property she secured she negotiated a lease option. This means that she can buy the property over time without needing a big deposit or a mortgage at the start. This means Maria will benefit from the increase in value in the property as well as cashflow every month.
Helping people who didn’t realise property investment is open to them is one of the things I love most. We started investing full-time in our forties and wish we’d started decades earlier. Now we’re helping others do just that.
Through our property development businesses, we are building a portfolio of properties which are beautiful homes. We take unloved properties and add the love and care they need to become places people love coming home to.
Nicky and I are setting up an accommodation and education trust to help people who struggle to find beautiful affordable homes like I did as a young single mum. We want our legacy to last way beyond our lifetime and extend way beyond our family.
*Watch out for part 3 of this series, which will be appearing soon. You can catch-up with part 1 here.
Stephanie is Co-Founder of Rent 2 Rent Success and HMO Heaven