Hello, I’m Del Brown and Welcome to my personal page.
Like you, I prefer doing business with people I know, so I’d like to share a bit about me and my story.
As you know, I’m now a very successful property investor and developer.
It didn’t start out that way though – so let’s go back to the beginning.
I was born and raised in Bristol. Life wasn’t easy when I was a kid. There wasn’t much money around. My parents struggled to find enough cash and were always juggling 2 or 3 jobs.
I just hated asking for pocket money, so I soon started working for it – in the local butchers and on market stalls. I got used to selling early in life!
My parents always worked hard – and they instilled the same values in me and my 2 brothers and my sister. It was always a question of “don’t ask for money, go out and work for it”. I owe them a lot for the way we were brought up. Life may have been tough, but they were always there working hard and doing their very best to support us all.
I really didn’t like school – and I wasn’t much good academically. So I spent most of my time and energy boxing, which I loved – and was pretty good at. It gave me a taste for competitive sport and an outlet for my energy.
It taught me about fitness too – staying fit is still just as important to me today.
When I left school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do and didn’t have much of a plan. So I started off working with an electrician – which started off my interest in buildings. When you do electrics you really get to know the inside of a building… Plus you have to get on with people to get work and to get things done.
So then I decided to get qualified. I went to college and got an apprenticeship, in carpentry.
I had a great stroke of luck. I went to work for FW Edwards, a local family-owned building business. They had been going for over 100 years and everything they did was really high quality work. All the tradesmen they employed were very skilled and worked to the highest standards. I learnt so much from them – and their commitment to top quality work. I’ve always followed their approach since, I believe it is the key to success in property.
Then it was time to branch out on my own. I didn’t have a clue about business when I started. I didn’t even know what a letterhead was! In a way though, it was almost an advantage. I didn’t know enough to stop and think or worry about it – I just got started. So I got some leaflets printed and went out knocking on doors.
At first it was really hard. I got nowhere. No one would give me any work as I was so new. But I never gave up. I was really persistent – I kept going back and back and asking for work.
Eventually I had a break! Bristol Churches Housing Association gave me a job. I’d gone back to them time and again – and eventually they said ok and gave me a small job. My persistence had paid off. They pretty much told me it was just to stop me keeping on coming round and pestering them.
Well, I wasn’t going to mess up this opportunity. I can remember it so well. It was a small job on a flat in Clifton, refitting a kitchen. I worked so hard to do a great job, using all the skills I’d learnt. When they came round to see what I’d done, they were so shocked! They just couldn’t believe it, the standard was so high.
So that was it, the work started flowing. I got more and more building work, for many of the large Bristol Housing Associations. Knightstone was another big customer. Plus Bristol City Council. I worked increadibly hard to build p the business over 3-4 years. By then I had lots of people working for me and masses of work. I was doing quite a lot of work for private customers too.
But it all got too much. The stress was incredible. I had so much work on – and I’d started having problems with a few private customers not paying their bills too. So there were financial pressures – and I just never had time to see my family. I decided there must be eaiser things to do and I packed it in.
So then what? Well, I had a bit more time and I spotted a potential renovation project. I can remember it so well – 56 Stafford Road. I bought it, did it up and sold it on. I made £8-9k, which was pretty good – it was 1992 then.
But although the project was successful, it wasn’t that easy to get finance in those days and people kept asking me to do building work for them. The penny hadn’t really dropped about the potential in property development – and I hadn’t thought at all about investing and letting the properties. So I gradually reverted back to mainstream building work.
Then in about 1996, I spotted another great renovation opportunity and went for it. Again I made a good profit, when I sold the property in ’97.
Then one day in 1998, I was just looking back and thinking about these renovation projects and I suddenly realised there was now a great opportunity to do more of them and to invest and let properties too – because buy-to-let mortages had recently come in, so the funding was readily available. I did know a few people who had effectively been doing investment before that, but they had to give fictitious information on their mortgage applications, which was never my way of doing business, so I’d not really considered it.
I started out with a plan to buy 3 properties, do them up and keep 2 as investments, but sell one – to fund the next 3. It didn’t quite work out like that though, as by the time I’d renovated them, I just didn’t want to sell them. I’d done all the work really well, so I knew they were in great condition. So I always ended up keeping them. In fact since then, I’ve hardly sold a single one.
Of course I’ve also bought and sold many properties with other people. But I’ve kept all the ones I’ve bought myself – and now own over 100 properties. Just before the current recession they were valued at approximately £40 million. I recently bought a property in Bath which I sold for £1.75 million. It’s a long way from 56 Stafford Road, back in ’92… and I started out from scratch, with nothing.
I’ve never used credit cards, I’ve just built up gradually, raising money by refinancing, but never taking undue risks. I like to work in my own way, always with high quality standards and being totally honest. In fact I’m renowned locally for always keeping my word. So even if I really change my mind, once I’ve shaken hands on a deal, I’ll never pull out – sometimes it can work against me, but I prefer it that way. Long term it always works out.
Today, I can look after my family, my partner Nicola and our 2 lovely kids – and my parents. One of my brothers works for me too.
I’ve always enjoyed giving back to the community I grew up in. So I always employ local firms and people to work on my projects. I’m involved in several charities, including a camp for homeless children.
There’s also Let’s Sk8, which is a great local project, supporting local kids who want to learn to roller skate. It’s fun and keeps them active.
Then, a couple of years ago, I went to a property seminar with a friend, who wanted to go and learn some new strategies. I listened to the success stories – and I realised that I was, well, streets ahead of all of them – including the speakers. Without realising it, I was already using all their great strategies and techniques. I was doing it all, I just hadn’t been following a set system that anyone taught me, I’d simply figured it out and learned along the way.
So I decided to set up a mentoring programme too – so I can share my strategies and help other people learn how to build their own property portfolios and a secure future. I love working with people and helping them. It’s my way of giving back – Bristol Fashion.
If you’d like to work with me to build your own property portfolio, whether you want to learn how to do it yourself, or would like me to do it for you, please get in touch and we’ll set up a meeting.
To Your Property Success!