On a spectacular evening filled to the brim with entertainment, excitement, anticipation and celebration, hundreds of property investors from the UK and beyond attended our awards ceremony and dinner. The increasingly-popular annual event gave all those attending a chance to revisit the year’s high points.
Following a contest characterised by ever-fiercer competition attracting hundreds of nominations, the winners of the Property Investors Awards 2017 can now be revealed.
Paul Nicholson, Luxor Group
Luxor Group CEO Paul Nicholson started out as a qualified solicitor, having spent a number of years at an international commercial law firm specialising in property and finance. Since acquiring his first property at the age of 23, he has expanded his portfolio from small buy-to-lets to over 200 rental units and developing large-scale multi-million pound regeneration projects throughout the Liverpool city region. He commented: “It is an honour to win this award and champion the North West as a place to invest, live and work. Myself and the whole Luxor team are passionate about transforming communities to create thriving, regenerated areas. To gain national recognition is testament to the high quality of our developments and our skill at spotting unique investment opportunities which create change. Luxor Group has experienced unprecedented growth during 2016-17, and this award cements our reputation as one of the leading investors and property developers.”
Investar Property Group for Halifax House, Liverpool
Investar’s development of apartments at the former headquarters of Union Bank of the British Empire, Halifax House, has secured this prestigious award. The scheme has restored the building to its former glory, when it was a symbol of power and wealth in the centre of Liverpool. Each of the 22 units’ interior design is different. Every apartment boasts its own theme, including banking, the natural world, romance and world travel. They are finished to a high quality, with materials imported from Europe, and featuring handmade British furniture. Michael Dong, CEO of Investar Property Group, commented: “We are doers. We have been low-key in what we do, remaining relatively unknown. However, this is about to change. Winning the ‘Development of the Year’ award will be a turning point, a milestone for the business and the team. Now our door is open. We are hopeful to attract more development opportunities and partners in the coming years.”
Rivers Birtwell for 122 The Avenue, Brighton
Rivers Birtwell created a nine-bedroom HMO designed specifically as student accommodation for the nearby University of Sussex. While still maximising income, the finished house provides a feeling of space in the communal areas, using built-in furniture, bespoke artwork, and a homely but easily maintainable palette of colours and materials to imbue a cool, youthful atmosphere. Features include secure bike storage to encourage less car use, top-speed internet connectivity, clever maintenance apps for reporting problems, and good old-fashioned over-the-phone support with same-day call out for maintenance issues. George Birtwell commented: “The whole Rivers Birtwell team is over the moon. We have worked extremely hard to produce high-quality shared accommodation in Brighton and it is extremely satisfying to have been recognised for it. This award gives us, our lenders, and our investors confidence in pushing on – improving design and service in the future.”
Property 165 Ltd: Nellie McQuinn
Nellie McQuinn’s company Property 165 takes its name from the address of her childhood home. Her grandmother bought the house in the 1950s for just £6,000, and it was sold almost sixty years later for a hefty profit. It was Gran who inspired Nellie’s property journey, donating a nest egg with one stipulation: it had to be invested wisely in property. Nellie commented: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award, it’s been such a privilege to even be a finalist – I didn’t expect to win! I only started investing in property last year, so to have this recognition so soon in my career is such a boost. My husband and I took a massive leap of faith forming Property 165 and this award will open so many doors for us, especially when doing our next finance raise. We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, so watch this space!”
Jon Stein for 17 Dunfield Road, Beckenham Hill, London
Jon Stein purchased this London property, a bungalow on a corner plot directly outside Beckenham Hill train station, on a delayed-completion basis and with an assignable contract. Having obtained relevant permissions for development of an 8-apartment block, he sold on the site to another developer at a significant profit. Jon, the managing director of Inspire Property London, and founder of property tech start-up Vaboo, said of his success: “I’m thrilled to win this award as it marks the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication, learning from past mistakes, networking and creating opportunities going forward.”
Cormac Henderson, National Property Trade
Founder and CEO of National Property Trade (www.nationalpropertytrade.co.uk) Cormac Henderson confesses: “I’m not sure where my business ends and I begin. It has defined me for as long as I can remember and it has brought me great happiness, success, wealth and a beautiful family home along with anything else I could ever need.” Having completed an economics and business degree in Dublin, he started out working for a multinational firm, based in London and Melbourne. However, he and two friends in London decided property investment was the way forward, initially out in the buy-to-let market. From there his firm has diversified and grown into a multi-million-pound property investment business trading in all manner of rural and urban properties. Cormac commented: “I was very pleased to receive the award for Property Trader of the Year. I feel the award is recognition of our growth from a small start-up to the market-leading provider of Accelerated Sale services to UK property vendors, employing 30 people in our London head office and managing a £17.5 million investment portfolio, comprising over 75 individual properties.”
Investar Property Group
Investar Property Group started its serviced accommodation business in June 2016. It has developed affiliations with industry-leading platforms such as Expedia, LateRooms, Booking.com and Agoda, and has seen its occupancy rate climb steadily and rapidly as a result. Investar hopes to promote the virtues of serviced apartments as opposed to hotel rooms to gain repeat customers working in the corporate sector. It focuses on providing a high quality of accommodation, by fitting its apartments to a hotel standard, along with an emphasis on security by providing CCTV and a 2-way intercom system. Each apartment features WiFi and intelligent electric locks, and benefits from a 24-hour on-site concierge and customer service hotline. The firm has also developed a new channel management system to gain full control over bookings. Michael Dong, CEO of Investar Property Group, commented: “We are really thrilled to have won. Serviced accommodation is a relatively new model to the industry and definitely a new business to us. We started at the deep end and built an in-house team and system to make it a success. Winning this award means a lot to us. It’s a proof of concept for the business, recognition of the team’s hard work, and great milestone to continue and expand on this model.”