Meet Sara Newson of York Unique Holiday Homes & REALM 47
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Have you ever dreamt of building up a property empire of beautiful homes to sell or rent, or let as holiday homes? Meet Sara Newson, who has done just that after a hobby developed into a successful business with the launch of York Unique Holiday Homes & REALM 47.
Her talent for property development also recently earnt her national recognition and praise after her own home was selected as a winner on the BBC One's 'Best House in Town' TV series. Here, Sara tells us more about how she got started, running a successful property business and why she loves working in property so much.
Getting started as a property developer
I have been into property for a long time; the first home we bought was a wreck that we did up and sold on. We did several properties in this way between 2003 and 2010, working full time and doing the houses in the evenings and weekends but by 2010 we were exhausted and knew something had to change.
I received a leaflet for a 2-hour property seminar, and I convinced Glenn to go along and also to go on the subsequent courses, and from there things spiralled. With our new-found knowledge and the experience we had gained over the years, we quickly made the switch to doing property full time.
Venturing into the holiday home market
In 2016 I decided that it was time to venture into the UK holiday home (Serviced Accommodation) market, so we built a one bed room annex on the side of our then home in Sutton on the Forest and I learnt the ropes over the course of two-years, systemising and perfecting.
When we decided to move out of the main house in 2018 we ran the numbers and decided that we should let the house as a holiday home too. It took a bit of TLC to get it ready and we installed extras such as the hot stove in the lounge and a hot tub.
But with the success of those first two holiday homes I have decided to add this to my investment strategies. I specialise in Co-living – professional and student house shares, so I’ve started the new brand ‘York Unique Holiday Homes’ and I’m on the lookout for some special properties in York and the surrounding villages to add to the brand.
REALM 47 is a new brand (launched 2018) to produce new homes for the Sale and Rental markets. My intention is to start larger multi-unit developments; conversions and new builds with the end product ideally being retained as investment. However some developments will need to be sold if they are not suitable for investment or overall cost per square foot is high and income comparatively low.
York Unique Holiday Homes will grow organically as a result of the developments that I do through REALM 47 with some of the completed properties being added to the brand.
What I love most about running a small business
Variation - No two days are usually the same; property is such a diverse business that you can do so many different strategies - buy & sell (flip), convert or invest in commercial or residential property. The variation drastically reduces boredom, which I have to say is a personal weakness!
It’s great for personal development too as you can never stop learning. You will never know everything there is to know about the industry due to laws and regulations continually changing, along with living requirements and home technologies also changing. Plus the fact that different strategies will come and go (due to public demand, lifestyles & tastes) so you must be able to adapt.
I love being my own boss too and having unlimited potential in terms of wealth, but what you put in you get out - it’s so true. I get great job satisfaction as well when I turn a crappy, dilapidated property into something that invokes joy!
Helping others is another perk – in that I’m often helping to create jobs for people and providing work for other businesses and their employees which is immensely rewarding, knowing that in a small way you are making a difference in the world.
I use private investors funds too (be they friends, family, neighbours, associates), and I give them a massive return compared to what they can achieve in a saving account at the bank (mainly due to the fact that we are cutting out the middle man so there is no big corporation/bank to take the lions share between my investors and me). Therefore, they make a lot more money from me which is hugely satisfying, I’m helping build their wealth, their future, their families future & their legacy!
Challenges of running a small business
There’s never enough time during the day, and a lot of the time I work alone. I don’t have business partners and although I have teams of people who are all wonderful and a great inspiring network, my job can lack deeper more meaningful business relationships.
Employing the right people who are really very genuinely passionate about your business and not just coming in because they need the pay is challenging too. This is why I contract as long as possible because I just find it’s so hard to find the right people for a small business.
When I employ I want to find someone with the right mindset; someone who wants to be an apprentice; someone who I can help and mentor to see them succeed in life not just in the job.
Guilt is another big challenge. Just generally with all of my other roles I feel like I am never able to give 100% because of the time that running your own business consumes (which is my choice).
The biggest guilt is not having loads of time as a mother (especially when its school holidays) but also being a good daughter, sister, friend – everyone around me suffers in that they do not get enough of my time and attention (or maybe they secretly don’t haha).
Plans for 2019
My plans for this year are to buy, buy, buy! I want to really scale up now; it all seems very slow, but I am now in a position (due to knowledge and experience) to be able to take on multiple deals at once and larger ones.
So, I will be doing developments in and around York; some I will sell but most I will be aiming to keep as investment properties and some of those properties will become holiday homes that will be added into the York Unique Holiday Homes portfolio.
I am so excited for the year ahead and my new brands, there is so much potential, the sky is the limit and I have some very big dreams, aspirations and plans for the future!
Find out more
For offers and the latest updates on York Unique Holiday Homes and REALM 47 visit their websites:
Sara has an exclusive 20% off offer on one of her York Unique Holiday Homes properties - Birch Tree Retreat - until the 4th March 2019.