I moved to London in 1997 to make my fortune. I was absolutely determined to make this happen, but at the time it seemed almost impossible. I had nothing but a suitcase of clothes and an old Ford Fiesta. I didn’t have any money, any qualifications, any business experience to speak of. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have a flat. My car became my home for six months.
I fell into a vicious circle, one familiar to many homeless people. Without a home, I couldn’t get a job, but without a job, I couldn’t find anywhere to live. But I didn’t give up hope. I kept trying, and one day, finally, my luck changed. A kindly landlord took a chance on me. Within a few days I had three jobs. Over the next few years I experienced mixed levels of success in jobs as a retail assistant, tour guide, steward for Arsenal and with my very own nightclub promotions business.
I used my spare time to read. I read business books, self-improvement books, anything that would help me become successful. I couldn’t afford to buy any of the books at the time, so I would sit in the bookshop and read chapter after chapter, until they closed and I was kicked out. The next day, I would come back and finish the book! I was determined that whatever I did, I would do it as well as possible. I had big dreams and had to make them come true.
Never stop trying
As a child, my favourite game was Monopoly. I saw the property value in London skyrocketing and knew that this was my opportunity. But without a deposit or any possibility of a mortgage, I found it difficult to get on the property ladder. When I proposed deals to property owners, they turned me down. I didn’t let this deter me. I kept trying.
One of my inspirations is J.K Rowling. When she came up with the idea for Harry Potter, she was recently divorced and diagnosed with depression. All of the major publishing houses turned her down. She was down on her luck, but she kept trying. Eight years after publishing The Philosopher’s Stone, she was the first author to become a billionaire.
No matter how bleak it may look, you can turn your dreams into reality. I helped myself by supporting the right football team. You don’t have to support Arsenal (but it does help). If you want to get to know or do business with someone, give them something that they want for free. Doing so establishes contact, and chances are they will feel the need to return the favour.
I was persistent, determined and I got to know the person I was doing business with. Using this combination, I bought three London properties for a football ticket!
My ticket to success
I met a guy who had three properties in East London that had been on the market for over a year. He wanted £100,000 over market value. Unsurprisingly, he had been unable to sell them.
I offered the full asking price. All he had to do was let me come up with a solution to give him exactly what he wanted. My offer was very straightforward: I would ‘babysit’ his mortgage payments for him, paying them every month on all three properties. I had no money, so I explained that I would need a few years to be able to complete the purchase. He told me that he wasn’t interested.
The next month, I called him back to see if he had been able to sell his property. He hadn’t, so I told him that my offer still stood. Once again, he declined, telling me that he wanted a cash buyer. Three months in, I called again and got the same answer. I did the same thing the next month, and the month after that.
The sixth month, I called early in the week.
“How was your weekend?”
“Fine. Shame that Arsenal lost though.” He said.
“Yeah, it is. Tell you what, if you go ahead with the deal, I will buy you a ticket to see Arsenal play, anytime, anywhere. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great. Where do I sign?”
Laurence Lameche is an entrepreneur and author of new book, How I Bought 3 London Properties for a Football Ticket, out now.