Tomorrow’s Industry Players Revealed: Sam Brunero

Dealmakerz has interviewed many of the UK’s property titans including some of the country’s leading agents, developers, tech entrepreneurs, lawyers, financiers and campaigners.

But what about the young entrepreneurs who have yet to gain widespread recognition and who are fighting to grow young businesses with the hope of, one day, being the next players in the industry?

We’ve been trying to track them down to find out who these young wannabe rising stars are, hear what their fresh eyes think of property and what their plans are.

One of the more promising candidates is Sam Brunero who in February this year established the Brunero Property Group in a bid to become a residential developer.

He comes to the table with plenty of industry experience – Sam spent six and a half years working in sales and lettings in central London prior to setting up his development firm.

This included an initial two-year spell at Dexters before joining Colliers as an associate followed by a stint at Draker Lettings in Sloane Square as a senior negotiator, a role he left in February this year to persue his entrepreneurial dream.

“I don’t want to discredit the estate agency sector but I really didn’t want to be in that industry all my life,” he says.

“Particularly in London it’s quite a young industry where you have a relatively short lifespan before most people then move on and do something else.”

In Sam’s case, he has decided to go for a market that perhaps few of his London sales and lettings colleagues might have considered entering – the apartment rental market in Nottingham.

At a glance…

  • After six and a half years spent as a sales and lettings agent, Sam Brunero has decided to start up his own development company, the Brunero Property Group.
  • His initial aim is to build up a property portfolio of 50 units and then see where he goes next from there.
  • Although London based, he has decided to focus on refurbishing light commercial buildings into good-quality one and two bedroom rented units.

“For me London is too much of a financial risk; I don’t have full confidence in its property’s resale potential and where it’s going to go at the moment,” he says.

“The capital is struggling largely because it’s been generally overheated over the past however many years and is now a victim of its own success.”
Sam says he chose Nottingham based on a straightforward principal that the city has a severe under-supply of good quality housing.

Nottingham has two universities and therefore many developers concentrate on the student market but, he says, many forget that it has several high-profile blue-chip companies including Boots with thousands of employees living and renting in the city.

He has two prongs to his business plan, which he has spent the past few months refining.

Pubs and light commercial

These are to start buying smaller houses in Nottingham and then do them up and selling on to raise some extra working capital. He will then buy property such as former non-residential buildings including pubs and light commercial and turn them into apartment developments.

“I’m targeting buildings that normally would get permission through Permitted Development rights, but then taking them to full planning instead,” he says.

“I then want to refurbish the buildings and split them up into small one and two-bedroom apartments of between four and twelve units.

“The idea is to then sell one of two of the apartments and then move on to the next project, without having to dispose of the entire property. To me that feels a little safer and a little more flexible.”

Under supplied

Brunero says he believes the one and two bedroom market in Nottingham is significantly under-supplied and that there are a lot of investors going into the HMO business in and around the city.

This, he believes, has helped raise the rental price-point for one and two-bedroom apartments further up the housing ladder.

He says one of his biggest concerns over the past six months has been to put a development financing plan in place, and he is to use standard buy-to-let mortgages to get the business off the ground but utilise bridging loans for the commercial properties he wants to buy prior to the buildings being recognised as residential dwellings.

“Finance is a good example of my belief that developers should concentrate on the areas they have the greatest knowledge of and then bring in expertise for the areas they don’t understand so well,” he says.

“So I’ve brought a mortgage broker on board who really understands what I want.

“If you find someone whose values are not aligned with yours then you can have issues, whereas if they understand what you’re trying to do, it really helps.

“And it’s the same with planning consultants, architects and solicitors.”
At the same time Brunero doesn’t have plans to get into construction – or at least not yet – and wants to instead concentrate on building up a substantial portfolio.

“In ten years I would like to have somewhere north of 50 units held within a ringfenced portfolio which would then form the basis of everything.

As Brunero executes his plan in Nottingham, many in the industry will be watching to see if it’s still possible to build up a sizeable portfolio of properties from scratch the old-fashioned way. After all, it’s the way that many of today’s largest building firms started out.

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