Ep 037: Mike Stenhouse

Mike Stenhouse of Inside Property Investing kicks off our Property Series

This week we launch our Property Series with property investor and host of Inside Property Investing podcast, Mike Stenhouse.

Mike left the corporate life in 2013 to go full-time into property, switching from flipping properties to HMOs and has effectively replaced his day-job income.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The reality of full-time property investing
  • Mike’s first foray into property investing
  • His current property strategy — commercial to residential conversion

00:38 Quick Introduction to Mike Stenhouse

03:35 Why Mike got into property investing 

05:44 Mike talks about living on a boat and the reality of using property income to live a life of greater freedom

07:44 Does Mike have a letting agency?

08:52 Mike’s first foray into the property industry

  • Did Mike have some property education before going into the property industry? [10:51]
  • Mike talks about flipping properties in Newcastle, one of the more affordable areas of the UK to start buying houses, while working full time [12:17]

13:58 Thoughts on sweat equity”: Doing everything yourself versus outsourcing renovations to a team

16:24 Why Mike moved from flipping to HMOs

17:41 Mike breaks down his current property strategy — commercial to residential conversion

22:02 The challenges of running a property business remotely

28:39 Mike talks about mistakes he made with past property projects

31:58 Mike on starting a new build project and why he wishes he never touched new builds

35:15 The merits of focusing on what you’re good at in the property industry

  • Don’t pigeonhole yourself [36:28]

38:51 Habits Mike has had to develop

Quick Juice Questions

42:39 What is the best place to start for people new to property investing?

“I honestly believe that renovating your own home and working your way up the property ladder is a fantastic place to start.”

44:04 What most inspires you? When and where are you most inspired?

“In terms of where inspiration strikes me, either walking the dogs or running while listening to podcasts. 

In terms of what inspires me, a lot of it comes from being intentional about seeking out other industries.”

47:30 Which book has inspired you and changed your thinking the most?

“I’ll give you two categories. 

Books like The 4-Hour Workweek and even David Allen’s Getting Things Done, in terms of making you more effective and starting to put systems and people in place to achieve more in the same amount of time or less.

Tied to the previous question about inspiration, there’s a couple of books — one called Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, one called Small Giants by Bo Burlingham …”

49:35 If there’s one last bit of Executive Juice you can share for people who want to get to the top of their property game, what would it be?

Get started.  So many people out there get this analysis paralysis and never get a deal done. None of our deals have been perfect, but, had we never done the first one, we wouldn’t have done the second one. And if we never did the second one, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Links Mentioned:

Books Mentioned:


On property investing

  • When it comes to failures, there has never been a deal for us that has gone perfectly. There have been issues and struggles on every single project we worked on. […] We’ve made mistakes, we learn from them, and then we move on to bigger projects.”
  • When we were just starting out, I must have been in breach of so many mortgage contract terms and conditions and health and safety issues, budgets always run over,  schedules run over … 
  • A lot of this is problem solving. And it’s that tenacity and stubbornness to see something through that sets you apart.
  • This idea of always moving up to the next level — “I’ve been doing single lets, so I need to do HMOs” — I don’t buy into that. If you’re good at something, I think it’s far better to stick with it than say you need to scale up and do the next thing because that next thing might be the thing that breaks you.
  • Figure out what your goals are. Property is a phenomenal way of helping you get there, but don’t get distracted by property along the way and forget why you started.

On property education

  • The property side of things, our education came from rolling up our sleeves, doing a lot of the work ourselves, and figuring it out as we went along.

On sweat equity 

  • It was definitely good education but, at some point, you need to remove yourself from that. Had we done that sooner, we maybe would have been another step further forwards at that stage.

On focusing on what you’re good at in the property industry

  • Focus is key, but not so much that you’re blinkered and lose sight of potential opportunities.
  • […] a lot of people in the property world look for inspiration from other property people. The same ideas get shared and repeated, and things get a bit stale after a while. I’m always looking at other industries, other countries, seeing what’s working there and seeing how we can relate it back to the UK.
  • I don’t like reading like self-help books, but I love reading biographies of successful businesses. Just seeing what ideas have worked for them, how they have struggled and been through all the difficulties that we have, it reminds you that it’s worthwhile to keep going.