Ep 038: Nicole Bremner

From knowing nothing in property to raising over £6M, with Nicole Bremner

Director of East Eight, Nicole Bremner’s interest in property development was piqued when she renovated her family’s flat and ended up selling it for nearly double its value.

Despite knowing next to nothing about property, Nicole invested her savings into property development. Since then, she has renovated multi-million pound properties in Central and East London.

Nicole joins me in this episode and shares:

  • How she succeeded despite knowing nothing about property development at the start
  • Why it’s harder today to make money in property
  • Three mistakes she made that you can learn from

In this episode we discuss:

00:48               Introduction to Nicole Bremner

05:59               Nicole talks about being “unemployable” and leaving corporate to become an entrepreneur

08:00               Getting into property development

13:06               Moving from a flat in Clerkenwell to a 4000-square-foot vicarage

  • Renovating the vicarage [15:03]

18:49               How Nicole got around her lack of expertise in the property space

20:31               It’s harder nowadays to make money on property?

22:28               Nicole talks about her failures along the way

  • “My failure has been to invest too much money into the property market and be completely overexposed to property without looking at other investment classes.”
  • “My second failure is not being as communicative as I should and underestimating how challenging it is to communicate with such a vast number of investors.”
  • “Thirdly, not having financial controls in place to allow the construction team to have a systemized check in place, so funds are released when various stages are completed.”

32:43               What are the consequences of GDV being lower?

36:24               Biggest thing about herself that Nicole had to work on to create a successful business

Quick Juice Questions

41:30   What are the key things you look for in an investment?

“For me, it’s all about the people. If I can sense this hunger and this willing-to-do-anything-to-succeed, within reason obviously, that is what I’m attracted to.

I’m also really attracted to founders who are prepared to take a really low salary in order to get their company off the ground.”

42:48   Where should someone start if they are new to property?

“Get some really good advice, whether that be a wealth manager to advise on overall investment strategies.

Make sure you’ve got the right company structures in place, the right insurances, trusts, taxation advice.

Secondly, you cannot go wrong with an RICS qualification of some sort.”

44:17   What most inspires you? When and where are you most inspired?

“[…] Just being on the ocean. Particularly when it’s just my partner, Paul, and I.

We’ve done these two, three-day passages where, sometimes, you don’t see another boat and you’ve got no phone reception for hours.

To me, that is the most incredible time because, no matter what is happening at home, we cannot be contacted. It is such a frightening feeling in our connected world, and yet it [is very] liberating.”

46:07   Which book has inspired you and changed your thinking the most?

Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley. He just says stuff in a way that’s easily digestible and easily applicable.

Another one I think is pretty great is How Not to Die. It’s a health book, and it goes through the top killers and how you can safeguard yourself against those.”

47:36   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?

“Just be prepared. Always do a best-to-medium and worst case. In actual fact, that worst case is probably going to end up your best case.”


On property investing

  • “I didn’t know property developers could be anything other than Barons or Berkeley I didn’t realise that people like me who did a flat here and there could be property developers.”
  • “Properties were selling for more, unrenovated, back in 2012, ’13, ’14. I was very fortunate to get in at the right time, ride the property wave, and make some significant money. It’s not like that now.”

On what to do when you know next to nothing about property

  • “You can always hire in knowledge. If I didn’t know anything, I’d read about it. I’d study it. But, also, I would hire in the people who did know.”
  • “I don’t need to be the expert. I just need to know a little bit about a lot of things and hire in the people who are experts.”

Connect with Nicole Bremner:

Books mentioned:

Resources Mentioned: