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Property Management in the Digital Age: An Interview with Richard Jackson by Unissu

Meet Richard Jackson

A Landlord from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire has recently launched a self-financed Property Management app for portfolio landlords called Alphaletz. Richard Jackson, who has 25 years of experience as a Landlord and now manages 17 properties, launched his app 2 weeks ago after several years of development which followed his inability to find a smartphone app for a portfolio of his size.

The 55-year old former tech company worker says the launch of the app is an important juncture for landlords, who are facing rising letting agency costs and both financial and time-management squeezes from the taxman and burgeoning regulations.

“Like a lot of landlords, I started out with one property that I used to live in and I kept it when I moved into my next property. I would almost call myself an accidental landlord as I just tried it to see if it would work for me and then quite a few years later it was going okay so I bought another one. It then went on like that for a while until it got to the point that I decided it was working and I would start to invest in it for the long term, hoping that one day it would get to the point that I could live off my properties and do something else.” 

Richard acknowledged that it took him a long time to get to where he is now with his portfolio “To buy properties you have to save up and then you have to remortgage and so on. During that time I was working full time in Tech, mostly for software companies.”

“I started off in the UK and then moved out and worked in Silicon Valley for 9 years, which was alot of fun, I then eventually came back about 3 years ago.”

Richard’s 25 years as a landlord has given him first-hand insight into the problems facing landlords in the residential sector and his Tech expertise has given him the skills to create a solution and fix it. Which brings us to Alphaletz,

Alphaletz

“I had been thinking about doing a product like this for some time because I had been looking for a software package for my own use to manage my properties, but there was just nothing on the market that was right for me,”

“I had spreadsheets; I had a homemade system; I was using QuickBooks and I was using Dropbox so I had all these different bits of information all over the place. I realised that all I really wanted was a software package in the cloud, with a mobile app that could bring all this information into one place and manage it for me. That’s the idea behind Alphaletz.”

“I worked on a homemade system for about 3 years. Over this time I refined it and changed it a lot and it really became the prototype of what became Alphaletz. About a year ago I got together with a friend and we decided that we would put some money into this and turn it into a product. It’s taken just over a year’s worth of development and marketing to bring it all together and we now finally have our first product on the market as of two weeks ago. We have had fantastic feedback so far!”

“The main reason for creating the app was that I had too much information all over the place. I worked on it with my wife and on a few occasions one of us would be updating the wrong version of the spreadsheet, and then by the time we synced up we’d realised we’d lost a bit of information and then we’d have to do it all over again. I found myself spending more time trying to update this database which led me back to square one, as the whole point of the database was to save time.”

“At this point, I spoke to a number of other landlords and they all had the same problem. So I realised there was a market for it and ironically enough the current Covid situation has actually helped us a lot. People are now looking at technology to help them run things online. The technology has been there it just needed someone to pull it all together, which is what we are doing with Alphaletz.

“We are going to be putting open banking into the app, hopefully within the next few months and then at that point, you will be able to pull in all your incoming expenses into the app. Which will mean that instead of manually having to go through all your bank account statements you will be able to automate this process with reminders and direct contact with tenants. It will make the whole process more simple.”

The Future Of Property Management

When Richard was asked what advice he would have for aspiring landlords he told Unissu, “What has happened in the last few years is that there have been all sorts of tax and legislation changes and that seems to be the way it’s going. The government wants landlords to be more professional.

“There are two ways to be more professional.”

“One is that you’ve got to think of it as a business, it’s not just a hobby. It’s not just like buying stocks and shares and then you can forget about them, you’ve got to be monitoring them and be on them like a business. For those who are thinking of it as a long-term investment strategy then it’s worth thinking about turning into a limited company.”

“The second thing you’ve got to do If you are looking to grow and scale it is to have a system. That is what we are all struggling with. That’s why you see all these homemade systems because everyone is coming to the same conclusion, that you need to automate this stuff so that it doesn’t overwhelm your life.”

Read the full article with Unissu here.

Interviewed and Written by Iain Jones, Unissu 

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