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Kingswood Associates confident of breaking pounds 100m despite gloom; But the days of easy property deals are gone.

Byline: Sion Barry Business Editor

CARDIFF-BASED property finance brokering venture Kingswood Associates is confident of passing the milestone of arranging pounds 100m of funding for clients this year.

Despite a gloomy outlook across all property markets, the firm said it level could even climb to as high as pounds 150m.

But managing director John Phillips, who started the company 10 years ago, has warned that the relatively easy deals of the past decade are now a thing of the past, adding that investors will have to carry out far more research and employ a great deal more expertise to make money in property.

Kingswood Associates employs 11 staff-who themselves own an average of three properties each. It arranges finance in three sectors of the property market - buy-to-let, commercial and development. Up to 70%of its brokering is tied up in commercial and development, with the remainder in buy-to-let. Its client base includes many professionals who derive income from property in addition to main sources of income.

"This will be a record year for us," said Mr Phillips, who was raised in Bargoed and read maths at Cardiff University. "We have benefited from attracting an increasing number of clients from London, but we also have a significant number of investors who regard any potential market downturn as an opportunity - very much still a case of buy low and hope to sell high."

Some of those investors have moved from buy-to-let to commercial - what Mr Phillips calls "the next level" in property investment. As a response to economic forecasts, Kingswood Associates is advising its clients to hold on to funds in anticipation of a dip on property prices.

While the unprecedented period of growth witnessed in the property markets in the last 10 years came off the back of the early 1990s recession, Mr Phillips, who recently became the youngest-ever director of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, aged 37, said that other contributory factors such as easy lending were no longer present.

"The days when anyone could buy a new build and watch it double in value have gone. You need to do your research, understand what it is that you're buying, that there are different kinds of property that make money in some places but not in others. It can be complicated."

But, he added, "They say that property is a rich man's game these days. It can be, if you're lazy and are prepared to throw money at it. But if you work hard at it, and understand what you're doing, you can make a success of it, whatever level you go in at."

Kingswood Associates will stage its first Property Development Master Class, in the Park Plaza Hotel in Cardiff on March 6. As well as Mr Phillips, other professional advice will come from Andrew Garvey, Associate at Clarkslegal solicitors, Simon James, managing director of DLP Planning, and John Walls, director of Wealth masters. Topics such as identifying development opportunities, sources of funding, legal aspects, tax strategies and planning applications will be covered at the event

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SUCCESS Kingswood Associates' managing director John Phillips says it's still possible to make a success of property if you work hard at it
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 20, 2008
Words:534
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