Lisa Bathurst: The Woman Behind Independent Property Specialists Hurst & Wills

Experience and reliability when buying international real estate

Lisa Bathurst (37) is an independent property specialist and founder of the Cape Town-based boutique international real estate advisory, Hurst & Wills. This tenacious and hard-working former international model has made her mark on the property market assisting buyers to negotiate the hurdles of purchasing investment property abroad.

Born in a small town in Lancashire, Northern England, Lisa began her international career when she was just 18 with a successful international modelling contract. Modelling took her to exotic locations around Europe and Asia, fuelling her passion for travel. When she bought her first apartment in Manchester at 19 years old, which she renovated and sold for double the price, she discovered a passion for property. ‘I started investing in property, buying houses in the North of the UK, renovating and developing. This soon became an international calling, and I began making investments worldwide,” says Bathurst.

Like many before her, after a short visit to Cape Town she’d found her home and moved to the city in 2010. ‘When I bought my first property in Cape Town, I felt that the foreign buyer was not represented fairly. Independent advice was discouraged, and I was only shown properties that were obviously over-priced. The process was excessively complicated and dominated by a handful of suppliers. It reminded me of my previous experiences purchasing foreign property. I decided to use my local and international experience to assist foreign buyers in Cape Town,’ she says, and established Hurst & Wills in 2013.

However, with on-going economic and political uncertainty, more and more South African investors began contacting her for assistance purchasing investment property abroad, prompting Lisa to launch an offshore division of Hurst & Wills for SA investors in 2015.

‘The same principles apply wherever you are buying. The complexities of foreign property searching, purchasing, investing and being an overseas landlord are the same across continents. Hurst & Wills focuses on Northern England cities like Manchester and Birmingham, and European cities like Lisbon and Porto, that still offer reasonably priced, good investment properties, perfect for South African buyers. ‘My personal experience spans the globe, but the majority of my personal portfolio is invested in South Africa and Europe. With a 20-year investment history in the UK, that was a natural first step.’

‘Most property specialists represent the seller, I felt it was time to change that,’ she says. ‘Buying property overseas is a minefield and you do need guidance and local expertise to make sure you put your money in the right place. As a seasoned foreign owner myself, I understand the concerns and issues that investors face and can address them both personally and professionally,’ she says. ‘What makes our team special is that we are independent and not tied to any one developer. We work for the buyer, offering buyers good, tailored advice – backed up by years of personal experience – as they negotiate the complicated process of buying property abroad,’ says Bathurst.

Lisa now spends a good part of her year travelling to personally assess all the developments on offer to Hurst & Wills clients. ‘In my experience I’ve found that the key to success in international property is choosing reputable developers and agents,’ she says. ‘Hurst & Wills only works with partners that are credible and pass our strict due diligence, such as being in business a certain number of years and having a proven history and track record. I only sell developments that I have physically been to and vetted,’ she says. ‘We work with several developers and sellers, so we’re able to match clients to the best property for them, in line with their personal objectives and wealth strategy.

‘When it comes to buying property, the best advice hasn’t changed: location, location, location,’ says Lisa. ‘That is why spending time in the city, or working closely with someone who has, is imperative. Foreigners do not understand the nuanced difference between neighbourhoods that could be separated by only one street. One side is popular and easy to rent out, the other not. That is part of the independent advice we can offer,’ she says. ‘Also, choose properties that are hands-off and well managed. You don’t want to get a call at 3am about a leaky tap when you’re 10,000kms away,’ she says.

‘As I am an investor myself, I thrive on sharing that passion. There are a lot of unscrupulous people in this industry, I am passionate about guiding fellow investors to do as well as I have,’ she says.

Source: Inky Dresner www.hurstandwills.com

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