Yesterday was a big day for Team Umega – we bought our first property!

Last year, we reached our target for the world’s first staff property fund. Since 2016, Umega has set aside 20% of profits for Umega employees to invest in buy-to-let property that they collectively own. This rewards our team for their commitment and fantastic work as well as giving them a direct experience of the Edinburgh rental market and Umega’s letting service. We expect our team to smash negative stereotypes and help drive improvement across the sector so it helps that they are directly engaged as stakeholders in the Edinburgh private rental sector.

The 11 employees involved have learned a lot and couldn’t have done it without support from some great people along the way.

Setting up a company – First, we learned that the best way to buy rental properties for the staff property fund was through a limited company known as a “special purchase vehicle” (or SPV). Jennifer from accounting firm Mazars helped Neil and Andy understand this and get the new company set up.

Sorting out the finance – The next step was to find the right buy-to-let mortgage for the new company. Jim at Cornerstone Mortgages helped Bruce identify Aldermore as the best mortgage lender and, after navigating a lot of financial services red-tape, we had our offer of a mortgage and were ready to go!

Finding a property to buy – Steve and Isla went to work scouring the open-market for the best investment opportunities. They shortlisted then viewed several properties with their investor hats on, carrying out yield appraisals on each before working with Gilson Gray solicitors to submit an offer on a one-bedroom property in Gorgie – and it was accepted! After months of conveyancing work from Gilson Gray and providing Aldermore with all the required paperwork on their end, Steve picked up the keys yesterday from Warners (who sold the property).

Getting the property ready for let – Davie is going to start work making some upgrades to the flat and completing all safety certificates and installations before it goes on the rental market next week.

It’s been a fantastic team effort to make the Umega Staff Property a reality. We’ve learned a lot and the first 11 shareholders have paved the way for the next wave of Umega employees eligible for the scheme. With the new Darly flat, the team will now do what they do best; find suitable tenants, look after them and smash negative stereotypes of letting agents at every opportunity.