How to find those elusive property deals with John Howard

The best property advice is given by people who have been there and done it, like property expert John Howard. The fact that he is simply referred to as “The Property Expert” by those in the industry says everything. It will therefore be no surprise to learn that his book “Property Investment and Development for Newcomers” is very popular amongst both seasoned and would-be property investors. Let’s now take a look at how John Howard finds those elusive property deals.

Estate agents

It is safe to say that estate agents are the first port of call for many would-be property investors. Imagine if you could gain access to properties for sale before they are listed and promoted to the general public? This is where it pays to build a long-term relationship with your local estate agent and ensure that they remember you. As John says:-

“I have always written down in my notebook (more recently, on my mobile phone) anything memorable about my visit. It might be that the manager is about to have a baby, or someone is going on holiday. When I then go back two weeks later, I can start off the conversation asking how they got on…. It’s all about creating a connection.”

Deal finders

Deal finders are perhaps one of the most underrated assets in the property investment industry, allowing you to create a potentially lucrative partnership. An interesting tactic used by John Howard, who has worked with the same deal finder for more than 25 years, is to pay a finder’s fee of 2% AND commission of 1% of the sale proceeds. While some people may see this as giving away additional commission, which is not always expected, who do you think the deal finder comes to first when they have a suitable proposition in the future? Who is their first port of call?

Yes, they come to the man who pays them a 2% finder’s fee and a 1% commission on sale proceeds. The sale commission should be seen as a reinvestment into your business as opposed to an unwarranted cost.

Property auctions

John Howard is a director of Auction House UK and is able to offer advice and opinion from both sides of the fence, the investor and the auction house. It is safe to say that TV programmes such as “Homes under the Hammer” have changed the opinion of many property investors towards auction purchases. There are certainly bargains to be had at property auctions but you need to remain within your investment limits and “not get carried away”. Many people still commit the cardinal sin of not visiting a property before the auction. Why?


Trends and fashions tend to come back around and in some ways this is happening with the advertising industry. While the online market allows you to gain exposure to a huge audience, traditional paper advertising is often a breath of fresh air and can be highly focused. A simple advert in your local paper “property bought for cash” is likely to receive a surprising amount of interest. Even though social media is taking over from newspapers there is still a core demographic that prefer traditional print. Interestingly, many of these have properties with no debt and may be looking for a quick sale.


On the flipside of the coin, John Howard has also had much success advertising online for property investment opportunities. Using platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media channels, together with the likes of Gumtree, still continues to pay dividends. Interestingly, in the property market there is still a place for printed media as well as online media.

Planning portals

Local authority planning portals are now online which allows you access to details of people applying and receiving planning consent. Everything is transparent when it comes to local planning applications and therefore all details are available to the public. This is an excellent resource for property investors looking for their next deal. It allows you to pick and choose your preferred type of property and then approach the owner/agent directly.

Associations and clubs

Investment clubs can also be a very lucrative proposition, bringing together property investors and property sellers. When you mix potential buyers and potential sellers this can create some very interesting opportunities. It may take time to ingratiate into the club, to gain the trust of other investors, but in the longer term this can prove to be an extremely attractive route. John Howard is a strong advocate of networking and meeting other like-minded people:-

“Landlord associations are also a great way of networking and meeting like-minded people. They normally know the up-to-date laws you need to be aware of, and can also recommend tradesmen who are tried and tested by other members.”

Knocking on doors

While knowledge is power in many areas of life, it is safe to say that it is extremely powerful when it comes to property investment. If you see an empty property, perhaps it is derelict and needs work, why not chat to the neighbours to get further details. On occasion information may be limited from the neighbours but the land registry holds information on the owners of all properties in the UK. You will certainly find the information there!


We will leave the final word to John Howard:-

“Never turn down a dinner party as you never know who you might meet.”

You can read more about John Howard, the property expert, here and get further information about his one-day seminars. Like his advice, John Howard is straight talking and what you see is what you get, great advice.

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