Here’s a throwback to when Leanne met her mentor Kim Kiyosaki back in 2009, and a more recent encounter in 2020 discussing women in business. Over the past 11 years, with many more un-filmed meetings, Kim has grown from being Leanne’s mentor to friend, and their bond is a classic example of the strong relationships Leanne creates throughout the business. As one of our Directors, these skills in building relationships and managing and negotiating deal activity to its completion are essential at The Carling Group. A lot of her work is carried out behind the scenes, so what better day to celebrate her than International Women’s Day!
Over the past 13 years, Leanne has grown her residential property company, Carling Property Group, into the largest privately-owned residential landlords in Scotland. She’s been involved in over 1,000 property transactions with a value of over £200million, and Leanne’s work behind the scenes is just as interesting as the high figures. Whether Graeme’s come home to find the microwave’s gone missing or their duvet’s done a disappearing act, it’s testament to Leanne’s caring nature that she’d give her own belongings to tenants who have nothing.
Leanne absolutely loves giving back, so if you’re looking for a successful businesswoman to speak and inspire women at your next event, just get in touch! #IWD2020 #EachforEqual
UK entrepreneur, Graeme Carling discusses why businesses don’t sell. It is reported that over 90% of the businesses listed for sale will not ever sell and will eventually end up being closed down. Serial entrepreneur and Managing Director of United Capital, an investment organisation that is consolidating the fragmented UK building services and facilities management sector, offers his expert business insights into what goes wrong and how business owners looking to sell can improve their chances.
United Capital Managing Director, Graeme Carling accepted an invitation from Coventry University’s Investment Society to deliver an investment masterclass on Monday evening.
Speaking to students via video conference, experienced investor Graeme Carling told his story and offered his top tips for successful investing. The talk, a latest in a series of such delivered by Graeme as part of United Capital’s community engagement campaign, allowed University students who are interested in investing to quiz the expert. Graeme commented: “I enjoy the opportunity to talk directly to students and try to offer them some ‘real’ talk on the reality of investing in property and companies. I recently spoke to a group of property investors at an event organised by Shaf Rasul and at another organised by St. Andrews Business Club as part of their annual Business Week programme.”
United Capital Managing Director, Graeme Carling was invited to tell his story at a prestigious Property Know-How event organised by one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs, Shaf Rasul. Graeme, joined by Allied Surveyors Scotland’s Director of Commercial, Iain Mercer, discussed his journey and “laser-focused mindset” with the packed conference held at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel.
The event, which included Q&A session and a networking meal, donated all proceed to the Edinburgh Cats & Dogs Shelter.
Two property entrepreneurs have offered to donate some of their flats to the homeless, in a unique collaboration with the charity Social Bite.
Dundee-based Graeme and Leanne Carling are offering units from their extensive property stock in Tayside free of charge, as part of their involvement with Saturday’s Sleep in the Park event.
The couple, who own private property rental and management firms Carling Property Group and PRS Group, are “walking the walk” by sleeping out at Slessor Gardens in Dundee as part of the mass event. As corporate sponsors of Sleep in the Park Dundee, the Carlings have already donated £5000. For every £2,500 more that their team raises, Carling Property Group and PRS Group will house one homeless person free of charge for a year, up to a maximum of eight people.
Part of Social Bite’s mission is to make actual homes available for the homeless, rather than hostels and bed and breakfasts. Its Social Bite Village in Edinburgh opened in July. Social Bite and PRS Group are in talks over how the property firm can divert some of its units for use by the homeless.
Graeme Carling said:
“We didn’t hesitate to back Sleep in the Park Dundee. As property developers and supporters of their mission, it just makes sense that we would both take part in and sponsor it. But it was also important to walk the walk and go an extra step, particularly as we are landlords. Not only did we want to sleep out, we wanted to put some of our units to good use and offer accommodation free of charge to homeless people for a year.”
He added: “The more we raise in money, the more people we can house. We will then work with Social Bite to match people with the accommodation.”
Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Graeme and Leanne on both Sleep in the Park Dundee and on their offer to provided free accommodation for the homeless. It’s only through innovative solutions like this that we will help eradicate homelessness in Scotland.”
The Carlings grew their business initially by providing quality affordable housing. They have worked with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership on projects to convert non-residential buildings and renovate existing homes. Last year they made history as the first private property developers to receive affordable housing support from the Scottish Government.
The Carlings are active philanthropists, both through charity donations and taking part in fundraising events.
Carling Property Group owns and manages 350+ rental properties all over Scotland, making the Carlings Scotland’s largest independent residential landlords.
Sleep in the Park is taking place across four cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – with an estimated 12,000 people participating. Social Bite, which addresses homelessness through its cafes, restaurants and free food distribution in Scotland, is aiming to build on last year’s fundraising total of £4 million.
Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall are ‘busking’ at all four venues, travelling between each by helicopter. Other performers across the cities include Eddi Reader, Frightened Rabbit, Lulu and The View’s Kyle Falconer.
Why would someone with a serious fear of heights attempt two of the world’s scariest challenges? For entrepreneur Graeme Carling, tackling both wasn’t so much a test of his mettle as a chance for some serious navel-gazing.
I’ve been afraid of heights since I was eight years old. I can’t pinpoint why or how it started. And looking back, it doesn’t make much sense.
My family had lived in a multi-storey block until then, and I had negotiated lifts and stairs without any problem. When I was eight we moved to a bungalow and, apparently from nowhere, the fear set in.
But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend to not like things standing in my way. If there’s a hurdle, I want to either jump over it or kick it down. And I believe that if you’re going to grow and expand, both personally and in business, you need to set yourself serious challenges.
That’s why, a few years ago, I found myself at the top of Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, ready to take part in its famous SkyJump. A fall of 829 feet, it holds the Guinness World Record for highest commercial decelerator descent.
But when it came to letting go, I couldn’t. I gripped onto the railing, my knuckles just about popping out of my skin, and I couldn’t budge. Gutted, I turned around and left, moving down the 107 floors the traditional way – by lift. I was gutted. They gave me a ‘chicken voucher’ which allowed me to do the jump again at no cost.
Late last year, I returned. I wasn’t any braver but I was absolutely determined. I had flown over to Las Vegas from Scotland solely to do the SkyJump. That said, when the time came I looked for any excuse to not have to try it again. Maybe the weather wouldn’t be great. If we turned up early enough, maybe the place would still be closed. I was giving my wife Leanne all sorts of reasons to not do it, even on the way up in the Stratosphere lift.
Leanne came along to do the jump with me, offering her moral support. She took it all in her stride, including matter-of-factly leaping off the side. My own jump (yes, this time I did do it) was a whole lot different. It was captured by the wrist-cam I wore on the way down, and my screaming, swearing and panicked face say it all.
Two months later I was at an even higher elevation, this time climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa. Again, this was a second attempt. The first time around, I’d had to turn back just 500 metres from the summit. The lack of oxygen – half of what there is at sea level – had hit me hard. Altitude affects everyone differently. For me, it was dizziness and breathlessness, a high heart rate and blood pressure, and then fainting. You’re told when you get your pre-climb briefing that if your team doctor says you should descend, it’s not negotiable. So when our expedition doctor told me to turn back, I had no choice.
In February of this year I tried Kilimanjaro again. And, yet again, it looked like I wouldn’t make it. Altitude sickness hit me exactly as it had the first time, and at exactly the same height. I could see the summit, but my body decided it didn’t want to go there. This time, though, the expedition doctor gave me the all-clear, saying I was fine to keep going up.
Like the Stratosphere Tower jump, Kilimanjaro was a personal challenge for me. I felt exhilarated when I reached the summit. There was the beauty of watching the sunrise on top of the world. And it was a surreal feeling, knowing I had managed to overcome something that terrified me.
What these experiences did, apart from push me to my physical and psychological limits, was make me do some naval gazing. Why did I want to put myself and my fear of heights through such hell? And twice!
As much as I fear heights, I fear not being able to complete a task I’ve set my heart on. It isn’t about failure. I’ve done plenty of failing as a businessman and entrepreneur and I firmly believe that failing makes you much more resilient. ‘Fail faster’ is my personal motto. As long as you’re willing to learn from it, get back up again and not dwell on it, failing – particularly if you’re in business – can be a great thing…provided you don’t repeat it.
It boils down to this: I don’t like being told that I can’t. Say ‘No you can’t’ to me and I’ll say ‘F*** you I can’ back. People have described me as terrier-like for both my enthusiasm and my stubbornness when it comes to seeing something through. And I realise it’s a big reason I went into business to start with – a personality trait that keeps me excited about new ventures, both my own and other people’s.
My stubbornness takes me off the beaten business path. In 2008, when the market crashed, everyone was getting out of property investment and telling others to do the same. I used loans, leverage and debt to start building up a property portfolio that, today, makes me and Leanne the biggest private landlords in Scotland.
It keeps my eyes open to new business possibilities. I’ve recently chosen to explore some new business avenues, among them oil and gas and dentistry. I’m also substantially expanding our property businesses. For me, they present enough unknowns to keep things edgy, and keep me excited. A bit like jumping off that tower in Las Vegas.
As you can imagine, with both SkyJump and Kilimanjaro ticked off my bucket list, I need another challenge. So I’m already preparing for Mount Everest in November
A recent report claiming millennials are facing a lifetime of renting should have been welcome news for property developer and private landlord Graeme Carling. But he has concerns.
Being a business investor, property developer and private landlord, I should have welcomed the recent report that millennials will rent property all their lives.
According to the Resolution Foundation, up to a third of millennials in Britain will rent property, as opposed to buying, from cradle to grave. The report demands reforms in the private rental sector, from rent control to strengthened contracts. And there’s a nod to Scotland where, thanks to new tenancy rules brought in last year, some of this is already happening.
As a long-time affordable housing provider, I support the report’s recommendations. But I’ve been reading the accompanying news stories with interest.
I’m fascinated by how the rental sector is treated, by the public and by the media. In everything from casual conversation to newspaper reports, when it comes to stories about people renting their home, the language is subtle, the message clear. Renting is frowned upon, while home ownership is held up as some sort of holy grail. Renters are spoken of in whispers, almost pityingly (‘Poor them, they’re still renting!’) Advice columns and personal finance pages are filled with tips on buying property or helping a loved one buy. Even the phrase ‘property ladder’ implies there’s something to escape, and if we’re not careful we’ll fall back into it. Adverts for banks, loans and savings schemes detail all the latest incentives to help us hit that first rung, move ‘up’ and leave this nasty renting thing behind us.
How did Britain get to the stage of treating living in rented accommodation as second-class and so unappealing?
As rental sector models in mainland Europe and the USA prove, it’s more than just OK to rent. When the transaction between the tenant and landlord works, it works well.
The idea of building properties solely for rental purposes is at last gaining some traction among developers here in the U.K. That’s great news for tenants; who doesn’t want a reliable washing machine and wi-fi, and the security of knowing the place won’t be sold from under you?
It’s also good news for us private landlords who are serious about what we do. Because if renters crave stability and security, so do we.
It frustrates me that nine out of ten of the U.K.’s private landlords own just one property. It frustrates me even more when I hear of tenants who can’t get a roof repaired or a boiler serviced because the landlord can’t afford it or, worse, can’t be bothered.
Letting out properties shouldn’t be the cottage industry it has become. If, as the Resolution Foundation demands, we are to address the U.K.’s housing crisis, lack of housing stock and spiralling rents, we need a shake-up of private landlords.
In Scotland, things are going in the right direction. The extra costs incurred by the recent Land and Buildings Transaction Tax seem to be putting the squeeze on buy-to-let investors; there is evidence that part-time landlords are pulling out of that market. The new Scottish Private Residential Tenancy, which balances out the power between tenants and landlords, will surely have a similar effect.
But I think more could be done. Compulsory property factors to oversee common repairs is one example. Another is means testing for landlords and agents to show they’re financially able for long-term property management.
Renting is here to stay, and a massive cultural shift is ahead of us. It’s time public perception changed, and private landlords stepped up to the plate. All of us need to start treating renting seriously.
- This opinion piece appeared in The Herald.