I was always interested in property and bought my first house when I was just 20 years old.
My first big break came shortly afterwards, when I realised an opportunity to acquire a large number of properties at ultra low prices in what was considered to be a highly undesirable residential area in the UK.
Myself, together with a large number of investors, who I had convinced to purchase these properties along with me and who thought I was crazy when I initially presented them with this opportunity, managed to exit the market having made almost 20 times our money just 18 months later!
My appetite for real estate growing, I continued to expand my property portfolio in Ireland and in the UK before deciding in my mid-twenties to set up a business called "Platinum Developments & Investments Ltd" with two other partners in February 2003. Our aim was to sell foreign property.
It was an exciting new business and I enjoyed traveling abroad, hosting property seminars throughout Ireland and meeting new people. It was also a very exciting time in Ireland as an economic “boom”, or the “Celtic Tiger” as this time was referred to, was starting to come into effect and the demand in Ireland for foreign property was unprecedented.
The first major project that we sold, was a front-line beach resort “Golf & Beach Resort Pomorie Ltd” and was being built in Bulgaria by a Dutch Development company. The project was sold off plan where hundreds of Irish people invested and initially all seemed well, but the project ended up in serious financial trouble. It eventually went into bankruptcy, leaving us in a situation where our clients faced losing millions of euros.
A difficult and risky decision befell the next chapter of my life. On the 22nd of, July 2004 we took over the Golf & Beach Resort Pomorie Ltd in Bulgaria. We renamed the development “Sunset Resort” and together with our Bulgarian business partner, Boyan Bonev, put a rescue plan in place to save it.
Almost overnight (in the literal, not figurative sense) our roles had transformed from being the selling agents of the resort to the developers, which as you can imagine was not an easy transition. Here, we were four young lads with limited funds and no previous development experience trying to build Bulgaria’s largest ever resort development. The challenges that faced us were ones of epic proportions.
This of course attracted a lot of negative press in Ireland with most newspaper articles and investors predicting a grim outcome. We even managed to make our way onto the Phoenix's list of TOP 10 DISASTERS for 2004!
Thankfully though, our investors supported us wholeheartedly.We worked tirelessly for the next few years and managed to complete the project.
The take over and completion of Sunset Resort was and still is one of our greatest achievements to date. The pictures taken between 2004 and 2006 show what a mammoth task it was to complete this development. “Sunset Resort” then became the stepping-stone for our next projects.
Following our success with Sunset Resort, we decided to continue selling new developments in Bulgaria. Despite the initial bad press which we received over Sunset Resort, the numbers of investors continued to grow and so we added 2 new directors to the board, Mr. Declan Lennon and Mr. David McMorrow. Declan was now the new Managing Director and David was Head of Irish Sales.
The “Celtic Tiger” era was now in full swing and it seemed as though almost everyone in Ireland wanted to buy property abroad. We could easily close 50 sales during a weekend show in Dublin.
During this time we sold and completed a number of developments in Bulgaria totaling over 2,500 units. Most of the developments were along the Black Sea Coast with some in Sofia and Bansko. We also set up several offices with hundreds of sub agents throughout Europe.
The global financial crisis that occurred in 2008 was referred to by many economists as “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929-30”.
Many businesses suffered as a result of the global financial crises, some lost 30% of their trade, some lost 50% but we lost 100%. We went from 50-100 sales per month to zero.
We let 99% of our staff go and continued to work from our Dublin office until we were forced to close because we were insolvent. Platinum Investments and Developments eventually ceased trading.
Before “the crash” property was thought of as being an almost risk free investment. This is no longer the case. It was a lesson which I and many Irish people had unfortunately learned the hard way.