Addition to the Albatross family
Charlie and Emma have become parents. Baby Ava Rose was born in Norwich on 6th October 2012. She arrived 10 weeks early but putting weight on quickly and will soon be allowed home.
New Golf course opens
Royal Obidos opens its doors to golfers. Challenging course currently set in "lunar" landscape. The course is open but the properties are yet to be built. Modern clubhouse and resturant also open.
Now 3 fantastic golf courses in close proximity.
Charlie and Emma decide to 'tie the knot' and get married. Fantastic wedding took place in a marquee at Charlie's parents' home by the river in Norfolk. Around 100 guests shared the celebrations with the happy couple.
Albatross Villas Director named in EDP Future 50 Entrepreneurs list!
Sunday Telegraph Article, Business Section - Starting Out, 5th October 2008
Copyright: Telegraph Group Ltd
If things had gone according to plan Charlie Webster, now aged 22, would be doing a degree in law and business and looking for a job. Instead, he's running his ownfast-growing company letting and selling property on Portugal's Silver Coast.
Three years ago as a student, Webster become seriously ill, and returned home to recuperate. "I was bored and depressed, so my parents suggested I pass the time by trying to rent out their villa in Portugal,'' he says.
He put small adverts in a national newspaper which attracted some bookings, then built a website about the villa. "By the end of 2005 other friends asked me to handle their rentals in Portugal and I had 10 properties to let, so I formed a company. Some holiday clients said they were interested in buying a villa and I contacted local property agents to agree a commission if their properties sold through my website.'' In 2006, he made 10 sales from a 100 properties, and by the end of 2007 had decided to build up his own portfolio.
At the start, Webster was lent £ 50,000 by his parents (which is now fully repaid) to set up a website, develop a brochure and do some limited advertising in holiday magazines. He's currently designing a new website to keep ahead of competitors. "Some local agents have five-year-old websites, but for me our site is our shop window, and must be kept updated.''
Property is one of the first victims of an economic turndown but Webster is bullish. "Our rental market is comfortably off English families who've found that our villas are half the price of the Algarve. The UK market for sales is getting weaker, but we still have investors from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe who find us through Google.''
He claims that Albatross Properties is cushioned against the downturn. "We had a good autumn last year when I sold a house on commission for £ 1.8m, and the payment is just coming through, so that will cover the marketing bills for six months. But I am taking precautions by cutting out magazine advertisements which are very expensive, and re-assessing whether to take on the two extra staff which I'd planned for this autumn.''
Despite the economic gloom, Portuguese holiday property in the £ 1m bracket is still selling well. "If I can shift one a month it keeps things going, though the apartments priced at £ 150,000 aren't moving.'' Webster now has other strings to his bow including his new Villa Consultancy. "A client buys the land and I design and build the villa, being paid £ 50,000 commission to manage the project. I have a project manager and lawyers in Portugal, use a British architect and all the marketing and backroom work is done in Norfolk. Currently, we have five projects for UK and Swedish clients.''
Webster travels to Portugal almost weekly to escort clients to view the properties, but runs the business from Norfolk.
Webster has learnt some valuable lessons. "Initially, like any teenager, I thought I knew everything, but I've learnt to listen to people with more experience. My parents have been tremendously supportive, and at the start helped me a lot when the venture was something to focus my mind after my illness. They warned me if they thought that I was making a wrong decision, but now I have to push the company in the way I want. I've become much more careful about budgeting. I didn't think hard about how to use the initial loan, but I'm more wary now I'm spending the money I've made.''
Webster is optimistic about the future. "We'll self-fund any expansion - and there are exciting prospects. We've got contracts to sell property in four new golf beach resorts and will handle rentals there too. Each part of the company has a lot of room for growth, although it just won't expand as quickly as it would if the market was buoyant. But I'm confident that a business which is doing well in a downturn has a bright future when the market improves.''
Widget Finn - Sunday Telegraph, 5th October 2008.
Listen to people who care about you because they'll give you the best advice. My parents focused me on certain directions; I would have dashed into too many markets.
Spend money freely at the start - salaries, marketing and expansion all has to paid out of what the business earns.