And the virtual winner is…Property Investors Awards 2020 revealed

2 December 2020 | Investment

The Property Investors Awards – the annual event celebrating excellence in property investing, which is normally held at a swanky London hotel – has announced its winners for 2020. 

Typically, the celebrations involve holding a glittering evening of fine dining and entertainment, but because of coronavirus this year necessitated a very different approach, with people tuning in from 7pm on Saturday 28 November to find out who this year’s winners would be.

The organisers of the event said that, although a very different way of celebrating was required, ‘it is even more important to ensure we continue to celebrate the very best of the property investment sector’. 

A total of eleven ‘deserving winners’ were announced across a range of different categories, representing all levels of the property investment industry. 

The winners were as follows:

  • Commercial Property Investor of the Year – Malkit Purewal & Sanjay Kumar, Directors, Savoys Properties

  • HMO Property Deal of the Year (six or less rooms) – Valter Pontes, Director, Your Best Place

  • HMO Property Deal of the Year (over six rooms) – KHP Group

  • HMO Property Investor of the Year – David Granat, Managing Director, OX Living

  • Property Deal of the Year – Ben Wilson, Director, Knight James

  • Property Developer of the Year (<£5 million) – Ben Wilson, Director, Knight James

  • Property Development of the Year – Phil Melia, Director, Winter Melia Developments

  • Property Investor of the Year – Phil Melia, Director, Winter Melia Developments

  • Property Investors Facebook Group of the Year – All About Property 

  • Property Trader of the Year – Cormac Henderson, Founder and CEO, Spring

  • SSAS Property Investor of the Year – Suzanne Oliver, Director, Croft Property

What did the winners say?

Ben Wilson, director at residential property developer Knight James, said of its win: “We are thrilled to have won ‘Deal of the Year’ at the 2020 Property Investors Awards, particularly as this award recognises some of the more technical aspects of the industry. At Knight James, we actively look to purchase properties which throw up tricky problems that many developers tend to avoid.”

He added: “We really enjoy the challenge of sorting out multiple issues, especially those properties with complex legal issues. The dream in development is to add value through planning gain, clever design and exploiting positions of leverage and in this deal we were lucky enough to do all three. Thank you to all who voted for us.”

Malkit Purewal said: “Savoys Properties are extremely pleased to have won the ‘Commercial Property Investor of the Year’ award. This has been the most challenging period within the commercial sector in our lifetime. To actually be recognised as an award winner in this category and in this climate is truly humbling.”

Meanwhile, Valter Pontes – director at Your Best Place – commented: “I am very humbled to have won the HMO Deal of the Year. It is with a great privilege and honour that Your Best Place received this award, one of the most prestigious and recognised awards in the property industry. This award is a testament to our mission. I would like to thank the Your Best Place team and the judges for recognising what Your Best Place is doing in the property industry. Thank you!” 

Mo Haykir, director at KHP Group, who won HMO Property Deal of the Year (over six rooms), commented: “On behalf of the whole team at KHP Group, I want to say a massive thank you to the Property Investors Awards for selecting us a winner in this category. We are hugely proud of what we have achieved in the last year and it’s amazing to be recognised for this. Well done to all the other nominees and finalists. Look forward to a proper party next year!”

David Granat, who bagged the crown of HMO Property Investor of the Year, said he was truly honoured to have won the award. “This award means a lot to both myself and the Ox Living team which is where a lot of the credit is due. At Ox Living, we pride ourselves on doing things properly, which is why the blueprint for all of our developments centres around community living, inspired social spaces, smart technology and enhanced facilities,” he explained.

“I am extremely grateful to all those that voted and believe I am deserving of this award, enabling Ox Living to reach new heights and continue our mission to create aspirational co-living spaces for young professionals and to ultimately change the face of the Oxfordshire HMO market for good.” 

Ben Wilson also won Developer of the Year and added: “We are truly humbled to have won. Over the past six years my team and I have worked tirelessly to build Knight James into the company it is today, so winning this award really is the ‘icing on cake’. In particular I hope we can be a good example to young aspiring developers. Thank you to all who voted for us and above all thank you to all our tradesmen – we couldn’t do it without you!”

Phil Melia, winner of Property Development of the Year, remarked that Winter Melia Developments were honoured to win Property Development of the Year for its Church Place scheme.

“Any conversion comes with its challenges and Church Place certainly challenged us across our business,” he admitted. “We acquired the scheme with planning permission in place, however after much deliberation we saw an opportunity to further enhance the scheme by re-designing and configuring apartment layouts in order to have a more varied offering.”

He added: “After overcoming the hurdles of amending planning permission, appeals and many discussions with local councillors we successfully delivered Church Place in a timely manner and the results speak for themselves, incorporating many original church features throughout, bringing the church back to a sustainable use.”

Melia also won Property Investor of the Year for himself. “I am personally honoured to win such a prestigious award and to be a finalist across three categories this year really shows the hard work the Winter Melia team have put in over the past year, so I must extend my gratitude to the wider team and thank them for their continued hard work and support,” he said.

“On a personal level I’m not often left speechless but winning Property Investor of the Year in such a tough year and with the calibre of competition at this year’s awards has really made me speechless.”

Shimon Rudich, who helps to run the All About Property Facebook group, said it was ‘fantastic to be recognised as the Property Investors Facebook Group of the Year’.

“All About Property was the brainchild of founder Owais Naveed, whose ethos is to offer a forum that is free and independent with no self-promotion or course advertising. The Group admin (Charlie Burnett, Gary Hall, Tina Walsh and myself) and moderators (Trish McGirr, Selina Chotai, Stuart Hallworth and Ben Wilson) are very successful investors in their own right and have freely given thousands of hours to build this free Facebook forum and we are pleased that this hard work has been recognised.”

Cormac Henderson said winning the award of ‘Property Trader of the Year’ was a fantastic accomplishment and ‘testament to the work and dedication of the entire Spring team’.

“Following a successful rebrand from National Property Trade to Spring, this award recognises our unique ability to provide a tailored homebuying solution that empowers our customers and partners giving freedom and greater control of their home sale,” he added. “We have totally transformed our business model, invested heavily in technology and recruitment, which has in turn revolutionised how we do business.

Lastly, SSAS Property Investor of the Year winner Suzanne Oliver said: “I am delighted to have won the award. Having built a property portfolio over the last 20 years, I have been investing with my SSAS for the last five years. The latest project hopefully shows that pensions don’t have to be boring and that you can do lots of wonderful things with a SSAS.”

What were the judges looking for?

The organisers asked the judges what they were looking for in an award-winning nomination application. 

Daryl Norkett, relationship director at Lendwell, said: “We’ve had a really difficult year this year, a lot going on, lots still going on and what’s impressed me the most is the desire of property investors and developers to get out there, think about what might happen, think about what the risks might be but then come up with property deals where they can pivot with multiple exits, adapt and make them work whatever the market does.”

Nada Jarnaz, partner at Howard Kennedy added: “What’s been really interesting is that if you look at the timing of the applications they have been smack bang in the middle of Covid, and we have definitely seen a lot of the adaptability of investors in pivoting their assets to deal with the challenges but in the private accommodation sector there is a lot of practical issues that people have had to overcome, so that’s been really interesting.”

Kevin Wright, founder of Positive Property Finance, said: “It proves once again that it’s not what happens but how you react to what happens. Some people have gone into their bunker and said we are not going to be doing any deals until we can see what’s happening, and other people, particularly the applicants who have submitted nominations have just said: ‘no, we are not going to do that, we are going to go out there and do deals’.”

Cyril Thomas, founder and chairman of the awards, said that focusing on celebrating excellence within the property investment sector continues to be the priority. “Despite the challenges that this year has presented, we have been inspired by the innovative methods that applicants have used to achieve outstanding results. We look forward to celebrating with everyone at our new venue at the Property Investors Awards 2021.”

You can see footage of the awards being announced below.

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.