Rupert Bates, editorial director of WhatHouse? speaks to footballer and local property investor Gareth Barry ahead of this weekend’s WhatHouse? Show at the Hilton Brighton Metropole.
Gareth Barry may be plying his Premier League trade at Everton, but he still keeps a close eye on Brighton - and not just the football results.
The England midfielder from Hastings is building a property portfolio in Brighton and Hove, buying a mix of investment flats and student accommodation.
“I have always had an interest in property and will look to get more involved in it when I hang up my boots,” said Barry, speaking ahead of the WhatHouse? Show at the Hilton Brighton Metropole this weekend (September 27th-28th).
Over the last few years Barry, 33, has bought several properties, but stresses he is certainly not in the investment league of the likes of former England striker Robbie Fowler, who had Liverpool fans singing, to the tune of Yellow Submarine, ‘We all live in a Robbie Fowler house.’
“No, I am not expecting a similar chant about me at the AMEX anytime soon! I’m not sure many people know I’ve got a few properties in the city anyway,” said Barry.
At the start buying close to the bottom of the market, Barry is now seeing his property investments deliver strong yields and capital growth.
“While there are no guarantees in the property market, or with any investment, Brighton to me is the perfect location and as safe a place for your money as anywhere. It is not overheating like London and yet is only an hour from the capital, as well as the draw of the Sussex coast, the South Downs and great communications,” said Barry.
“The city has a strong economy, with a lot of creative talent and a culture of enterprise and fun. It has a growing student population in need of the right type of housing and properly managed and maintained.”
There is an emotional pull, as well as a financial one. Barry is very much a man of Sussex, growing up in Hastings where many of his family still live.
“Home to me, wherever I am living or playing, will always be Sussex. It is important to have local knowledge and to know what and where you are buying. It also means if there are any problems with the properties or the tenants they can be dealt with quickly by people I know and trust on the ground.”
As well as making long-term investment decisions – “investing not speculating” - Barry enjoys architecture, with an appreciation of the aesthetic appeal of good buildings and not just their potential for profit.
“Of course anything I buy has to stack up on paper, but the look and feel of properties is important too. I am certainly no expert and not in the property game day to day, but I feel I am learning all the time.”
“It is great to see the WhatHouse? Show launching in Brighton and offering a range of properties from housebuilders and estate agents across the board, as well as seminar programmes, including investment advice.”
“I would pop down to the show, but there is the small matter of the Merseyside derby at Anfield tomorrow!”
Barry played for Brighton from the age of 10 to 16, before moving to Aston Villa, then on to Manchester City and now Everton.
“I always keep track on how Brighton and Villa are doing.” His nephew Bradley Barry is currently a full-back with the Brighton development squad.
Barry is delighted to see how far Brighton have come in the 17 years since he left, with the club in turmoil back in 1997.
“The AMEX is a fantastic stadium and I hear the new training ground is top drawer too. Brighton are gearing up for the Premier League, but in a controlled, sustainable manner and I believe it is only a matter of time before they get there. The football club is a great global advertisement for the city.”
Barry, capped 53 times for England, may no longer be playing and living in Sussex, but it is where his heart is and where he is laying down property investment roots.