ROGER BLACK, 52, was a 400 metre runner, winning a silver medal at the Olympics in 1996 and gold as part of the relay team at the World Championships in 1997. He now runs a property investment training business with fellow Olympian Steve Backley.
What was the first property you bought?
It was a cottage in Bishop’s Waltham, near Winchester. My athletics career really took off in 1986 when I won the Commonwealth Games and European Championships and I got a bit of money for the first time. My accountant kept telling me to buy a property and this was near Southampton, where I trained, and was right next door to a pub. I bought it in 1987 when I was 21.
What attracted you to the place?
My parents had friends in the village. There was a man who lived there who spent ages restoring this house to its traditional form — it was an Elizabethan-style cottage. When he was finished I bought it from him. I have always liked old houses with lots of character, But I didn’t have very many happy memories living there. Interest rates were ten per cent at the time, I broke my foot in 1988, was out of sport for two years and I started running out of money. I sold it for what I paid for it in 1994 and bought a cheaper flat in Guildford.
Did you do anything to it?
There were constant problems. The guy who did it wasn’t a builder by trade, so I was constantly repairing the leaking shower. The main thing I did to it was repairs. It wasn’t a sensible first house to buy — I could have spent the same amount on a modern house that would have had less problems and gone up in value.
What’s been your biggest renovation project?
I owned a wing of a big Regency house in Guildford. The kitchen was very small and on the first floor, so I knocked some walls through to create an open-plan living area and moved the kitchen downstairs. Any work I’ve had done on a property has made it easier to sell — I’ve never had the problem of not being able to sell my house.
Tell us about your property business…
It’s called Perform In Property and I run it with former Olympic javelin thrower Steve Backley. We speak at events about using high performance psychology, as you’d use in sport, in the property arena. Lots of people are interested in getting into property but we believe you need to have some knowledge or you’ll make mistakes. So we work alongside experts and help train people about how to raise finance and buy property.
What are the mistakes people make?
The days have gone where you could always make money on property. If you buy the wrong house in the wrong place at the wrong price you’ve got a problem. You need negotiation skills. And don’t be emotional — you’re investing, you’re not buying your family home. Years ago Steve bought some houses thinking he’d be able to turn them into houses of multiple occupancy but discovered he legally couldn’t. He hadn’t done his homework and he lost a lot of money.
How many properties do you own?
We own seven houses between us. We renovate houses that are pretty run down, turn them into good quality properties, and rent rooms out individually to professionals.
Tell us about your current home…
I now live in a five-bedroom house that was built in 1840. I love the flow of the house. We had to open up a door space and put double doors in — it’s a little thing that makes a big difference to a house. If you connect certain rooms with double doors, which are kept open most of the time, it creates a better flow to the house. We’ve moved quite a few times and this is slightly smaller than the last house so we’re still working out what to do with some bits of furniture.
Do you have your sporting memorabilia on display?
You go into some people’s houses and there’s memorabilia all over the place — if you walked in to my house you wouldn’t know. I have one frame that has pictures of me at the World Championships and on the Olympics rostrum. And I have the torch I carried for the 2012 Olympics but that’s not on display.
■ The Little Book Of Property by Roger Black and Steve Backley is out this week, with profits going to Make-A-Wish. performinproperty.co.uk
All about Bishop’s Waltham
BISHOP’S WALTHAM is a historic market town in the county of Hampshire. Tourist attractions include the ruins of the Bishop’s Abbey, which was destroyed during the Civil War. Celebrities from the area include Amanda Holden and Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling.
Last year most property sales in Bishops Waltham involved semis, which sold for on average £347,146. Detatched homes sold for an average £531,670, while terraced properties fetched £291,659.
Bishop’s Waltham, with an overall average price of £368,728 was cheaper than nearby Waltham Chase (£402,488), and Durley (£693,300).
In the last year, sold prices in Bishop’s Waltham were 23 per cent up on 2014 when the average price was £300,966. rightmove.co.uk