In 2015, Blog Preston asked how living with 18 other people sounded.Advertisement
Four years later and the question is: how does living with 43 other people sound?
At the heart of both these questions is Welshman and honorary Prestonian Max Walker-Williams.
As the owner of Luxury House Share, Max has been renovating Preston properties for multiple occupancy since Blog Preston covered the Brookhouse project in 2015.
These days Luxury House Share has 22 properties and 135 bedrooms across the city for young working professionals. There are three renovation projects currently on the go, the largest of which is a renovation on Glover’s Court that will contain 44 en-suite bedrooms. Max describes the properties as being “London quality at Preston prices”.
Swansea-born Max has lived in Preston for 15 years, and runs Luxury House Share with his wife Laura. While Max acquires the buildings and oversees renovations, Laura works on interior design. Ben Bacon is the third team member, responsible for the day-to-day management of the properties.
Max said: “It all started when I was younger and was thinking to myself, ‘where would I want to live’. There was nowhere in Preston unless I wanted to live on my own at a cost of around £1,000 per month in a one-bedroom flat.
“I tried living in a student house but that didn’t work as I was at a different life stage. There was no offering, no alternative, so I created a property I’d want to live in myself.
“As it turns out, there are hundreds of people in Preston like me, and the business has grown from a one 19-bedroom property to 22 properties and 135 bedrooms. By Christmas this year that number will grow to over 200 bedrooms.”
Max, who also owns No.10 Preston apart-hotel and the Winckley Square Hotel, attributes the success of Luxury House Share to addressing that gap in the market for young working professionals.
Read more: Preston InstaMeet explores one of Winckley Square’s oldest buildings
He said: “We’ve gone from strength to strength based on the brand and the concept.
“It used to be the case that young people would settle down, marry and buy a house in their early twenties. Nowadays there’s a ten-year gap between people leaving education and getting to that point.
“During that time they’re too old to still live with their parents but not in a position to buy a house. The alternative is renting, which can be expensive and socially excluding, especially if someone is in a new city.
“With co-living, it’s not just ‘this is your room, this is your rent, here’s your keys, ring if there’s a problem’ – there’s socialising, learning events, and a lot more of a supportive community side to it.”
Max believes another factor in Luxury House Share’s success is the loyalty of the tenants, who are all 35 or younger and in full-time employment in a wide variety of trades and professions.
“Our tenants tend to join us at around age 22 and they’ll generally stay until their early 30s. There are three reasons people leave – around 10% get promotion and move on, often to London, 45% have saved a house deposit and are buying, and the other 45% have met someone and are getting married or moving in together.
“Because our tenants have been so loyal we’ve been able to grow and put more back into the business.”
According to Max, this is a good thing not only for the business, but for Preston too.
“Preston is an amazing place with a great future.
“The hard-working people of Preston deserve high quality properties. Everyone should be able to come home to a nice environment, even if they’re not ready to own their own property.
“We’ve heard some real horror stories about how some landlords treat their tenants, but gone are the times when there was no alternative.”
So what does the future hold for Max and Luxury House Share?
“As our brand becomes more well known in the house share market in Preston, demand is just growing and growing.
“Our latest completed project was 3 Latham Street, a really interesting property that was a private home, a council building and a tea factory at one point. It’s now 17 en-suite bedrooms and communal space for young working professionals. All the rooms were filled within a week.
“We have a waiting list and are looking at potential properties on Fishergate Hill, Bairstow Street and Avenham Street.
“There’s no intention of investing outside Preston until the market is saturated, and that’s a long way off. Until I can house everyone who wants a property in Preston, I won’t stop.”
Do you live in one of the Luxury House Share properties? Would you like to? Let us know in the comments below.