Sarah McDermott grew up hard up on a council estate but now she’s a property millionaire and here's how she did it

Maison Parfaite holiday lets founder Sarah McDermott reveals how she became a property millionaire

Growing up in a single parent family in Seacroft, Leeds’ largest and once most notorious council estate, Sarah McDermott knew the value of money and hard graft. Her mum ran two jobs just to provide the bare essentials. Her childhood has undoubtedly played a part in Sarah’s drive and desire to succeed but it is her natural entrepreneurial talent that has seen her build a multi-million pound property business from nothing.

She says: “I came from a loving home but I also had free school meals and if I went on holiday, it was one for children whose parents couldn’t afford holidays. But even back then I was always finding different ways to make money, including making badges to sell at school, having multiple paper rounds and babysitting.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After being thrown out of sixth form, which didn’t suit her teenage temperament or her desire to start earning, she tried a variety of jobs before setting up as a private investigator. It was while staking out the love nest of a cheating husband that she found the path that led to her property company.

Entrepreneur Sarah McDermottEntrepreneur Sarah McDermott
Entrepreneur Sarah McDermott

“Surveillance work can be very boring and so while I was watching and waiting I used to listen to a lot of audio books on personal development,” says Sarah. “I was on a job in the North East where I waited eight hours for someone to come out of a house and while I was in the car I listened to Property Investing Secrets: How To Make Money In Property by Rob Moore and Mark Homer.”

That was her light bulb moment and she went home to her husband Sean, then a groundworker, and announced “we have to do this”. The next step was paying to be personally mentored by Rob Moore at a cost of £50,000 and he helped the McDermotts come up with a business plan.

“We were living a comfortable life. We had a nice new-build house, a nice car, nice holidays but I managed to persuade Sean that we should borrow £50,000 on credit cards to do the course, though I am not suggesting borrowing like that is a good idea because it is not. I am very driven and obsessive and I had complete faith we could create a business and make it work.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That was four years ago when Sarah was 40 and since then she and Sean have built a fortune by creating and expanding Maison Parfaite, their high-end serviced holiday property business in Yorkshire.

The Maison Parfaite holiday home at Robin Hood's BayThe Maison Parfaite holiday home at Robin Hood's Bay
The Maison Parfaite holiday home at Robin Hood's Bay

The route to success started in April 2018 with buying a terraced house in need of renovation in Rotherham for the exceptionally low price of £10,000. “We got a Tesco loan for the £10,000 and borrowed £12,000 from Sean’s brother for the renovation, which took six weeks, and then we had the house valued at £70,000,” says Sarah, whose next step was to get a bridging loan to put down a deposit on an run-down HMO property, aka bedsits, in Barnsley.

An investor then came on board to fund the renovation and says Sarah: “By the time we had finished it was fully legal and like a boutique hotel, so we were able to remortgage it and pay back the investor leaving us with 25% equity.”

The property cost £117,000 with £49,000 spent on it and it was revalued at £225,000 and brought an annual income of £28,800. Their third acquisition was Aysgarth Nook in the Yorkshire Dales and it marked the start of the McDermotts Maison Parfaite holiday let empire.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They bought the shop turned cottage for £230,000 and spent £109,000 turning it into a fabulous five-bedroom holiday let. It is now worth £500,000 and generates a net income of £49,000 a year. However, Sarah stresses that her business model is not for everyone: “A key characteristic needed for a business like ours is resilience and a ‘get on with it’ approach when things go wrong. It is not a passive income.”

Maison Parfaite's luxury holiday apartments at Skeldale House in Askrigg, which featured at Siegried Farnin's home and vet's pracrice in the first TV adaptation of All Creatures Great and SmallMaison Parfaite's luxury holiday apartments at Skeldale House in Askrigg, which featured at Siegried Farnin's home and vet's pracrice in the first TV adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small
Maison Parfaite's luxury holiday apartments at Skeldale House in Askrigg, which featured at Siegried Farnin's home and vet's pracrice in the first TV adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small

Maison Parfaite has since undergone significant expansion and now includes luxury serviced apartments in Askrigg, along with 5 star holiday lets in York and Leeds city centres, Robin Hood’s Bay, Aysgarth, Pateley Bridge and Harrogate with Whitby on the way. All have significant equity in them after being renovated and bring in substantial profit. Delegating is now a must to ensure that guests are well looked after and Sarah and Sean, who have three children, now have 10 staff to help run and maintain their properties.

“Money isn’t the main driver now. It’s buying places that have lost their shine and making them beautiful then seeing the guest feedback. We’re creating joy,” says Sarah, who has a great flair for interior design.

She and Sean are still buying and have plans to build a coastal eco hotel. Sarah is also writing books on property while mentoring others who want to invest in high end serviced accommodation/holiday lets with the emphasis on the right location, adding value through renovation and finding investor partners if need be.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I charge £22,000 for six months and £40,000 for a 12 month project so it’s not cheap but it’s not just mentoring, it’s hand-holding all the way through a project,” she says. She is also setting up a charity, Great Young Minds with her accountant. “We want to help underprivileged kids who don’t fit mainstream education but who have entrepreneurial ideas. We will nurture them and help with start-up funding,” she says, adding: “I still feel like that girl from a council estate. She was fearless and confident she would do well. That confidence has been vital.”

A bedroom in an apartment at Skeldale HouseA bedroom in an apartment at Skeldale House
A bedroom in an apartment at Skeldale House and for mentoring email sarah@

*For those reading this inspirational story, there is a caveat. Sarah is a natural entrepreneur, which has undoubtedly given her the edge. She agrees that many property investment courses have to be approached with great caution as while there are a few good operators, there are many, many con artists. Look for negative feedback and do not spend money you can’t afford to lose. Also remember that property prices can go down as well as up, as can mortgage interest rates.