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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Phoebe Jobling

'I climbed my way up the property ladder from Moss Side... but a problem almost cost me my £3.5million mansion'

Owning a multi-million pound mansion is a goal that might be on many people's bucket lists, but it's out of reach for most of us. But for a lucky few it's achievable with hard work, or luck, or simple initiative and passion - and there's always the lottery.

Serial entrepreneur Mat Rees, 43, spoke to us as part of our Where I Live series, where each week we take our readers inside a different home in the north west to look around, find out how much it cost and hear all about the homeowner's journey that got them to where they are today.

In February this year, Mat and his partner bought a stunning £3,550,000 five-bed property in Wilmslow, Cheshire, which sits in a sought-after gated community popular with celebrities. But climbing up to the top of the property ladder - and the process to owning their dream home - wasn't exactly smooth sailing.


Having grown up in Cheadle Hulme, Mat bought his first house in Moss Side at just 18 years old for just £18,500 - a bargain in comparison to house prices today.

“My first house was right next to Manchester City’s former ground. I worked three jobs which helped me to save up for it," Mat told the Manchester Evening News.

"I had the aim to buy and rent several properties and was inspired by my friend's mum who had done it for quite a while. I thought this one in Moss Side would rent quite easily and I only needed £1,000 deposit for it so I bought it and rented it out - then that was the start really.

"By the time I was 25 I had about 25 houses, but when it came to the credit crunch I sold most of them. I wasn’t really given the best advice about that, so I had to start again after the recession."

The detached house sits on a huge plot (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

Mat is now a qualified mortgage advisor, CEO of a mortgage network and a professional landlord amongst other endeavours. Buying and renting out properties has helped him to work his way up the ladder over the years.

"I always wanted to work my way up something - whatever it was that I did - and I always wanted to have a portfolio of businesses," Mat said.

"I worked in the pub trade back in the day and I was aiming to be the regional manager which was always my plan, but then when I started buying houses it gave me other ideas.

"I became a qualified mortgage advisor because I realised with what I was doing and the industry that I was in, being a broker myself could save me a lot of money and also make me a lot of money as well. I now do mortgages for myself, friends and family and it just grew from there, I know recruit advisors around the country."

The indoor swimming pool (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

Mat had just finished an extensive renovation project on his current home when he spotted the £3.5m dream mansion for sale in Wilmslow - and couldn't help but to take a look.

“The road it is on is one that I have always walked down and admired. It’s a prestigious, private road in an area that is popular with footballers and celebrities.

"We weren't looking to buy another house just yet, but we saw the property was up for sale on the road we liked and that we should go view it to get some ideas.

"When we walked in we just loved it. I said “oh my god, we shouldn’t have come.” If you’re not looking to move, don’t ever go and view a house because you’ll just end up wanting to move.

"We fell in love with the house and I put an offer in, it was then accepted and that was that, all in the space of a week.

"It’s not specifically the house that we were always looking at but it's a road that we always wanted to live on. I think our house is in the best location on that road. It’s a really nice plot."

One of the reception rooms (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

But despite having their hearts set on the property, the couple experienced some difficulties when trying to get a mortgage due to them both being self employed.

“Mine and my partner’s income is split between my business, her business, we also worked for a company that has been sold so we’re still working with that to help it transition, and we’re also employed by another company as well. So to put it into perspective we have at least three incomes including our rental income," Mat explained.

“The mortgage lender who we were originally dealing with was a high street lender. When they asked to see our payslips for the last three months we ended up giving them three payslips for each of our jobs, so they had about 18 payslips as well as P60s.

"Every time we spoke to the underwriters they were going round in circles. They didn’t know what to do and their system couldn’t deal with it. The process was just dragging on, we put the offer in in November and by February it was still going round in circles. We were so concerned we were going to lose our dream home.”

Mat has his own bar (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

Mat then approached specialist mortgage lender Together who helped them to get a mortgage in just days.

"I spoke to Together on the Friday, they booked me in for an appointment and by the following Thursday we had completed," he said. "We couldn’t believe after months of delays how simple and quick the process was."

Mat and his partner are now living in their detached property, which comes with five bedrooms with three en-suites, five reception rooms, a lavish kitchen, a home office, a cinema room, a leisure suite with an indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym, two balconies and a huge garden.

The couple have ambitions plans to renovate and extend the property, starting in March 2023.

“We’re making it all open plan, adding a single storey extension onto the back, adding an outdoor living area and we’re going to extend into the roof and over the garage to create more bedrooms," Mat said.

"At the moment it has big rooms but they are all individual rooms. We want all the rooms to flow into one another. We’ll also be modernising the swimming pool and adding curved bi-fold doors so we can have an outdoor pool element too.

“I think once the renovations are done, it will be what we would call a forever home. But at the same time, we’re expecting it to probably double in value so the good risk is that someone will come and offer us a lot of money for it."

There are five reception rooms (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

Asked if he thinks the price he bought his property for is reasonable, Mat said: "It’s hard to say what a reasonable price is when you are talking in millions but I know that the house next door is up for sale for £4 million and there is another house down the road going for £4.25 million.

"One of the footballers paid about £4 million for theirs about 5 years ago and that’s a few doors down. I'd say for the plot size we’ve got, compared to the other houses, we got a really good opportunity."

Giving advice to people aiming to be in a similar position to Mat, the serial entrepreneur said: "The advice I’d give is to never give up. Regardless of whether you’re buying your first property to get on the ladder or whether you’re buying your 20th - you’ve just got to keep going and keep looking for those opportunities.

“I lost a lot of hope after the credit crunch when I sold my properties and it would have been easy for me to quit then, but I started again because I knew what I wanted and I went for it.

“My advice would always be to buy a house as young as you can. I’ll be encouraging my kids when they are old enough because once you own it, it usually starts appreciating in value. I’m really happy that I bought as soon as I could and I wish I’d bought more when I was younger.

“I am very proud of my home and how I’ve got to where I am today, but unfortunately I’m the sort of person who always wants to improve things, so I’m really excited to do the renovation and the plans that we’ve got will make the house phenomenal. I know I’m very luckily to have what I have.”

Mat says he is very proud of his home (Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

Scott Clay, Head of Introducers at Together added: “Self-employed borrowers whose circumstances are more complicated than usual could struggle to get a mortgage with high street lenders, largely due to the fact they often rely on automated systems to assess mortgage applicants’ income.

"This can often lead to major delays – and risk them missing out on dream properties. Being self-employed is a life choice for many people – and the sector is only growing. Self-employed applicants shouldn’t be locked out of the mainstream mortgage market simply because they don’t conform to a tick-box approach.”

Want to get involved in Where I Live? If you are interested in featuring in our weekly series, please email your name and details to

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