Interview with Mitchell Walsh, managing director at Integritas Property Group
Mitchell Walsh set up Liverpool-based developer Integritas Property Group in 2021, with the firm completing developments in Bradford, Eccles in Manchester, as well as Liverpool. Previously he worked at Select Property Group in Dubai in off-plan property sales. PropertyWire talked to Walsh about his affinity for the city in the United Arab Emirates as well as his ambitions for the company.
What is your connection with Dubai?
It’s always been a dream for me, Dubai. I’m one of those people obsessed property from a young age. I remember my dad selling his house at the age of 12-13 – I love property and always have done.
I was headhunted by Select Property Group, who were fantastic to work for and gave me the opportunity to work over there.
It was very much six-days-a-week 12-hours-a-day for the first six months – that’s where I learnt the basics.
It was only when I had personal issues that I decided to return, and there’s a number of times where I’m sitting in a cold, windy Liverpool thinking ‘what am I doing here?’
I preferred life over there. It’s one of safest places on earth. There’s everything. I know it has a party scene but there’s also fitness, gyms, and amazing food.
The plan is to set up a Dubai office at Integritas from the start of October.
What gap in the market can you fill in Dubai?
There’s a gap in the Dubai market for quality UK developments. UK companies brings protection to investors, buyers, end users.
We have a property market that’s 150 years old compared to theirs which is 20 years old. It gives you a market that’s safe and secure. You have far higher security and legal options if things go wrong.
Your company describes itself as an ‘ethical’ developer. What do you mean by that?
I grew up in poverty in one of the poorest council estates in Liverpool. I saw everyone struggle and people turn to crime, which made me ambitious not to go the same way.
The investor is always first for me – I will protect them before my own money.
A clear example is with the Lyceum Eccles project in Manchester. We bought the development out of government liquidation and will make next to no profit on that, but the proof is in the pudding as it’s the type of person I am.
I believe if you do the right thing you last for 30 years and not five, provided you have the right moral compass.
Having ethics is also about giving back to the local community. I give a significant amount of money to charity a year in the local areas. I believe in giving back to areas we develop.
What is your current pipeline of developments?
We are building 240 apartments in Liverpool city centre, while another 75 just outside is starting construction in the next eight weeks. There’s also a development in Crosby, 57 apartments in Bradford, as well as a residential development in Eccles with 82 units. We are also in the process of buying a site with 155 apartments.
The plan is to get 1,000 units under construction by the end the year. Some 90% of them are earmarked for investors, seeing as my background is working in off-plan investment property.
Long term we’d like to retain a couple of towers when we’re in a cash positive way, so we can float the company and keep them as a build to rent scheme.
Why are you interested in build to rent?
I’ve been in build to rent developments and lots of them aren’t run very well – id like to change that.
They lack a certain amount of common sense in terms of customer service. Lots of them are poorly built and rushed. It’s important to get occupancy rates right but not at the cost of people living there.
For example, you can have wrong types of tenants. A family with young children doesn’t have the same lifestyle as a 22-year-old.