Sunderland property developer who started out at 18 grows £7million portfolio by investing in home city

Darryl Cullerton has seen his property portfolio flourish - all by investing in his home city.
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At just 18-years-old Darryl Cullerton from Castletown saw the potential in investing in bricks and mortar and purchased his first rental home.

City landlord Darryl Cullerton has a portfolio of properties spanning his home cityCity landlord Darryl Cullerton has a portfolio of properties spanning his home city
City landlord Darryl Cullerton has a portfolio of properties spanning his home city

Today, now aged 37, that belief has seen him grow his portfolio to 82 properties, the vast majority of which are in Sunderland, with a value just short of £7million.

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The buy-to-let landlord's latest acquisition has seen him take on the corner unit of Mary Street and Stockton Road, which he'll be restoring into four boutique apartments and four commercial units.

With planning permission in place, Darryl will be converting these four commercial units and apartments on the corner of Mary Street and Stockton Road.With planning permission in place, Darryl will be converting these four commercial units and apartments on the corner of Mary Street and Stockton Road.
With planning permission in place, Darryl will be converting these four commercial units and apartments on the corner of Mary Street and Stockton Road.

As the city centre economy and CBD grows thanks to large-scale investments such as the Riverside Development, it will help meet the demand for quality serviced apartments in the city centre.

It's a demand Darryl has seen at one of his other city centre properties in Holmeside.

He brought no 13 back in 2015 and initially turned it into six student apartments upstairs, winning the North East Student Housing Award in 2017. After the pandemic affected the student market, he turned them into Air BnBs and they currently have Superhost status, used by business professionals visiting the city, from NHS staff to touring theatre company members.

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Meanwhile, the ground floor commercial unit is rented to a tattoo studio.

Darryl bought this block in Holmeside in 2015 creating six apartments above the commercial unitDarryl bought this block in Holmeside in 2015 creating six apartments above the commercial unit
Darryl bought this block in Holmeside in 2015 creating six apartments above the commercial unit

Another new development of his will see three new build homes created on empty land opposite the Albion pub in Ryhope.

The businessman says Sunderland is an "untapped market" with great potential.

Darryl's been supported by Manchester-based property lender, Together, who provided him with the funding to secure nine of the properties in his portfolio, and are continuing to back his plans for further development. 

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He said: “You can buy a property in the North East for as little £50,000 which is something you simply can’t do down south.

"The prices of property here make it easy to diversify and act on opportunities which may not be possible elsewhere in the country.

"There's also very few lenders who will deal in that market - I deal with brokers in London who laugh when you say you can get a property for £40k/£50k here - but Together seems to always be at the forefront.

"They’ll take a proper look at you and your circumstances and the property you want to buy and they’ll get a deal done for you.”

City businessman Darryl Cullerton inside his Holmeside propertyCity businessman Darryl Cullerton inside his Holmeside property
City businessman Darryl Cullerton inside his Holmeside property
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Speaking about how he got into property, Darryl said: "When I was younger I was quite nosey and I could see that all the successful people seemed to fall back on property.

"I took note and it went from there. I bought my first house in South Hylton in 2008, but living in a house and investing was difficult, so I moved in with my nana until I was 30 whilst I built my portfolio.

“I knew I wanted to buy a buy-to-let property, but because of the size of the deposit that was needed, I couldn’t afford it.

"I ended up getting a loan from a high street bank to use as my deposit because I worked out that the money I’d make from the rent would cover both the mortgage and loan repayments.

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"So, I did that up, rented it out and it just grew from there. I’d refinance my properties to pull money out and buy another.

"Today I have 82 properties, everything from student accommodation and business investment units to flats and houses. I'm playing a game I love and I always focus on investing in Sunderland."

As well as investing in property, Darryl is a director of John Cullerton & Sons Limited, his family’s electrical & mechanical contracting firm. 

Work will start in the coming weeks on the Mary Street units, with Darryl working with Gerard Mcelvenny of Pulp Studios Design House, who recently worked on the design for The Keel Tavern in Keel Square.

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The commercial units, which have been empty for some time, had previously housed businesses such as the Uniform shop and Hot Rats, which has since relocated to Waterloo Place.

New research published by Together predicts that commercial lending is set to rise by 32% in the next five years. The property lender's report shows 23% of respondents will diversify portfolios, as Darryl has done, this year to mitigate falling yields and revenues 

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