In this world of low interest rates and volatility in the stock market, many still regard property as a sound invesment and it is still possible to make a good return.
A combination of an increase in the availability of low interest buy to let mortgages and strong tenant demand means that many landlords can still expect to receive a reasonable yield despite increased costs. The national average is around 5.6% although in this part of this country where property values are high this can be closer to 4%. Over many years we have seen a steady increase in tenant demand and, particularly, a requirement for longer tenancies and a recent report on the industry website, propertywire.com, suggests that less than half of tenants are interested in buying in the near future. This means that rents should, at the very least, rise in line with inflation. And, whilst property prices have levelled over the last couple of years, there is every likelihood that they will start to rise again once we achieve a more settled political climate.
Simply put, the key to a good buy to let investment is buying the type of property that tenants want in a location they want to live in. However, there is another option which can bring a higher rental income and the opportunity for greater capital growth. In May, the government extended permitted development rights into a permanent legislation making it easier for investors to buy a property with refurbishment or renovation in mind. This opens up the possibility of creating extra bedrooms or potentially converting non-residential or mixed-use properties into residential dwellings.
Lenders have been quick to respond to this new legislation with the provision of new options for development finance which can be used to fund work that doesn't require planning permission and the introduction of new products that will allow landlords to move from bridging loan, while the works are being carried out, onto their buy to let mortgage once completed.
Greater pension freedoms in recent years have also made buy to let a much more attractive proposition to the over 55s. Research suggests that over 15% of the 200,000 who will take money out of their pension pots will choose to invest it in more property. On top of their rental income they will own an asset that could see greater increases in value in the future than other investments.
Before embarking on buy to let for the first time, however, do take independent advice to ensure you are fully aware of the tax implications and the likely impact of future interest rate rises. Lettings legislation changes constantly so be sure to use a reputable local agent who is a member of a professional industry body and an appropriate money protection scheme.