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Salford most profitable UK city for BTLs according to new study

A new study has revealed that Salford is the most profitable buy-to-let city for landlords, following the stamp duty holiday pushing UK house prices to an all-time high.

The research by CIA Landlord reveals that Salford, with an average house price of £173,311 and average rent prices of £1,052 per month, is the best city for landlords looking to buy a new property for buy-to-let purposes.

CIA Landlord calculated the best cities for buy-to-lets under the Government’s latest stamp duty holiday by analysing the average house price, rental price and stamp duty savings in every UK city for the cheapest home prices and highest rental yield in order to calculate profitability.

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Manchester follows closely behind Salford with house prices averaging at £193,681 and rental incomes at £1,141 per month. Leeds, Portsmouth and Belfast also feature in the top five buy-to-let hotspots.

High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire ranked as the worst city for landlords purchasing a buy-to-let property, with average house prices reaching £430,891 and rental prices averaging at £945 per month. Cambridge also saw low profitability margins, with average house prices at £448,432 and rental income averaging £1,080 per month. Reading, Worcester and Watford also feature on the bottom of the table in terms of profitability.

In the capital, Havering was the best borough for profitability according to the study, with house prices averaging £395,832 and monthly rental prices reaching £1,895. Alternatively, with average house prices reaching over £2m and average monthly rent coming to £4,003, properties in Kensington and Chelsea see the lowest profitability margins.

Source: Property Wire

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Why the North West could be the new buy-to-let hotspot

The North West of England is currently one of the leading UK regions for buy-to-let purchases, second only to the historically strong South East. Richard Rowntree at Paragon looks at the rise of the Northern new kid on the block

Over seven million plus people call the North West home and I imagine a good proportion of them would tell you that it’s a great place to live.

A combination of civic and independent investment has resulted in regeneration and forward-facing cosmopolitan hubs that are home to thriving arts, culture and entertainment scenes. This helps to draw in tourists and students, particularly to Liverpool and Manchester, the region’s two main economic strongholds and home to well-respected universities.

After decades of underachievement – according to a 2010 report by the Regional Economic Forecasting Panel, wealth per head in the North West was 14% below the UK equivalent – the region is finally fulfilling its potential.

The North West’s economy, once weakened by over-reliance on a fading manufacturing industry, is now driven by modern high technology sectors including ICT, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications in addition to financial services.

The result is a regional economy that is outperformed only by London and the South East after growing 31.4% between 2010 and 2018.

As well as the bright lights of the towns and cities, the North West boasts natural beauty. The Peak District and Lake District are stand out spots but are joined by plenty of other places offering impressive views over quaint villages, unspoiled countryside or wild coastline.

So, with a broad overview of the North West and what it can offer tenants, let’s look at some of the factors driving the growth that saw more landlords buy new properties in the region than they did in London last year.

Strong rental yields
When considering how lucrative a buy-to-let investment is, a measure that is almost always taken into account is the potential rental yield and this is an area where the North West performs particularly well.

Of all the landlords taking part in BVA BDRC’s latest survey, those in the North West achieved the highest yields. At 6.5% this was above the England average of 5.8% for Q2 of 2020.

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Although analysis of Paragon data suggests that the North and Wales top the North West in terms of rental yields achieved, it also shows that landlords in the region can potentially see even better figures than those reported by BVA BDRC with average yields of 7.11%. Whichever measure you use, it’s clear that the North West is a place where the ratio of rental income to property purchase price is attractive to investors.

I think that central to the North West’s strong yield return is demand for rented accommodation in the area – something supported by data on the growing number of households as I cover below – and this is driven by some of the groups of tenants who gravitate to the region.

Across the UK, the highest yields are achieved by landlords who let to migrant workers at an average of 6.8%. Mirroring the size of regional economies, the North West has the highest migrant population in the country after London and the South East.

According to the Office of National Statistics’ latest quarterly migration report, in the year ending March 2020 around 313,000 more people moved to the UK than left. Of this number 257,000 arrived for formal study.

When we look at the UK cities with the most universities, Liverpool and Manchester are both in the top ten and are joined by others across the region such as Lancaster. Add to this the fact that student lets offer strong rents and we can see that the region’s offering for those choosing the UK for work or study supports its position as a leading area for yields.

The student market is one we feared would be negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and while we’re yet to see how this will develop there is potential for the numbers of overseas students studying in UK to dramatically fall in the short term. It’s worth noting that if this scenario does materialise it would also result in a reduction in UK students studying abroad, as well as those enjoying gap year adventures, so there would be a degree of one cancelling out the other.

Attractive property prices
Of course, to achieve good yields it helps if the price you pay for property is comparatively low and this is another key element of the North West’s emergence as an appealing area for buy-to-let landlords.

The average price of a property in the UK is £234,612 according to the latest Land Registry UK House Price Index. Those purchasing in the North West will pay much less as the average property price is just £167,809. Only those in neighbouring regions will pay less for property with averages in the North East at £125,938 and Yorkshire and the Humber at £165,561.

As you would expect, many of the UK’s most expensive postcodes are in London and the South East. Paragon figures show that advances in these regions have decreased over the past few years and increased in the North West amongst other areas. This suggests that there is a trend towards investing in areas where buyers feel they are getting more for their money.

Stability
At first glance, the North West’s low levels of rental inflation over the past five years would appear to be a chink in its armour. Even though it hasn’t exceeded 1.5% over this period, it has been generally stable and that is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Stable markets don’t always deliver the best returns when the going is good but, as the events of 2020 should prove, it’s not always possible to see what’s around the corner. It’s sometimes wise to look at the longer term, opting for markets that deliver reliable, if modest, returns due to being less susceptible to external influence.

It’s too early to gauge the long-term impact that coronavirus will have on the region but looking back to midway through the last decade we can see that the North West has a proven track record of being less volatile than other regions.

Changes to tax relief on finance costs and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) as well as Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) underwriting standards for buy-to-let mortgages resulted in a decline in lending for buy-to-let purchases in most regions after being introduced by the Government. Lending for house purchases in the North West remained relatively stable, however and early indicators point to a similar resilient response to the market’s latest challenge.

Affordability
With rents only creeping up slowly in comparison to other regions, people in the North West pay a smaller proportion of their average salary – 26%, which equates to £610 per calendar month -compared to the England average where renters typically pay 29% of their salary.

I feel that this balance of offering tenants a great place to live while remaining affordable is crucial to the area’s success. It also means that any rental increases can be absorbed without a significant negative impact.

Strong levels of tenant demand
The North West’s affordability also has an impact on demand and may be one reason why it has the highest levels of any UK region according to landlords surveyed by BVA BDRC.

Another factor may be the growing number of households. The Office of National Statistics’ 2018-based household projections for the region forecast a change from 3,120644 households in 2018 to 3,296981 households in 2028, an increase of 5.6%.

This can be attributed to a range of factors; one being rising numbers of one person households which, after increasing by 300,000 on the year prior, surpassed eight million across the UK in 2018.

With 31% of North West households being listed as lived in by one person, the area sits at the higher end of the scale for single occupancy households in England. Comparing this to London, the lowest in England at 23.9%, suggests that this trend is playing a part in stronger demand in the North West compared to the capital.

Considering again that the North West is home to a large number of well-respected educational institutions, demand in the region may also be boosted by increasing numbers of those in higher education. The latest figures reported 2.4 million people in post-secondary study, a significant number of whom rely on the PRS for their accommodation.

Landlords show desire for continued North West investment
The idea that landlords are responding to this demand is supported by industry data. The North West recorded the third highest number of new buy-to-let purchases over the past five years, with the South East accounting for the highest, followed by Greater London. Last year, the region leapfrogged London in terms of new buy-to-let homes purchased.

Again, judging by landlords responding to BVA BDRC’s Q2 2020 survey the region is set to continue to attract investment. Those in the North West are more likely than any other region to buy property in the next 12 months, with 26% of landlords in these locations indicating that they intend to increase their portfolios.

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Brokers report buy-to-let bounce

More than half of mortgage brokers have seen an increase in buy-to-let purchase business in recent weeks, according to new research from broker forum Cherryplc.co.uk.

The survey, carried out with Click2Check, found that 57% of intermediaries have seen demand for buy-to-let purchase deals increase, compared to just under 12% who reported an increase in demand for capital raising on a remortgage.

The study found there had been an increase in the number of clients with more specialist requirements. Almost one in ten (8%) brokers saw a jump in demand for HMO purchase loans, while almost 4% have seen a rise in enquiries for lending on both multi-unit blocks of flats and holiday lets.

There has also been a rise in short-term lending popularity, with 8% of advisers working with more clients on sourcing bridging loans for refurbishment tasks.

Donna Hopton, director at Cherry, said it was clear that there has been a spike in buy-to-let activity in recent weeks.

She explained: “Whereas the buy-to-let market has been dominated by remortgage business in recent years, it is purchase enquiries that are currently keeping brokers busy. The window of opportunity for reduced Stamp Duty Land Tax will certainly be helping to drive this demand, but we are seeing that the market is generally buoyant, which is a positive sign for advisers, and the economy.”

Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans, pointed to recent research which had suggested confidence among landlords is now higher than it has been in the last few years.

He continued: “This presents a great opportunity for landlords and it’s no surprise that many have seen this period of reduced Stamp Duty as an opportunity to grow their portfolios.”

By John Fitzsimons

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Buy-to-let market proving more “robust” than residential

The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed landlords to broaden the types of property and locations they are looking to invest in, according to analysis from Leeds Building Society.

The mutual noted that industry data suggested that the volume of applications for buy-to-let mortgages held up better than for residential loans between March and the middle of July.

Matt Bartle, director of products at Leeds Building Society, said: “In terms of the volume of applications over this period, the buy-to-let market fell less steeply and recovered more quickly than residential.

“We’ve also seen increased purchase activity; suggesting landlords are taking advantage of a combination of factors, including stamp duty relief, low interest rates and tenant demand.”

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The society’s own research with landlords, as part of its ‘lockdown learnings’ series, supports this, with 79% of landlords who were considering purchasing a buy-to-let property before the pandemic saying their plans had changed. This doesn’t mean they are withdrawing though, with half saying they still want to buy but are taking a fresh look at their plans.

Of those surveyed, almost a third (29%) are reconsidering the type of property they want to invest in, while the same proportion are also looking at new locations. Around one in five (20%) of landlords are reassessing precisely how much they are willing to invest, with almost a quarter (22%) rethinking their timings.

However, half of the landlords surveyed saying they hadn’t been planning to buy before lockdown, and still have no plans to do so.

Bartle added: “Bearing in mind the changes that coronavirus has brought to all our lives it’s not surprising to see landlords reviewing future plans for their property portfolios as tenants’ needs and priorities are also affected by the pandemic.

“The recent Government announcement on stamp duty appears to be spurring prospective purchasers into action, including buy-to-let landlords.”

By John Fitzsimons

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Buy-to-let sentiment on the rise

There has been a rise in rental property instructions in recent months in a sign the buy-to-let market is rebounding, according to a survey of chartered surveyors.

The July 2020 RICS UK Residential Survey, published yesterday (August 13), saw 6 per cent more respondents report an increase in new buy-to-let property coming to the market in the past three months than did not.

This means surveyors are seeing landlords starting to come back or existing ones purchasing more properties.

While the professional body described the figures as only “marginally positive”, it noted it was the first time since 2016 that the flow of landlord instructions had reportedly improved.

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The buy-to-let market grew rapidly after the financial crisis but has since taken a beating as a number of tax and regulatory changes have hit landlords’ pockets.

The changes led many to predict the buy-to-let market would shrink in size leaving only ‘professional landlords’ able to make viable returns, and many buy-to-let investors did leave the market earlier this year.

Meanwhile rents are also predicted to rise by about 1 per cent at national level in the next 12 months, according to the survey, although London was the only region where projections remained negative, at -1 per cent.

The sentiment survey found anecdotal evidence to suggest the chancellor’s stamp duty cut was playing a “significant role” in lifting demand for house purchases, although respondents did not expect this to continue when wider government support measures are phased out later in the year.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “The strong impetus provided to the housing market is evident both in the results of the RICS survey and many of the anecdotal comments from respondents.

“However, it is interesting that there remains rather more caution about the medium term outlook with the macro environment, job losses and the ending or tapering of government support measures for the sector expected to take their toll. Significantly, some contributors are now even referencing the possibility of a boom followed by a bust.”

The government’s coronavirus support schemes for furloughed employees, the self-employed and mortgage borrowers are due to end in October.

In the survey 57 per cent more respondents saw an increase in agreed sales in July than did not, indicative of a strong pick-up in transaction levels after the hefty declines reported during the crisis.

However, 10 per cent more respondents predicted a decline in sales over the year ahead.

By Chloe Cheung

Source: FT Adviser

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BTL landlords should prepare to take advantage of Green Homes grants

Buy to Let landlords in England should be assessing the energy efficiency works that their properties require in advance of the opening of online applications for the Green Homes Grant in September, say tax and advisory firm, Blick Rothenberg.

Heather Powell, Property partner at the firm said:

“The applications for the grant will open in just over a months’ time so Buy to Let landlords need to assess their properties now and get their applications in as fast as possible because thousands of people will apply.

“It is also likely that the Government will tighten energy efficiency regulations still further in 2021, making these works essential for many rental properties.”

“The grant scheme will fund £2 of every £3 spent by a landlord, up to a maximum of £5,000, to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

“Works can include wall and loft insulation, draught proofing and double glazing, all works that should improve the Energy Performance Rating (“EPC”) of a property.

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“Landlords cannot let properties with an energy performance rating of F or G (unless they qualify for an exemption) so they should be planning to undertake works that can be done with the grant funding that is being made available. Their tenants will also benefit as they will get a reduction in their annual fuel bills.”

“The 27 million homes in the UK, which generate up to 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand in the UK, are some of the least heat efficient homes in Europe.

“The Government hopes the grants will improve these statistics and help the UK to meet the commitment to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Online applications by landlords will be passed to “registered local tradesmen” to do the necessary works – which the Chancellor expects to help generate a further 100,000 jobs in the “Green Sector.”

“There are c2.2m landlords in England, with an average of 1.8 properties each – a total of 3.96m buy to let properties.

“If landlords applied for grants to improve the energy efficiency of just 25% of their properties, and got an average grant of £3,300 for insulation, the Green Homes Grant funding would be £3.27bn, and 990,000 homes would have been improved.

“The Chancellor announced £2bn to fund grants in 2020/21, and stated he hopes 600,000 homes to be improved, but he made it clear that his funding was based on estimates of take up of the funding, and indicated it is not capped, which is good news for BTL landlords.”

“The full details of the Green Homes Grants has not been published, but given the Grant funding announced was only for one year it is important that Landlords start reviewing their housing, assessing what work should be done that is eligible for the grant, so that that they can apply for the funding.

“This is one of the few measures announced by the Government in the last three months that assists landlords, and they should make sure that they take advantage of the funding, and at the same time help the UK achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Stamp Duty holiday and falling mortgage costs provide timely buy-to-let boost

After years of cracking down on landlords, the chancellor’s Stamp Duty holiday is a shot in the arm for the industry.

It’s not been an easy few years for the nation’s landlords.

A succession of decisions by the Government has chipped away at just how attractive it is for people to invest in property, particularly if they want to do so on a small scale and have maybe one or two buy-to-lets in a portfolio.

But a couple of recent changes may have made the prospect far more enticing.

Say goodbye to Stamp Duty (for now)

It was no great surprise when the Chancellor stood up in the House of Commons to announce a Stamp Duty holiday.

The nil rate threshold is temporarily being hiked from £125,000 to £500,000, meaning that nine out of every 10 buyers in England and Northern Ireland won’t have to pay any.

The surprise came in the revelation that this is being applied to landlords as well as those buying a property they intend to live in themselves.

Just a few years ago a higher rate of Stamp Duty was introduced for those buying a second home, in a bid to make buy-to-let less appealing (or more profitable for the Government, depending on your point of view).

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While this 3% surcharge still applies ‒ landlords can’t avoid Stamp Duty entirely ‒ it does mean they will enjoy smaller Stamp Duty bills as a result.

For example, before the changes, if I wanted to buy a £250,000 investment property I would pay 3% on the first £125,000 and then 5% on the remainder, meaning a total tax bill of £10,000.

That tax bill will now drop to £7,500, a tidy saving, especially if you’re looking to buy more than one investment property.

Falling mortgage costs

Another significant source of optimism for all would-be property investors has been the shifting state of the buy-to-let mortgage market.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of buy-to-let mortgages on offer has dropped significantly as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

According to data from financial information site Moneyfacts, the number of buy-to-let deals stood at 2,897 in March, but had crashed to just 1,455 in May.

The reopening of the housing market has led to a rise in the number of products on the market though, with product numbers jumping to 1,738 in July.

Still a long way down on the pre-pandemic, but a clear move in a more positive direction.

It’s not just the numbers of products that are likely to give landlords hope though, but the rates being charged on them too.

Moneyfacts data shows the average rate on two-year fixed rate buy-to-let deals in March stood at 2.77%, while on five-year deals it was 3.24%.

By July, this had fallen to 2.61% and 2.97% respectively.

Part of this will be down to the fact that lenders are far warier about lending at higher loan-to-values currently.

But equally, now that the market is moving again, lenders will want what business there is. And that competition will likely feed into some decent deals for landlords.

Jenny don’t be hasty

That said, there’s no doubt that moving into buy-to-let at the moment could be a nervy move.

Yes, there remains healthy demand for rental properties ‒ the shortage of housing hasn’t disappeared, and while people will struggle to purchase their own home, they will have to rely on rental properties.

But taking on any tenant is a big gamble at the moment. With significant unemployment seemingly on the way, how confident can you truly be that they will be able to maintain their rental payments?

There’s only so much due diligence you can do on a tenant ‒ you can’t really have a chat with their boss to find out what the chances of them getting the boot in the next year are.

Fortune favours the brave

Landlords are often painted as the pantomime villains of the housing market, a little unfairly in my view.

But the truth is that the Stamp Duty holiday is a real boon for investors, who could also benefit from lender competition and enjoy cheaper funding when purchasing their next buy-to-let property.

The big test will be just how robustly they run the rule over prospective tenants, to ensure they don’t end up with costly void periods. It doesn’t matter how much you saved on your Stamp Duty bill or mortgage, if you end up with an empty rental property.

By John Fitzsimons

Source: Love Money

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BTL brokers showing increased confidence

Four out of 10 BTL brokers expect to write more business in the next 12 months, Paragon Bank’s Financial Adviser Confidence Tracker (FACT) Index has revealed.

The survey of more than 200 intermediaries showed that 41% of advisors said they expect more buy-to-let business, a slight dip on the 43% recorded in the first quarter of 2020, but up on the 38% from the final quarter of last year.

Just over a quarter (28%) of intermediaries expect buy-to-let mortgage levels to remain stable.

Richard Rowntree, Paragon Bank Managing Director of Mortgages, said: “Despite the buffeting that coronavirus has caused to the mortgage market, and housing sector more broadly, there is clearly still strong and stable demand for buy-to-let via intermediaries, which is reflected in the results of this survey.

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“We have seen a solid rebound in buy-to-let business since the housing market reopened in mid-May and landlords have been unlocking capital to invest and grow their portfolios further. We expect to see increased demand for rented property underpinning growth in the coming months as people delay house purchase or cannot obtain a mortgage with the removal of higher loan to value products in the residential market.”

Of those intermediaries forecasting an increase in buy-to-let business, confidence was stronger amongst directly authorised firms (46%) than appointed representatives (36%). Confidence was also firmer in sole adviser organisations (47%) than firms with between two to three advisers (34%) and four or more advisers (37%).

Richard added: “Coronavirus has had a clear and damaging impact on the economy and the UK as a whole, but the long-term fundamentals underpinning demand for buy-to-let remain unchanged. The UK has a growing population with increasing numbers of households and the private rented sector will provide a good quality home for many of them.”

Source: Property118

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Buy-to-let benefits from increased choice and competitive rates

Landlords are benefiting from an increased choice of buy-to-let products as more mortgages return to the market following the dip caused by the pandemic.

Data from Moneyfacts.co.uk showed, having plunged to a total of 1,455 products in May, the buy-to-let mortgage market has received a boost of 283 more products as lenders increase their ranges.

The two-year fixed rate market now has 134 more products and there are an additional 164 options in the five-year fixed rate sector than compared to the start of May.

However, things are still not as buoyant as they were before the Covid-19 crisis began in March, when there were 2,897 buy-to-let mortgages available.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said its latest research revealed the buy-to-let sector had adapted well to conditions caused by the pandemic and there were indications landlords may have cause for positivity.

“The latest Rental Index research from lettings platform Goodlord indicates that in June, new tenancy applications remained at 90% above 2019 levels,” Williams added.

“Subsequently, they have recorded increases in rental costs and also void periods reducing, as tenant demand for new properties remains strong now that the market has reopened.

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“This news should be a boost to landlords, who after a difficult few months can see that choice is beginning to return to their sector.”

Vote of confidence

Kevin Roberts, director, Legal & General Mortgage Club said the news more choice was returning to the market was a vote of confidence in the buy-to-let sector and a sure sign that it remained open for business.

He added: “At Legal & General Mortgage Club, our data even shows that despite the pandemic landlords still have a positive view of the buy-to-let sector.

“Nearly three in every five landlords (57%) told us that the crisis has had no impact on their plans to stay in the market and more than one in ten (16%) even have plans to buy more property over the coming months.”

Competitive rates

Moneyfacts data also showed rates were currently competitive, especially when compared to January.

The average rate for two-year fixed rate mortgages on 1 July was 0.21% less than at the start of the year, while the five-year fixed rate has fallen by 0.22% over the same time period.

Buy-to-let mortgage market analysis
Product numbersJan-20Mar-20Apr-20May-20Jul-20
BTL product count – fixed and variable rates2,5832,8971,8871,4551,738
Two-year fixed rates BTL – all LTVs823914610491625
Two-year fixed rates BTL – 80% LTV11914157931
Two-year fixed rates BTL – 60% LTV126124129148144
Five-year fixed rates BTL – all LTVs8791,000695480644
Five-year fixed rates BTL – 80% LTV11015069619
Five-year fixed rates BTL – 60% LTV128133140155146
Average RatesJan-20Mar-20Apr-20May-20Jul-20
BTL two-year fixed – all LTVs2.82%2.77%2.71%2.51%2.61%
 BTL two-year fixed – 80% LTV3.64%3.56%3.80%3.61%3.18%
 BTL two-year fixed – 60% LTV1.92%1.89%2.24%2.39%2.28%
BTL five-year fixed – all LTVs3.19%3.24%3.16%2.94%2.97%
 BTL five-year fixed – 80% LTV4.03%3.98%4.18%4.32%3.82%
 BTL five-year fixed – 60% LTV2.32%2.31%2.62%2.76%2.65%
Data shown is as at first working day of month, unless otherwise stated. Source: Moneyfacts.co.uk

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Buy-to-let yields improve in the North East

Buy-to-let yields in the North East have increased by 0.12% to 5.09% in the first quarter of 2020, research from peer-to-peer investment platform Sourced Capital has found.

At the other end of the spectrum they’ve fallen by -0.22% in London to 4.10%.

Stephen Moss, managing director of Sourced Capital, said: “Turning a profit in the buy-to-let sector remains a tough ask with a number of government changes denting profitability and yields remaining largely flat.

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“With COVID-19 presenting additional hurdles such as rental arrears and longer void periods, many are now turning to alternative options such as the peer to peer sector for a safer, more hands-off investment.

“However, that’s not to say that a buy-to-let property won’t make a great investment should you place your money in the right pockets of the market. Buy-to-let returns are based on fine margins and so an annual increase of 0.7% isn’t as insignificant as it may seem.”

Across England they’ve typically fallen by -0.1% year-on-year.

Looking more locally, Corby has seen an uplift of 0.7% on an annual basis. Charnwood, Newcastle and Exeter have also seen positive growth with a jump of 0.5%.

Harlow in Essex and the Orkney Islands have enjoyed a 0.4% increase, along with Ealing which enjoyed the largest increase of all London boroughs.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire