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Where are buy-to-let landlords the most confident about sector prospects?

Confidence among buy-to-let landlords is increasing nationally, but there are certain areas where landlords are particularly confident about sector prospects with increasing demand and shorter void periods.

Every quarter the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) undertakes a survey asking landlords if they are feeling more or less confident about achieving their goals compared to the previous quarter.

National landlord confidence has grown for the third consecutive quarter. Confidence is also at the highest level recorded in the 10 quarters the index has been running. This is the most sustained trend seen for landlord confidence in the buy-to-let sector.

In the past year, 15% of buy-to-let landlords surveyed have purchased property. Those who have bought cited anticipated changes in economic conditions as the most influential factor in their property portfolio decisions. Landlords who have bought recently appear to be particularly optimistic about the future.

Recently, there has been a pattern of a growing proportion of buy-to-let landlords planning to purchase additional properties. The proportion of landlords planning to buy in the next year is 50% higher than in the first quarter of 2020 with 22% of landlords. This is the fifth quarter in a row where this has increased. Additionally, it’s the highest figure recorded since this survey first began.

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Areas with the most and least confident landlords

A number of regions are seeing landlord confidence above the national average. Yorkshire and the Humber leads the way with landlords the most confident there. The West Midlands, north-west, south-west, east of England and East Midlands all came in above the national average of landlord confidence.

Although confidence among landlords has generally increased, the north-east, south-east and East Midlands saw a downturn in confidence compared to the previous quarter. Inner London is where landlords are the least confident throughout England and Wales. And the north-east, London, Wales, Outer London and the south-east also see landlord confidence below the national average.

Increasing tenant demand

The survey by NRLA has revealed landlords have seen an increase in tenant demand for the second quarter in a row. When asked about their perception of demand in their area, more buy-to-let landlords stated they have noted an increase than a decrease.

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The net score from that is the highest NRLA has seen since the association began recording demand in the second quarter of 2019. This score has also grown by nearly 10 percentage points since the previous quarter.

Shorter void periods

On a national level, 67% of vacant properties remain empty for less than four weeks. This is a five percent increase on the previous quarter. It’s also almost as high as pre-pandemic numbers, when this figure stood at 68%.

This shows that the majority of landlords’ properties are being turned over and filled increasingly quickly. These shorter void periods is likely due to the strong demand and need for more housing across England and Wales.

With increasing demand and shorter void periods in the private rented sector, landlords confidence could grow further. This could then lead to more investors expanding their portfolios in the next quarter.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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How to show landlords that buy-to-let is still a good investment

Predictions on the future of buy-to-let vary greatly. Some say that the buy-to-let sector is thriving and will continue to grow and expand in line with increasing tenant demand. Others say that the weight of legislation and the associated costs are driving landlords out of the market. So what does this all mean for the future of the industry and how can you encourage your landlords to continue to invest?

Buy-to-let landlords coming and going

First, let’s take a look at the stats. The Nottingham Building Society estimated that 20% of buy-to-let landlords intend to sell all or some of their portfolio over the next two years. This nearly balances with the 16 percent that aim to buy more properties over the same period – but not quite. Research by University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy points to one explanation: ‘baby boomer’ landlords ageing out of the market and not being replaced by younger landlords at the same rate.

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To stem the flow of landlords leaving and to help potential new landlords see the benefits of the sector, your agency needs to show the importance of its role in supporting landlords throughout their journey. The building society’s research showed that 52 percent of landlords intending to sell up blamed this on increased regulation in a recent survey. This leaves an opening for you to help potential landlords recognise the importance of choosing the right agency to help them stay compliant or to show why your current landlords would benefit from your fully managed option.

Buy-to-let limited companies

The end of tax relief on buy-to-let mortgages is another reason cited for 24 percent of landlords planning to leave the industry. However, the question of tax is also driving a new positive trend in the market, with more buy-to-let landlords forming limited companies.

When registered as a company, landlords can grow their portfolios more quickly as they can offset the interest on their mortgage against the profits they make. They also benefit from corporation tax rates which are lower than income tax ones. Hamptons Countrywide found that 41,700 buy-to-let limited companies were formed in 2020 – an increase of 23% on 2019 and a record number, which could help give your landlords more confidence in this route for investment.

Buy-to-let mortgage choice expanding

The increased demand from tenants has also had a positive impact on the number of buy-to-let mortgage products available. Moneyfacts highlighted 2,709 mortgages available in July 2021 – and this influx of new choice means that average rates have started to fall to lower than in July 2019. Which? notes that some of your landlords coming to the end of two-year fixes may even be able to remortgage at a cheaper rate.

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The Paragon Bank echoes this positive sentiment, with buy-to-let mortgage lending up by a third between 1 October to 30 June against the same period in 2020, up to £911.4 million – and applications are still going strong despite the phasing out of the stamp duty holiday.

Investment opportunities in energy efficient homes

As the government continues to advance its plans to increase the minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented properties to EPC Band C on new tenancies by 2028, landlords are understandably concerned about the costs involved with implementing the necessary changes to their properties, projected to be up to £7,646 per property according to the the Office of National Statistics.

However, there are opportunities out there for your landlords looking to invest. Eighty-two percent of landlords, investors and brokers in a recent survey said that they’d prioritise “environmental friendliness and energy efficiency” when buying properties. This taps into increased tenant support for sustainable solutions, and could also have a cost benefit for your landlord; green mortgages could offer your buy-to-let investors lower interest rates if they were to invest in energy efficient properties.

For those with properties already, you could advise your landlords on some low cost ways to improve their properties’ energy efficiency, including using low energy lighting, estimated to cost £38 on average, insulating hot water cylinders at around £23, and draught-proofing windows at £100.

The best places for buy-to-let investment

Trends in the number of buy-to-let landlords in the market should also take into account those areas where investors are seeing the most success. Research by Intus Lettings shows that void periods have dropped for buy-to-let landlords, with a growing number of properties with near complete year-round occupancy in some regions – a quarter of the landlords in the east of England said that their properties were empty for less than a month over a one year period, for example. This reflects Goodlord’s Rental Index data which show that in July 2021 voids on average across England were at their lowest level since August 2019 – so, all in all, a positive outlook.

Some areas of the UK offer higher yields for landlords – and if you’re an agent that’s lucky enough to operate in those areas, you have a strong argument for helping to encourage landlords to join the market. Recent figures show that the North East of England offers the best buy-to-let yields. If you’re advising potential landlords on where to invest, that could be a good place to start.

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Plenty of choice for landlords as buy-to-let options increase

Buy-to-let product choice has increased whilst average two and five-year fixed rates have fallen, according to the latest analysis from Moneyfacts.co.uk.

New figures revealed the average two-year fixed rate was lower now than compared to 2019.

Meanwhile, the beginning of July saw the highest number of product options on offer in the buy-to-let space.

The 2,709 deals on the market at the start of this month represented a 971 leap on this time last year when availability was limited following the product withdrawals which took place during the pandemic.

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Moneyfacts said, landlords with 40% equity or deposit would find, even though their level of product choice was lower than this time last year, they were amongst those who might be able to secure a competitive new deal as the average two and five-year fixed rates in this bracket both remained 0.03% lower year-on-year.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said there were also 365 deals more available now than were recorded in July 2019, demonstrating the strength and resilience of the sector in the aftermath of an unprecedented 18 months.

“The demand for buy-to-let could well remain strong in the months to come as rental demand is prevalent, indicated by recent research from Propertymark’s Private Rented Sector report, May saw a record-breaking number of new prospective tenants registered,” she added.

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“Whether now is the right time to invest in property may also come down to the desire to earn a decent income.

“Indeed, research from Nottingham Building Society revealed that 61% of landlords surveyed felt property was a better investment due to low interest rates for savings – and this coupled with high demand for rental accommodation could sway new investors to dive into the buy-to-let sector.”

Williams also explained, due to the influence of the pandemic, interest rates for buy-to-let had climbed year-on-year with the overall two and five-year average interest rates of 2.98% and 3.28% being 0.37% and 0.31% higher respectively than a year ago.

This, she said, may be linked to the increase in availability of higher loan-to-value products.

She added: “These higher LTV deals usually charge a higher rate and can therefore impact these averages. However, despite creeping up a further 0.02% month-on-month, what is positive is the fact that the overall two-year fixed rate is lower now than in June 2019 – which means those coming off a two-year fixed deal may still find a better deal, depending on how much they have in equity and their circumstances.

“There could still be some understandable hesitation from prospective landlords with some existing investors who could even be considering downsizing their portfolio depending on the pandemic’s impact. However, we are beginning to see some improvements in average rates in certain loan-to-value brackets on a month-on-month basis.

“As house prices rise, demand for rental accommodation is high, and savings rates remain poor, therefore, investing in property could be enticing to some. It is vital though that would-be landlords and those looking to change their deal seek advice to ensure it’s the right time for them and they find the best package for their circumstances and plans.”

Buy-to-let mortgage market analysis 
Product numbersJul-19Jul-20Jun-21Jul-21 
BTL product count – fixed and variable rates2,3441,7382,4862,709 
All 80% LTV BTL products – fixed and variable rates21277147198 
All 75% LTV BTL products – fixed and variable rates971616884952 
All 60% LTV BTL products – fixed and variable rates342414341340 
Average ratesJul-19Jul-20Jun-21Jul-21 
BTL two-year fixed – all LTVs3.01%2.61%2.96%2.98% 
BTL two-year fixed – 80% LTV3.75%3.18%4.20%3.94% 
BTL two-year fixed – 75% LTV3.02%2.72%3.01%3.01% 
BTL two-year fixed – 60% LTV2.07%2.28%2.28%2.25% 
BTL five-year fixed – all LTVs3.50%2.97%3.31%3.28% 
BTL five-year fixed – 80% LTV4.14%3.82%4.34%4.15% 
BTL five-year fixed – 75% LTV3.51%3.14%3.42%3.36% 
BTL five-year fixed – 60% LTV2.51%2.65%2.64%2.62% 
Data shown is as at first working day of month, unless otherwise stated.  Source: Moneyfacts.co.uk

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Buy-to-let landlords rate energy efficiency of properties as top priority

The green credentials of prospective properties have been rated among the top consideration for portfolio buy-to-let landlords, a survey by Hodge has found.

The bank discovered environmental friendliness and energy efficiency were up there with rental yield and opportunity for capital growth as the top investment priorities when it quizzed landlords, investors and brokers.

Indeed, it was important for 82% of respondents demonstrating how influential green credentials were for landlords today.

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Andy Button, head of investment finance at Hodge, said: “The buy-to-let market is particularly buoyant right now with demand continuing to grow throughout the pandemic, and it’s interesting to see how the priorities for landlords are changing when looking to add to their portfolio.

“While rental yield and potential for capital growth are, of course, top priorities our research reflects a change in mood of the market, where sustainability and green credentials are becoming ever more important.”

“According to a recent Savills report, 26% of people considered the environment the most important issue facing the country and, according to Opinium research, 78% of the public believe they have a personal responsibility to deal with the climate crisis – many of these people will be renters.

“Therefore, to stay competitive landlords can’t ignore tenant preference; they, along with developers and estate agents, are having to provide choice in sustainable housing options.”

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Button added: “It’s clear that sustainability will feature more and more in new build development design, and more stringent compliance to EPC, and an investment strategy more closely aligned to sustainability could actually improve cash flows in the longer term, as tenants might be prepared to pay higher rents, in exchange for lower utility costs.

“Our research suggests that investors are very much alive to the longer term benefits that having sustainability credentials in a portfolio can afford.”

Hodge’s PBTL product has been developed for buy to let landlords with four or more properties, who want to stay organised with one loan to cover them all. It offers mortgages of up to £5 million for between four and 15 properties and will also loan to those buying multi-unit blocks.

The lender also offers a Specialised Residential Investment loan, up to £10 million, for larger investors with over 15 properties/units, and includes specialist property types, like multi-unit blocks and Houses of Multiple Occupancy.

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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A third of landlords have expanded buy-to-let portfolios

Buy to Let – The ‘opportunity to buy at a discount’ is driving many landlords to increase their portfolio a new survey has revealed.

In a study of more than 300 landlords, 34% said they had either recently purchased another buy-to-let property (BTL) or intended to buy one within the next nine months.

While the most common reason for their additional purchase was the opportunity to buy at a discount, other key factors included long‑term investment (35%), stamp duty savings (34%) and diversification by either location (26%) or property type (23%).

The survey also revealed how 43% of landlords surveyed said that they had temporarily lowered rents during the pandemic to help tenants, with 22% saying they had refinanced their mortgages since the arrival of coronavirus.

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Paul Fryers said: “Understanding the purchasing motivations behind professional landlords is an essential factor for Zephyr and our mortgage broker clients.

“It’s equally important to recognise and appreciate some of the challenges landlords have been facing during the past year and how they will affect their current and future applications.

“During the pandemic we saw a significant rise in the use of limited companies to buy and manage property portfolios, and it seems a significant proportion of landlords have made the most of the opportunities provided by the buoyant market conditions we have experienced over the past six months.”

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The survey also revealed only 7% of landlords had taken a mortgage holiday and 13% had sold a property during the pandemic.

Those landlords who did not purchase additional buy-to-let properties over the last year cited ‘declining rental yields’ (51%) and ‘concern about economic stability’ (42%) as their main reasons.

Matt Trevett added: “Although the buy-to-let market has remained more buoyant than some predicted, the last year has not been without its challenges for many tenants and landlords.

“The survey suggests a large proportion of landlords have been acting to support their tenants, with a significant proportion saying they had temporarily lowered rents during the pandemic.

“A recent survey also showed that the pandemic has triggered movement from cities to towns and the countryside, so landlords seeking to rebalance their portfolios may look to make purchases that reflect that trend.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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More Than a Quarter of Landlords Plan to Expand Portfolios

Just over one in four buy-to-let landlords are planning to expand their portfolio within the next 12 months, according to fresh research.

With buy-to-let continuing to deliver solid returns that outstrip many other asset classes, a survey by Knight Knox shows that 27% of buy-to-let landlords are currently planning to add to their portfolios in the near term.

The poll of 500 UK landlords by the property investment consultancy found that 27% of respondents are planning to expand their property portfolio in the next 12 months – influenced in part by the stamp duty holiday extension.

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Of those looking to invest in property at the moment, 35% say that the stamp duty holiday extension has influenced their decision.

Knight Knox’s commercial director, Andy Phillips, said: “The last 12 months have been a total rollercoaster for the housing market. Lockdown 1.0 temporarily halted activity before Rishi Sunak’s announcement of the stamp duty holiday led to the industry facing one of the busiest periods for a decade.

“For landlords, the incentive has provided a welcome opportunity to purchase more properties while making significant savings. Appetite for rental property is high – particularly given that the financial impact of the pandemic could be affecting people’s plans to purchase – so buy-to-let is a fantastic investment in the current climate.”

The research also found that on average, UK landlords earn over £20,000 net income per year from renting out properties and 88% are feeling confident or very confident about the buy-to-let market outlook for the next 12 months.

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Two-thirds of landlords said the pandemic had had no impact on tenancies within their properties and just 4% were planning to reduce their portfolio over the next year.

Phillips added: “The property market plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, so it’s encouraging to see that during times of crisis, the government has been forthcoming with lifelines to help keep the wheels of industry turning.

“As long as developers can continue to bring high quality property to market and landlords have the confidence to invest, the sector will remain buoyant and consumer demand for rental housing can be fulfilled.”

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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BTL investors seek larger loans as they look to diversify

A majority of buy-to-let landlords are applying for larger loans as market conditions encourage borrowers to buy more expensive properties and diversify their portfolios.

According to buy-to-let lender Keystone Property Finance, three in five of its customers applied for a mortgage in its larger loans range, which offers loan sizes between £250,000 and £1m, since December.

The lender said the popularity of larger loans could be due to landlords being able to afford more expensive properties as a result of the stamp duty holiday.

Elise Coole, managing director of Keystone Property Finance, said: “Our data shows that landlords remain confident about the buy-to-let market, with the majority of customers looking to secure a larger loan to purchase their property.

“Undoubtedly, the [stamp duty holiday] has played an important part in this and has presented landlords with an excellent opportunity to bolster their portfolios and invest in higher value properties.”

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Chris Sykes, associate director and mortgage consultant at Private Finance, said with possible rent arrears during the pandemic, this had partly encouraged landlords to consider diversifying their portfolios, thus requiring larger loans.

A November survey from Citizens Advice found half a million private renters were behind on their rent. MPs have called on the government to support tenants to repay rent arrears caused by the pandemic, including funds for landlords to help them receive income and avoid evictions.

Sykes said: “We have many portfolio landlords who traditionally only did single let family homes for example, who now are looking into houses in multiple occupation, multi-unit freehold blocks, holiday lets, etc.

“Many are even going further afield than that and are looking into commercial or semi-commercial property or development opportunities for higher yields, perhaps more hands-on investments but the profits often are considerably higher and [often require] larger loans to get things done.”

Data from Hamptons shows 15 per cent of all sales agreed in November were to landlords, the highest figure for four years, with investors “rushing to complete” their purchases before the original stamp duty holiday March deadline, according to the estate and letting agent.

Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage & Finance, said his firm had seen over 60 per cent of its business come from landlords between December and mid-March.

Likewise Aaron Strutt, product and communications director at Trinity Financial, noted demand from borrowers purchasing expensive buy-to-let properties due to cheap rates.

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Strutt said: “We are getting more calls from borrowers who are keen to purchase an investment property.

“There are a lot of landlords with £250,000-plus mortgages keen to remortgage and get the best possible deal. There is also demand from borrowers purchasing expensive buy-to-lets because of the cheap rates.”

The figures from Keystone Property Finance also found that three in five applications (62 per cent) for its larger loan products were from landlords registered as a limited company.

Mark Harris, chief executive at SPF Private Clients, said his firm had seen a marked interest in setting up a buy-to-let limited company.

Harris said: “We have seen significant interest from landlord clients with regard to switching to a limited company and lenders are recognising this with a wider range of products at competitive pricing.”

By Chloe Cheung

Source: FT Adviser

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Most profitable locations for buy-to-let landlords revealed

Brighton, Bangor, Portsmouth and Leeds are the top places for buy-to-let landlords, research from CIA Landlords has revealed.

Ranked at the bottom of the table is St Albans, with the poorest prospects for landlords this year, with some potentially making a loss of more than £700 a month.

Only six locations in London remain profitable, with the majority of boroughs losing money.

The research also reveals that profitability in the Capital has nearly halved since January 2020, amid a major exodus during the pandemic.

Brighton remains the most profitable place to be a landlord for the second year running, with landlords in the coastal town making a monthly profit of around £570.

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The findings, which took into account rental fees charged to tenants and landlord costs placed Bangor in second place (£500.53), Portsmouth in third place (£479.27), Leeds in fourth place (£477.60) and Lancaster in fifth (£474.54).

Bristol, Coventry, Manchester, Nottingham and Salford rounded out the top ten.

Stuart Williams (pictured), director of Thirlmere Deacon, said: “Over the last few months, some landlords have seen their profits dented due to the Chancellors’ tax measures that are only now taking effect.

“Undoubtedly, it is becoming more difficult for amateur investors to make a profit in the buy-to-let market due to legislation changes and financial pressures, there is still a lot of money to be made if landlords and investors make the right investment decisions.

“If investors can purchase cheaper properties with higher yields, they will have the opportunity to protect and boost their profits in the longer term. For example, an average residential property in London is around £500k with rental yields of circa 2%, while a flat in a good area of Manchester could cost half the price and generate 6-7% rental yields on top of 4-5% annual capital appreciation

“Landlords should review their existing portfolio to see if they can boost rental income and protect profits, by attracting a different market. Landlords will often find the best returns in urban areas, with a concentration of students and young professionals.

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“It is also worth landlords considering setting up a limited company and using this structure to hold their properties.

“This will enable them to continue deducting mortgage interest when they are calculating profits. Buy-to-let Landlords can also benefit from just 20% corporation tax, instead of income tax of up to 45%.

“Landlords need to do a serious portfolio review and work out how the tax changes affect them and what options there are to save, or make more money. For example, remortgaging to get a better deal or renovating some old stock – these costs will be tax-deductible.

“Alternatively, landlords could consider selling some properties or increasing the rent.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Number of UK buy-to-let landlords has increased by 49% in five years

The number of UK buy-to-let landlords has risen 49% in the last five years to an all-time high of 2.7 million, research from ludlowthompson estate agents found.

The residential market has stayed relatively strong during the coronavirus pandemic, though the commercial property market has fared poorly, as 54% of tenants have held discussions with their landlords about taking a rent holiday.

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Stephen Ludlow, chairman of ludlowthompson, said: “The buy-to-let market has continued to provide a reliable return on investment for landlords, even during the worst of the pandemic when other forms of investments went through a period of intense volatility.”

“The historic resilience of residential property means many private investors are still looking to add to their holdings, particularly before March 2021 when the stamp duty holiday ends.”

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“We would advise existing and prospective landlords to consider re-purposing their properties to meet the changing needs of tenants.

“With people spending more time at home, having extra space both in and outdoors has become more important than ever. Outdoor areas and home offices are both in very high in demand, as is accessibility to high-speed WiFi.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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