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Did the Stamp Duty Holiday Ignite a BTL Fever?

Despite the reduction in stamp duty bills, there is little sign that the stamp duty holiday led to large numbers of new investors purchasing buy-to-lets.

At their peak this year, investors purchased 14 per cent of homes sold across Great Britain in February, the month before the original end of the stamp duty holiday. However, over the entire course of the 15-month tax-break investors purchased 12 per cent of homes sold in Great Britain. This is marginally up from an average of 11 per cent during the 12 months before the holiday, but far from the 17 per cent recorded in Q4 2015 – the run up to the introduction of the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on 1 April 2016.

This means there were a total of 215,000 investor purchases across Great Britain between July 2020 and September 2021. While this figure is up from 164,300 during the equivalent period in 2018 and 2019, more transactions have taken place by other buyer types. Both these numbers remain below the 242,400 purchases which were made during the 15-month run up to the introduction of the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on 1 April 2016.

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Over the course of the15-month stamp duty holiday, the average buy-to-let investor’s tax bill fell by 35 per cent – from £8,500 in the month before the holiday, to an average of £5,500 between July 2020 and September 2021. For the average investor, this equates to almost three months’ rent.

The average bill came to £5,300 during the first 12 months of the holiday when investors paid the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on the first £500,000 of any purchase. It then rose 17 per cent to £6,200 when the threshold fell to £250,000 between July and September 2021. Average bills are set to return to around £8,400 from 1 October 2021, just below what investors were paying on the eve of the stamp duty holiday.

Overall, the holiday meant that the average investor paid less in stamp duty than at any time since April 2016, when the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge was introduced. Despite this, the average bill during the holiday remained twice the level it was before the surcharge was introduced. This is partly why there hasn’t been as much of an increase in investor purchases this time around.

There is little indication that investors used their savings from the holiday to buy bigger properties in more expensive areas. Instead, 83 per cent of investor purchases were under £250,000, meaning their savings from the holiday were significantly smaller than those enjoyed by home movers. It also means that investors have been less sensitive to the change in the nil-rate stamp duty threshold since they tend to buy cheaper properties.

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During the holiday the average price paid by a landlord rose by just 1 per cent to £181,000, despite house price growth of 10 per cent over the same period. This suggests landlords were happy to pocket the tax saving rather than use it to buy a property which would generate more rent.

RENTAL GROWTH

Average rental growth across Great Britain hit 8.0 per cent in September, the third fastest annual rate of growth recorded this year. Nationally, regions in the South of England have continued to drive rental growth. The average rent on a new home rose 14.8 per cent in the South West, 14.7 per cent in the South East and 10.8 per cent in the East of England. September marked the sixth consecutive month where annual rental growth hit double figures in the South West.

London rents have also continued to recover. Although Inner London rents fell for the twentieth consecutive month, the 4.4 per cent annual fall was the smallest decline this year, and smaller than the 22.1 per cent decrease recorded in April when the market bottomed out. In Outer London, rents grew 3.2 per cent annually in September, rising for the thirteenth consecutive month. This kept Greater London rents overall in positive territory, up 1.8 per cent year-on-year.

Source: Property Wire

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BTL availability reaches highest level since 2007

September started with 2,968 products on offer in the buy-to-let (BTL) sector, making BTL availability the highest on Moneyfacts records since October 2007 (3,305).

This is 71 products more than there were on offer pre-pandemic in March 2020 (2,897).

The average overall 2 and 5-year fixed BTL rates reduced in September by 0.03% and 0.04%, respectively.

At 2.94%, the 2-year fixed average was the lowest since January (2.89%), and at 3.25% the 5-year fixed equivalent was the lowest since December 2020 (3.25%).

At 85% loan-to-value (LTV), BTL availability remained unchanged at just 19 products this month, 13 less than were available in September 2019.

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The average 2 and 5-year fixed rates in this bracket of 5.61% and 5.83% were 0.88% and 0.44% higher than what was on offer two years ago.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “As we pass the 25th anniversary of the first BTL mortgages as we know them, our data gives landlords cause for positivity, as the number of products for them to choose from has risen by 153 this month, and at 2,968 is 1,162 higher than this time last year (1,806 Sep 2020).

“The resilience of this sector in the aftermath of a challenging 18-months is clear as choice now exceeds the number of deals available before the pandemic in March 2020 by 71 options.

“Further cause for celebration is that the interest charged on BTL mortgages is falling, with the average overall 2 and 5-year fixed rates dropping by 0.03% and 0.04% this month, to 2.94% and 3.25% respectively.

“Compared to a year ago, on face value borrowers will notice average rates are higher today.

“However, the rates a year ago were driven by the impact of the pandemic and product availability was low – particularly in the higher LTV tiers where rates are generally higher due to pricing for risk.

“As it stands, compared to a pre-pandemic September 2019, both the average 2- and 5-year fixed BTL rates are lower by 0.03% and 0.19% respectively, indicating rate pricing competition for those looking for new finance for an investment property.

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“As rental demand remains high, BTL could be a worthwhile investment and the rise in overall product choice and fall in average rates is positive.

“However, a note of caution as lenders’ enthusiasm to improve ranges seems to dissipate at the top end of the BTL LTV spectrum.

“The maximum 85% LTV bracket has not only seen availability stall at 19 deals, but also the average two- and five-year fixed rates on offer for landlords with just 15% equity or deposit are a quite staggering 0.88% and 0.44% above their September 2019 equivalents, indicating that while lenders are competing for business, this eagerness does not seem to extend to the riskier end of the market yet.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Buy-to-let mortgages reach their 25th birthday

The private rented sector has almost doubled in size since the first buy-to-let mortgage launched 25 years ago this Friday.

In 1996, the Association of Residential Landlords (ARLA) worked with a small group of lenders including Paragon and NatWest to develop a mortgage product specifically tailored to landlords.

Buy-to-let was devised to encourage new investment into a private rented sector (PRS) that had been in long-term decline.

The recession of the early 1990s exposed a lack of options for those for whom home ownership was out of reach, but who couldn’t qualify for diminished social housing provision.

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The PRS had fallen from over 70% of homes post World War I to less than 10% by the late 1980s, fuelled by the growth of social housing, successive policies to encourage home-ownership and a legal landscape that afforded little legal protection to landlords.

The only way a landlord could finance a property portfolio before BTL mortgages were launched was through commercial mortgage terms.

Often offered a low loan-to-value and with high rates, these didn’t always make the most attractive option for investors.

As a result, it is thought that some landlords used standard residential mortgages but in cases where the tenants weren’t declared, the terms of the mortgage would have been breached.

That was until the launch of the first specialist buy-to-let mortgage in 1996.

At the time, John Major was prime minister, Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced and mad cow disease was causing panic.

That same year the Spice Girls’ debut single, Wannabe, was released and England hosted the European Football Championships, cheered on by fans singing David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home).

The private rented sector (PRS) has almost doubled in size, expanding from 2.4 million households in 1996 to 4.4 million in England today.

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Now the PRS accounts for 19% of UK households, which is more than the social housing sector, which accounts for 17% of households.

The portion of homes in the sector classed as “decent” under government standards has consistently increased, rising from 53.2% in 2006 to 76.7% last year.

There has been a 272% increase in PRS homes with an energy rating of C or above since 2009 to 1.8 million today.

Paragon managing director for mortgages Richard Rowntree says: “Since being launched as a mortgage product specifically designed for landlords 25 years ago, buy-to-let finance has helped to transform the PRS.

“It is now a vital component of the UK’s housing provision, with renting no longer a last resort.

“The PRS is a tenure of choice as well as need and this is supported by the diversity of those who actively choose rented homes, benefitting from the flexibility they provide.”

Former Arla Propertymark president Robert Jordan says: “We at Arla realised that the housing market was at a low ebb; houses weren’t selling, which meant a lot of people were letting their homes to move to a new property.

“When the housing market picked up those properties sold and there was a need for more rented properties to fill the gap for tenants, but we couldn’t see where we would find more homes to let.

“It became clear that the mortgage options weren’t suitable, so together we designed a product, buy-to-let, that would enable more investors to purchase an investment property and let it under the new Housing Act 1988 regulations.

“Paragon and NatWest were the first two mortgage lenders we approached. Today, private landlords house approximately five million households across the UK at no cost to the exchequer.”

By Leah Milner

Source: Mortgage Strategy

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Buy-to-let market on the rise: is now the time to invest?

Buy-to-let landlords are becoming increasingly confident about expanding their portfolios, as rents rise and mortgage rates fall. That’s according to a new report by Shawbrook Bank, which found investors are targeting properties with gardens in an attempt to entice tenants.

A third of landlords look to expand portfolios

New research by Shawbrook Bank has found that a third (34%) of landlords are looking to expand their portfolios in the next 12 months. One in 10 plan to buy in a different area from their current properties, with their plans driven by changes in tenant priorities since the start of the pandemic. Of those looking to invest, 30% say they’ll seek out more rural locations, with the North East of England a popular choice. After a tough year, there are signs confidence is returning to buy-to-let. Two thirds of landlords (67%) told Shawbrook they are positive about their prospects in the next year.

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What are landlords looking for in investment properties?

The pandemic has had a significant effect on what we want from a home, with time spent away from the office and the prospect of hybrid working in the future changing buyer and tenant priorities. Shawbrook’s research shows landlords are reacting to the trend of home movers looking for bigger properties with gardens or access to outside space. The chart below shows the top five priorities for landlords looking to buy an investment property.

What’s happened to rental yields?

Average monthly rents in the UK range from just £396 in the North East of England to £1,755 in London, according to Shawbrook’s data. Across the UK, rents have increased by 1.6% year-on-year, with the South West, East Midlands and West Midlands all seeing growth of more than 2%. Changes to rent prices don’t tell the whole story, however. London might have the highest rents in the UK, but it also has the lowest rental yields for landlords – reflecting the high up-front cost of buying properties in England’s capital. Cheaper areas are more likely to enjoy significant growth in property values, which then has a significant knock-on effect on yields for landlords. The chart below shows how rental yields vary around the UK, from less than 4% in the South East of England to nearly 6% in Scotland. The UK average is 4.3%.

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Lack of supply could boost buy-to-let profits

Rents have only risen slightly over the past year, but rising house prices mean the value of buy-to-let homes has increased markedly. Shawbrook says the value of the private rented sector had grown to £1.4 trillion by the end of 2020, with buy-to-let properties increasing in value by 5.8% year-on-year. With the market now cooling down a little, landlords may be handed a boost by a lack of supply. Shawbrook says that rented homes made up 17% of all households in England, Scotland and Wales as of March 2021. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually a fall of 2.6% year-on-year. With the number of available rental properties decreasing and tenants competing for bigger homes, it may be that rent prices tick up more substantially the next 12 months.

Landlords take advantage of stamp duty holiday

The stamp duty holiday resulted in UK house prices rising by more than 10% year-on-year, and owner occupiers weren’t the only ones to benefit. Shawbrook’s data shows that 28% of landlords bought an investment property during the tax break. Professional landlords were most likely to take advantage of the savings, with 43% of portfolio landlords (those with four or more buy-to-let properties) making additional purchases. Nearly half (46%) of landlords who invested during the stamp duty holiday said they wouldn’t have done so if not for the savings on offer.

What’s going on with mortgages for landlords?

Buy-to-let mortgage availability crashed in 2020, with lenders withdrawing huge numbers of deals after the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, though, the market has settled down, and the resulting lower rates are good news for landlords looking to buy or refinance. Data from Moneyfacts shows that average buy-to-let mortgage rates have been falling for months, and are now just above the levels seen before the pandemic.

Is now the time to invest in buy-to-let property?

If you’re tempted to invest in buy-to-let, it’s important to do your research first – especially if you’re new to the game. When calculating anticipated rental yields, landlords look to what’s happening with rent prices and the prospect of the property growing in value, but past performance doesn’t always provide a guarantee. Savvy landlords will carefully research local markets to find out which types of properties are in short supply and thus in demand from tenants.

By Stephen Maunder

Source: Which?

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Rents outside London rising at highest rate for over a decade

Rents outside London are currently rising by 5% year on year, their highest rate for over a decade, the latest Zoopla Rental Market Report has shown.

Zoopla attributed the increases to a widening imbalance between rental demand and supply which pushed rental growth to the highest level seen since 2008.

Meanwhile, in London itself rental declines have bottomed out amid rising demand, reaching -3.8% in July, from -9.8% in February.

The average monthly rent outside London is now at £790, up from £752 in July last year.

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Growth hit 10-year highs in the East Midlands (+6.8%), the North East (+6.5%), the South West (+7.6%), Wales (+6.4%) and Yorkshire & the Humber (+4.9%) in July.

Rental growth in some cities and towns rose even further, with growth in Wigan and Mansfield reaching double figures, at 10.5% and 10% respectively. Hastings, Blackburn, Barnsley and Norwich are registering growth of 9.4% or more.

In London, average rents in the 12 boroughs in inner London rose by 2.3% in the three months to July with the average rent in the capital standing at £1,593pcm.

Nigel Purves said: “This report shines a light on just how deep-rooted the UK’s property affordability crisis actually is. Despite the pandemic-induced exodus, rents in big cities continue to soar, with young professionals and divorcees leading the renewed drive for city-living.

“But demand for gardens and more space doesn’t necessarily align with the reality of properties on offer.

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“Renting can be a good option for some, but it should be just that, an option. Millions of people in the UK are stuck in properties that don’t meet their needs, especially families with young children, and key workers who are wedded to a particular area because of their jobs and support networks.

“These groups are left paying high rents on often unsuitable rental homes. And to add insult to injury, they have no security and very little freedom: they can be kicked out at nearly any time, and their landlords stop them keeping pets or even changing the paint colour on the walls.

“This continued pressure on saving combined with the unfair mortgage lending criteria means that even if they can afford a deposit and mortgage-level monthly rents, these reluctant renters are unable to take their first step onto the property ladder.

“It’s vital the government treats this issue as urgent – if it truly hopes to turn ‘Generation Rent’ into ‘Generation Buy’, it must work together with the property industry to innovate and provide alternative routes to homeownership.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Average buy-to-let home gained £15k in value during the pandemic

The value of the private rented sector in England, Wales and Scotland has grown 5.8 per cent to £1.4trillion following the housing market boom of the past year. The average buy-to-let property was worth 5.6 per cent – or around £14,500 – more in March 2021 than it was at the start of the pandemic, reaching approximately £259,000.

However, while the overall value of the buy-to-let sector increased, the number of homes available actually fell.

This was according to research from mortgage lender Shawbrook Bank into the effect the pandemic had on landlords.

It found that Wales, the North West and Scotland had seen the most dramatic increases in price, totalling 11 per cent, 10.7 per cent and 9.5 per cent respectively.

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Rising prices in these areas reflected the trend of people moving out of cities in search of more green space.

Meanwhile, prices in the capital increased 2.5 per cent over the last year – though London remained the most expensive region in the UK to buy a rental property.

The 5.6 per cent growth does not quite match the phenomenal price rises seen in the mainstream housing market, though it may have increased since the study was undertaken in March.

According to the latest Nationwide index, residential house prices jumped 10.5 per cent in the year to the end of July.

Landlords were able to benefit from the stamp duty holiday which saved them up to £15,000 by cutting the tax on the portion of any property purchase under £500,000.

However, they still had to pay the additional 3 per cent surcharge on second homes, which they have been liable for since 2016.

More than a quarter of landlords said they had bought a property this year because of the stamp duty holiday, rising to 43 per cent of those who owned four or more properties.

A further 13 per cent were in the process of buying a property when surveyed, as a direct result of the government incentive, according to Shawbrook.

Of those that had bought, or were in the process, 46 per cent of landlords said they would not have done so had it not been for the holiday.

John Eastgate, managing director of property finance at Shawbrook Bank, said: ‘Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the private rented sector has once again shown its strength and the important role it plays.

‘Landlords are looking to expand their portfolios due to a combination of rising house prices, attractive yields and growing demand from tenants.’

Where can landlords find the best rental yields?

For landlords looking to buy over the next year, Shawbrook revealed the regions that have the highest rental yields.

It found that the best returns could be had in Scotland, with an average yield of 5.8 per cent; the North West, with an average of 5.5 per cent; Yorkshire and the Humber, with an average of 5.4 per cent.

While London may generate the highest rents, yields for London buy-to-let properties were among the lowest at 3.9 per cent, below the UK average of 4.3 per cent.

Nearly a third of the landlords surveyed said they planned to buy their next property in a more rural location.

As well as considering the locations where they could get the best yields, landlords were also looking for property features that would make their homes more attractive to tenants in a post-pandemic world.

More than a third said they were looking for a property with a garden, while 27 per cent were seeking one with a ‘decent-sized’ living space.

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Sector’s value grew – but number of rented homes fell

While the value of the buy-to-let sector grew, its size decreased as some landlords decided to leave the market and sell their properties.

Numbers of privately rented homes fell by 2.6 per cent to 4.8million between March 2020 and March 2021, according to Shawbrook, now making up 17 per cent of total housing stock.

There has been an outflow of landlords in recent times due to factors such as a stricter tax regime, and tougher energy efficiency rules coming over the horizon.

According to separate data from the National Residential Landlords Association, the proportion of landlords intending to buy new properties saw a dramatic drop from 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, to 14 per cent in the second quarter, according to the NRLA.

In comparison, the proportion looking to sell up was 20 per cent, up three percentage points from the first quarter of the year.

Another possible reason for this was that landlords’ income took a hit during the pandemic, as they gave rent reductions and payment holidays.

According to Shawbrook 44 per cent of landlords reduced monthly rent for their tenants at some stage.

However, some landlords said the impact of the pandemic was not as bad as they initially expected.

Jackie Tomes, founder and chief executive of Kent-based property company Tomes Homes, said: ‘When the pandemic hit we were forecasting potential drops in rental income at 25-30 per cent, but the reality has been very different for us.

‘We have strong relationships with our tenants, and while some have (and continue to) struggle, we have been very successful at agreeing repayment plans.

‘We’ve also noticed that voids have been down because tenants haven’t been moving to a new house. So higher arrears, but lower voids.’

In the year to the end of March 2021, average rents increased by 1.6 per cent.

Fewer properties = fiercer competition among tenants
As the supply of properties decreased, the Shawbrook study suggested that demand from tenants for the homes that were available grew.

In total, 42 per cent of landlords that had remained in the market said they had seen demand increase for their properties in the past 12 months.

In addition, two thirds (67 per cent) of landlords said that they were confident about the future of the property market over the next twelve months.

Tomes continued: ‘Recently, we have seen an incredible surge of tenant demand. The locations we are invested in are seeing even more “DFL’s” (the Down from Londons) wanting to rent to test out a new lifestyle further from the city.

‘While all property types have seen increased demand due to limited supply in the market, larger 2-3-bedroom properties are seeing even more interest.’

This tallies with data from the NRLA which found that nearly 39 per cent of its members believed demand for homes to rent increased in the second quarter of 2021 (April to June) – a five-year high.

This could be a product of tenant demand coming back into the market, as many put off moves during the pandemic.

Shawbrook got its data from Office for National Statistics population projections and the English Housing Survey, as well as Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government figures.

By HELEN CRANE

Source: This is Money

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Private Rented Sector Grows to £1.4trn

The value of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in England, Wales and Scotland grew by 5.8 per cent to £1.4trn in the last year according to a new report from Shawbrook Bank.

Since the first national lockdown, house prices have rebounded at pace. March 2021 saw house price growth of 9.9 per cent year on year, as the Stamp Duty holiday boosted confidence and demand. Buy-to-let properties have also seen marked price increases, with the value of the average buy-to let property across the UK rising by 5.6 per cent to December 2020 to approximately £258,900.

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The past eighteen months have been a period of substantial consequence for the PRS, which had already been impacted in recent years by taxation and regulatory changes. Some landlords chose to leave the market and the PRS actually contracted in size over the last year. Separately, many tenants made a change, opting to return to their family homes during the pandemic, to leave cities in search of more space, or to make the most of the Stamp Duty holiday and become homeowners themselves. This reduction in the size of the PRS therefore isn’t surprising after the last year. The outlook however points to growth.

Demand from tenants has been growing. In total, 42 per cent of landlords report that they have seen demand increase for their properties in the past 12 months.

In addition, two thirds (67 per cent) of landlords said that they were confident about the future of the property market over the next twelve months, with a third (34 per cent) of all landlords planning to buy a property in the coming year.

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As house prices continue to grow, an increasing number of people are renting for longer. Half (49 per cent) of renters say they expect to be renting for the rest of their life. Affordability is one reason behind these figures. However, a growing number are also choosing to stay renting. More flexible lifestyles have led to some looking for the same from their property. In total, 10 per cent said they prefer the reduced responsibility of renting, while a further 7 per cent said that renting allowed them to live in a better location than if they bought.

When asked why they were confident about the future of the property market, landlords pointed to house price growth (41 per cent), an increase in demand from tenants (41 per cent), the general strength of the economy (33 per cent), and the increased rental yields currently available (26 per cent).

For landlords looking to buy over the next year, to capitalise on the increase in tenant demand, and current low mortgage rates, Shawbrook’s research reveals the regions where high rental yields can be achieved. The highest rental yields can be found in the North West (5.5 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber (5.4 per cent) and Scotland (5.8 per cent). In comparison, while London may generate the highest rents, yields for London buy-to-let properties are currently amongst the lowest at 3.9 per cent, below the UK average of 4.3 per cent.

John Eastgate, MD, Property Finance at Shawbrook Bank, comments: “Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the PRS has once again shown its strength and the important role it plays. Landlords are looking to expand their portfolios due to a combination of rising house prices, attractive yields and growing demand from tenants. Borrowing to help fund this expansion is an attractive option, with landlords presented with great choice and historically low mortgage costs.

He added: “While more first-time buyers have stepped onto the property ladder in the last year, the reality is that rising house prices mean more will continue to be locked out of home-ownership. This, coupled with disruption to employment and lagging wage inflation, will make it difficult for some to buy their own home. In addition, with more choosing to rent for the flexibility and freedom it offers, there is a clear need for professional landlords who can offer high quality accommodation.”

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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NRLA: Demand for rental properties reaches five year high

The demand for private rented housing has reached a five-year high, according to research released by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

The survey of private landlords across England and Wales, conducted in partnership with research consultancy BVA/BDRC, found that 39% confirmed demand for homes to rent had increased in the second quarter of 2021 – 8% more than said so in the first quarter of the year.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales, the South West and the South East more than 60% of landlords said that demand for homes to rent had increased.

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In contrast, just 15% of landlords in central London said demand had increased in the second quarter of the year, compared with 53% who said it had fallen.

Despite an overall increase in demand, the proportion of landlords intending to buy property has fallen from the four year high of 19% recorded in the first quarter of the year, to 14%.

In comparison, the proportion looking to divest has returned to 20%, up three percentage points from the first quarter of the year.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, 55% of landlords said that their lettings business will continue to be negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic.

An estimated 81% of those in outer London and 78% of those in central London said they would be negatively impacted.

At the other end of the spectrum, 49% of those in Yorkshire and the Humber said they would be negatively affected.

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Chris Norris, policy director for the NRLA, said: “The evidence is clear that nationally whilst the demand for homes to rent is increasing, landlords are more reluctant to invest in new properties.

“The only losers will be tenants as they struggle to find the homes to rent they need.

“The Chancellor needs to recognise the harm being done by tax hikes imposed on the sector.

“It is clear that there is a significant flight of tenants from the capital in response to the COVID pandemic.

“With lockdown restrictions having ended, and offices beginning to reopen, the jury is out as to whether this trend will continue.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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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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