Adding Property to Your Investment Portfolio

24th July 2017

Over the last decade, the UK’s population has risen by a record 7%, with the number of households set to reach 28 million in the next 20 years.

This makes the UK more crowded than any other major European country, with a population density four times that of France. In response to this growing demand for housing, an estimated 232,000 new properties need to be built annually - yet the numbers of new homes entering the market are at their lowest since the 1920s.

While this makes getting on the property ladder an increasingly daunting prospect, it has also resulted in demand for rental property almost doubling since 2002. Particularly in Brighton and Hove, where links to London drive demand yet geographical constraints have all but halted supply, the buy-to-let lifestyle seems a tempting way to grow your savings.

Before you make the jump into property investment, however, it pays to be well-versed in the ups and downs of the property market, as well as the financial and logistical challenges of being a landlord.

Our property experts have outlined some important points to take into account when investing your savings in bricks and mortar.

Are you ready for buy-to-let?

Investing in a buy-to-let property can be a rewarding way to increase your earnings, with the potential for a regular income from rent even into retirement, as well as a significant asset should you choose to sell.

Such a significant investment will call for a lot of your time, money and effort over the years. As a landlord, you’ll be responsible for getting a property into rentable order and maintaining it across tenancies.

It’s possible to hire a property manager to liaise with tenants and ensure ongoing repairs in your stead, but this expense will need to be factored into your budget.

Furthermore, regardless of whether you invest in a property management service or not, it will still fall to you to get the property into an initial rentable state before the professionals take over.

One way or another, it pays to have a little knowledge of property renovation before you take on your first buy-to-let house. Focus on durability, sourcing materials such as tiles and hard flooring that will last through multiple tenancies and save money on running repairs. While this will incur an initial cost, it will pay for itself in terms of time and money saved between tenancies.

Consider your financial position before committing yourself to property investment. If you have unpaid debts, you may not be able to apply for a buy-to-let mortgage. If you still have a student loan on the go, discuss your options with a mortgage broker - your mortgage will depend on the rental income of the property and outgoing costs.

Even if your bills are all paid off, it’s important to consider any significant costs that may arise over the next few years. If you’re expecting a new baby or a big change, it may not be the right time for you to add property to your portfolio.

The majority of buy-to-let mortgages are reliant on you already owning your own home, having a clean credit record, and earning over £25,000 a year. If you’re uncertain about whether you can meet these conditions, talk to a mortgage broker about your circumstances and find out what your options are.

Get your ducks in a row

Once you’ve decided now’s the right time to buy, you’ll need to put some thought into your financial situation. While buying to let puts you in the enviable position of letting tenants pay your mortgage for you, a solid grasp of your accounts will give you confidence in making that initial investment.

It’s important to note that the minimum deposit for a buy-to-let mortgage usually falls between 20% and 40% of the property’s value, and the fees tend to be higher than those on first homes. We’d recommend saving at least 25% of a property’s total value to secure your home with - this will give you peace of mind as you negotiate mortgage rates.

Don’t forget about Stamp Duty Land Tax: SDLT for buy-to-let properties adds an extra 3% on top of the current SDLT rate bands for properties above £40,000. You can get a head start on working out your stamp duty with our comprehensive calculator.

It also pays to have a cushion of savings, to cover mortgage payments during periods when when your property’s without tenants. If this seems like a stretch, it might be wise to spend a little longer saving up before taking that next step up the ladder.

Chat with an independent financial advisor about your options for mortgages, insurance, property taxes and more, and start your buy-to-let journey on the best possible footing.

Pick the perfect property

Your first buy-to-let home will influence your entire investment experience, so it’s important to choose a house or flat that meets your requirements.

Many first-time investors are keen to pick up a bargain fixer-upper and renovate it into a rental. However, the mounting costs of renovation can be quite demotivating for new landlords - you may prefer to try your hand with a property that needs only minor repairs before dreaming of grand designs.

The style of your second property may also affect your financial gain from it. In many cases, a more luxurious buy-to-let property will result in more expensive running repairs, as top-paying tenants will expect a certain standard of maintenance. While a graded property will attract a higher calibre of tenants, repairs will come at an extra cost, requiring like-for-like materials.

It’s also worth putting consideration into the area where you buy your property: a decent school district, low crime rates, a growing job market and a variety of amenities are all factors that will ensure your home rarely sits empty.

Check out our area guides for some handy tips on what prospective tenants will be looking for in a Brighton and Hove home.

Be willing to commit

Investing in property is exactly what it says on the tin: an investment for your future. This means that while the initial steps may take a lot of time, money and thought, you’ll soon see the benefits adding up.

As long as you can ensure enough in rent to cover mortgage payments and fees, you’ll find yourself with a solid investment that literally pays for itself.

Are you ready to add property to your investment portfolio? Talk to our local property experts today.


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