Property Swings & Landlord Roundabouts

Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

Half way through the first month of the year and the nations’ obsession with property is still dominating the news.

Conflicting data and statistics still continues to flood the press reporting negative and positive threads surrounding the home-ownership issue, property prices and the plight of the first-time buyer.  The principle of owning ones own home and using it as a long-term investment is now a closed door.  What Thatcher did for home-ownership is akin to Pavlov’s relationship to dogs.  A generation of aspiration through property dwindles.

As it stands, Kerry Katona probably has more chance of staging a successful comeback at the moment than the profit wielding property market.  And just like our Kerry, the media are quick to spread the negatives, after all bad news is the nectar of the gods for some headline grabbing publications.

But it’s not all bad news, at least not for residential landlords.  According to lender ‘Halifax’, property prices fell by 1.6% in 2010…well ok maybe not good news for house vendors, but it most certainly leaves the property pendulum swinging further to the buy-to-let sector, which is still experiencing persistent growth.

Specialist BTL lenders ‘Paragon’ are also as quick to announce an encouraging year, revealing research claiming 71% of landlords are feeling pretty much optimistic about 2011.

However, the fall in house prices and the property bargains to be had at auctions are attracting attention from the general public, keen to invest in a BTL property.  Seen as a great return on investment, treading on virgin territory can be quite daunting for DIY landlords once they realise the commitment involved for sustaining their investment.  Setting aside considerations of admin and exit fees on BTL lending and a question mark on prospective interest rate rises, there’s also the practicalities of running your own show, protecting your investment and ensuring your cash flow can see you through rent arrears and rental voids, ensuring mortgage obligations can be met.

Further considerations consist of property maintenance and upkeep, insurance cover, wear and tear, redecoration, EPCs, gas certificates etc.  If that wasn’t enough to take in, following a strategy for tenant selection and referencing is another area that needs particular attention.

PRS expert and spokesman for Legal 4 Landlords, Sim Sekhon advises landlords to create a business plan covering all aspects before landlords invest in a property.

“Anyone new to this industry should consider the pro’s and con’s involved.  Firstly they need to decide if they are going to use a letting agent and if so they should count in the costs incurred by fees and commission into their business plan.

‘We would also recommend ‘rent guarantee cover’, as at some point they may experience arrears from tenants.  There are a number of services available to assist and protect landlords new to the sector that are invaluable and necessary to protect investments.”

While the present factors can appear promising with a sustained and continued trend pointing to rent increases and tenant demand, at some point the market will level out, stabilizing rents, but overheads will continue to rise as the measure of inflation switches from RPI to CPI.

So do you still want to be a landlord?

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