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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.

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.

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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.

“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.

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“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.

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.

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“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.”

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.

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“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%).

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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“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.”

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.

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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.

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.

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“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.

“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. 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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Expat Landlords Get Buy To Let Mortgage Aid

The financial pain of coronavirus uncertainty for buy to let landlords has been eased by the housing minister.

Secretary for Housing Robert Jenrick is extending a mortgage lifeline to landlords who pass on the help to tenants who cannot pay the rent due to illness or the loss of income due to the deadly virus.

Expats who cannot travel back to the UK or who are in lock down overseas will pick up the same help as landlords in the UK.

Jenrick has persuaded buy to let mortgage lenders to offer a 90 day repayment holiday to financially-stricken landlords.

But they must also offer a rent holiday to tenants.

Emergency legislation

Then, when the threat of coronavirus has passed and the country returns to normal, he expects the tenants and landlords to come to an agreement about repaying lost rent and missed mortgage payments.

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He is also passing emergency legislation to make sure landlords do not go to court with no-fault Section 21 evictions for at least three months.

“The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts,” said Jenrick.

“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage. Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.

Landlords must reach out to tenants

“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”

Jenrick urged landlords to show compassion to the plight of their tenants and not to consider eviction.

“This important step on buy to let mortgages ensures parity of support, further to the announcement that the government made for private mortgage holders,” he added.

“To support this announcement the government has worked with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters and to strengthen its remit. This will support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.”

By Rob Dawson

Source: Money International

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Should buy-to-let landlords switch to holiday letting?

Recent research reveals thousands of landlords have switched from long-term to holiday letting, but will they be better off financially?

Over the past three years, landlords have gradually lost the ability to deduct mortgage interest costs from their turnover before calculating their tax bill.

From April, they will not be able to deduct any finance costs from their property earnings and will instead receive only basic-rate tax relief on these costs.

The tax change, together with a number of regulatory changes in the sector, including the Tenant Fees Act, has led many landlords to consider selling their properties.

Others, however, are instead looking to switch strategy with holiday or short-term letting becoming one of the key areas of interest.

According to a report by letting agent professional body ARLA Propertymark earlier this year, nearly 50,000 properties have been changed from long-term letting to short-term letting.

Its research, which was carried out by Capital Economics, found that a further 10% of landlords were considering offering short-term lets in the future.

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What’s the appeal?

There are several reasons landlords may be thinking about holiday lets but a big one is tax.

Subject to meeting certain criteria, properties used as holiday lets are still able to deduct all of their mortgage interest and other finance costs from their turnover before calculating the tax liability, which used to be the case with buy-to-let properties.

Bev Dumbleton, chief operating officer at Sykes Holiday Cottages, says the holiday rental agency is seeing a growing number of landlords move into holiday letting for this reason.

“Stringent tax rules on buy-to-lets, phased in from 2017, have made it increasingly difficult to turn a profit,” says Dumbleton.

“This is only going to get worst for landlords.”

Nick Morrey, product technical manager at broker John Charcol, believes those switching to holiday letting are also motivated by the growing staycation trend.

“Thanks to Brexit, the UK is becoming a more popular holiday destination and demand for holiday lets is likely to increase and already has been since the referendum,” says Morrey.

Another factor driving landlords to change strategy is the Government’s plan to abolish Section 21 evictions.

Many landlords are concerned they will be stuck with difficult tenants for long periods of time once this change comes into force.

“With longer term lets, it can be riskier taking on tenants if they don’t turn out to be quite what you hoped,” says Dumbleton.

“Landlords may find themselves stuck in a binding contract when things aren’t ideal.”

Although frequently dubbed ‘no-fault’ evictions, landlord groups such as the National Landlords Association (NLA) have warned that landlords are typically using Section 21 to evict tenants who are not paying the rent or causing damage.

There is another process that can be used in these circumstances – a Section 8 eviction – but NLA research has shown landlords do not believe this process works.

How do the numbers stack up?

In many areas, it tends to be more lucrative from a rental income point of view to rent properties out on a short-term basis.

But costs and managing agent fees also tend to be higher for holiday lets, so the overall financial picture in many cases was not different enough to warrant the extra hassle for many landlords.

With the tax disparity added into the mix, this may no longer be true, especially for higher rate taxpayers.

Example one: a holiday hotspot

We crunched the numbers on a two-bedroom holiday let in popular seaside town Whitby to see whether a landlord would end up with more money in their pocket via buy-to-let or holiday let.

 Buy-to-letHoliday let
Rental income£7,872£13,000
Mortgage interest£1,780£2,936
Commission£945£3,120
Running costs£787£2,600
Tax£2,100£1,738
Profit£2,260£2,606

Rental income figures for buy-to-let taken from home.co.uk; for holiday let provided by Sykes Cottages.

Mortgage rates provided by John Charcol – 2% for buy-to-let; 3.3% for holiday let, based on a five-year fix at 75% loan-to-value (LTV) on an interest-only basis. Figures based on the average flat value in Whitby of £118,643, taken from home.co.uk.

Commission rate estimated at 12% including VAT for buy-to-let; 24% including VAT for holiday let.

Other running costs estimated at 10% for buy-to-let; 20% for holiday let. Based on a tax rate of 40%.

Example two: a city centre pad

We also crunched the numbers on a city short-let in Fairfield, Liverpool, using data provided by short-term letting agent Portico Host.  

 Buy-to-letHoliday let
Rental income£16,716£32,883
Mortgage interest£1,902£3,138
Commission£2,006£7,892
Running costs£1,672£6,577
Tax£4,835£6,110
Profit£6,301£9,166

In this example, we used Portico’s rental income and average house price data for this area (£126,779), which was based on AirDNA, Rightmove and Land Registry data.

We made the same mortgage, commission, running costs and tax assumptions as in the Whitby example.

The bottom line

As it can be seen in the scenarios, in both cases, a landlord would be better off renting a property on a short-term basis rather than on a long-term one, albeit only slightly in the Whitby example.

But while a city-centre property might be more lucrative, a seaside hotspot might be more appealing for those looking to use the property themselves or retire there in the future.

It’s worth pointing out there are lots of other considerations to take into account if you’re pondering moving from long-term to short-term lets.

In some areas – London, for example – there are rules prohibiting short lets for more than 90 days per year unless you’ve applied for planning permission.

There are also far fewer lenders offering mortgages for holiday lets so obtaining finance is likely to be more difficult than for buy-to-let.

If you own a leasehold property, you’ll also need to seek the permission of your freeholder and this may not be granted.

There’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking about changing strategy, but the numbers suggest it could be a worthwhile move for some landlords.

By Joanne Christie

Source: Love Money