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Paragon: Landlord confidence at five-year high

The proportion of landlord respondents optimistic about different aspects of letting is at the highest level for five years, according to Paragon Bank.

As part of research carried out on behalf of Paragon Bank by BVA BDRC, landlords were asked to rate their expectations for rental yields, their own lettings business, capital gains, the private rental sector, and the UK financial market.

The proportion who deemed the outlook for these measures to be either ‘good’ or ‘very good’ exceeded levels seen in Q3 2016, the survey taken just before the Brexit vote, with investor optimism consistently rising following the record low levels seen in Q1 2020.

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The survey also highlighted a link between optimism and portfolio size, as 56% of landlords with 11 or more properties felt ‘good’ or ‘very good’, but this fell to 46% amongst those with between one and 10 properties.

A positive outlook was noted among 63% of those who had recently purchased a property, compared to 48% of all respondents.

More than three-quarters (78%) of landlords who planned to expand their lettings business in the next year were optimistic, whereas confidence was seen in a lower proportion (26%) among those looking to divest.

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Richard Rowntree said: “Understandably, landlord confidence fell sharply in the first quarter of 2020, as the extent of the pandemic became clear.

“It is fantastic to see optimism bounce back and rise in the time since; it is an indication of the strength of the sector.

“Landlords see the sector’s issues and opportunities on a daily basis so measuring their outlook can provide useful insight for the industry and, as we see here, investor confidence can have a real impact on behaviour.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Annual rental income growth greater in outer city areas

While an inner city rental property still has a higher monthly rental income, rental homes in outer city areas have seen stronger growth over the past year, according to Sequre Property Investment.

On average across London, Manchester and Birmingham, the monthly cost of renting within an inner city area is £1,152 versus £908 per month in the outer city market, a difference of 27% or £244 per month.

London was home to the biggest difference, with rents across the inner city rental market coming in 37% higher on average, with a 26% difference in Manchester and a 9% difference in Birmingham.

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However, on average across all three cities, annual rental growth across outer city areas has remained largely flat, while across inner city rental areas it has fallen by 4.4% in the last 12 months.

Manchester has seen the strongest performance, with inner city rental values remaining largely unchanged in the last year, while across the city’s outer rental market values have climbed by 3.7%.

In Birmingham, outer city rental values are up 2.2% versus a marginal 0.3% uplift across the inner city.

And in London, there has been a 1.1% increase in rental values across outer city areas and a 7.8% drop across the capital’s inner city areas.

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Daniel Jackson, sales director at Sequre Property Investment, said: “It’s clear inner city rental markets are still struggling due to the decline in demand caused by the pandemic, despite a gradual return to normality from a social standpoint and with regard to the workplace.

“This is particularly evident across the London market, where rental values have plummeted across inner city areas, while they’ve also struggled in outer city areas.

“The good news is that elsewhere, outer city rental values are on the up, with both Manchester and Birmingham seeing very healthy levels of growth.

“This suggests that tenants are now starting to make their return and this is a trend that should soon reach our city centres and help boost values across inner city rental markets.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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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.

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“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.

“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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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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UK buy-to-let has ‘defied gravity’ through Covid-19, says S&P

The UK buy-to-let (BTL) market remained resilient through the Covid-19 pandemic and has features that could help it remain buoyant, says S&P Global Ratings in a new report.

Amid the pandemic-related lockdowns, private sector UK rental arrears reached 9.0 per cent by the end of 2020, but the S&P RMBS post-2014 originations buy-to-let (BTL) index recorded total delinquencies no higher than 0.5 per cent.

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“Diversification in terms of property and borrowers, the increasingly professional nature of BTL, and generally high debt servicing ratios has helped buy-to-let performance remain resilient,” says S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Alastair Bigley.

For post-2014 originations, approximately 50 per cent of properties at a portfolio level could be in rental arrears in the short term before it would affect debt service and cause a significant spike in arrears.

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Ultimately, Covid-19 represented a shock to only one risk factor that determines BTL performance – tenant affordability – while other factors such as the prevailing interest rate environment and house prices were supportive.

“Looking forward, although peak stress for landlords may be argued to be over, the recent prominence of 95 per cent owner-occupied lending may facilitate some renters to become buyers and change the supply-and-demand dynamics for certain properties, and make some properties harder to rent,” says Bigley.

Source: Property Funds World

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Buy-to-let remortgaging is on the up

As we emerge out of the latest Covid lockdown we are seeing an increase in interest around remortgaging in the buy-to-let market.

BTL is a buoyant sector, you only have to look at the number of lenders who specialise in it as a well as most mainstream lenders. There is certainly choice for borrowers and rates are competitive.

The BTL sector has increased every year from 2009 to 2019, representing a decade of growth following the global financial crisis.

In 2008 there were 114,740 BTL remortgages but in 2009 cases fell sharply to 32,850 as a result of the GFC. In monetary terms the drop off was £14.61bn down to £3.39bn in 2009.

The figures from UK Finance show how the BTL market has grown since then and in 2019 remortgaging peaked at 187,900 loans with a value of £31.1bn.

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Then the Covid pandemic came along and led to a fall in all lending with BTL remortgaging numbers going down to 163,300 in 2020 and a subsequent fall in value to £27bn.

But we are seeing a pick-up now with Q1 2021 rising compared to the previous quarter as 39,700 loans were issued at a value of £6.9bn.

Remortgaging for equity

These figures resonate with us as we are also seeing a rise in remortgaging especially for people wanting to take out more equity.

Talking to our underwriters, most borrowers want to use the extra money for further property investment. I would say this applies to around 70% of our landlord customers. A large chunk of our mortgage book is portfolio landlords, but it is also smaller landlords who are wanting to grow their investment property business.

There is a combination of factors here as to why that is. The stamp duty holiday has had an influence on landlords buying more property as there has been less tax to pay. Some landlords brought their buying plans forward to take advantage of the tax break.

Another influential factor is that house prices have been rising, therefore LTVs are lower, and more equity can be taken out. Coupled with the fact that many five-year fixes maturing this year, we expect remortgaging to continue an upward trajectory going forward.

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Home improvements

The other reason for borrowers taking out equity on their remortgage is for home improvements, and this applies to around 20% of our customer base. Some are using void periods to spruce up their properties, others are making repairs, but a newer reason has been to make properties more energy efficient.

Since 2018 all rental properties must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least E, but the government has its sights on all homes being rated C or above by 2030.

Astute landlords have been making improvements with changes such as cavity wall and loft insulation and installing new condensing boilers. But others are going further by replacing windows with double or triple window glazing and even installing solar panels.

We expect more landlords will want to improve their EPC ratings and quite a few lenders now are offering green mortgages as an incentive for them to do this, including ourselves. In our case, discounted rates are given for properties with EPC ratings of A, B or C.

By Paul Brett

Source: Mortgage Strategy

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Confidence in buy-to-let business continues to grow among brokers

In Q2 2021, the proportion of brokers forecasting a rise in buy-to-let mortgage business over the next 12 months has increased.

Despite the tapering of the stamp duty holiday, a survey by Paragon reveals 53% of mortgage brokers expect buy-to-let business to increase over the next year. This is compared to 50% in the first quarter of 2021. At the same time, the proportion of brokers forecasting declining levels of business stayed consistent at 10%.

Moray Hulme says: “These figures suggest that the strong levels of buy-to-let business witnessed over the last six to nine months wasn’t just as a result of the Stamp Duty stimulus, but down to more fundamental shifts in where and how people want to live.”

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Buy-to-let demand is high

During the second quarter of 2021, brokers reported that demand for buy-to-let was high. Specifically, 42% of intermediaries said demand was “strong”. And 8% stated demand was “very strong”. In the second quarter of 2020, which was at the height of the pandemic, there were only 26% who felt this way.

Additionally, only 10% of those surveyed reported buy-to-let demand to be weak. That is compared to 30% during the corresponding quarter last year.

Overall, the confidence among brokers is generally high. In the survey, 91% said they were confident about the outlook for their business over the next year. This was especially prevalent for those seeing high levels of buy-to-let business with 97% among that cohort.

“There has certainly been a growth in tenant demand for family homes, for example, and landlords are reacting accordingly.”

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Investing in buy-to-let

With demand in the private rented sector at high levels across the UK, this is providing a boost to the buy-to-let sector. Recently, many landlords have seen a drop in void periods and higher yields.

Additionally, the number of buy-to-let mortgages reached the highest level since March 2020. Investors and landlords have been welcoming the additional choice. With the increased competition, interest rates are still historically low.

Many landlords are locking in competitive mortgage deals. This is leading more buy-to-let investors to expand their property portfolio. Additionally, this year, more first-time landlords have even entered the buy-to-let sector due to the enticing market conditions.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Broker buy-to-let confidence continues to increase

Some 53% of mortgage intermediaries expect to see an increase in buy-to-let business over the next 12 months despite the tapering of the stamp duty holiday, according to research from , Paragon Bank.

This figure, which covers the second quarter of 2021, compares to 50% in the first quarter of the year, whilst the proportion expecting declining levels of buy-to-let business remained consistent at 10%.

Moray Hulme said: “These figures suggest that the strong levels of buy-to-let business witnessed over the last six to nine months wasn’t just as a result of the Stamp Duty stimulus, but down to more fundamental shifts in where and how people want to live.

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“We still expect to see business levels moderate as the stamp duty holiday ends but landlords are seeing plenty of opportunities to expand their portfolios to meet excellent levels of tenant demand and changes in the type of property people now want to rent.

“There has certainly been a growth in tenant demand for family homes, for example, and landlords are reacting accordingly.”

Brokers also reported that demand for buy-to-let was strong during the quarter itself, with 42% of intermediaries stating demand was ‘strong’ and 8% ‘very strong’.

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That compares to 26% in the corresponding period last year at the height of the pandemic.

Just 10% of respondents reported buy-to-let demand as weak during the period, compared with 30% during the second quarter of 2020.

Moray Hulme added: “Mortgage brokers have experienced a busy 12 months after the initial panic of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They enter the second half of 2021 in a confident, robust mood, which is indicative of the underlying demand for mortgage products.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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