BTL investor surge plugs rental stock gap

Improvements to the sales market resulted in a dip in supply of rental properties towards the end of last year, but one letting agency says they have experienced a surge of enquiries from buy-to-let investors.

Brendan Cox, Managing Director at Waterfords estate agents says improvements to the sales market did impact the supply of rental properties in Q4 of 2014, as those who became ‘accidental landlords’ during the ‘downturn’ chose to sell up and take advantage of more favourable market conditions.

In contrast, this has started to be offset during Q1 of 2014 by a surge of investors looking to enter the buy-to-let market for the first time, or grow their existing portfolio, in order to take advantage of attractive yields and potential capital appreciation.

“We are experiencing a large number of buyers viewing properties and subsequently enquiring about letting them the same day. It would seem rising house prices are once again encouraging investment” says Cox.

Rents are still 8% higher than this time last year, however, it’s likely that the increased investment in buy-to-let properties will soon filter through to benefit tenants by helping improve supply and stabilise rents, whilst providing a greater level of choice in properties.

Despite the upturn in sales off the back of improved mortgage lending, which would historically lead to adjustments in rental demand, applicant levels for good quality rental properties across Surrey and Hampshire remain strong with tenant enquiries outstripping available stock 10:1, according to Waterfords.

Brendan suggests that this is partly due to higher property prices, which means the amount needed for even a 5% deposit is increasing, meaning purchasing is still well beyond the reach of many.

“However, I think as a nation we have also adapted and renting is much more ‘the norm’ nowadays. The flexibility and convenience it offers enables the likes of young professionals to follow job opportunities and families to secure desirable school places for their children, without the expense and responsibility of home ownership.”

Waterfords says there is a rise in the number of older tenants entering the rental market for the first time, notably those that don’t require a retirement residence, but who wish to release the capital on the property they own.

Brendan concludes by saying:

“Lifestyle changes mean there is a much greater diversity of people opting to rent nowadays, and this shift in living arrangements is reflected in the change of demand for property type. Previously one and two bedroom properties were in greatest demand, whereas now there is interest across the board, from one bed apartments right through to larger five bedroom family homes. We are experiencing particularly high demand for 3 bedroom homes at present.”

Article courtesy of Property Reporter

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