Top tips for buy-to-let investors
1. Buy the right property
It may seem obvious, but if you pick the wrong type of property in the first place, you could struggle to rent it out. Two-bed flats are often a good bet in cities, as they may appeal to mates sharing. But a three-bed terraced house could get you the maximum income in a student area, for example.
2. Approach it as a business
Don’t make the mistake of buying a property because you would like to live in it, or decorating it to your own taste. It is essential that you remove the emotion from the process, as your ultimate aim should be the best return you can get on your investment.
3. Consider transport links
When renters are looking for property, they are more likely than home hunters to compromise on the quality of the property in favour of good public transport links or motorway access.
4. Choose the right mortgage
There are more buy-to-let mortgage deals on offer than ever, so it is vital that you get the right type of arrangement at the right rate to suit you. Your mortgage broker could prove invaluable as they should find you the best deal quickly.
5. Draw up a realistic budget
You must be aware of all of the upfront costs you face, plus the ongoing mortgage costs compared to the rental income. You must also build in a buffer of funds to cover the cost of ongoing maintenance and repairs. Again, your broker can help.
6. Use a professional letting agent
If you do not have the time or the inclination to find, vet and select tenants, a letting agent can do this for you. They can also collect the rent and manage the property, although the full service could cost you 17.5% of the annual rent.
7. Make sure you have the right insurance
It is essential that you have the correct buildings and contents insurance to cover your property. Note that if you are renting out your former residence you must get new insurance, as existing policies are likely to be rendered invalid.
8. Be aware of your legal obligations
As a landlord, you must be aware of your obligations in terms of health, fire and safety considerations, such as having annual gas checks carried out by an authorised person. You must also be aware of your tenants’ rights.
9. Clarify your tax position
You have to pay tax on rental income, and you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax when you come to sell, depending on how long you have owned the property for. Speak to your accountant or a tax expert before you buy-to-let.
10. Invest for the longer term
Don’t go into buy-to-let hoping to turn a quick buck. The most successful players in this market are in it for the medium- to long-term, which is a minimum of five to 10 years.