35 question to ask when buying a home

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

Did you buy or sell a three- or four-bedroom house in the short period surrounding the turn of the decade?

If so, you may remember the Home Information Pack. Introduced for larger homes between August and September 2007, HIPs were sets of documents relating to a property, including title documents, local authority searches, property information sheets and the only surviving remnant, Energy Performance Certificates.

The HIP was introduced to reduce the number of ‘fall-throughs’, or aborted transactions, that occurred as a result of issues with the property that could have been identified at an earlier stage in the process. But the added administration and cost was a burden too far for many sellers, and some argued that HIPs were even worsening the housing crisis 1. HIPs were finally abandoned in January 2012.

So the problems with obtaining property information remain unresolved, and recent research shows that, today, as many as two fifths of transactions may fall through due to flaws in the conveyancing process 2.
As a buyer, you will want to make sure that you know as much as possible about the property you are buying. With this in mind, here are 35 important questions you should consider asking the seller:

1. How long has the property been on the market?

If the property has been on the market for a long time, ask if there is a reason for the lack of interest. What constitutes ‘a long time’ depends on location and market conditions; the average house currently (according to figures for August 2014) stays on the market for just over six weeks 3.

2. Has the property been on the market before?

If the property has changed hands a number of times, there could be an underlying problem driving out each new owner.

3. What is included in the sale?

Who owns what on a plot might not always be clear, particularly in the case of apartments with shared facilities. Be sure to ask about sheds, gardens and parking spaces, and find out exactly where the boundaries lie. Ask whether any services, such as drainage, are shared. Also find out what fixtures and fittings will be included with the sale.

4. Have any major works been completed, and are there any planning restrictions?

If so, ask to see copies of the relevant paperwork. Just as important are permissions that were not granted – this could cause problems down the line.

5. How old is the property?

Older buildings can be more expensive to maintain. If a particularly old building was built with unusual materials or using outmoded construction methods, making structural repairs could also be more difficult.

6. Is the property listed, or in a conservation area?

In either case, what you can do to the property’s exterior (and sometimes even the interior) will be limited. Furthermore, if the previous owner made any changes a listed building without Listed Building Consent, it may be your responsibility to fix them.

7. What is the area like?

Local shops, schools and entertainment are easy enough to check online. What a quick search won’t tell you is what the area is like at rush hour, or when the local pubs and clubs close. Spend time walking around the area to get a feel for it – after all, it might soon be your own neighbourhood!

8. How are the neighbours?

If the sellers have ever made an official complaint against their neighbours, their agent will be obligated to tell you. Persistently antisocial neighbours can do untold damage to a neighbourhood, so get as honest an opinion as you can.

9. How is the energy performance?

You will have an Energy Performance Certificate, with a rating between A and G, to use as a point of reference. If the energy performance is lacking, find out why. How old is the boiler, and when was it last serviced? Is there loft or cavity wall insulation, and if so, how old is it?

10. Have there been any problems with damp or subsidence?

Subsidence – the gradual sinking of land – and damp can both cause major structural issues if left untreated, and you should find out if the property has any current or historical issues with either.

Quick-fire questions: the exterior brickwork

11. How old is it?
12. What condition is it in?
13. Is there a render or specific finish?

The windows

14. Are they double- or triple-glazed?
15. Are the frames secure?

The roof

16. How old are the drains and guttering?
17. What condition are they in?
18. Are any tiles missing or insecure?
19. Does the roof leak?

Plumbing and electricals

20. Do all the taps work?
21. Are there any internal leaks?
22. Is all metal plumbing work earth-bonded (particularly in an electric shower)?
23. How quickly does hot water come through?
24. Do all the light switches work?
25. Are any electrical circuits prone to strain or overload?
26. When was the fuse box last checked?

Security
27. Do all the windows and doors lock sufficiently? Are they double-locked?
28. If there is an alarm system, is it in good working order?

General questions

29. Is there any damp, mould or condensation?
30. Are there any cracks or exposed wires?
31. Are any of the rooms exposed to the neighbours?
32. Is any private garden or courtyard exposed to the neighbours?
33. Is there sufficient storage?
34. Is there loft access?
35. Is the property smoke alarmed?

Many surveyors offer property condition reports for upwards of £300. Concise reports will detail needed repairs (distinguishing between moderate and urgent issues, and whether ongoing maintenance will be needed), construction defects, and other matters that could allow you to renegotiate the price.

If you want to have a property condition report done, feel free, but bear the following in mind:

• Your mortgage lender will not accept this as a survey or valuation, and you may need to pay for a separate valuation in order to satisfy your lender’s requirements
• Make sure that the surveyor you instruct is accredited by an official trade body, such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Sources

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/2054003/Home-Information-Packs-are-adding-to-the-housing-crisis-Conservatives-warn.html

[2] http://www.financialreporter.co.uk/view.asp?ID=16057

[3]http://www.hometrack.co.uk/hpsurvey/documents/HTSurveyJune2014_26062014164135.pdf

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Buying a dilapidated property: three funding options for renovation

That the UK has a housing shortage is no secret. Legislators, housebuilders and developers all have their work cut out for them in addressing the supply imbalance that is seeing the cost of both buying and renting a home shooting upwards.

By Ben Gosling of Commercial Trust

By Ben Gosling of Commercial Trust

The explosion of the buy-to-let sector has at least gone some way to stabilising rents, with the average national rent having recently increased below the level of CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation for the thirteenth consecutive month 1. Throughout this period, the number of buy-to-let mortgages issued for new purchase has shot up by over a third 2.

Investors’ reliance on mortgage finance can lead to the occasional obstacle, however, particularly where ‘unconventional’ purchases are concerned. As important as it is to build new homes, it is equally vital to bring back into circulation the circa 630,000 empty properties 3 that have fallen into disrepair and become unusable.

Many investors are attracted to these properties because of their low cost. However, they require renovation to bring them up to a habitable standard, and very few mortgage lenders will advance loans for properties that are in need of major work.

A Catch-22 situation

Lenders will normally grant mortgages for uninhabitable properties on a ‘full retention’ basis. This means that they will agree to the mortgage, but will not release the funds until the works have been completed to a prescribed standard.

This Catch-22 situation is familiar to many investors: you can’t buy the property because the works haven’t been completed, but you can’t complete the works because you haven’t bought the property.

This would ordinarily mean that you would need to finance the purchase and the works yourself – a significant cost that is outside the reach of many buyers, particularly those who are new to property investment. Fortunately, there are other ways of obtaining the funds you need.

1. Refurbishment mortgages

Some lenders offer ‘light refurb’ mortgages which are lent on a part retention basis. During the application, the lender will obtain a pre-works and a post-works valuation; then, before the works commence, they will forward a proportion of either the purchase price or the pre-works value. They will also retain some of the funds to be released once the works are complete.

These loans are subject to lower LTV (loan to value) requirements than other buy-to-let mortgages; typically, a lender will want to see at least a quarter of the purchase price up front.

Furthermore, these products tend to only be suitable for properties where minor refurbishments are required (those that would enhance the value and appeal of a slightly dilapidated property). Where major restorative works, planning permission and/or other forms of approval are needed, you are likely to need a commercial refurbishment loan, which on the whole are more expensive and require a slightly larger outlay (25–30% of the purchase price).

2. Bridging loans

Bridging loans were once the black sheep of the commercial finance market. This was probably down to lack of understanding about the product, their relative scarcity, and their high cost. Just three years ago, they were dismissed as a ‘last resort’ for ‘trapped’ home-movers 4.

Now, they are a vital tool in many an investor’s arsenal, and a booming marketplace has resulted in competitive interest rates and flexible terms.

Intended for very short terms of up to 18 months, bridging loans are so named for their use as a stop-gap between making a purchase and obtaining the main line of credit, such as a mortgage. Though some lenders have strict criteria, others will accept almost any type of property or land as security, and the funds can be raised for any legal purpose.

Bridging loans can be risky for borrowers without an exit strategy. These are known as ‘open’ bridging loans, and they often come with higher rates to reflect the added risk. Instead of ending when the longer-term finance is due, open loans run for a set period, after which the loan must be repaid – by the repossession of the asset, if necessary.

Also note that, whilst bridging loans can have terms as short as one day, many mortgage lenders will not finance a property that you have owned for less than six months.

3. Bridge-to-let loans

Some lenders will fund both the short- and long-term stages with a ‘bridge to let’ product, where the goal is to renovate the property to make it suitable for renting. Alternatively, it is possible to keep your options open by opting for short-term finance that allows you to ‘term out’ to a full mortgage.

This option has the advantage of having a clear exit strategy in place for the bridging portion of the loan, and having both products under one roof can make the transition easy and efficient. However, lenders will often charge a fee to borrowers terming out to the second stage of the loan.

 

Sources

[1]     http://www.lslps.co.uk/documents/buy_to_let_index_jun14.pdf

[2]     http://www.cml.org.uk/cml/media/press/3953

[3]     http://www.emptyhomes.com/statistics-2/empty-homes-statistice-201112/

[4]     http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1378659/High-cost-bridging-loans-tempt-trapped-movers.html

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

Some bridging loans, buy-to-let mortgages and commercial mortgages are not regulated by the FCA.

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Interest rates – what next for UK homeowners?

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

Interest rates have been at their lowest ever level now for half a decade. A deliberate economic policy designed to encourage people to spend and banks to lend, it means two simple things: good news for borrowers, and bad news for savers.

This may be about to change. The past few months have seen increasingly strong and frequent hints from the Bank of England that interest rates will soon begin to rise once again, and many homeowners and prospective buyers in the UK are concerned about when (and by how much) their cost of borrowing will increase.

Who is responsible for setting interest rates?

By and large, banks and other lenders set the interest rates for their own products, but these rates will be based upon the central rate set by the Bank of England.

Known as the Bank of England Base Rate (BBR), this benchmark rate is set by the Governor of the Bank of England and a committee of Bank of England policymakers.

Based on comments from the Bank of England over the past year, predictions as to when the Base Rate may eventually rise have varied. Following a speech on 11 June, markets briefly braced for a rise as early as autumn this year – before a seeming backpedal caused markets to revise their predictions once again.

The knowledge that any eventual increase in the base rate will be gradual and incremental should bring comfort to UK borrowers, but there could be an unpleasant side-effect to the mixed signals the Bank of England is giving. Faced with uncertainty as to the path of benchmark rates, lenders could begin to increase the ‘spread’ between the base rate and the rates they themselves charge 1. Simply put, mortgage costs could begin to rise prematurely.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that if interest rates were to rise by just 2.5%, nearly a quarter of the UK’s 11 million mortgage holders would be forced to “significantly” change their spending behaviour 2.

‘Cooling’ the housing market

Setting interest rates is not the only power the Bank of England has over the mortgage market. Very recently, it was given powers to intervene if it felt that house prices were rising too quickly.

On 26 June, the Bank exercised these powers, recommending that lenders place limits on the amount of high-value lending they do. From 1 October 2014, no more than 15% of new loans issued by a mortgage lender should be worth more than 4.5 times the borrower’s income.

The cap should have the biggest impact in London, where nearly a fifth (19%) of loans are at a loan-to-income ratio of 4.5 or higher 3.

What this means for buyers and homeowners

First-time-buyers in London are likely to feel the effect of these measures the most. According to the most recent data, the median income in London is £30,480 4, making the maximum capped amount that a single applicant could borrow £137,160. This could fund the majority of a one-bed flat in one of London’s cheapest boroughs (such as Enfield, Surbiton or Chingfield), but buyers hoping for a starter flat in most areas will need a sizeable deposit 5.

Broadly speaking, the Bank of England’s governor hopes that the measures will help to calm the housing market without affecting the rest of the economy. In theory, this will enable the Bank to hold fire on increasing interest rates until the economy as a whole can withstand it.

Current and aspiring mortgage holders might be worried that their borrowing costs might start rising sooner, and may even be tempted to switch their mortgage early, even if it means incurring early redemption penalties.

As the future of interest rates is an unknown, it is impossible to say whether this course of action would be the most cost-effective; however, the most important thing is not to panic. If you have any concerns about the mortgage you are on, call your lender or mortgage adviser to discuss them.

Sources
[1] www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28014230
[2] cdn.budgetresponsibility.org.uk/37839-OBR-Cm-8820-accessible-web-v2.pdf
[3]www.mortgageintroducer.com/mortgages/249989/5/Industry_in_depth/BoE_to_cap_mortgages.htm
[4] www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-328216
[5] www.londonpropertywatch.co.uk/avg_prices.html (as at 26 June 2014)

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Growth vs. yields – the bigger picture behind buy-to-let investment

By Ben Gosling of Commercial Trust

By Ben Gosling of Commercial Trust

While London might be widely considered the apex of property investment locations, some experts have recently advised investors to steer clear of it. This is almost certainly to do with the rental yields in the capital, which – due to the towering property prices there – are outshone elsewhere in the country 1, and therefore fail to justify the entry cost on their own.

This caveat is probably an unfair one. Buy-to-let has become a yield-focused investment in recent times; thanks to rock-bottom interest rates, many new investors have been enticed to the sector by the prospect of income in the short term and have given little thought to future gains.

However, real returns in London at the beginning of the year stood at 14.6%, compared to just 8.9% in other regions, thanks to those same accelerating property prices.

People invest in buy-to-let for different reasons, and there is every reason for someone to favour income over long-term capital gains if doing so fits their specific investment strategy. Most landlords hope to achieve a mixture of the two, however, and therefore investing purely on the strength of gross rental yields may be unwise.

The market elsewhere

The same reports that describe the lofty returns to be found in London paint an unappealing picture of the market elsewhere.

Take the East of England. So far in 2014, the East has been the worst-performing region in terms of year-on-year rental growth for three out of the four months reported; it has seen month-on-month falls in rental income for three out of four months; and yields each month have been around half a percentage point lower than in the same month in 2013.

Yet in those same months, the Eastern region has consistently been one of the best performers in terms of house price growth 2. Unable to buy in London, and faced with spiralling rental costs, more and more professionals are relocating to areas outside the capital where they either rent or buy; in more expensive areas outside the commuter belt, such as Brighton, Hampshire and Surrey, they are more likely to rent, while in cheaper areas, such as Cambridgeshire and Essex, they are more likely to buy. These individuals have a marked effect on both the rental and purchase markets throughout the South.

Because rental values fall in one region does not necessarily mean that house prices will adjust to compensate; however, this disparity does highlight the fact that there is a bigger picture beyond the black-and-white world of rental yields that landlords need to consider.

You can find a good deal anywhere

Ultimately, national, regional and even sub-regional figures show only a summary of the housing and rental markets in a particular area. They are useful tools for comparison and analysis, but on very local levels, patterns are far more mutable.

Investing for yields will help to ensure you have a steady flow of disposable income that you can spend, save, or reinvest in your business. But without the capital returns to back it up, you have little to safeguard your exit should local demand dry up. With the right information and enough planning and research, you can find a good deal anywhere in the country – irrespective of what the latest statistical releases might tell you.

Sources
[1]     http://www.lslps.co.uk/documents/news/market-intelligence
[2]     http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/house-prices-and-sales

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Title: Could a 35-year mortgage be the best way onto the housing ladder?

Marina sofa

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

With mortgage affordability criteria having tightened dramatically over the past year, how can borrowers get on the housing ladder? For some, longer-term mortgages might be the answer. Here, we examine the benefits and pitfalls of opting for a 35-year mortgage.

Mortgage regulation became significantly tighter following the financial crisis, with the number of individual loan approvals more than halving between January and December 2008 1. Though house prices had stagnated, banks were highly unwilling to risk lending in large volumes.

Since then, through government initiatives like the Funding for Lending Scheme and Help to Buy, approval figures have been climbing back upwards. But between rising prices and fresh new restrictions that recently came into play, they might well be about to take another nosedive.

The Mortgage Market Review is a massive shake-up of the rules that banks and other lenders must follow when granting mortgages. Going forward, mortgage sales will almost always need to be fully advised, and will include rigorous affordability checks that will probe into seemingly innocuous expenses like haircuts or gym subscriptions.

Experts predict that the new rules will make it much more difficult for average borrowers to qualify for a mortgage.

Could a longer mortgage term be the answer?

25-year mortgages have been the tradition for years, and are so common that borrowers rarely even ask about a shorter or longer term. But most mortgage terms can comfortably run from 15 to 35 years, and some lenders will go as low as one year or as high as 40.

Because of the rising average life expectancy and recent increase in retirement age, longer-term mortgages are becoming more feasible for a larger number of borrowers. The longer the mortgage term, the more repayments there will be and the lower each individual repayment will be. Conversely, shorter mortgage terms will entail a lower number of larger repayments.

However, because mortgage interest is compounded (i.e. added to the loan, so that the total loan size increases and accrues yet more interest), the longer the mortgage term is, the more the borrower will need to repay in total.

After a fashion, a 35-year mortgage fills the effective ‘gap’ left by interest-only mortgages, which lost a significant degree of popularity following the financial crisis. Like an interest-only mortgage, the repayments on a 35-year mortgage are smaller and the total principal to be repaid is higher. Unlike interest-only mortgages, however, the capital is repaid by the end of the mortgage term and the borrower owns his or her home outright. Longer-term repayment mortgages are therefore far less risky than interest-only loans.

To give an example…

Let’s say that two average earners in the East of England, earning £42,000 after tax between them 2, apply for a mortgage on an average semi-detached property worth £178,000 3. With a 25% deposit, the total mortgage will amount to £133,500.

A typical APR (annualised percentage rate) for a mortgage is 4.3%. For a 25-year loan, this would leave our example couple a monthly bill of £727. At just over a fifth of their take-home monthly pay, this is quite affordable by pre-MMR standards – however, if they have particularly expensive lifestyles (large amounts of leisure spending, for instance) or a number of other large outgoings (such as childcare or other debts), they might find that their application runs into difficulty.

By stretching to a 35-year mortgage, our applicants can reduce their monthly payments by over £110. Whilst it’s not guaranteed, this might be enough of a difference to merit an approval.

The devil is in the detail, however, and looking at the total amounts repayable, the downside becomes apparent.

With a 25-year term, the borrowers will repay a total of just under £220,000. The amount to repay under a 35-year term is just shy of £260,000 – almost a fifth higher. That’s nearly a full years’ take-home pay; enough to refuel a family car 420 times, take 1,000 trips to a theme park, order 3,600 takeaways or buy 820 Premier League football tickets 4!

So is a 35-year mortgage right for you?

On the face of it, it seems as though a longer mortgage term is the perfect way to meet the new affordability requirements and get on the housing ladder. Of course, it’s not always as clear-cut.

Firstly, as explored, the longer repayment term will eat into your finances for longer and increase the total amount to repay. Secondly, you will repay capital at a slower rate, meaning that it will take longer to build up equity in your home – which could prove a problem if a further house price crash were to happen in the near future.

Then there are lenders’ age restrictions. Many lenders cap the maximum age a borrower can be when their loan matures, meaning that homebuyers in their 30s or 40s may be unable to opt for as long a term as they might like.

As with all things, there is no catch-all solution. The best thing to do is discuss your circumstances and needs with an experienced mortgage adviser, who can help match you to a lender that can help.

Sources
[1]      http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/graphs-mortgage-approvals.php
[2]      http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ashe/patterns-of-pay/1997—2013-ashe-results/index.html
[3]      http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/house-prices-and-sales
[4]      http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/globalassets/documents/media/press-releases/halifax/2012/3004_cost.pdf

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Starter homes in the East of England

By Ben Gosling of TurnKey Mortgages

Members of older generations were generally able to buy their first homes at a young age, having spent only a relatively short amount of time saving up for them.

Consider that, even just 20 years ago, the average cost for a two-bedroom ‘starter’ property in the East of England was just £45,000. Adjusted for inflation, this would be just shy of £75,000 today; however, the actual cost is around £100,000 more than that. 1

For aspiring homeowners in the region (and indeed anywhere), this means more saving, more debt, more time waiting to get on the property ladder, and more time waiting to trade up once you’re on it. Buying your first home is a bigger decision than ever, and one you need to make sure you get right.

Here are some factors you need to consider:

Affordability

You cannot borrow a mortgage of any size. Like most secured loans, a mortgage is underwritten according to affordability requirements. Though these vary from lender to lender, you typically cannot borrow more than three times your income (or combined income, in the case of joint applicants).

The average asking price for a two-bedroom home in the East of England is £189,000. This means that, with a 30% deposit (£56,700), you would need a combined income of £44,100 per year to qualify for a mortgage. With a deposit of 20% (£37,800), you would need a combined annual income of £50,400, and if you could only stretch to a 10% deposit (£18,900), you would need to earn £56,700 per year to be able to buy a home.

The Mortgage Market Review

This April, the Financial Conduct Authority will introduce a number of new rules that will make it even tougher to get a mortgage.

This includes additions to the affordability requirements outlined above. In addition to income multiples, lenders will also check that the monthly repayments will be affordable against your monthly pay. This means that the interest rate of your chosen mortgage will be a more prominent factor in the assessment.

Though it is not yet known what figures lenders will work to, it is safe to assume that few will allow your mortgage repayments to exceed 30–40% of your monthly income. As the application will also be ‘stress-tested’ against future interest rate rises, this puts applicants on high incomes and with larger cash savings to put down up-front in a much better position.

Space

Starting a family might still be a distant consideration, and the 850 square foot flat you have your eye on probably seems more than adequate for your needs.

But consider the price gap between your average starter home and the next rung up the ladder – a three-bed home. In the East of England, this gap amounts to about £70,000. This considered, you could be in that home for several years before you can afford to scale up. And it won’t be long before all that space starts to feel a lot less… spacious.

The local area

For the same reasons that space is an important factor when choosing a starter home, you will want to give careful consideration to the local area. A young couple might be perfectly happy living in an area with easy access to nearby pubs, clubs and restaurants, but five years and one birth down the line, the fact that it’s a thirty minute drive from the nearest school will start to be an issue!

Go into your first home with the assumption that you will be there for some time to come. Even if it transpires that you aren’t, you might find that the extra consideration you give the decision will mean that you are much happier for the time that you are there. And if nothing else, it will mean that the property will be easier to sell when it comes time to move on, and another hopeful house-hunter is making the very same decisions that you are now.

Sources
[1]http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/house-prices-and-sales/

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Investing in rural residential property – part two

By Ben Gosling of Commercial Trust

In the first instalment of our article on rural residential property investment, we focussed on the social benefits and drawbacks. In this second part, we come to the nitty-gritty of the matter – the bottom line.

The economics of rural property investment

Due to constraints of space and land in rural areas, rural property is less vulnerable to the vagaries of market forces. (In layman’s terms: because there’s less of it, there’s more demand for it.) This was evidenced during the recession, when rural property experienced both a less severe drop in value and a quicker recovery.

In a report released last October, Halifax cited the ‘rural premium’ (popularly known as the ‘River Cottage effect’) as pushing the cost of idyllic rural properties far beyond that of urban properties [1]. However, the same report noted that rural prices had underperformed urban prices since 2009, with the average price of a rural home rising by only 2% in those four years compared to 10% in urban areas.

This could be due to the rising cost of petrol and public transport, and also to the economic pick-up creating more employment opportunities in the cities. For now, rural property remains stronger than urban property in all but a few regions – but of course, this is just looking at the wider picture.

A closer look

Properties in the country tend to be larger than urban properties, and have more land. Comparing average property prices in predominantly built-up settlements to predominantly rural settlements is bound to show a discrepancy. It is more logical to compare properties like-for-like.

A quick trip to the Homes 24 property portal allowed me to compare the average asking price in two postcodes: NR1 (the centre of Norwich, East Anglia’s largest city); and IP25 (the heart of Breckland, one of the least densely populated districts in the United Kingdom).

Four-bedroom properties were, on average, 8.4% more expensive in the rural postcode. One-, two- and three- bedroom properties, however, were all cheaper, with two-bedroomers – the mainstay of the buy to let investor – costing 19.8% less outside of the city.

Rental returns

To the buy to let investor, yields are a more important consideration than up-front cost.

In August 2013, Home.co.uk and Move with Us compared average asking prices and average asking rents for two-bedroom properties, and compiled a list of gross rental yields for every postal district in England and Wales[2].

Their research showed that urban areas tend to attract the highest yields for this property type, with more isolated areas trailing far behind. Locations such as the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales only saw returns of around 2% for the average two-bedroom property.

Rural areas tend to attract more homeowners than renters. This, coupled with the income pressures of country life highlighted earlier in the article, will restrict the rent that you can charge for rural properties.

This said, the age of the average renter is climbing, and there does seem to be a growing demographic of older renters who are starting, or already have, a family. These tenants are seeking larger homes that are close to good schools and transport links, but not necessarily close to the hubbub of urban or suburban life.

In short, the question ‘should you invest in rural property?’ does not merit a simple yes/no answer. The standard buy to let rules apply – if you do your homework, research the area, plan your budget and target the right market, then you can make the investment work for you.

Sources
[1] Source: Lloyds banking group Rural homes are more expensive than urban homes in all regions 2013

[2] home.co.uk Rental Yield Heat-Map 2013

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