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Buying Your Next Rental Property: Our Top Tips on Getting It Right

Buying rental property

Whether you’re thinking about becoming a buy-to-let landlord for the first time, or adding to your existing property portfolio, there’s plenty to consider.

Should I buy in a familiar area or branch out further afield? Should I move away from student lets towards the family market? Should I opt for a house or stick with the type of flat I’m used to renting out?

Read on to explore our top tips on what to think about when buying a rental property.

Research property hotspots

First things first, where do you want to buy? If you enjoy being a hands-on landlord, it’s wise to focus your search locally. It makes zero sense to purchase property at the other end of the country, regardless of how good an investment, if you like to be on-hand to respond to tenants in person.

It’s also likely you know your local area better than a random town or city, so if it appeals, stick with what you know and what will suit your landlord style.

If you’re more flexible and happy outsourcing any physical responsibilities such as regular property checks, then your next step is a spot of research. Check out the UK’s property hotspots to see where your money is most likely to go further.

Spend time now on seeking out those areas enjoying annual increases in average monthly rental charges and you’ll be maximising the chances of increased rental yields. 

City, urban or rural?

One trend to consider when deciding where to buy is increased demand for rural properties, driven largely by the coronavirus pandemic. Research carried out at the height of the 2020 lockdown showed buyer enquiries to Rightmove shifting away from cities to smaller villages.

But do keep in mind that this preference may be short-lived and, as people begin to return to their pre-lockdown lifestyles, they could once again be happy to live in a buzzier atmosphere.

Think about the type of tenant you want to attract

Location decided upon, it’s now time to switch your attention to your prospective tenant. Start with the basics: would you prefer to rent to students who’ll be happy sharing a kitchen or having a downstairs bedroom? Keep in mind that this approach will involve regular tenant turnover so demands high levels of organisation, for example by using an online property management platform.

Would you like to offer a chic, modern home to young professionals who value quality fixtures and fittings, including appliances, and a high standard of décor?

Or maybe the family market appeals with the potential for a long-term tenancy as they set up a stable home near their children’s school?

Is a flat or house more suitable?

With your ideal tenant in mind, the type of property you buy should then become clear.

Students will happily house-share in a terrace within walking distance or a short bus ride of their university campus. Add in the required nearby nightlife and plenty of neighbouring take-aways and you’ll be ticking their boxes.

Apartments are also popular with this market with many investment opportunities available in university towns and cities. Do keep in mind potential extra costs here such as service charges for building maintenance and how you’ll incorporate that cost.

For families, they’ll value houses with space both indoors and outdoors, with close proximity to good schools and green parks to suit their lifestyles. 

And with professionals, either apartments or houses are a good bet provided they offer high quality accommodation to meet their standards.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that houses tend to increase in value more reliably than flats, and also offer scope for extensions and internal conversions.

Consider changing demands

Over the last 12 months, tenants’ requirements have shifted to address how COVID-19 has affected lifestyles.

Recent research by MakeUrMove revealed that a garden or other form of outdoor space now tops the list of must-haves from a rental property. This has moved from third to first spot, reflecting people’s appreciation of the power of getting fresh air and exercise.

And as homeworking continues for many, consider how flexible your property could be if tenants need to create a home office space. It’s also worth checking internet reliability for your chosen area. If it has a strong reputation for dependable wi-fi, this could make your property even more appealing.

Finally, while tenants may not be using their cars as much at the moment, they still need somewhere to park it. A driveway or garage can be a very tempting feature for a large section of the market.

Assess the local amenities

The number of people working from home full-time is likely to gradually decrease over the coming year. Whether they split their week between the office and home or are back with the colleagues Monday to Friday, the time will come when local transport links regain their previous importance. So take the time to check bus routes, the proximity of train stations and accessibility to major roads.

Also consider how the local amenities, such as schools, shops and restaurants, will suit your target tenant. Matching the two is imperative to maximise the chances of a successful let.

Ensure the property is eco-friendly

One final check to make is to see just how environmentally friendly your planned purchase is. All rental properties are required to have a minimum ‘E’ rating as part of their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). 

However, it may be wise to find a property with a higher energy-efficient rating, such as ‘A’ or ‘B’, to save you costs in the long run and make it more appealing to would-be renters.

If you’ve found the perfect property apart from its energy rating, you have the option to improve it through measures such as adding loft insulation, installing double glazing or upgrading the boiler. All positive steps to make your property really stand out among the competition. 

For more professional landlord advice, visit MakeUrMove’s information-packed blog

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