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Now is the perfect time for buy-to-let, says UK's largest agent

Average rents rose, rent arrears fell and lettings times became faster in the first quarter of this year, Countrywide has reported.

The largest property chain says it provides the perfect recipe for buy-to-let investors. It puts average UK rental yields at 6.2%.

The Countrywide data, based on over 50,000 properties, is claimed to be the largest index of its kind, covering the whole of the UK.

It says rents rose highest in Wales and the East of England, to £616 and £814 per month respectively. Average rents in outer London rose 5.4% year on year to £1,107 per month. The highest rents were in Inner London at £2,387 per month in the first three months of this year, up 1.9% from the prior year.

However, rents declined in the South-East, down 1.1% to £1,054 per month.

In Scotland average rents also fell, down 2.6% to £580 per month. Scotland was also the only region in the UK with an increase in arrears, up 2.6% from the prior year to 6.6% of the rent roll.

Inner London had the highest arrears at 7.3% of rents due, despite a drop of 0.1% over the year.

The survey showed that rising rents and stabilising house prices are making rental yields highly attractive to investors, with the average yield at 6.2%. The highest rental yield was in Wales at 6.7% closely followed by both the North and Midlands at 6.5%. The lowest rental yield was in Inner London at 4.6%.

Based on the average yield and the Q1 2013 average monthly rent of £835, the average investor could expect to make a total annual return of approximately £10,000 per property over the next 12 months.

Countrywide found that the average time it took to let a property in the first quarter of 2013 was 14.5 days, down on last year when it was 15.1 days.

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