It’s no secret that the UK property market has boomed in recent years, culminating in an unanticipated increase in house prices over the last two years and while it may have slowed, it appears values are holding, at least for now. This, coupled with the continued popularity of staycations (further helped by airport chaos this year) has meant buy-to-let (BTL) properties have been a popular investment choice for many people looking to make an income out of property ownership.
According to The English Private Landlord Survey, a national survey commissioned by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, two-fifths of England’s landlords have invested in property to contribute to their pension.
However, over the last decade landlords have seen costs increase and an ever more complex raft of legal standards to comply with, culminating in Michael Gove’s summer announcement of sweeping reforms for the rental sector to boost tenants’ rights. As a result, many landlords have seen their retirement plans derailed and have decided to exit buy-to-let, sell their properties and seek out other alternatives.
Seen then, much has changed in the political space but Michael Gove’s recent return to cabinet, and with housing responsibility, could indicate a continuation of this, but it remains to be seen what happens under Rishi Sunak’s leadership.
Can buy-to-let still be a good investment?
There’s no denying that buy-to-let has become more challenging in recent years. Landlords now have to contend with a rising entry cost to begin or expand their buy-to-let journey, stricter regulations, and a generally more difficult operating environment. Nevertheless, many believe buy-to-let can still be a profitable investment if you are careful to select properties that are likely to appreciate in value and in areas with high rental demand.
Risks of investing in a buy-to-let property
There are several risks involved in buy-to-let and it pays to have a realistic view before making any decisions:
- One of the biggest risks is void periods, where your property is empty and not generating any rental income. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as difficulty finding tenants or having to make significant repairs to the property.
- Another risk to consider is the potential for future changes in legislation that could make buy-to-let less profitable. For example, the government has introduced a new stamp duty surcharge on second homes, which includes buy-to-let properties. This increase in costs, in addition to the current financial climate of soaring inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, means that buy-to-let is becoming less accessible and less appealing.
- Directly investing in letting properties can also be very hands-on. As a landlord, you need to find good tenants, maintain the property, and deal with any issues that may arise. If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to being a landlord, then you would be looking at hiring a letting agent whose fees would eat into your profit.
What is the alternative to buy-to-let?
If you’re thinking of investing in property but are put off by the risks or hassles associated with buy-to-let, one option to consider is Marketplace lending.
Marketplace lending platforms, such as FOLK2FOLK, match investors looking to make a great return on their money, with business owners and developers seeking a loan.
Via FOLK2FOLK, investors can earn an income from property by choosing to invest in loans for property projects such as property construction or development projects, agricultural building conversions, or even someone else’s BTL purchase, all without having to take on the hassle of managing the projects or the properties. The platform carries out the due diligence and the investor earns a fixed monthly income in return for their investment.
Loans range from six months to five years and if an investor needs to exit their investment, they can list it for sale via the platform’s secondary market (though there is no guarantee of a sale). In addition, at FOLK2FOLK, all loans are secured against property with a conservative maximum loan-to-value (LTV) of 60%. If you’re looking for an alternative so you no longer have to worry about receiving a 3 am phone call because your buy-to-let is without hot water, then it may be worth looking into the risks and gains associated with investing in a property loan.