While there is no sure-fire way to 100% guarantee success in property investment, there are steps you can take that are highly likely to improve your chances of becoming a successful property investor.
Whether you’re looking for your first investment property, or looking to expand on the number of properties you already own, our top property investment tips will set you up for success.
If you’re ready to secure an investment property, explore our unique opportunities before talking to one of our consultants.
Our property investment tips
1. Choose between renting or selling your investment property
When you invest in property, you have two main options: to buy an investment property to keep it and rent it (for cash flow), or buying an investment property with the intention of selling it (for capital growth returns).
So what’s the difference? It all comes down to your end goal. If you’re looking for a steady flow of income from renting out a property, then a buy-to-let could be a lucrative investment. However, if you’re looking for more significant capital gains (and therefore riskier) returns on your investment, then selling may be a better option. Remember that both options are valid choices and can be done in conjunction with each other, rent now – sell later.
There are many factors involved in making this decision – the most important being your personal goals, financial situation and risk tolerance level. You’ll also need to consider things like location and market trends when making your decision about whether to rent or sell.
If you prefer, you could invest in property investment trusts, which pool your money to buy shares of companies and properties.
2. Choose a property type
The first thing you’ll need to determine is what type of property you want to invest in. You can choose between (or possess a combination of):
- Residential properties to rent to tenants (such as apartment blocks, units or student accommodation)
- Industrial properties (such as warehouses and industrial estates)
- Commercial properties (such as hotels, offices or retail parks)
The property type chosen will have an impact on the investment strategy and return that you’re likely to see over time. So it’s important to understand the legal obligations, demand, and average returns before making a decision.
Once you’ve chosen a type of property, there are many subcategories of property type and investment strategies to select from, all with different benefits and risks.
3. Start by specialising in one property investment strategy
Investing in property requires a good understanding of what’s going on in the market. To achieve your goals, you need to determine what you want to accomplish to decide on your investment strategy.
You will need to consider a wide range of factors, including your own financial position, your attitude to risk, your goals and ambitions, financial products available to you, your available time, experiences, credit score, and whether you want short-term or long-term results.
Some of the most common investment strategies in the UK property market include:
Standard single occupancy buy-to-let: Many first-time investors opt for buy-to-let properties as a way to earn regular income. Rental returns paid by tenants are the main source of income with this property type. Generally speaking, this strategy poses the least risk compared to other property types and can produce significant long-term cash flow. Once you’re earning consistent income from your first rental property, you can then begin purchasing more assets to build a strong portfolio.
HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy): HMO properties comprise multi-units and are rented out room by room by seperate families. They can be more lucrative than a standard BTL, as they provide multiple income streams from rent payments – but they are also more expensive to operate. An HMO comes with many additional requirements and regulations, it’s essential that you research these if you choose to invest in this asset class. So while they might be more expensive than single-family homes at first glance, they more than makeup for their cost with a steady income stream that can help balance out other investments in your portfolio.
4. Set short and long-term goals
The goals you set in the long and short term should essentially underpin your investment strategy. Having goals will inform the duration of your investment and in some cases, a set time frame to sell your assets. Moreover, goal setting will put you on the path to success as you strive to increase both your portfolio and your income. The most common long-term goals include:
- Save rental income for retirement
- Build a property empire that generates good capital growth
- Gain short-term positive cash flow alongside main income
Property is a long-term investment, so you should be prepared to revisit your goals and continually evaluate performance to inform your next step.
5. Consider the risks of investing in property
The property market is a risky one, but it can be rewarding too. As an investor, you should be aware of the risks involved in investing in property so that you can manage them and enjoy the rewards.
The volatility of the property market means that you need to be prepared for ups and downs. You may have to ride out a period where values drop, or even sell your property at a loss, but this shouldn’t deter you from investing. Instead, you should plan and budget for any losses and market changes.
Some of those most prominent risks include:
- Drops in property prices
- Void periods
- Decreased tenant demand
- Significant damage to properties
- Drop in average yield in the area
- Rising interest rates
- Missed rental payments
- Bad tenants
- Legal complications
6. Review the rent annually
You should review the rent you are charging on each property annually, even if you don’t raise it. This is because the market is always changing and you need to be able to adjust your price accordingly so that you can stay competitive.
If you’ve been charging the same amount for a long time, it may be time to raise your rates so that you’re still getting a good return on investment. Generally, UK landlords increase the rent by 3-5% each year to cover inflation. Remember, if you raise rents too much, you could lose some of your tenants. Your property management company will know the legalities around raising rent costs, be sure to communicate with them before requesting a higher payment from your tenants.
7. Plan and budget for additional costs
If you’re thinking about investing in property, it’s important to plan for the ongoing maintenance costs associated with owning a home or commercial building. Make sure that you have a budget for maintenance, repairs, and other unexpected expenses.
If you’re looking to renovate your property, it’s also important to calculate how much the renovation will cost. This can be tricky because estimates are often based on assumptions about what might happen during the project. In order to avoid surprises and keep costs down, get multiple estimates from contractors before committing to any one person or company.
8. Learn about the various rules and legal requirements
It is imperative that you become familiar with the various rules and legal requirements that investors must follow, regardless of the type of investment property you purchase. These regulations might vary based on your location or property type, but they generally cover issues such as landlord responsibilities, building permits, taxes, insurance requirements, and more. It is important to understand these rules before investing in a property because they will have an impact on your ability to sell or rent out your investment.
As a landlord, you must understand:
- Safety standards: It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure their rental property is a safe and hazard-free place to live – landlords have a duty of care towards their tenants. This includes carrying out regular gas checks, meeting fire safety standards, and providing smoke alarms to maximise safety and minimise risks.
- Repairs: Most exterior and structural repairs are the landlord’s responsibility. In this case, the landlord is responsible for repairing any damage to the roof, walls or drains. An example might be a cracked window, a faulty boiler or any leaks. It is also the landlord’s responsibility to maintain equipment for supplying water, gas, and electricity.
There are many other rules you must follow before you can legally rent a property. Ensure you can meet the requirements before purchasing an investment property by speaking to a financial advisor and management company.
9. Be aware of buy-to-let taxes
If you’re a landlord, you’ll be responsible for paying income tax on any rental income. You may also be required to pay capital gains tax if you sell your property at a profit.
The exact amount of tax depends on several factors, including the length of time you own the property and how much rent you charge. If you own several properties, you may be able to offset some of these costs by taking advantage of tax reliefs.
The taxes you can expect to pay to include:
- Income tax: This differs depending on whether it’s a personally owned or limited company-owned property. Personally owned income tax is fairly straightforward and can be calculated when completing a Self Assessment Tax Return to declare the rent payments you’ve received.
- Stamp duty: Unless the property you invest in is valued under £300,000, stamp duty is payable on all property purchases except first-time purchases. The stamp duty rate is based on a band system for all other properties. Whether you purchase a second property for rental purposes, as a holiday home, or simply as a second residence for yourself, you will have to pay stamp duty.
- Capital gains tax: When you sell your buy-to-let property, the profits that you make on the sale are subject to capital gains tax (CGT). This is a type of income tax that is applied to the difference between what you paid for your property and what you sold it for.
10. Purchase landlord insurance for rental properties
Although not mandatory, landlord insurance is highly recommended when operating multiple buy-to-let properties – it is often a requirement of mortgage lenders.
Landlord insurance is available in various forms, and it’s important that you choose the right policy to ensure that your rental property is protected from all types of damage. Different types of insurance cover you from missed rental payments, accidental damage, and void periods to theft and emergencies.
Coverage levels and types of insurance will determine how much your policy will cost. Insurers calculate your premiums (the cost of your insurance) based on the possibility of you making a claim and its potential cost.
11. Start small and grow gradually
If you’re just starting out in the property investment game, it’s tempting to invest in numerous properties at once in an attempt to generate the biggest ROI. However, you should start small and grow gradually to increase your chances of success. This will allow you to get used to the process and not overextend yourself.
As your income increases and you become confident and comfortable with property management, you can look at gradually increasing your portfolio.
12. Research best areas
Hunting for a profitable investment property involves copious amounts of research into leading cities for investment. Focus on areas that are growing both economically and in popularity.
So, what factors indicate growth in cities and thriving neighbourhoods?
- Job growth: Looking into job statistics and relocations of offices and major companies will give useful insight into tenant demand. If job opportunities are growing, so is the demand for housing.
- Diversification of industries: One way to conclude whether or not a town will be a successful investment area is the diversification of industries. Find an area with a diverse array of businesses, industries, and educational establishments. People at different levels of income will be employed in these industries. As a result of diversification, you will be able to rent out your rental property at different rates and keep your rental property safe from fluctuations in the rental market.
- Regeneration: There are many UK cities undergoing regeneration in order to attract tourists and residents alike. Should a city have these projects in the pipeline, you can estimate that the location will be growing economically.
- Transport links: Think about how easy it is to travel from one city or town to another. Are there many Metrolink options? Is there an airport nearby? How regular are trains and buses out of this area? Think about the convenience for both yourself and your tenants – it’s important people can travel with ease.
13. Consider your potential tenants
You should always think about the type of tenant you want to rent your property to. Consider the differences between a good and unreliable tenant and how their past experiences and profession could determine their reliability.
The following tips will help you determine which kind of tenant would be best for your property:
- Consider your potential tenants’ job security and reliability. If they have a solid career with a secure salary, they’ll most likely be able to pay rent on time. Students and families are also good choices because they tend to stay in one place for an extended period of time.
- Look at the rental market in your area. If there are many apartment blocks available, this is more likely to attract older tenants and professionals. Whereas if you’re in favour of investing in a larger home, families will be more likely to move in (and have less trouble paying the rent).
- Get a grasp of character when it comes to meeting prospective tenants. People that communicate well, have a good understanding of renting, are respectful and friendly and show eagerness to occupy your property are generally likely to be good tenants.
14. Calculate your average rental yield
No investor should purchase a property without first calculating their average returns. For rental properties, part of this should include understanding rental yield.
The average rental yield is the amount of rent you can expect to generate from your property, divided by the purchase price.
You can find out what your average rental yield will be by looking at similar properties in your area that have recently been sold or rented. You can also ask a local estate agent or investment consultant for help with this – they’ll have access to market data that will help you make an informed decision about whether or not an investment is worth pursuing.
15. Remain open-minded
When you first start looking at investing in property, it may be that you decide on a certain approach and follow this path. But, as we all know, things can change and as new information comes to light be sure to keep reassessing your decisions to make sure you’re making the best investment, and if a property comes up that is a good investment be sure to be agile enough to recognise the potential.
16. Look into build-to-rent property
One of the best ways to invest in rental property is by choosing a home that needs only minor repairs – a fixer upper may not be the most wise choice for a first buy-to-let.
- These properties are also often more expensive than standard rental accommodation, which means there is high demand for long term rental accommodation in many locations.
- Landlords can expect reliable income from their investment over time – making build-to-rent property an attractive option for building wealth over the long term.
17. Invest in off-plan properties
Investing in off-plan property means buying a property while it is still being built or planned. Aside from lower prices and a greater selection of units, off-plan properties offer many benefits as an investment.
In off-plan property investment, the property is still in construction or in the planning stages when the investor buys it. This means that before project completion, the value of the property can increase, in turn maximising your return of investment.
Due to the benefits they offer (such as discounted down payments and staged payments), off-plan property investments are becoming increasingly popular in UK cities.
18. Diversify your investment properties
Diversification is a great way to spread your risk.
Residential properties can be a great addition to your portfolio, but if you’re only investing in residential properties, then you’re taking on a lot of risk. Commercial properties are another great way to diversify your portfolio – they tend to be less volatile than residential properties, and they also give you access to different types of tenants and leases.
19. Invest in a short-term let property
Short-term lets are another great way to diversify your property. You can charge more overall than a standard buy to let, and holiday-lets have high occupancy rates in holiday destinations.
This type of investment is also very flexible, as it can be done on any scale: from a small one bedroom apartment to an entire holiday home.
Despite the ongoing maintenance work and regular cleaning required in these types of properties, the ROI of short-term lets can be extremely lucrative. Identify the best areas for all-year-round tourism to maximise your income.
20. Save an emergency fund
If you’re investing in property to save for your retirement, it’s important to remember that there will be periods where your investment is not generating any income. These are known as void periods, and can really impact the returns on your investment.
In order to ensure that you’re prepared for these void periods, it’s important to have an emergency fund in place.
21. Work with a property investment company
It is our specialty to bring investors and property developers together at the earliest stages of development, identifying and building investment opportunities and funding renovations and new builds throughout major UK cities and towns at attractive price points that will offer the best returns over time.
With our wide range of property options and advice, we are here to make it easy for you to build a strong property portfolio.
For further expert advice, read our Complete Guide to Property Investment for additional information on investing in the UK’s rental market.