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Property investors are “cautiously confident” about UK housing potential

Many would argue that investing in the UK housing market is a long game, and property investors remain confident of its future prospects.

Staying abreast of regulatory changes, looking at the market on a long-term level and waiting out the tough times were some of the nuggets of advice offered by experienced landlords and residential property investors at the recent National Landlord Investment Show in London.

The event attracts a wide range of industry professionals, with panels, networking opportunities and thousands of exhibitors who work in the buy-to-let and property investment industry with services to offer. With discussions of current affairs and upcoming changes, it offers a good insight into what’s happening in the sector.

And it is a sector that has been the subject of a lot of negative attention recently, in terms of tax changes and what some argue is a lack of government support, but it seems that the overall mood of investors and landlords isn’t as downbeat as some parts of the media may present.

A number of attendees spoke to This Is Money at the event, and the optimism was apparent among many, along with some interesting viewpoints on how best to see and invest in the UK property market.

First-timers still entering the fold

For many seasoned property investors, while certain aspects of the current market are challenging, there is a sense that ongoing peaks and troughs, and highs and lows, are all part and parcel of property investment, and that they do not detract from the overall outcome.

One industry professional who spoke to the publisher was Kelly-Marie Alleyne, who is the managing director of her own property inventory company. She isn’t currently a landlord but intends to become one, in a sign that the sector is still attracting plenty of new investors as well as old.

She said: “It is absolutely a sustainable market. There has been a lot of negative press surrounding taxation and EPC laws but the demand for housing is there.”

The EPC laws she speaks of haven’t yet been laid out in full, but the proposal at present is for minimum energy efficiency standards in rental homes to be increased. This would see properties having to achieve a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C for new tenancies by 2025, and by 2028 for existing tenancies.

The demand Alleyne refers to, though, is something that no one in the sector can dispute right now, with multiple reports finding that the number of tenants looking for homes far outweighs the number of rental properties available in most areas of the UK.

Property investors view long-term goals

As This Is Money points out, the general view from the market at the show was one of “cautious optimism”, with investors maintaining awareness of what was happening in the market but also panning out to look at the sector as a whole and its long-term potential.

Another attendee the publisher spoke to was Viv Bridge, who has been a residential landlord for eight years. Bridge’s strategy is to be close to his properties, which are all within a five-mile radius from where he lives. This can make things less complex, although will limit the range of properties you can access.

“I’m looking at expanding,” said Bridge. “It is a long game, and I am not as young as I used to be but I am prepared to take a 15- to 20-year view on it.

“The demand will be there for a lot longer and I think the starting point for London is around a £43,000 deposit [the average first time buyer deposit in the capital is around £125,000] which makes it more likely that more people will be renting longer into the future – which in and of itself may not be a good thing, but there you go.”

Keep an eye on changes

It is well-known that the UK government has seen a lot of changes in recent years, and sometimes one of the big challenges for property investors can be staying ahead of new laws, regulations and tax updates.

But doing so can mean you have time to adopt new strategies and put measures in place to offset any changes that could affect you negatively, or even just be able to prepare for them. Certainly, the relatively recent changes to mortgage interest tax relief, for example, have affected some property investors more than others.

A growing number of property investors have gone down the route of operating through limited companies, which can prove beneficial from a tax perspective.

Another landlord and investor at the event, Ash, who is based in the Midlands, believes that proper management is key, as well as preparation. He is another advocate for investors keeping an eye on the bigger picture, rather than baulking at short-term upheaval.

“I know everything in the news is saying it is absolute chaos but as long as you are managing it right, it’s not,” he said.

“As long as you get a little bit of a heads up [on the regulatory changes] and you can change things in accordance and it’s fine.”

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