THIS week’s issue focuses on the buy-to-let market and its enduring popularity
THIS week’s issue focuses on the buy-to-let market and its enduring popularity. According to property experts, the amount of money being invested in BTL properties is up a third since the end of 2013 and our nation’s faith in bricks and mortar shows no sign of abating, with investors large and small pumping billions of pounds into BTL property.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders reported that 17,300 people took out a buy-to-let mortgage in December 2014 - an 18 per cent increase on December 2013. (Apparently they borrowed £2.5billion, up 32 per cent on the previous year.
“I think there are various reasons people like buy to let,” says Katie White of local estate agency Chancellors, in Hart Street.
“Low interest rates mean they are getting a poor return on cash investment, and property is a tangible asset. It is considered a safe bet â?? even if prices aren’t going up, demand for property from tenants means properties often secure multiple offers for landlords to consider.”
Katie believes the best buy-to-let investment is a two or three-bedroom flat or house that will appeal to professional couples or sharers. A town centre location tends to be the best option.
“I see little difference in period and new builds, so long as they are in good condition,” she adds. “Obviously you pay a premium for new build compared with a ‘second-hand’ property, but a new build comes with warranties while an older property may have more upkeep necessary so it’s all about equal in the end.”
Katie says those looking for BTLs in the Henley area tend to be a mixture of first-time investors, those looking to add to their property portfolio and investors anticipating retirement or using their pension money as released through the recent pension reforms.
Over at Knight Frank on Thameside, Matthew Mannall says: “We find there are always contacts looking for quality locations both in Henley and the villages that present good opportunities for a rental investment.
“The investment focus traditionally is on the annual yield, but increasingly the consideration is equally focused on a smaller yield but with good prospects for longer term capital growth.”
Katie White continues: “But for those looking for BTLs, Henley isn’t the only option. Some people are looking for areas like Twyford, which offer good value for money and where they hope they will get substantial growth in their investment in the future.”
Victoria Gray, branch lettings manager at Hamptons International, in Hart Street, says she totally agrees with those comments. She says: “The BTL buyer in Henley looks for different priorities. Landlords are smart choosing property within Henley for their investment portfolio. If you are looking for higher yields, Reading and Maidenhead will be a better choice.
“There is a unique market in Henley which admittedly may not provide the highest monthly yield for the most avid business person, but we are seeing a trend of landlords buying in the area simply because they personally love it.
“It is not unusual for landlords to see the longer-term advantage, and the word ‘retirement’ features frequently with the romantic idea of eventually living in the property themselves once they reach the landmark age.
“We must also not forget the short-let option for Henley, in which Hamptons specialises. Landlords usually get double for these, taking advantage of exceptional high rental opportunities such as the Henley Regatta and Festival.
With all of this in mind, Standard Property scoured the local market to find the cream of the crop of BTL properties (naturally, these would equally make ideal choices for first-time buyers). Sticking with central Henley, there’s not much around for under the Â£400,000 mark but we managed to track down a fewâ?¦
Small but perfectly formed
Â£240,000, Duke Street, Henley
If it’s the heart of Henley for under Â£250,000 you’re after, then this one-bedroom flat with its beautifully finished kitchen and wet-room bathroom is an excellent choice.
It may be snug but the owner has spent a lot of money making the space as inviting and high-spec as possible, with clever lighting, an open-plan living/kitchen room and a rain shower.
Being in the centre of town, you’ll attract a variety of tenants and the train station (London Paddington in 55 minutes) is just a few minutes’ walk away, as is the River Thames.
Call Simmons & Sons on (01491) 571111.
A real character
Â£265,000, top of Reading Road, Henley
On the corner of Reading Road and Friday Street, locals will be familiar with the sight of Lloyds Bank.
But this beautiful old building was once Victorian Henley’s post office, so it’s teeming with ornate features and comes with large sash windows and high ceilings.
The top part of the building has been developed into flats, including this one-bedroom apartment which comes with a nice modern bathroom and large living room that’s open plan to the smart, neutral kitchen. It’s residents-only parking.
Jason Applebey, valuations manager at Davis Tate, says: “We are currently finding a high demand for town centre one to two-bedroom properties. This property would make an excellent buy-to-let purchase; its position in the town being close to the River Thames and train station will make it very popular with the young professional rental market.
“We recently sold the flat above to a first-time investor and successfully let it for him on the first viewing for the full asking price.”
Call Davis Tate on (01491) 412345.
Meet in the middle
Â£289,000, middle of Reading Road, Henley
Decently presented, neutrally decorated with two double-bedrooms, modern kitchen and bathroom, this is an excellent rental choice.
The timber-clad high ceilings and good natural light give an airy feel, plus there’s some handy outdoor space.
Other pros include the fact it’s only a two-minute walk to the town centre and train station, as well as coming with its own private parking space.
Karen du Plessis, sales negotiator at Robinson Sherston in Bell Street, says: “This is a real gem for a buy to let with a small patio garden, secure parking and high ceilings â?? and all in central Henley!”
Call Robinson Sherston on (01491) 411911.
Â£365,000, end of Reading Road, Henley
Henley Gate, a development of 12 flats, was built two years ago so it’s good quality and in a prime spot, between Henley town centre and the Tesco superstore.
Standard Property featured No 4 Henley Gate (Â£355,000) a few weeks ago, but it’s sister flat No 11 is also for sale. Like No 4, it is a top-floor two double bedroom apartment with two modern bathrooms, an A-rated kitchen, a bright living room with west-facing balcony and parking.
Tenants will appreciate things like underfloor heating, fitted wardrobes, telephone points in the principal rooms, TV points in the master bedroom as well as the living room, and communal satellite feed (for Sky TV etc). They will also be glad of the electric gates, parking bays, bike shelter and communal gardens.
This property also gets top marks for being a 10-minute walk from the train station, Tesco is around the corner and there’s a bus stop right outside. Spot on.
Call Simmons & Sons on (01491) 571111.
More for less
Â£425,000, Harpsden Road, Henley
This two-bedroom (plus a third ‘room’ in the attic â?? a real bonus) mid-terraced house comes with a slice of character from the late 1800s and has been lovingly and tastefully brought up to date.
Ideal BTL credentials include it having a modern, neutral kitchen and bathroom, a handy utility room, and it is less than a mile from the town centre and train station.
Landlords will love that it’s in top condition and there’s no onward chain, while those renting will love the cleverly designed layout, the comfort of the living room fireplace and the pretty garden. Parking can be found on the street outside.
Chris Moorhouse, senior sales manager at Romans, says: “Placed with access to Henley and its wide range of facilities and the River Thames, the house has two reception rooms and two double bedrooms, with the outdoor space which is often in high demand.”
Call Romans on (01491) 412888.
Â£430,000, Grove Road, Henley
In the same vein as the Harpsden Road house, this is slightly closer to the town centre and train station â?? hence it costs another Â£5,000. Unlike the other property, this doesn’t have a converted attic or a utility room.
However, you do get a larger living/dining room with doors to the garden. The bathroom’s floral tiles will not be to everyone’s taste, but the location of this property is its trump card â?? a quiet residential road, hidden off Reading Road, with on-street parking.
Chris Moorhouse, senior sales manager at Romans, says: “Grove Road is a quiet location and a refitted kitchen and bathroom will have a wide appeal for tenants. The garden is large enough to host summer barbecues.”