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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Latest landlord survey

Specialist research agency, BDRC, has published the results of its latest quarterly survey of private landlords in the UK...

The research is based on the opinions, attitudes and expectations of more than 500 British landlords during the three months to the end of September, and the main findings are as follows:

Fourteen per cent of private landlords said prospects for the UK's private rental sector looked "very good" up from only 10 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Eighteen per cent reported "very good" prospects for rental yield over the three months to the end of December, down from 22 per cent a year ago.

While increased demand for rental properties and cheaper house prices improved the outlook during the third quarter of 2008, the proportion of landlords optimistic about prospects for capital gain was substantially lower than when the survey began, in October 2006.

This is illustrated by the fact that 60 per cent of respondents said they were focused on rental yield, with 17 per cent planning to increase rents before the end of the year, by an average of 5.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, 38 per cent of respondents had already increased rents in the past 12 months.

In addition, over 20 per cent of landlords stated that they intend to buy new properties before the end of the year.

However, it is professional landlords who are surviving the credit crisis well, as only 63 per cent of investors with one property reported that they were in profit, compared to 96 per cent of landlords with portfolios of 20 or more rentals.

Property vulture funds - alternative to direct landlording?

The credit crunch and fall out in the housing market has brought about the arrival of so called property 'Vulture Funds'. These funds backed by high net worth investors aim to pick up property from distressed sellers and landlords.

Landlords advised to check out charges!

They may represent a way of landlords entering or expanding their residential holdings without the hassle of direct property holdings. However, I would caution landlords to look very carefully into the terms of any of the investments. Especially important are any fees and charges. Frequently, investment vehicles are loaded with hidden professional fees and charges which means that these investment companies become vehicles for making the initiators of the funds rich leaving the poor old investor decidedly out of pocket.


One property fund is looking to buy up an entire street of 45 properties in Eastney, Portsmouth, many of them from distressed landlords.

The British Opportunities Fund, launched at the start of the year by boutique fund manager Managing Partners Limited (MPL), backed by HBOS, has paid between £89,000 and £100,000 for each property. The same properties were selling for between £180,000 and £205,000 two years ago.

The fund, which says it has returned 6.16% growth since launch compared with a fall of 10% in the Halifax house price index, has bought 15 of the 48 properties in Fort Cumberland Street and has offers pending on a further 10 homes.

The management expects a minimum 10% rental yield on each property. It has funded “non-structural refurbishments” and installed a caretaker to collect litter and maintain the street, which it says allows it to charge higher rents.

The minimum investment is £50,000 — £2,500 if made via a self-invested personal pension.

Jeremy Leach, managing director of MPL, said: “The fund has been able to purchase these properties from landlords who have overstretched themselves at prices that are as much as 40% below market value.”

In August, Arch Financial Products, the investment manager, launched a residential property fund with Nice Capital to make the most of falling UK house prices.

The Guernsey-domiciled fund, Nice Residential III, will purchase discount properties from distressed sellers, with the aim of returning 15% annually over five years. The London-focused fund has a £50,000 minimum investment.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Landlords anticipating another interest rate cut

I don't know about you, but I'm anticipating a further fall in interest rates when the MPC meet next week. Could we get another 0.5% cut in rates?

This would be a great xmas present for landlords on tracker rates who have already seen their mortgage costs slashed.

Lenders are now starting to respond to falling rates by cutting the interest rates charged on their buy-to-let mortgage products.

Marsden BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.99%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
27 Nov 2008
Principality BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.99%, w.e.f. 24.11.08....more
27 Nov 2008
Mansfield BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.99%, & MAXIMUM LOAN-TO-VALUE reduced to 65%, w.e.f. 25.11.08. ...more
27 Nov 2008
Dudley BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 6.49%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more

Thursday, November 27, 2008

House prices - slowing of the falls just a breather!

The latest Nationwide figures showed only a 0.4% fall in November. Given the horrendous news coming out about the housing market this was almost something to celibrate. So desperate are we for any hint of the positive.

Where do professional landlords go for their landlord insurance ?

Commenting on the Nationwide house price index, Simon Rubinsohn RICS chief economist said:
"Data released this morning from the Nationwide Building Society shows an easing in the pace of decline in house prices in November.

It is however improbable that this marks a turning point in the cycle. Data from the British Bankers Association published on Tuesday indicated mortgage approvals continuing to fall while the increasingly negative newsflow from the economy suggests that interest from potential buyers could weaken further over the coming months.

Don't break out the champagne yet!

Before breaking out the champagne Landlords should be aware of the limitations of house price data from the big mortgage companies in the current market. These figures which are based on mortgage approvals. What they don't include are the increasing volumes of sales that are going though the auction rooms or are opportunistic cash purchases made by professional investors. These will not show up in either the Nationwide and Halifax figures. These purchases will often go significantly below the levels in the rest of the market. I suspect at the moment both sets of figures underestimate the falls particularly in certain parts of the market such as new build apartments where a glut in supply is exacerbating falls in values.

To find out how the different organisations measure house prices have a look at this previous article.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Property Billionaire

I have covered a few times the various property investment courses that get presented to us. This one though did make me smirk in its audacity. No longer is it promising an investor to be a property millionaire, this one pledges that they could be a billionaire all for £27. In the current climate to be solvent would be quite an achievement.

I'm busy both nights and I would advise other landlords if they want to be property billionaires to save the £27 and either have a damm good meal or put it towards buying the first property in their billion pound property empire!

The Mortgage Market reflects on the chancellors pre-budget report.

This Times article reflects on the impact of the chancellors pre budget report on mortgage lending and the UK property market.

Buy-to-let mortgage FREE EPC

Landlord should know by now that if they are selling or renting their buy-to-let property in England or Wales they will need a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

EPC should cost a landlord no more than £80 in fact recently I got one done locally for £65.

Now the Mortgage Works is offering an EPC free when a landlord takes out a new buy-to-let mortgage with them. The Mortgage Works which is part of the Nationwide Building Society has escaped much of the fallout in the Banking world by sticking to doing the basics. Borrowing money from it's savers to then lending out but not taking excessive risks.

Buy-to-let tracker rates are still very illusive but The Mortgage Works offer some of the most competitive fixed rate products.

  • The Mortgage Works
  • ALL 5 year buy-to-let FIXED RATES withdrawn and 2 & 3 year FIXED RATES withdrawn & replaced with products of 4.69%, 5.19% & 5.69% to 28.2.11 and 5.64% & 5.99% to 29.2.12 and for remortgages 5.49% to 28.2.11 & 6.34% to 29.2.12, w.e.f. 19.11.08. ...more

Further information, exclusion, terms and conditions for Buy to Let remortgage products with free EPCs

  • Property value up to £500,000: Free standard valuation, free standard legal fees and free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Not available for properties in Scotland. Exclusions/additional charges may apply.
  • Property value greater than £500,000: Standard valuation subsidised by £565 and, free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Free standard legal fees are not available. Not available for properties in Scotland. Exclusions/additional charges may apply.
  • £500 cashback available as an alternative to free standard valuation, free standard legal fees and free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for properties in England, Wales and Scotland regardless of property value.
  • Products available through TMW Online only.
  • Range of fixed products available.
  • Only applicable for Buy to Let remortgages on selected products.
  • Remortgages are only acceptable after the property has been owned for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Not available for limited companies.
  • Rates are only secured once a full application and fee have been received
  • Only available for single property applications - not available for applicants wishing to utilise The Mortgage Works' portfolio proposition, e.g. the averaging of LTV and rental cover across a portfolio of properties.

The RIse of the 'Landlord Vulture' - is it wrong to prey on desperate property sellers?

Landlord vultures circle as more and more property owners are forced into distressed sales.

Should landlords ever draw a line when it comes to taking advantage of a distressed seller?

Buying a property at auction means that there is a good chance that the property has come through unfortunate circumstances. Auction property often appears from a bank repossession, a need for a quick sale or as the result of the death of an individual.

Not nice, when you think about it.

But, in the same way that the majority of the population is happy to buy a garment from a cheap clothes retailer ( and not dwell on the image of the eight year old child out in the far east working 12 hour days for pennies) . We don't think about where it has come from.

This human characteristic stops us feeling to much guilt and angst that might get in the way of us 'bagging a bargain'.

The same process comes into play when buying a property at auction - it's best not thinking too long and hard about the property's background story.

The current downward cycle in the economy as we all have heard by now, is bringing unemployment, difficult lending conditions and higher levels of property repossessions. This brings the temptation of cut price property from distressed sellers.

There is a whole market of ambulance chasing property investors ( property vultures ) and property agents trying to locate the most desperate property owners and persuade them into selling for the ( holy grail ) Below Market Value (BMV).

This involves placing adverts in papers, asking around estate agents for desperate sellers, rubbing hands together when they hear of sellers unfortunate unemployment and yes, chasing ambulances.

I must be honest, I personally do find this 'landlord vulture' element rather vulgar and distasteful.

However, I have bought at auction without asking questions, so what is the difference between that and searching out distressed sellers?

Back to the analogy about the discount clothes chains, we all know that the clothes are made through others misfortune, but we still buy them because they are cheap.

At least the 'landlord vultures' are happy to face up to their victims and not hide away at the back of the property auction room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buy-to-let mortgages latest

A number of buy-t0-let lenders including some of the smaller building societies announced a cut in their standard variable rate. Amongst these were National Counties, Skipton and Melton Mobray BS who all reduced their SVR below 6%. Well done chaps keep it up....

  • Nottingham BS
  • Buy-to-let MINIMUM RENTAL INCOME CALCULATION of 115% calculated at BBR + 2.25% amended to BBR + 4%, w.e.f. 24.11.08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • RBS IP NatWest
  • END-DATES on Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES extended to 31 January, w.e.f. 25.11.08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • National Counties BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by to 5.79%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • Skipton BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.95%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • Skipton BS (Commercial)
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE reduced to 7.00%, w.e.f. 1.12.08. ...more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • Dunfermline BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 1.00% to 5.99%, w.e.f. 01/12/08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • Scottish BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.99%, w.e.f. 24/11/08, DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 6.99% withdrawn and NEW STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 5.99% for term launched w.e.f. 24/11/08....more
  • 25 Nov 2008
  • Furness BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 1% to 5.94%, w.e.f. 21.11.08....more
  • 24 Nov 2008
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • Further to news dated 21.11.08, fixed rates were not reduced as stated, but just end-dates extended to 28 February....more
  • 24 Nov 2008
  • Yorkshire Bank
  • Further to news dated 21.11.08, fixed rates were not reduced as stated, but just end-dates extended to 28 February....more
  • 24 Nov 2008
  • Melton Mowbray BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.49%, w.e.f. 19.11.08....more

Landlords looking to save on DIY costs

Landlords who need to do some DIY or at least buy the materials for one of their tradespeople might want to avoid the hassle of getting in their car or van and having to visit the local or not so local DIY hyper hell!

They could take a leaf out of my Xmas shopping technique.

Flip open the laptop, a little bit of digit exercise with the mouse, click a few buttons and enter your credit card and job done. Back to the football and the rather enticing glass of Chateaux Neuf de Pape 2005 - off course!

Well landlords we can do the same with DIY stuff thanks to places like Screwfix.

Loading up the trolley is a case of flicking through the 18000 products, selecting the items and clicking on the select button. It freezing out there. Why suffer discomfort when it can be avoided.

10% off discount code

I've managed to get hold of a discount voucher code HL241108 for purchases over £50 which such save a landlord an additional 10% if they use the site by Friday.

Landlords - golden era of profitability

I've been scanning through my investments recently and it's depressing.

Landlords get professional rates of landlord insurance

Shares portfolio decimated
My diminishing cash pile is now attracting a paultry 2-3% intrest
Property portfolio value slumping by the day

Bright spot

The only bright spot is the profitability of my rental business. After several decades of accepting that renting out property doesn't make you any income - but generates profits through capital appreciation. The recent reduction in interest rates to 3% and the likelihood that they could slump further to 2 or even 1% will do wonders for my portfolios rental profitability. Luckily a couple of years ago I remortgaged and benifited from some great tracker rates of just above base rate (now alass just a distant memory). The result is that each property is generating a couple of hundred quid of income each month in income. In these increasingly desperate times (2% off VAT - whats the point of that!!!) then it's nice to have a series of a couple of hundreds dripping into your bank account each month. Even when the tracker rates end then the nature of buy-to-let mortgage rates is that they often revert to a base rate linked interest rate. In my case + 1.75%. A few years ago - horrendous. Now with interest rates so low not so bad.

The other great thing about these rental profits is that after years of rental losses my rental profits can be set against previous rental losses. This means that I'm not having to pay out any tax on it to fund the Governments idiot tax cuts.

Please Gordon do the decent thing for the sake of Prudence resign!

Rents falling - particularly on family housing

A recent article published on reports that rents are copying house prices and falling, thanks to an oversupply of unsold homes.

It’s good news for tenants and bad news for landlords: according to the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), residential rents fell dramatically in the third quarter of this year.

The record fall comes thanks to the lettings market being “flooded” by unsold properties being put up to let. Of course, this is basic economics: when supply is high but demand is weak, prices go but one way -- downwards.

A flooded market

The proportion of surveyors reporting new lettings of flats and homes is at an all-time high. Indeed, 50% more surveyors reported a rise than a fall in new instructions to let flats. For houses, this figure stands at 68%, which suggests that thousands of unsold family homes are finding their way onto the rental market. This trend could hurt existing landlords, as reluctant amateur landlords undercut professionals and long-term investors.

Rents go down

Between April and June this year, RICS reported that 31% more surveyors reported rises rather than falls in rents. However, this figure plunged in the following quarter to minus 12%, which is the lowest figure ever recorded by RICS.

In effect, this means that far more surveyors reported falling rents than rises. And if homeowners continue to hang on to their properties and let out them out instead of selling them – in a bid to ride out the housing downturn - then this figure is likely to worsen.

In London, the net balance* of surveyors reporting rises or falls in rents decreased from a stable 0% in Q2 to minus 53% in Q3. For London flats, the net balance fell from 5% to minus 33%. Worst hit was the Southeast, with the net balance for houses plummeting from 53% to minus 33%. Ouch!

This news tallies with my own personal experience. Recently, I made an offer to rent a property in a city in the Southeast. The previous tenants had lived there for two years, paying £1,800 a month. I offered the landlord £1,650 a month, which he promptly accepted -- saving me £1,800 a year.

Message for landlords

The message for landlords is that if they have good tenants paying a good rent - try and keep them. London landlords in particular have experienced a recent golden era of rising property prices and rising rents meaning that they won either way. The message is clear landlords need to work hard to keep hold of what they have and this includes their tenants!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Property Report interview on the State of the Mortgage Lending Market

This interview from The Property Report shares the thoughts of Ray Boulger from Charcol Mortgage Brokers on the state of the mortgage lending market over the coming months and years.

Buy-to-let mortgages - elusive trackers

Owners of buy-to-let properties have yet to gain from the lower mortgage rates on offer from lenders.

Where do professional landlords go for their buy-to-let mortgage advice?

Although some banks and building societies have started to reprice their tracker rates and introduce lower fixed rates on residential mortgages, little has changed within the buy-to-let sector, say brokers.

Melanie Bien, director of Savills Private Finance, the independent mortgage broker, said landlords reaching the end of their mortgage contracts and hoping for cheaper trackers or fixes to remortgage on to will be disappointed. At the end of last week, lenders removed a number of buy-to-let mortgages from the market and have yet to bring out new deals.

However, Ray Boulger, technical director at the broker John Charcol, explains this is not unusual and does not mean that new, lower deals won't come out. When lenders change their mainstream mortgage rates, it usually takes a few weeks before buy-to-let rates catch up, he said.

Although there are not many tracker rate mortgages on offer to landlords, there are still a reasonable number of fixed rates available. One of the best is a two-year fix at 5.49 per cent from The Mortgage Works, a subsidiary of Nationwide Building Society. But the offer comes with a fee of 3.25 per cent and is only available for those who can provide equity or a deposit of 35 per cent.

Alternatively, landlords can fix their mortgage at 5.89 per cent for three years with NatWest, with a fee of 2.75 per cent. But, as with The Mortgage Works deal, this is limited to a maximum loan to value of 65 per cent.

So, for landlords unable to raise sufficient deposit or equity in their property the chances of finding a deal are narrowing.

Lenders will now only provide buy-to-let mortgages with a maximum loan to value of 75 per cent and borrowers are having to make up the difference from their own pockets.

Banks have also become more exacting in their demands for rental cover. NatWest, for example, will only offer its 5.89 per cent three-year fixed-rate deal to those able to cover both 125 per cent of the interest on the loan plus an interest rate excess set by the bank.

There is some good news, though. Borrowers with buy-to-let mortgages tend to revert to a mortgage linked to the Bank of England base rate when their deals come to an end, rather than one linked to the lender's standard variable rate, as those with residential mortgages do.

This means that anyone who reached the end of a deal in the summer and reverted to a rate 1 or 2 per cent above the base rate will have seen their payments cut by 2 percentage points as a result of the most recent reductions in interest rates.

Now that the Bank of England base rate is 3 per cent, some landlords could be paying mortgage rates of 4 or 5 per cent, said Bien, a better rate than buy-to-let trackers or SVR-linked mortgages on the market.

Experts predict that the base rate may fall again before Christmas, meaning these borrowers could make even more savings, Boulger said those looking for a good fixed rate would be advised to wait for a few weeks.

UK House Price Bubble Animation

The house price bubble theorists use animation to get over their point.

Is it different this time?

Monday morning maths

Property Sparrow is hopeless at mental arithmetic. For the second time in a week she has had to get her calculator out.

She calculates her anticipated monthly savings in VAT on lettings agent management fees, from 17.5% to 15%.

She reckons this will be:

Saving on Property 1 £2.23
Saving on Property 2 £1.87
Saving on Property 3 £2.16
Saving on Property 4 £1.96

Total per month £8.22. Saving per annum £98.64

Chicken feed some would say but Property Sparrow is easily pleased.

She puts her Overpayment On The Mortgages target up to £98.22 per month.

She hopes that this is correct and that Darling Alistair will confirm this later on today.

What are you all going to do with your savings?

Landlords Repossessions Rise as UK Buy-to Let Continues to Go into Meltdown

Landlord's repossession rise sharply as the property market continues to spiral downwards.

The gloom for landlords continues to grow ever darker as new figures show an increase in repossessions on buy-to-let property.

The falling property values, falling rents and harsher lending criteria have forced many landlords under.

This Daily Mail article provides a handy map showing the worst effected areas.

A friend to all landlords in harsh times,
Your Darling Margo.

If any landlords are struggling with repayments they should contact their BTL lender as soon as possible to discuss possible resolutions, don't be an ostrich these problems are here to stay.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sentiment in the Property Market

'Sentiment' is a key part of any investment equation, somewhere between 'demand' and 'supply'.

Within the property market , maybe more than any other investment class, 'sentiment' has a large impact over any final figure.

The 'property market bubble' has been largely built on 'sentiment' over the past five years, especially in the buy-to-let property sector. For many traditional landlords and property investors there was no real investment logic within rising property values since about 2002/ 2003.

Many properties were been bought at values that didn't meet any investment logic I could understand, but the positive sentiment towards property was so strong that many landlords bought in anyway.

"Property never goes down in value, does it !?"

The 'property pop' happened ,and now the media is fueling a nations thirst to follow the newly adopted national 'sentiment', for depression and falling house prices.

As with all media feeding frenzies, they follow the national sentiment and give viewers what they want - this time round it's news of bad times, depression and recession.

As the country self -flagilates, we, alongside the media are in danger of driving property prices down harder and faster than they should really go.

So what should you do when a nations seeks to harm itself through negativity?

Maybe its time to slap the nation across the face and tell it to pull itself together and cheer up.

Remember the media gives us what we want, so therefore if we start asking for some good news maybe the media will start to find us some.

Come on landlords cheer up or you know what will happen.

Let's start to get some positive 'sentiment ' back in the property market.

"Go property market" "Yeh" "Go team landord" (sorry about the poor attempt at recreating American positivity - sorry.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

15 top tips to help you retain your current tenants from the experts at Belvoir Lettings

With a wider choice of rental properties now available than ever before retaining your current tenants for longer periods definitely makes logical and financial sense. As well as saving you time searching for a new tenant and running the necessary credit and reference checks on them, keeping hold of your current tenant will also minimize the potential of lengthy ‘void’ periods on your property.

But, the key to retaining ‘good’ tenants is to be a ‘good’ landlord. Here, the experts at Belvoir show you how...

1. Don’t get complacent
A long-term tenant is a valuable asset in a saturated rental market so make sure you keep on top of all those little jobs that will make it easier for the tenant to feel at home.
“Maintain the property in the best possible condition,” says Paul Cartwright, proprietor of Belvoir South Hants. “When the tenant reports maintenance problems, sort them immediately.”
Proprietor of Belvoir Camberley Craig Walker agrees. “If approached to fix any problems this should be done ASAP rather than being complacent and putting this off,” he says. “The landlord should look at the situation from the tenants’ point of view - a broken freezer may be a hassle to fix today but, for the tenant, all their food is ruined and they cannot buy more and store it, therefore it is a very big deal to them!”

2. Save your energy
“Improve your property’s energy efficiency,” advises proprietor of Belvoir Peterborough and Corby Terry Lucking. “If your property is cold or drafty a tenant won’t want to extend their tenancy. Also, poor insulation etc can mean high gas and electric bills for a tenant, which may make them search for a more cost effective living solution.”

3. Have the right attitude
Show that you’re fair-minded and understanding. “A landlord should be polite and approachable, fair but not a walk over and always treat the tenants with respect,” says Craig Walker of Belvoir Camberley. Proprietor of Belvoir Bolton Mike Stuttard agrees. “I would say that to keep a tenant long term, landlords should treat their tenant well,” he says. “I am not saying that they should jump to every request, but if there is a legitimate request for maintenance work etc, tenants will appreciate a quick turnaround and this will definitely ensure that they think twice about moving.”
Mike Campbell of Belvoir Falkirk adds, “Landlords should always communicate promptly, honestly, clearly and informatively with the tenant on any matter affecting the property, its management and the tenants safe and peaceful occupation of the property.”

4. Why are they looking to leave?
“At Belvoir Peterborough and Corby we always cross-examine the tenant on why they’re wanting to leave when they give notice,” says Terry Lucking. “It’s vital to find out their objections and then we can try and overcome them. Sometimes it’s an issue you can’t do anything about, such as lack of space, but other times it’s something simple that’s easily resolved and encourages them to stay.”

5. Home improvements
“Requests for improvements should always be considered,” says Gary Legge, proprietor of Belvoir Bourne. Wayne Mearns, proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea, adds, “be flexible with decoration. The tenant can always restore the colour or style back to the original if agreed.”

6. Incentivize them to stay
It’s no use having a long-term tenant if they leave half way through their tenancy. Ensure your tenant stays for the duration by “adding penalty clauses for early release from a tenancy,” suggests Gary Legge of Belvoir Bourne.

7. Treat your rental property as a business
“I guess from our experience, the landlords who do retain their tenants are the ones who view their properties/portfolio as a business or investment,” says June Rakeshaw, proprietor of Belvoir Cheadle. “Because of this they carry out regular maintenance; thus keeping the tenant happy, adding value to the property and stopping repairs from escalating into something worse and more expensive.”

8. Keep it modern
Make sure your rental property feels as though it’s home from home by decorating to a high standard and providing modern appliances.
“Ensure the property is modern, neutrally decorated and unfurnished but including white goods and, wherever possible, a dishwasher,” says Kate Jackson, proprietor of Belvoir Bournemouth.

9. Be happy to help
“When conducting periodic inspections always ask if everything is ok and if they have any problems,” says proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea Wayne Mearns. “That way you are coming across as being pro-active and the tenant will feel secure in this knowledge.”

10. Rent reductions
“If a tenant gives notice because they can’t afford to continue renting the property consider dropping the rent,” says Terry Lucking of Belvoir Peterborough and Corby. “Taking a reduction of £50-£100 in monthly rent is better than having a potential void period.”
Gary Legge from Belvoir Bourne agrees. “Consider a slight reduction for a new long-term fixed contract,” he says. And “if a current tenant has a problem paying the rent be understanding but firm,” advises Paul Cartwright of Belvoir South Hants.

11. Respect their space
“When landlords meet their tenants in their property be respectful, friendly and informal,” advises Gary Legge of Belvoir Bourne. “Avoid disparaging comments and causing them to be unsettled by voicing possible future plans that are adverse to the current tenancy.”

12. It’s good to talk!
“Make sure you communicate with your tenants throughout their tenancy,” advises Terry Lucking of Belvoir Peterborough and Corby. “Arrange to meet them regularly so you can find out their frustrations early on and can put problems right before they escalate to a stage that they hand in their notice. These ‘courtesy visits’ should be in addition – and on different occasions – to inspections.”

13. Review rent with care
“When the tenant is due a rent review don’t automatically put the rent up,” says June Rakeshaw of Belvoir Cheadle. “Consider and analyse how the market is doing generally in that area for that type of property – putting the rent up could result in the tenant looking elsewhere and thus creating a void for the landlord.”
Proprietor of Belvoir Bolton Mike Stuttard agrees. “Try not to increase the rent too much,” he says. “There is definitely an intrinsic value in having a good tenant who looks after a property. On this basis, landlords should consider offering either a discounted rent or not increasing too regularly because their property is being cared for. As soon as a tenant moves out, there is the possibility of void periods and lost rent, which a landlord can ill afford.”

14. Emergency helplines
Proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea Wayne Mearns says that a tenant will be grateful for any help you can provide that will give them peace of mind during their tenancy, including emergency phone numbers. “Always ensure that they have emergency contact numbers for local plumbers etc,” he says.

15. Specialist solution
For expert advice and hands-on practical help to retain your current tenants “let Belvoir, the lettings specialist, fully manage your property for you,” advises Kate Jackson of Belvoir Bournemouth.
Proprietor of Belvoir Gravesend Jo Ohlson adds, “In this difficult economic environment it is in the Landlords best interest to retain their tenants as long as possible. They can do this by being pro-active and finding a good agent (such as Belvoir) to market and manage their property and to provide specialist knowledge and expertise.”

Why are long-term lets good for landlords?

• They reduce the potential of ‘void’ periods between tenants
• Long-term lets lower the risk of getting an undesirable tenant – if you’ve got a good one, keep it!
• There will be less credit and reference checks to perform
• Retaining your current tenant could reduce your fees if you were using an agency on a ‘tenant-find only’ basis
• You will have already built up a working relationship with your current tenant and both of you will understand the expectations you have of each other
• The fewer times furniture is moved in and out of a property the less likely there is to be wear and tear and minor damage to door frames and paintwork

Bargain towns

With house prices in freefall and the country gripped by recession, there has never been a better time for cash-rich buyers to pick up a bargain, accroding to

But where is the best area in the UK to find that dream property at a rock-bottom price?

According to the latest figures compiled by property search engine, Globrix, the historic city of Norwich is the top location in the UK right now if you’re looking to pick up a bargain property.

Globrix is able to track price drops in real time and in the past week alone , 2.6% of sellers in Norwich have dropped their prices, a higher percentage than anywhere else in the country.

This means for bargain hunters looking for a steal, Norwich is the place to look, with 106 properties reduced in price by an average of £13,683 since Monday 10th November. Norwich really is the city where everything must go!

In the current list of bargain hotspots, Norwich is followed by Solihull (2.2%) where 40 properties have been reduced by an average of £13,130 in the past week and Rotherham (2.2%) where 38 properties have had an average of £9,210 knocked off the price since 10th November.

In London, 270 properties have been reduced in price by motivated sellers during the past week, at a substantial average drop of £44,567. In Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, 78 properties have been lowered in price by sellers, by an average of £9,479.

Nationally, 5,803 properties have been reduced in price by sellers since 10th November at an average price drop of £16,871.

The following table shows a list of the top towns/cities in the UK to pick up a property bargain.

Table of Top Bargain Locations:

Location % of properties reduced as a % of total number, No. of properties reduced in price since 10/11/2008

Norwich 2.6%, 106

Solihull 2.2%, 40

Rotherham 2.2%, 38

Wellingborough 2.2%, 26

Kettering 2.0%, 28

Peterborough 1.8%, 72

Doncaster 1.8%, 46

Bedford 1.8%, 42

Wirral 1.8%, 38

Brighton 1.8%, 32

Aylesbury 1.8%, 28

Colchester 1.6%, 48

Swindon 1.6%, 42

Eastbourne 1.6%, 22

Worthing 1.4%, 24

Hull 1.2%, 42

Reading 1.2%, 34

Daniel Lee, director of property search engine Globrix, comments: “There are bargains galore out there at the moment for cash buyers and people with the finance in place to move quickly. Forget rip-off Britain, you’re now looking at Bargain Britain.

“Buyers are now holding all the cards and sellers need to realise that if they want to sell in this market then they may have to accept an offer they wouldn’t have even considered six months ago.

“Right now a cool head is called for, because despite the country being in the grips of a recession, it’s the perfect time to buy, as many sellers are taking almost any offer to offload a property that is a drain on their finances.”

If landlords are also looking for a bargain property then they can find individual properties listed on the Property Snake. See at a glance by how much a property has fallen in value since first listing.

Buy-to-let mortgages latest

Today buy-to-let lenders announced a variety of changes to their products. Some lenders such as the Darlington Building Society deciding to pass on some of the reduction of interest rate costs.
  • Derbyshire BS
  • END-DATE on Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES extended to 31.1.12, w.e.f. 19.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Loughborough BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 6.25% for 3 years now only available in Post Code area of LE, DE & NG only, w.e.f. 20.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Darlington BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 6.12%, w.e.f. 20.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Pink Home Loans
  • Platform core buy-to-let range available via direct submission withdrawn, w.e.f. c.o.b. 20.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Chesham BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 6.70%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Skipton BS
  • BUY-TO-LET FIXED RATES of 6.99% to 31.1.12 & 6.99% to 31.1.14 withdrawn, w.e.f. 19.11.08...more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Skipton BS (Commercial)
  • BUY-TO-LET FIXED RATES of 6.99% to 31.1.12 & 6.99% to 31.1.14 withdrawn, w.e.f. 19.11.08...moreb
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Stroud & Swindon BS
  • Buy-to-let FIXED RATE of 6.80% to 30.9.11 no longer available to intermediary business, w.e.f.19.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008
  • Lloyds TSB Scotland
  • All Buy-to-let FIXED RATES reduced by 0.60% and NEW VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKERS of 5.89%, 6.19% & 6.49% to 31.1.12 launched, w.e.f.19.11.08....more
  • 20 Nov 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Landlords are in the Middle of a 'Chain Reaction' as Rents Fall and Property Values DIve

I've been discussing the harsh realities of negative cash flow and falling capital values for landlords over the past six months, and questioning the positive picture painted by various surveys and reports from the likes of ARLA and other self interested organisations and companys.

As I predicted the rosy picture of the rental market they have been trying to paint isn't actually true, and things are getting worse and worse for many landlords.

The recent RICS report shows a glut of rental property pushing down rental values and BTL mortgage lenders refuse to pass on decent rate cuts to struggling landlords.

My theories have been echoed in this recent City Wire post focused on the RICS report. It suggests that landlords in the South East could face the hardest time as many in the financial sector face unemployment.

One bit of positive news is that landlords letting to students seem to be holding up with their rental amounts.

However I predict that student landlords may suffer as more and more landlords who were originally aiming for the young professional market with their city centre executive apartments might be forced to take in more and more students into city centre apartments, flooding supply for the student letting market.

As I previously posted many city centre executive apartment blocks could evolve into student halls of residence.

As Diana sang - "We're in the middle of a chain reaction"

Buy-to-let mortgages leading tracker & variable rates

It ain't easy for landlords to find a buy-to-let mortgage these days. Things are particularly difficult for landlords trying to find a mortgage that will benefit from a falling base rate which some commentators expect could go as low as 1% next year.

How do I access the best buy-to-let mortgage rates?

Here are the best variable and tracker rates I can find. If you can find better please post a comment with the details.

1. Godiva Mortgages are doing a 5.34% headline rate up to 30.09.13 based on the lender btl svr
Max LTV is only 65% and only for professional landlords
2. BM Solutions will stretch to 75% and have no restrictions on portfolio size so great for professional landlords. They offer a 6.19% pay rate which is Bank of England Base Rate (BBR) + 3.19% for 3 years.
3. Cheltenham & Gloucester are also doing a similar BBR + 3.19%
4. Bank of Scotland Mortgages are doing a BBR + 3.24% until 31.01.12
5. For landlords with green credentials they could try the Ecology Building Society who are offering their standard variable rate of 6.70% for the term of the buy-to-let mortgage. With only a £350 application fee & upto 80% prepared to get knocked over in the stampede!
6. The other building society offering a rate based on their SVR is National Counties BS who's BTL SVR currently stands at 7.05%

Word of warning

Before committing to a variable or tracker rate landlords should read the small print. This is because many lenders operate what is called a 'collar' which is a rate that they will not drop their mortgages below how ever low the base rate goes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buy-to-let mortage market now closed

A recent glance of the BBC's website provided me with the apocolyptic headlines for landlords that the buy-to-let housing market is now closed.

Where do buy-to-let landlords go for their landlord insurance?

These were the conclusions of the boss of nationalised bank Bradford & Bingley during scrutiny from a committee of MPs.

Executive chairman Richard Pym said that so many deals had been withdrawn that the market was completely different to a year ago.

He also said a higher proportion of B&B's customers were in arrears compared with the industry average.

The comments were made in a Treasury Committee banking inquiry hearing.

The bank has been the biggest operator in the UK buy-to-let market in recent years.

B&B, which had its mortgage business nationalised in September, has a £40bn loan book.

Some 60% of these mortgages are buy-to-let customers and another 20% are self-certified mortgages, which are common among people such as the self-employed.

Buy-to-let mortgage arrears

Mr Pym told the committee that at the end of September the proportion of borrowers in arrears on their mortgages stood at 3%, higher than the industry average.

I believe you have inherited a shambolic organisation with a giant headache
John McFall, Treasury Committee chairman

He expected the number of staff dealing with arrears inquiries to double, from the 200 employed in August, by the time arrears levels hit their peak next year.

The buy-to-let market is expected to be worse hit than the residential mortgage market. Mr Pym, however, said the recent cut in the Bank rate to 3% would have a "significant effect" on assisting landlords, assuming rents did not also fall dramatically.


The problem for landlords is that buy-to-let lenders anticipating further rate cuts have axed almost all their tracker rates. These are exactly the mortgage products that stand to benefit a landlord in the current environment of falling interest rates. There are still a hand full of variable & tracker rates available:

1. Godiva Mortgages are doing a 5.34% headline rate up to 30.09.13 based on the lender btl svr
Max LTV is only 65% and only for professional landlords
2. BM Solutions will stretch to 75% and have no restrictions on portfolio size so great for professional landlords. They offer a 6.19% pay rate which is Bank of England Base Rate (BBR) + 3.19% for 3 years.
3. Cheltenham & Gloucester are also doing a similar BBR + 3.19%
4. Bank of Scotland Mortgages are doing a BBR + 3.24% until 31.01.12
5. For landlords with green credentials they could try the Ecology Building Society who are offering their standard variable rate of 6.70% for the term of the buy-to-let mortgage. With only a £350 application fee & upto 80% prepared to get knocked over in the stampede!
6. The other building society offering a rate based on their SVR is National Counties BS whos BTL SVR currently stands at 7.05%

Letting Agent Calls for More Long Term Tenancy Agreements

“Shorthold tenancies should not be the only option,”
says Mike Goddard from Belvoir
Mike Goddard, CEO and founder of Belvoir, the UK’s largest specialist lettings agency, has called for the introduction of more long-term tenancy agreements to bring Britain in line with the Continent where such practice is commonplace.
Speaking on the BBC2 Money Programme, entitled “Credit Crash Britain: Property – is it the end of the affair?” Mike explained how tenants and landlords could benefit from the security of long-term tenure.
With average UK house prices plummeting by £15,000, new mortgage approvals dropping by 95% and the number of houses sold at a 30 year low, the Money Programme predicted that by 2010 up to two million people could be in negative equity and more people than ever are becoming landlords and tenants.
“We need to recognise that renting can be a financially viable and sensible lifestyle choice,” said Mike, who founded Belvoir in 1995 at the heart of Britain’s last recession. “The days when renting was viewed as a second rate option are fast disappearing, as is the stigma of being a tenant.
“We are now seeing the first stage in a fundamental shift in attitude by the British public toward homeownership and renting, but it is evident that more tenants want increased security of tenure in where they live, and this is not readily available within the current legal framework of the Housing Act.
“In France the rental market is highly developed and long-term tenancy is a well-proven and well used option for tenants who wish to organise their financial affairs in this way. I believe that in the UK we will gradually move towards a similar situation; shorthold tenancy will not be the only option and long-term tenancies will become readily available. This will give the tenant more rights and more security.”
Mike has always practised what he preached and for the past eight years lived with his wife, Stephanie in an impressive 14-bedroom rented country estate in Northumberland. Over the years Mike has made many improvements to the property and presenter Max Flint asked if he thought spending money on rented accommodation is a waste of money. “I think that is a very British attitude,” replied Mike, “When we came here I expected to stay for ten years and any money I spent on the property I considered to be a good investment for me and my wife, enhancing the way we live in it.”
The Money Programme reported a completely different attitude to renting property in France, where even before the credit crunch mortgages were notoriously difficult to obtain. Three-year leases are standard, often increasing to nine years, tax incentives are available to people renovating property for the rental market and although tenants have more rights they accept responsibility for repairs and maintenance. Mike believes this is a fundamental incentive to long-term tenancy.
”A landlord would be unwilling to give long-term tenancy unless there was an agreement that the tenant would take responsibility for some of the costs,” said Mike. ”Equally a tenant needs the security of knowing they can live in the property long enough to benefit from any money they spent on it.”
In a paradox, Mike was recently unable to negotiate a ten-year lease on his Northumberland home and has reluctantly become a homeowner. He said: “I am disappointed that I couldn’t negotiate a reasonable length of lease of at least ten years because that would have given me the opportunity to enjoy living there and also to renovate the gardens whilst giving me the time to benefit from the work I did. In buying a property I am building up potential inheritance tax problems for the future - I would far rather rent.”

Landlords Appear to be at Higher Risk of Negative Equity on Investment Properties

This article in the Financial Times speculates on the fragility of many buy-to-let property investors and the risks of high levels of negative equity in the sector because of the high percentage of landlords who are on interest only mortgages.

It starts to question the presumed logic from the industry that landlords were less exposed to risk than direct homeowners.

I have posted on a number of occasions that the BTL mortgage market could be harbouring a second bubble, a bubble within a bubble if you like.

This smaller bubble has been created by landlords supplementing rental losses with other income or through the re-financing of other assets. The question is whether this inner bubble can be sustained by landlords as property prices continue to fall, rents continue to fall and redundancy rise.

The risk is, if this inner bubble does pop it would bring multiple properties into repossession for each individual who can no longer with stand the financial burdens.

The scale of this inner bubble is currently remaining hidden from surveys and research as many individual landlords try to front it out, through both embarrassment and pride.

The report from Standards and Poor's shows that approximateley half of all outstanding BTL mortgages show higher levels of arrears than those dating from earlier, before lenders relaxed underwriting standards. See FT article

Student tenants like their independence

Landlords who rent to students may take some comfort out of a recent survey produced by the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University which, showed that two-thirds of students prefer to opt for private rented accommodation over larger buildings designed for their use.

Where do professional student landlords go for their landlord insurance?

In recent years there has been some concern by student landlords that large purpose built student acccommodation blocks are squeezing the traditional small scale student operators out of the market.

The survey of around 5,300 students at The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University who responded to an online questionnaire about their accommodation choices. It was commissioned by the student housing charity Unipol, both universities, the two Students' Unions, Nottingham City Council and Broxtowe Borough Council. The aim of the survey was to find out what students think about the range and quality of housing available to them in Nottingham and why they prefer particular types of accommodation. It also sheds light on the extent to which students in private housing feel part of the surrounding community.

The results show that most students think 'less is more' rather than 'big is beautiful' with just over two thirds preferring to live in private rented houses instead of larger developments (defined as those housing ten or more students).

The main attractions for those choosing a private rented house or flat were the independent lifestyle it allows and control over who they share with. Popular features were large bedrooms, roomy living space and good locations in relation to the university and city. Common irritants in private housing were poor standards of decoration and repair, some inconvenient locations and slow response times by landlords to requests for repairs.

Thinking of letting to students? Find out more here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking an interest

From the chimney pot this morning, Property Sparrow spotted the friendly postman coming up the front path. Plain white envelopes. Banks and building societies. All good news. She sat down with her calculator.

Even if she continues to ignore a fixed rate mortgage that has six months left to run, she is £126 per month better off on variable rate mortgages.

Property Sparrow is not interested in spreadsheets, she likes to keep things simple. But it is clear that there is a little decision to make, a need for a formula even. A strange opportunity to combine a treat with more aggressive pecking at the mortgages.

Her decision is:

December - patent shoes from Selfridges. £125. Fabulous.

January onwards - £90 per month overpayment on one of the mortgages and £36 per month extra payment in New Flat Deposit Savings Account.

For Some Landlords its a Return to the 'Good Times'

I feel poorer but in many ways I am better off.

Do landlords need to look at the current decline in property prices through different eyes?

What do I mean by this?

Well as property prices continue to fall I lose thousands of pounds each day ( but only on paper).

(This economic gloom can start to bring you down, do other landlords feel the same?)

However when I look at it from a different perspective my financial situation starts to look rosier.

Let me explain. All landlords have that 'king in the counting house' moment every now and then, that 'if I sold all my property portfolio and paid of all my BTL mortgages - how much cash would I have?'

This used to make landlords feel warm and good about life ( mmmmmm -wealthy ), but all we keep feeling now is ' Mmmmmmm - not so wealthy - not nice!

However in reality this wealth was only ever on paper and if like me you were a landlord looking long term with their property portfolio then current property prices have no real value. The value of an asset is only truly important at the point when the asset is sold.

You see I wasn't planning on selling any of my property investments for at least another 15-20 years, which gives plenty of time for capital values to re-cover.

Looking at my situation logically here and now, in many ways I am better off each month. As it is my BTL mortgage payments keep dropping because they are on trackers, so my rental profit keeps getting bigger and bigger.

With further interest cuts on the way the future for my cash-flow gets better and better.

I can only see rental demand increasing as fewer properties are built, I see a steady increase in rental amounts over the next five years.

With unemployment rising in the building industry the supply of trades will increase bringing rates for trades down which should lower my maintenance costs.

Therefore for many landlords without heavily geared portfolios and with long term investment strategies these might be seen as the good times.


Landlords urged to check insurance

The latest research from AA Insurance shows over a third are seriously considering renting out a room as the credit crunch bites but nearly half admitted they weren't aware of the need to check their insurance policy.

Landlords need to consider their insurance

However, taking on a lodger increases the risk to damage and insurers could invalidate a policy if the holder has not informed them of their change of circumstances.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "Even if a lodger is a family member or friend, accidents can still happen.

"But, provided you have an extension on your home insurance for accidental damage cover and have informed your policy of the lodger, you should be covered."

With nearly one in ten landlords (9.5 per cent) claiming for damage their lodger has made to their home, there is clear evidence of the risk of not updating their home insurance, the AA said.

Lodgers also overlook checking whether they are insured in their new residence.

The findings reveal that eight out of ten (79.74 per cent) did not ask whether their personal items would be covered by their landlord's insurance.

Chris Horne of leading landlord website Property Hawk urges landlords to thoroughly research their landlord insurance option before purchasing. Our website allows landlords to view a range of specialist landlord insurers and select the policy and cover which best suits their rental business.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Buy-to-let mortgage below 4.7%

Professional landlords don't have time to mess about for their buy-to-let mortgage

Are you looking for a buy-to-let mortgage rate below 4.7% with a great rental multipler?

If so you may be interested in this deal that has been released by the
lender today:

4.69% 2 years fixed until 28/02/2011
° Borrow up to 70% of the valuation amount or purchase price,
whichever is lower
° To calculate the maximum loan amount you could borrow multiply
the monthly rent by 204.69 (subject to maximum 75% of valuation amount or
purchase price)
° Lender's arrangement fee - 3.5% of the amount borrowed. This
can be added to the mortgage account or paid up-front
° Early repayment charge of 5% of the amount repaid up to
° Rate reverts to Bank of England Base Rate (currently 3%) plus
2.74% from 28/02/2011.

Subject to status, availability and valuation. Broker's fee applies.

For more details contact our leading brokers specifying the deal

Latest buy-to-let mortgage news

Where do professional landlords go find a buy-to-let mortgage?

Progressive BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.75%, w.e.f. 19.11.08....more
18 Nov 2008
Britannia BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.30%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
18 Nov 2008
Royal Bk of Scot Mtges Direct
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 1.50% to 5.19%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.44% w.e.f. 18.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
NatWest Mortgage Services
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.69% w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Norwich & Peterborough BS
NEW buy-to-let VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGES of 6.95% for term & for Ltd Co's only - 7.25% for term, w.e.f. 18.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Principality BS
Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGE of 6.14% to 31.12.11 reduced to 5.99%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Astra from N & P - BTL
NEW buy-to let VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE for limited companies only with minimum rental requirement of 125% calculated @ 6% of 7.25% for term, w.e.f. 14.11.08. ...more
17 Nov 2008
Northern Rock
END-DATES on buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES extended to 1st November & FIXED RATES to maximum 60% loan-to-value reduced by 0.20%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Birmingham Midshires Solutions
ALL buy-to-let FIXED RATES withdrawn & replaced with products of 5.69%, 5.89% & 6.19% to 1.2.12 and NEW VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKERS of 5.99%, 6.19% & 6.49% for 3 years and 6.75% for term launched, w.e.f. 15.11.08. ...more
17 Nov 2008
Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES now available to Premier account holders only, LOAN TO VALUES reduced to 60% & END-DATES extended to 31 January, w.ef 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
RBS IP NatWest
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 1.50% to 5.69%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Bank of Scotland Mortgages
Buy-to-let FIXED RATES withdrawn & replaced with products of 5.84% & 6.04% to 31.1.12 and NEW VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKERS of 6.14% & 6.24% to 31.1.12 launched, w.e.f. 15.11.08....more
17 Nov 2008
Newbury Mortgage Services
Buy-to-let DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 6.36% for 3 years withdrawn, w.e.f. 5pm 14.11.08....more
14 Nov 2008
Allied Irish Bank (GB)
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 6.44%, w.e.f. 17.11.08....more
14 Nov 2008
National Counties BS
Fee on buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 7.05% increased to £1995, w.e.f. 14.11.08....more
14 Nov 2008
National Counties BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 0.30% to 7.05%, w.e.f. 24.11.08....more
14 Nov 2008
Dudley BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.30% to 7.49%, w.e.f. 12.11.08....more
12 Nov 2008
Clydesdale Bank
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.34%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
11 Nov 2008
Yorkshire Bank
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.34%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
11 Nov 2008
Northern Rock
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.84%, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
11 Nov 2008
Coventry BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.34%. DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE of 6.14% to 30.9.11 and VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKER of 6.10% for term withdrawn, w.e.f. 11.11.08....more
11 Nov 2008
Godiva Mortgages
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 5.34%. DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE of 6.14% to 30.9.11 and VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKER of 6.10% for term withdrawn, w.e.f. 11.11.08....more
11 Nov 2008
The Mortgage Times
Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES funded by BM Solutions withdrawn & replaced with new rates of 6.29% to 1.12.11, max 65%, 6.59% to 1.12.11, max 75% & 6.29% to 1.2.11, max 75% & with 'House 2 House' criteria of 6.75% to 1.2.11, w.e.f. 3.11.08....more
11 Nov 2008
Dudley BS
Buy-to-let DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 6.50% for 2 years withdrawn, w.e.f. 11.11.08....more
11 Nov 2008

Landlords Face Added Pressure of Falling Rents - Report from RIC's

I received an email this morning from my letting agent telling me I'd had an offer of £395 for a flat in a block I own. This is well below the rental amount I was getting from the previous tenants of £495.

This reflects the current fall in rental amounts as recorded by the recent RICs survey.

The latest lettings survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors states that home owners who have not been able to sell their properties are been forced to put them on the rental market, pushing up supply and pushing down rents.

This has resulted in the first fall in rental amounts since April 2003.

This will be another hit for struggling landlords on fixed rate mortgages who have been forced onto SVR's and continue to watch property prices fall.

Read full article in the Telegraph

'When You're In Love with a Beautiful Landlord'
Your Darling Margo

Cut BTL Mortgage Costs
- 1 form to 4 Brokers

1m empty buy-to-let properties

According to the latest headlines in the Telegraph almost 1m homes are standing empty across the United Kingdom, and the vast majority – more than four out of every five – are believed to be owned by private landlords.

An empty home could just as easily be a rundown terrace house in an urban back street as a luxury newbuild apartment in a city centre filled with identical blocks. It might be empty because a glut of rental property means no tenants, or because vandalism, or simple disrepair, has made it unlettable.

Some landlords might be actively trying to sell, or planning refurbishment, while many have simply given up on their empty properties. Whatever the reason, the Empty Homes Agency (EHA) believes that a staggering 85pc of empty homes in this country belong to landlords. The campaigning charity plans to use this year's National Week of Action on Empty Homes, which runs from November 24 to 28, to highlight how individuals can help to reduce the number.

Figures inaccurate

These headline grabbing figures fail to reflect the true position where many properties are empty for legitimate reasons; such as waiting to be sold, completed, refurbished in between lets.

The EHA claims that there are more than 762,000 empty residential properties in England. Based on earlier figures, about 650,000 of these are believed to be owned by private landlords, and almost half of these are thought to have been empty for more than six months. The charity estimates that there are at least another 77,000 empty residential properties in Scotland, plus 50,000 each in Wales and Northern Ireland.

David Ireland Chief Executive of the EHA predicts that the total number will pass 1m in the next year. "The situation is getting worse," he says. "Even these figures were compiled in October 2007, before the property downturn led to a rise in repossessions. We're at the beginning of a trend of rising empty homes, which is what we have seen at the beginning of other recessions."


The fact is that any landlord who has a property has a massive financial incentive to rent their property rather than have it stand idle earning no income. Various local authorities have instigated lord able initiatives of bringing empty properties back into use and despite a huge amount of resources being poured into the process, they will bring back tens of properties over the schemes lifetime. Despite generous grants the numbers bare no relation to the EHA claims.

What is interesting that the EHA fail to mention the numbers of empty council and housing associations properties. Maybe as ever its easier to have a pop at landlords than highlight the inefficiencies of local government housing practice.

Need a buy-to-let mortgage with a 15% deposit

Need a mortgage with a 15% deposit?

If so you may be interested in this deal. It's a commercial deal so the
rate and the amount loaned are agreed by the lender on a case by case

° Between 6% and 6.5% variable for the life of the loan (Bank of
England base rate of 3% plus 3% to 3.5%)
° Borrow up to 85% of the purchase price or valuation, whichever
is lower
° To calculate the maximum loan amount you could borrow multiply
the monthly rent by 142.22
° 125% interest cover at 6.75%
° Lender's arrangement fee is 2% of the amount borrowed is added
to advance
° No early redemption penalties
° Lender's documentation fee of £495 is added to the loan. £150
needs to be paid up-front and is refunded on completion.

Subject to status, availability and valuation. Broker's fee applies.

This mortgage is commercially underwritten this means the lender will need:
° 6 months bank statements
° Proof of income - P60 and 3 months' payslips if employed, 2
years accounts if self-employed.

With most deals limiting landlords to only 75% this could be attractive to landlords trying to maximise their gearing. For more information try contacting the moneycentre

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tenants getting a good deal

Landlords have had a pretty bad press over the last few years. Tenants have been winging about how landlords have priced them out of the property market. What a load of tosh - but landlords new that anyway. Now it seems according to recent research that tenants rather than being the victims of a property owning conspiracy by greeding, lazy landlords are actually getting a pretty good deal.

Where do professional landlords go for their landlord insurance?

Money Week has recently done a study into the financial benifits of renting compared to buying. What they conclude unsurprisingly is its all about timing. Get your timing of a property purchase right. You as a property owner will be laughing all the way to the bank. Get it wrong and it's tears all the way and probably a decade of negative equity.

There survey found that had a tenant rented from 1980 to 2000 then renting would have come out cheaper by about £57,000.

As we enter a period of falling house prices it seems that the concept of rent being dead money along with all those pre credit crunch wingers may be thankfully assigned to the bin marked TRASH & TOSH!

Introducing the mortgage monkey

Hi I'm the Mortgage Monkey. My mission in life is to search out the best deals for landlords for their buy-to-let mortgages. I hope my posts in the coming months will help landlords get the buy-to-let mortgages they need.

Article on Property Investment Forcasts for Scottish Residential Property Investments for Landlords

This article in the Scottish Sunday Herald evaluates the residential property investment opportunities for landlords in Scotland.

Your darling Margo

Im a Landlord Get me out of Here

'I'm a Landlord , Get Me out of Here!'

Landlords are not been forced to eat 'kangaroo bits' or put their hands into buckets of snakes but it kind of sums up how many landlords are feeling at the moment.

The BBC are broadcasting a series of programs this week entitled 'How to Survive the Property Crisis', read more of some of the people and subjects covered including a number of struggling property investors in this preview article.

One focus is on the unfortunate 'Buy to Debt' investor who had tried to invest in property to secure his retirement future and now faces heavy losses.

Unfortunately the series is fronted by the annoying Dominic Littlewood and Declan Curry.

The series How to Survive the Property Crisis will be broadcast from Monday 17 to Friday 21 November at 715pm on BBC One.

I will try to watch most of them, and then will flick over to watch the 'Celebrities' chewing on 'kangaroo's bits'. ( it seems to help watching others share in our suffering ).

Bringing landlords warmth in a cold economic climate.
Your darling Margo

PS: That Declan Curry has ruined Working Lunch for me - bring back the old guys.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We all have that sinking feeling when visiting a vacated property. I guess landlords would call it 'property management butterflys'.

Will it all go alright? As we wander around a property wondering what delights tenants will have left us as a reminder.

Follow this Nottingham landlord face his fears on re-visiting a rental property in Bulwell.

It all highlights the importance of a good inventory - use our Free landlord Inventory software.

Your darling Margo

Saturday, November 15, 2008

'Live and Let Die' Landlords Look for more Variations on a Theme

We've all heard the terms, 'Buy to Let' and in more recent times 'Let to Buy' to describe those 'accidental landlords' that have been forced to rent out unsold property.

Well, Leaders letting agents have come up with another one -'Let and Rent', the phrase is been used to describe landlords who have been unable to sell their current residential property and have instead of buying a property moved to a rental property

Leaders’ managing director, Paul Weller said: “Many home owners needing to move are finding themselves trapped as they are unable to sell their property and are either not in a position or not inclined to buy while house prices continue to fall.

“With rental demand as high as it is, renting out a home instead of selling is an attractive solution for many people wanting to move. And renting gives the flexibility many people require in these times of uncertainty.”

Well here's another one describing the life of a landlord.

"Live and Let, Die"

I think that pretty well sums up the life of a landlord.

Less James Bond and more the cold realities of human existence.

Bringing landlords cold, harsh brutal truth in a cold economic climate.

Your Darling Margo

What does is all really mean? I mean life and the universe and everything. Answers should be in less than 10 words and ideally add up to 42.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Landlord The Show ( Only in America)

Yes, I can't actually believe it either.

But the yanks have actually made a program based on been a landlord.

Well it's not Dallas or Cagney and Lacey but they are working with difficult subject matter.

Landlord TV is bought to you by your Darling Margo