The property market moves fast – especially when it comes to residential buy-to-let investments which has seen a boom in recent years driven by the COVID stamp duty holiday which saw buy-to-let purchases up last year by 52% in London, 49% in the South East, and 41% in the South West.
Although the stamp duty holiday ended last Autumn and interest rates have since increased to the highest point they’ve been in more than a decade, buy-to-let remains an attractive investment for newcomers, or seasoned experts with large portfolios looking to expand. In fact, a recent survey conducted by BVA BDRC shows that 15% of 700 landlords surveyed are looking to buy more buy-to-let properties in the next 12 months and over half of the property investors looking to grow are planning to invest through a limited company. This is particularly the case in London where, according to Zoopla’s latest Rental Index, average monthly rent now stands at a whopping £1,698 – almost 16% more than this time last year.
Hybrid and remote working resulting from the pandemic has made rental demand for properties with a garden or proximity to public parks surge, so property investors are keeping a keen eye out for these. With the availability of rental properties decreasing and tenants competing for bigger homes with outdoor space, it is likely we’ll see rental prices continue increasing in the next 12 months.
And if news headlines are to be believed, a recession is looming which is only going to boost demand further. Why? Because in a down-cycle, many lenders tend to retrench from lending to SME housebuilders and property developers. This is because property development is a counter-cyclical product – i.e. a lender needs to agree to fund in the middle of a down-cycle for something that will be built in 2-3 years’ time – which most aren’t willing to do. What this means is that when the market returns, there is virtually no new housing stock as none has been able to be built over the prior years because funding couldn’t be secured. Given the UK needs to develop 300,000 new homes each year to deal with the housing gap, this unwillingness from most lenders to lend through cycle is a real issue, and means that demand for homes will be even higher in a few years’ time. All these factors make expanding a buy-to-let portfolio right now all the more attractive.
However, with an increasingly competitive market comes the need to be able to finance purchases quickly. It’s no longer enough for investors to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to new developments or property markets. Those that can access funding quickly, at exactly the right time, will ultimately come out on top. That’s why we’ve introduced our new digital application for residential property investments. With loans ranging from £250,000 up to £3,000,000 for residential rental properties, limited companies can now get loan terms in just five minutes, without exchanging any emails or spending any time on the phone – if they don’t want or need to.
The next 12-18 months will present a number of challenges for SME housebuilders and property developers, but we want to reassure them that we are here to help and absolutely have the appetite to continue lending irrespective of what direction the economy goes in. If anything, we see this as an opportunity to step up to the plate and support businesses at a time when many other lenders will be pulling back.
To learn more how OakNorth is building growth for property developers & investors and hear directly from our customers, click here.