Property search agency reveals housing hot spots

Property search agency reveals housing hot spots

It would be easy to think that the UK property market is one to avoid, with recent headlines from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showing new mortgage figures revealing a continuing decline in domestic borrowing. 48,200 loans were taken out for house purchase in September, worth £7.1 billion, down 2% by number and 5% by value compared to August.

In contrast though, the buy-to-let market is growing rapidly, with the number of new buy-to-let loans increasing by 16% in the third quarter of 2011, according to data published by the CML. Over the same period, the value of mortgages advanced in the sector grew by 19%. The data shows that the pick-up in buy-to-let lending that began in the second quarter has continued.

In the three months to September, a total of 34,500 buy-to-let loans were advanced, an increase from 29,700 in the preceding quarter. The value of lending totalled £3.8 billion, up from £3.2 billion. On both measures, buy-to-let lending was at its highest level since the final quarter of 2008.

For the overseas property buyer the message is clear. With sterling remaining weak against a number of major currencies, UK property opportunities are likely to reduce in number as professional landlords look to increase portfolios.

However, as property search consultants expatfindaproperty.com point out, average figures can be misleading and never more so than in the property market where the choice of location can be as critical as getting the right street. Take council tax as an example, with some streets being split between two boroughs, it is not uncommon to find a council tax bill of £1235 for a band D property in Lambeth, whilst Wandsworth Council tax payers will find a their bill just £681 for the same band D property in the same road from next year.

The huge differences which can emerge at street level are important for those thinking of entering the property market as landlords or homebuyers too. Expatriate and overseas landlords may well be considering using the current market weakness as an opportunity to start or add to a portfolio, but pick the wrong house in the wrong street and you may end up buying a dud. Specialist mortgage brokers such as Offshoreonline.org will point out that for buyers with a 30% deposit there are some very attractive mortgage deals available at present and as a result, interest amongst overseas buyers is rising.

Erica Evans of expatfindaproperty.com illustrates just how important planning and local knowledge are, when it comes to buying a house. Above all, she stresses the need to understand why you are buying and how the rental and main home markets can differ in the same street. Taking a recent example in South West London, a three bedroom refurbishment project was auctioned just two doors away from a near identical four bedroom family property in very good condition that sold for nearly £700,000 in the same month. Instead of families targeting the auction house, a professional landlord bought it for less than £550,000. With minimal cosmetic work, the property was back on the market as a rental aimed at the young professional city workers and the agents, Jacksons, found tenants in less than 48 hours.

Evans comments, “What seemed like an obvious family house actually works better as rental proposition. Capital values have a good track record in South West London and for the moment, the landlord is achieving a yield of around 5.3%, so he has a good income and good capital growth prospects.”

For more information on UK property search for expatriates and overseas residents, call +44 (0) 20 8333 9125

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