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UK property prices still rising strongly, but location the key

With UK property starting to show a more even pattern of price rises, for home buyers aboard looking to get it on the buy to let boom, their choice of location is likely to be even more important today in determining how successful their investment will be.

According to the UK Land Registry’s latest report published in May, annually, prices rose on average by 6.7% in April 2014. Regionally, London delivered most of this growth with a 17% annual rise, but within London, individual boroughs displayed an even wider range of performance. At one extreme were the likes of Lambeth and Waltham Forest, where values leapt by over 22% in the year. At the other extreme, Redbridge and Barnet managed just over 6% uplifts.

So as an expatriate buyer, how do you decide where is the best home for your buy to let? There’s no doubt, according to Crystal Palace estate agent James Gough of Martin and Co that the areas he deals with  – Crystal Place, Norwood and Gipsy Hill, all in South East London –  are showing strong growth off the back of consistent demand. There are now more buyers to support rising prices, but the new mortgage regulations introduced in April have certainly had an effect on domestic buyers, thinks specialist international mortgage brokers Tim Harvey, managing director notes that “UK buyers are now having to provide far more detail on their income and expenditure, which is slowing the process for those are the margins of affordability. Expatriate buyers on the other hand tend to be less clustered at the margins – with healthy tax free incomes, many can simply increase their deposit if required, something which the UK buyer has struggled with historically.”

The slowing of demand amongst UK based buyers which many are now forecasting means that the popularity of renting is unlikely to fall, so for the expatriate buy to let investor, now could be a good time to look again at the market.  Expatriate property search consultants’s Erica Evans notes that landlords owning three and four bed homes in areas near good school may be better off targeting families for a more stable, longer term tenancy, rather than professional sharers, as some lenders are now starting to impose conditions on “homes of multiple occupation” with four bedrooms or more.

Spotting the next property hot spot is something of an art rather than a science, thinks James Gough, but he has these tips. “Look for areas with the right housing stock. The Victorian Villas of Crystal Palace are beautiful family homes and make for conversions that are full of character. Good transport links are important, but so obviously are relatively low prices. Local points of interest are of course vital in helping to build a community feel. In Crystal Palace people buy because they love the area, it has its own feel and an agenda of localism seems to exist which attracts people to an already diverse and active community. Every hot spot is different, some are subtle differences others more extreme as they develop on a different set of driving factors.” Erica Evans adds that having a proposal supported by the Mayor and Prince of Wales to rebuild the famous Crystal palace can also help drive an area’s appeal.

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