If you’ve thought of investing in the buy-to-let market our ambassador Fiona Fullerton has got plenty of advice for you. As a landlady with flats and offices in London and Oxford, she knows the ins and outs of the industry. Here she answers some questions, that might shed some further light on the situation.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s considering getting on the buy-to-let ladder?
Obviously borrowing money at the moment is difficult, but if you have come into some money and really want to invest in B2L, the most important thing is location. Any university town is a good idea or a town or city with a known transient population. The demand for one bedroom flats is very high but always ask a lettings agent about demand. They are usually very helpful.
Transport nearby must also be considered. Buses, trains and/or parking are a plus. Avoid nearby pubs and clubs as this could affect your resale potential.
In cash-strapped times like these, what should landlords think about?
Shopping around for the best B2L mortgage. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions! Also, make sure you use a good agent who is willing to negotiate fees. They want your business so they are ALL negotiating. Don’t pay any hidden costs or setting up fees and do the inventory yourself. Change agents if you think you can do better. I just did and all my properties rents have gone up by 20%.
What renovation projects would you recommend to a first time landlord who wants to add value to his/her property let?
A good bathroom and kitchen can make all the difference to letting your property. By upgrading these, you can charge more rent and have the edge over similar properties. In a small bathroom I always take out the bath and put in a shower.
How important are inventories?
Very important. The inventory gives you peace of mind. My flats are furnished, so if a tenant mistakenly takes a lamp, the inventory will prove that the lamp was there when he moved in. Even if the property is unfurnished you can have an inventory/condition report which will record dilapidation on all fixtures and fittings. This can avoid disputes over the returning of the security deposit.
If you’re looking to refurbish your new property, take Fiona’s advice and invest in a new bathroom or kitchen. Post your job for free on RatedPeople.com and up to three quality, local tradesmen will get in touch to quote. Read their ratings posted by previous customers and pick the tradesmen who’s right for you. When the job’s been finished, don’t forget to rate!