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Buy-to-Let Investing Still Pays

May 17, 2008
As the property market boom continues to become a mere memory, lenders have begun to tighten the criteria on buy-to-let mortgages for new-build properties. This is because the lenders are regarding premium priced new-build property as a riskier asset to lend on when compared to older property. This is particularly the case for city centre apartments which have long been regarded as overpriced by experienced property investors and mortgage lenders.

Since 2000, it seems like everyone was jumping into the property market thanks to healthy yields and rocketing prices. Although the boom is over, experts say property is still a sound investment. However, instead of rushing out and falling for every sales pitch spun within developers' sales offices, buyers must research the market carefully and should not overstretch their borrowing otherwise they may experience problems if market conditions become tougher.

Investors looking to buy property in the post-boom period should ensure they buy in an area with a healthy source of potential tenants and that they don't overstretch their buy-to-let mortgage borrowing. Overstretched landlords can get into financial difficulty almost immediately if there are any void periods when tenants cannot be found. Simply taking the word of a sales person is not enough - landlords should research the local rental market thoroughly by contacting estate agents.

Investors should also be careful about the type of property they buy and they must be prepared to hold the asset for the long term. In a slower property market, scope for immediate capital gain is reduced. It is important to invest for income as well as growth in order to not rely on the property rapidly increasing in value to make the investment viable.

In this day and age, investors should also keep an eye on buy-to-let mortgage rates for both new and existing properties. They should also remortgage to the best deals when possible. In the current market, the credit crunch has greatly reduced the number of mortgages available for UK investment property. This does not mean that there aren't good deals out there. Lenders are still willing to secure buy-to-let mortgages against high quality property owned by experienced landlords, particularly where there is sufficient equity in the property.

It is also important to keep in mind that the turmoil won't last forever. Investors who keep hold of their properties will no doubt be spoiled for choice in the future when the credit market bounces back. In the meantime property investors should do all they can to ensure they have the best product available secured against their assets so they can weather the storm.

Buy-to-let investing still pays for property investors who follow the age-old rules of buying in the right locations and holding their properties over the long term. Investors looking for short term gains will most likely not find what they are looking for in the current UK property market. They may also find it difficult to successfully apply for a buy-to-let mortgage product due to the lenders' reluctance to dish out money to fly-by-night investors.
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