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Options When Building a Strong Property Portfolio

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Property is always a popular investment vehicle, providing a tangible asset and the potential for two separate income streams. Knowing the best property investment strategies is a vital starting point.

Ask any UK property investment company and they’ll tell you that one of the most important things to consider, if not the most important thing, is a strategy. You need to have a clear plan of where you’re going and what you’re looking to achieve.

At its most fundamental level, there are only two investment strategies. You buy a property and rent it out or you buy a property and sell it on for profit. That’s it. The thing is, if you scratch just below the surface, it gets a lot more complex. If you want to start seeing serious success, you need to look deeper.

It’s difficult to quantify the perfect investment strategy for you. Everyone is different and everyone will invariably have different measures of success. What we can do is give you some inspiration, tell you some common strategies and how you can adapt them to fit your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Property investment, as with any investment, comes with risks. Here we explore all of the options when building an investment strategy including the pros and cons.

Take our quiz at the end to see how your preferred strategy matches up with like-minded property investors.

What Are Some of The Best Property Investment Strategies?

Let’s imagine that you’re looking at Buy-to-Let. You’ve heard all about the power of rental yields and want to build a passive income. It’s a popular choice and at its core, represents one of the fundamentals mentioned above.

Most likely you’ll be aiming for two different outcomes, a monthly rental income and an increase in the value of the property over time in case you’re looking to sell up. While there are a few different ways you can go about a Buy-to-Let investment, they all follow this basic model.

Single Lets

What is Single Let Property? 

This is the most common form of the Buy-to-Let model and involves several, fairly simple (in theory) steps. First, find the perfect location. Second, find the ideal tenant. Third, do the maths and ensure that everything adds up. Fourth, keep the tenant happy and ensure a consistent stream of rental income. In terms of tenants, you’ll commonly be looking at families and working professionals.

While this is a huge oversimplification of becoming a landlord, the basics are simple and represent one of the easiest ways to get into the property investment market. There’s a lot to be said for the classics and many landlords earn excellent returns by having a portfolio of Buy-to-Let properties.

Tips: Location is a vital indicator of success. By finding a great location, you improve the chances of finding a happy, motivated tenant, you can ensure a great rental income and if the area is up-and-coming, positive capital growth is never far behind.

Pros:

  • Easy to understand
  • Simple to manage when partnered with a letting agent
  • Potential for good rental yields
  • Capital appreciation overtime when holding the property

Cons:

  • Lower returns than other Buy-to-Let opportunities
  • Risk of losing tenants
  • Single lets can have a higher turnover of tenants which can lead to void periods

HMOs

What is HMO Investing?

The basic definition of an HMO/House Share is a property where each room is rented out on an individual basis. As you’d imagine, HMO’s are popular as they allow for higher rental income. A bigger property can have rooms converted into bedrooms, creating the potential for more tenants and thus more money.

Unfortunately, a by-product of more tenants is more time spent managing the property. There’s also the potential for more wear and tear. The more tenants, the higher the chance the property may need maintenance down the line.

That said, the higher rental yields mean this type of buy-to-let has grown in popularity over the last few years, especially in the capital and larger regional cities.

Tips: Most HMO’s are let furnished and usually have bills included to avoid any confusion. Consider this if you’re looking at this investment strategy.

Pros:

  • Higher potential rental income
  • Diversified rental streams – if one tenant leaves, you still have others to avoid void periods
  • Capital appreciation over time when holding the property

Cons:

  • Increased chance of necessary maintenance
  • Harder to find a mortgage
  • Tighter regulations than Single Let

Student Property

What is a Student Property? 

Although targeting student tenants could technically come under the HMO strategy, it’s a vastly different market and warrants individual consideration. Many investors choose to opt for a strategy built around students as they represent a predictable and consistent stream of rental income.

Management is generally easier as landlords know that each tenant will be signing up for a certain period of time and they’ll always be a stream of new students to take their place. If you buy into popular stereotypes than the idea of housing several students may turn you away but the potential for income is considerable.

Tips: With the increase in purpose-built student accommodation being built, it can be difficult to market a more traditional student property so location is important (particularly as many student accommodation buildings are in prime city-centre spots). Focus on areas that offer amenities or facilities that suit students.

Pros:

  • Increased rental income
  • Predictable cycle of tenants
  • Consistent stream of tenants looking for accommodation

Cons:

  • Potential for more wear and tear
  • Challenging market with purpose-built accommodation

Buy-to-Sell Investment Strategy (Flipping Property)

What’s involved in ‘Flipping Property?’

Buying a property to sell is completely different to buy-to-let, aimed more at short-term or mid-term strategies. There’s no worrying about rental income or tenants, you’re just simply looking to sell for as much profit as possible.

The main attraction of buy-to-sell is the amount of money that can be made quickly. You can buy and sell in a matter of months rather than the long-term timeframe that comes with a buy-to-let strategy.

This is also the downside. This type of investment only makes money when you’re working. There’s no passive income, just the money you make on the sale.

The most important things to keep in mind when looking at buy-to-sell is location and budget. You need to ensure that you buy at the right price and keep any refurbishments or maintenance within your budget. Secondly, you need to market your property quickly and effectively. Having a good location for this process is ideal and will help the sale immeasurably.

Choosing buy-to-sell for your investment strategy depends entirely upon your goals. If you’re looking for something short-term and want to generate a lump, it’s perfect. If you’re in for the long-haul, want to build a portfolio or you’re looking for passive income, it’s not for you.

Pro:

  • Quick process that’s well suited to short-term goals
  • No tenants or maintenance to deal with
  • Less dependant on the long-term health of the property market

Cons:

  • No passive income – You make money when you work
  • Complex management and hands-on work
  • Can result in a loss if done incorrectly

Buying Off-Plan Property/Off-Market Property

What is Off-Plan Property?

This strategy is not strictly Buy-to-Let or Buy-to-Sell (both are viable), it’s simply a different method of initial purchase. Off-Plan Properties are new-build developments that are not ready for tenants, instead bought by investors before completion.

By buying off-plan properties you can often find excellent individual discounts. Additionally, off-plan properties are often seen as good investments because of the capital growth they can experience between planning and completion.

As an investor, you would buy a property unfinished, wait for completion, research the market and decide whether to rent or sell. This offers flexibility in strategy, although it requires a lot of management and due diligence.

As always, growth isn’t guaranteed. Investing in off-plan property is entirely dependent on the market, particularly if you’re hoping for capital growth during the build period. Be sure to research the area and the market conditions before diving in.

Pros:

  • Discount on initial purchase
  • Potential for capital growth during the build period
  • Flexibility in strategy

Cons:

  • Advanced strategy that requires management and due diligence
  • Cash often necessary for deposit

Land or Commercial Property

Purchasing Land or Commercial Property

Pros:

  • Range of options with potential for lucrative returns
  • Increased flexibility

Cons:

  • Higher risk
  • Increased upfront costs
  • Harder to leverage cash

Bulk Purchasing

What is involved in bulk purchasing?

Pros:

  • Discounts on unit prices are much more common

Cons:

  • Highest risk of capital

Whatever strategy you choose, it’s vital to ensure that you do your research, ask advice wherever necessary and keep on top of your goals. If you have a solid investment plan, you’re better equipped to make sound decisions and have a better chance of finding success.

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