Is Buy To Let Still A Good Investment?


Conveyancing Expert take a look at whether now is a good time to invest in buy to let property and whether being a landlord is still a profitable business.

14 May 2021

Despite being hit by a series of tax hurdles and record high house prices over the past few years, the buy-to-let industry remains popular with those who are familiar with the trade. A 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge is also suffered by those buying investment properties, and landlords can also no longer fully offset mortgage interest payments against income tax on rent and then face higher capital gains tax bills than other investors when they sell.

But the housing market is still thriving and people will always need places to rent, so is buy-to-let still a good investment? 

Conveyancing Expert are a team of conveyancing solicitors in Manchester.

 We can assist you in all aspects of buy to let house purchase.

Is Buy To Let Still A Good Investment?

Over the last 12 months, over 234,000 buy-to-let mortgages were taken out in the UK. Of those, 169,000 were re-mortgages and 65,000 house purchases. In total there was over £36 billion worth of buy-to-let mortgage lending in the last 12 months, which consisted of £8.7 billion in house purchases and £27.3 billion in remortgages (finder.com)

This would suggest there is still a demand for investing in buy-to-let, although mortgaged purchases are less prevalent than before the stamp duty 3% surcharge which came into force in 2016. 

What Do The Figures Say?

Last year 131,900 properties were sold by landlords in the UK, the smallest sell-off since 2013. 

The average landlord who sold their properties last year in England & Wales, sold for £82,450 or 42% more than they paid for it, having owned the property for an average of 9.1 years. The average gross gain increased by £3,390 or 4% to £82k compared to 2019 (£79,060), marking the first annual rise in more than five years. London landlords made the biggest gains, selling their buy-to-let for £302,200 or 71% more than they originally paid for it, having owned the property for 9.8 years on average. (Hamptons)

In March this year, the rent on a newly let home stood at 4.4% higher across Great Britain than at the same time last year. Regions outside London continued to see the highest rates of rental growth, increasing by 6.8% annually, the third consecutive month that annual rental growth outside the capital exceeded 5.0%. Every other English region recorded rental growth of at least 4.0%. (Hamptons)

Tax On Buy-To-Let Properties

Landlords used to be able to offset mortgage interest payments against rental income but in 2015 the government announced they were phasing this out. In 2017-18 the tax relief reduced to 75 per cent and in 2019-20 it was only 25 %. Now it has gone completely.

Instead, the government introduced a 20% tax credit which isn’t as beneficial for higher-rate and additional-rate taxpayers. To help mitigate the new rules, more and more landlords are setting up a limited company when buying a new rental property as they will instead be subject to Corporation Tax rates of 19 per cent, rather than the higher individual income tax rates. A record 41,700 new buy-to-let limited companies were formed in 2020, an increase of 23 per cent from 2019.

The government also increased the Capital Gains Tax allowance for 2020-21, from £12,000 to £12,300. So when selling a second property you do get to earn more pounds tax-free. But the Capital Gains Tax rate is now 18% higher for landlords and 28 per cent for higher and additional-rate taxpayers.

These are just a few of the tax implications that landlords must take into consideration.

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Investing For Property Price Gains

It's easy to see why property investment is seen as an attractive way to make money, especially after the incredible surge in property prices we have seen over the past year. The average house price raised by nearly £16,000 over the past year and April to hit a new record high. In April, the average UK property price hit a peak of £238,831 (Nationwide). It is predicted that house price inflation will hit double digits by June.

But, as with any potential investment, there are still risks involved. The market uncertainty in 2020 saw many UK lenders withdrawing their mortgage products from the market and imposed stringent lending criteria. Consequently, many saw elongated mortgage deployment times, and even increased rates of application rejections.

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Earning Income From Rent

A lot of the long-term appeal for buy-to-let investing comes from the rental income. The average gross yield in the UK, which excludes all expenses such as taxation, is 5.9 per cent (Hamptons). However, it is net yields, which consider the expenses associated with owning a rental home and the taxes landlords must pay that provide a more accurate picture. For a higher rate taxpayer, purchasing a buy-to-let property means the profitability can seem negligible; Assuming landlords incur additional costs representing 10 percent of their rental income, the average higher-rate taxpayer would see their net yield fall from 2.3 per cent to 2 per cent over the same period.

Considering capital growth and rental income over an average nine-year ownership period, the average landlord in the UK made a total net profit of £76,820 in 2020, representing a 39% return on their initial investment after other costs and taxes over a nine-year period (Hamptons).

Buy To Let Mortgages 

Landlords now have more mortgages to choose from than at any time in the last 12 months – but some borrowers still struggle to get a cheap deal. Buy-to-let investors looking to remortgage or expand their portfolios have been handed a boost, with lenders launching more than 200 new mortgage deals last month.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a massive effect on the number of mortgage deals available to landlords but a year on, things have started to improve. Data from Moneyfacts shows the number of buy-to-let deals available increased by over 200 in March, to a total of 2,333. This means that overall deal numbers are now only 20% less last March. 

It’s not all great news though; average rates have dropped slightly but still they remain much higher than before the pandemic.

Conveyancing Expert are conveyancing solicitors in Manchester who can help you in all aspects of buy to let house purchase.

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To discuss any of the above or if you have any specific queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 794 7799.
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