Landlords ‘maintaining faith in the UK buy-to-let market’

Although there has been much talk about the effects of the credit crunch on the UK property mortgage market, investors who are looking for long-term investment have shown few signs of intimidation. And some experts have even suggested that the current market conditions will work in landlords’ favour.

Nearly one-quarter (23.4 per cent) of landlords said that they are planning to add to their portfolios over the next five years, according to figures from the National Landlords Association (NLA). Meanwhile, 60 per cent said they had no changes planned for that period of time and fewer than 18 per cent of respondents reported that they would be reducing the number of properties they own.

These findings suggest that worries about the buy-to-let market which dominated the headlines in recent weeks may be overblown, chairman of the NLA David Salusbury suggested.

“The fall-out from the so-called credit crunch has dominated public attention in recent weeks, but in times of financial uncertainty people continue to need a roof over their heads,” he remarked. “That landlords are committed to invest further in the private rented sector over the next five years demonstrates that they remain confident about their businesses over the medium-term.”

This confidence does not only apply to buy-to-let investors, however. The Halifax House Price Index for October suggested that, although house price growth has slowed slightly as expected, the UK economy is still strong enough to support the property market.

Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, commented on the findings, saying: “The continuing strength of the UK economy and the associated expansion in employment will provide a sound underpinning for the housing market over the coming months.” He added that shortages in housing supply will keep house prices buoyant.

Indeed, comments such as these can only add to buy-to-let property investors’ confidence. A shortage of housing and high prices will likely drive first-time buyers into the private rental sector, which is already benefiting from this trend – as well as from an influx of immigrants who have come to the UK to earn higher wages.

At the same time, the NLA’s Mr Salusbury asserted that “many people regard renting as a lifestyle choice”, as it provides them flexibility. The quality of properties in the private rental market has also increased in the past few years, a study by the English Housing Survey suggests.

Perhaps the only certainty amid all the speculation is that those UK property investors who remain focused on medium and long-term investment will continue to seek advantages where they can, as market conditions continue to evolve.