Let’s face it, buy to let is suffering under a big grey cloud of doom and gloom right now.
After years when everything in the property investor’s garden seemed rosy, issues like tax changes, and more rules and regulations – and now Covid-19 – are prompting some investors to consider selling their buy to let property.
But if that’s you …. Wait …. Stop! Here are 8 very important things you must check before putting your buy to let up for sale:
* What’s your motivation for selling?
Is your buy to let actually causing you practical difficulties? Is it actually losing you money? Or is it just a general feeling of despondency at being a landlord that is prompting you to sell?
Whatever it is, know your reason for considering selling up.
* What yield are you getting on your buy to let?
Knowing what your yield is can help put things in context …. you may well find it makes your buy to let more attractive than you thought. Yield percentage can be calculated by dividing the annual rent by the property cost x 100.
The fact is, even pretty low yields are multiple times better than the return even on the best paying savings accounts right now.
* What can you do to improve the situation, or turn things around?
Selling may not be the best answer, and in fact could be the worst. Could you raise the rent to help make things pay better? Could a new tenant be the answer? Could you rent out the property in a different way, eg. as a house share. Are there any ways you could cut costs? Could some professional advice on tax or ownership improve the outlook for your investment?
* Are you guilty of thinking too short term?
Remember, property is a medium-long term investment. By selling now you can miss out on a future, potentially attractive, capital gain.
Governments never last as long as the ideal lifetime of a property investment (15-25 years) so there’s every chance landlord/investor policy could become more favourable again in future.
* Will you be able to sell your buy to let easily, quickly, and an attractive/viable price?
Prices and buyer interest are holding up right now, but there’s no telling how long that might last.
It’s never a good idea to guess or saleability – take advice from a surveyor or estate agent.
* What will you do with the money?
Assuming there’ll be money left over from the sale of course. Is there any other way it could earn you a better return?
You might find this Property Insider report useful: Property over and out? So how else can you make a good return on your money?
* What other plan do you have for securing your financial future?
That’s assuming, of course, that you invested in buy to let – as many investors have – as a pension pot.
Again, explore all the options.
* What will your tax situation be? Is there a risk that an increased tax liability could make you worse off by selling your buy to let, not better? Always find out before you sell … not after!
Whatever you do it’s important not to make a knee jerk decision. Think everything through, do the numbers, and take professional advice if you need it. Think how your decision will play out in both the long and the short term.
Mark Hempshell is Editor-in-Chief of Property Insider.