An Introduction to Investing Through Property Crowdfunding

An Introduction to Investing Through Property Crowdfunding

Traditionally, only those with access to large amounts of capital have been able to invest in the lucrative world of property. Managing a portfolio is normally time-consuming, business, which becomes increasingly more burdensome as the investor’s portfolio becomes larger.

However, in the last few years, a new method of property investment has emerged which has effectively democratised the entire investment process, allowing more people than ever to benefit from the financial gains that property investment can offer.

Property crowdfunding sprung onto the scene in 2012, and is now worth billions of dollars a year worldwide. The value of the industry currently doubles every two months, and is set to be worth $250bn by 2020.

The growth of the property crowdfunding industry has been catalysed, in part, by the relaxation of regulations over the last few years. The Government has identified the industry as being hugely beneficial to the economy, and has also begun investing in crowdfunding itself. Institutional investment is also coming into play at an increasing rate, and high net worth investors, attracted by the simplicity of the process, and the returns available, are also investing through property crowdfunding.

But why is investing in property crowdfunding proving so popular?

Offering the chance to build a diverse portfolio without all the legwork involved in traditional property investment models, and with the opportunity for significant gains, it’s no surprise that investing in property crowdfunding has grown exponentially in the last few years.

What’s more, as interest rates on savings continue to crawl along the seabed, and returns from both rental and sales continue to rise, more and more people are waking up to crowdfunding as a simple way to grow their money.

How Does It Work?

Property crowdfunding encompasses both equity investments and debt based investment (also known as peer to peer secured lending).

The concept itself is relatively simple.

Equity investments involve a group of people pooling their cash to buy a property as shareholders through a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ (SPV). The SPV is a limited company, set up solely for the purchase of that property. The SPV handles all the work, fees and maintenance of the property, whilst the shareholders receive their proportion of the rental yields, and/or share of capital gains when the property is sold.

People can invest even very small sums in buying shares in the property. On some platforms, this is as low as £50, but the average is between £500 and £1000 as a minimum. You can (and should) spread your investment sum over a number of different properties across the crowdfunding platform, to mitigate risk.

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Getting started is a very quick and easy process. You simply register on your chosen website – it is an FCA requirement that only registered and accredited investors may participate, and, once registered, you simply select the properties you wish to invest in.

Debt based investments again involve pooling resources, in this instance, to make micro loans through the platform to a third party borrower. The loan as a whole is secured against the borrower’s property and the platform appoints an agent to act on behalf of lenders and take any necessary enforcement action. These types of investment are usually short term (up to 12 months, and pay a fixed rate of interest with no capital growth).

Where Did It Start?

The House Crowd is the longest-established property crowdfunding platform. It began trading in 2012 and offers both debt and equity investments. Since then, other companies have followed in their footsteps, such as Property Moose in 2013, and Property Partner and Crowdlords in 2014. The industry continues to expand, with several new platforms emerging each year.

Is It Regulated?

Property crowdfunding firms are all regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which ensures that platforms are managed properly, and that risks are made completely clear to investors. As with any investment, there is risk to capital – but it’s worth comparing this risk against other investment classes, and seeing how property crowdfunding stacks up.

Before investing through property crowdfunding platforms, it is very important to do your research. Every regulated platform should have the FCA authorisation number clearly visible on their website. If you can’t find these details, it’s probably best to steer clear: without this regulation they are operating illegally.

Is It The Right Choice For Me?

As with any investment, you need to take into account your personal circumstances to establish whether it is the right one for you.

You can find out more about establishing whether property crowdfunding is the right investment for you here.

Ask yourself what you wish to achieve. Investors with a lot of professional experience and access to bank funding, may find the model less appealing than those who novice.

If, on the other hand, you don’t have a deposit available, or aren’t able to get a mortgage, then investing through property crowdfunding could be an ideal way for you to access this asset class. And, given the government’s recent attacks on landlords, which has severely undermined the profitability and viability of buy-to-let investing for individual investors, it may well be that crowdfunding remains the only sensible option available for most.

Risk

The same principles that apply to other forms of property investment also apply to crowdfunding. You should be aware that capital growth profits are speculative, and investing in properties that produce a healthy cash flow is key for minimising risk.

One of the major risks associated with cash flow positive properties is that of damage or non-payment of rent. As such, you should always factor this in as an eventuality that may affect your yields. As mentioned above, however, if you have a well-diversified portfolio, with your capital spread over several properties, any losses due to one bad tenant will be more bearable than if you had all your eggs in one basket.

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At the end of the day, it all comes down to your risk tolerance. You do lose a large amount of leverage by investing through property crowdfunding, and you will only benefit proportionately from the property’s capital growth but, at the same time, having no borrowing means significantly less risk as there are no mortgage payments and no danger of the property being repossessed (as shareholders own it outright).

If making crowdfunded debt-based investment, (aka peer to peer lending) you need to know what would happen if the borrower defaults and does not repay the loan. You should ask questions about how your investment would be protected, what happens in the event of a default – how easy is it to take control of the secured property? – and how much equity is available to enable you to recover your money should the worst happen. Unless there is sufficient equity in the property, you could risk losing some or all of your money.

You should ask questions about how your investment would be protected, what happens in the event of a default – how easy is it to take control of the secured property? – and how much equity is available to enable you to recover your money should the worst happen. Unless there is sufficient equity in the property, you could risk losing some or all of your money.

If you opt for debt-based investments, your investment will be secured by a legal charge. A critical matter to consider is at what LTV the loan is made. If, for example, a loan is made at ‘75% LTV’, it means that you will be at risk of losing some of your capital if the borrower defaults, the property has to be seized, and is sold for less than 75% of its current valuation.

Debt investments are generally considered to be lower risk than equity investments, as lenders are always paid out before shareholders, however, you do not get the potential upside of capital growth.

What About If I Want Out of My Investment?

If you need a liquid asset, then property is not the best choice.

Investing through property crowdfunding facilitates liquidity to some degree as it may be easier to sell shares in a property than the whole property. However, there is never any guarantee that you will be able to find a buyer, and, fi you cannot do so, you will have to wait until the property is sold.

Some platforms will help you to find a buyer after the expiry of a minimum term, but you should check the small print before you invest. If you’re looking for a short term investment, P2P secured lending may be the better option.

To Conclude

We hope that this has offered you some valuable insight into getting started investing through property crowdfunding. Of course, you should know everything about the ins and outs of any investment before you part with your money, and we are fully committed to helping you know all you need to.

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If you have any questions, you can always get in touch with us and we will be very happy to fill you in.

Traditional Property Investment versus Property Crowdfunding

Traditional Property Investment versus Property Crowdfunding

Property crowdfunding and traditional property investment have some significant differences. The main difference is to be found in the ease of management.

Whilst those who favour traditional property investment value the sense of control associated with full ownership of a property, along with the costs and time involved in maintaining their investment, others simply do not have the time, nor the resources, to keep up with the demands of a property.

There are also additional financial implications to consider, and we will go into these in this article.

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Responsibility

Property crowdfunding eliminates many of the responsibilities involved with traditional property investment. An investor wishing to create a properly diversified portfolio of properties will invest large sums on a smaller range of properties, and will be responsible for everything from biological disruptions (by infestation of plant or animal life), to managing tenants and weathering void periods on a rental property. With a crowdfunded property investment, none of these aspects apply, as they are taken care of by a third party.

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Furthermore, the due diligence, prequalification and vetting of an investment property are all handled by the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), the company behind the purchase property.

If, on the other hand, you have the skills and experience necessary to avoid mistakes and handle the investment on your own, then traditional property investment is a lucrative and engaging way to grow your money. That being said, you will need substantially more money in the first place in order to make your first investment purchase, which is not something that all those wishing to invest in property have to hand.

Fees and Costs

There’s also the matter of fees. A traditional property investor will have to contend with solicitors’ fees, mortgage broker fees, loan arrangement fees, and surveyor charges, for example. With property crowdfunding, these fees are included within the overall cost required to sell the property, as listed on the crowdfunding platform’s website.

It’s also worth learning from the mistakes many property investors made ahead of the 2008 property crash. Many found that their mortgage lenders had allowed them to leverage at a rate that exceeded their affordability. The banks then revalued people’s assets, leading to a swathe of repossessions, subsequent catastrophic loss, and bankruptcies.

Checking the small print and getting legal advice when investing with the traditional property investment model is wise. Then again, none of this applies to property crowdfunding.

This is, of course, a worst-case scenario for traditional property investors. It is, nonetheless, one that still bears some weight. If mortgage rates rise, those who have invested with a mortgage may find themselves out of pocket. Buy-to-let investors should take the obvious step of making sure that their monthly rental income covers, at the very least, their mortgage repayments. However, they may also benefit from factoring in potential mortgage rate rises.

Find out more about our current property investment options.

Buy-to-let landlords have also been hit by changes in Government legislation that have removed the ability for these landlords to deduct interest from profits from their tax liability, which can prove a further obstacle to ensuring the profitability of their investment. Again, there are no such risks with property crowdfunding.

Challenges and Rewards

Whilst there are challenges involved with investing in property in the traditional manner, there are also a great many rewards. First of all, rather than earning a percentage of returns based on your initial investment sum (as with crowdfunding), once all outgoings (such as loans and legal fees, for example) have been taken into account, an outright property investor will earn a potentially much higher return.

There is, however, a downside to this. Where a traditional investor leverages a lot of cash, the risks to the investment are increased dramatically. Should the investment value fall, they could stand to lose a very significant amount. Whilst risk is, of course, not negated with property crowdfunding, no mortgage is necessary.

Selling Your Investment

Another benefit of traditional property investment is the control over when to sell the investment. If you are able to sell at a profit, and as quickly as you require, then the power resides within your hands. Property crowdfunding, on the other hand, requires a majority vote from all shareholders if you wish to sell before the end of the investment term.

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To Conclude

Property investment, whether traditional or crowdfunded, has long been a profitable investment choice. Whilst both forms of investment carry risk, there are significant pros and cons on both sides, which potential investors need to factor into their investment decision.

Weighing up which type of property investment is right for your particular needs is key to ensuring that you are confident in where you have placed your money. At the end of the day, however, whichever path to property investment you choose, there is potential for great returns.

Property Crowdfunding: Is It The Right Investment For Me?

Property Crowdfunding: Is It The Right Investment For Me?

Property crowdfunding is becoming an ever-more popular way for people to invest in property, often with significantly less money than investing the traditional way. However, before you jump in, it’s a good idea to assess whether this is the right investment choice for you and your circumstances.

You can view our current property investment options here.

What Do You Want To Achieve?

The first question to ask yourself when considering property crowdfunding is what you wish to achieve from your investment.

If you are looking for an investment that requires less ongoing attention than owning a property for either development or rental, or you personally have more faith in the property market than the stock market, then it could be right for you. Nonetheless, plenty of investors in property welcome the sense of control that owning a property outright brings.

Though there is more additional financial outlay involved in the purchase and maintenance of a property owned this way, some people would rather be involved in all aspects of their investment than leave it to another party.

You can find out more by registering here.

What Experience in Property Investment Do You Have?

This follows on to the second question you need to ask. How experienced are you as a property investor?

If you’ve been a full-time, outright property investor for some time, and have access to the bank funding required to own and develop a property yourself, then property crowdfunding may be less appealing.

For those who know how the market works, and perhaps already have all the necessary contacts they need for the properties they invest in, benefitting from more of the profits (after paying off loans), as opposed to their share percentage, may be a more attractive investment option.

If none of this applies to you, then take a look at your circumstances.

What Are Your Circumstances?

For novice or less experienced investors, or those who have less access to bank funding, then property crowdfunding can offer an opportunity to invest in property that is unavailable through other means. For those who are interested in the prospect of weathering the risks of property investment, rather than earning scarcely any interest on their savings accounts, again, property crowdfunding may offer an alternative path.

Whenever you consider an investment, whichever form this may take, you need to ensure that you are covered in the event that the investment takes a turn for the worst. You should only ever invest what you can afford, so make sure your calculations are correct, and you won’t cause yourself financial harm if, for any reason, the value of your investment falls.

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To Conclude

As a final note, if you decide to invest in property crowdfunding, there is further investigation to be undertaken. You will need to choose the right crowdfunding platform. It is very important to do your research, and to only settle on the platform that meets all your needs and requirements. Make sure they are regulated by the FCA, that they have a good reputation, and that their customer service and complaints procedures meet your standards.

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Entrusting your money with any investment vehicle is a decision that should never be made lightly. Ensuring that you are confident with all aspects of the investment is crucial, including the issue of risk. Property crowdfunding is no different to most other investment types, in that there is always a risk of loss. Knowing everything you can, and choosing the right investment for you, is the key to investing happily, smartly, and – hopefully – profitably.

 

Our Track Record For Rental Properties

Our Assured Rental Portfolio: Statistics For The Last 12 Months

The House Crowd started off in March 2012 buying small terraced houses for around £50,000. As our database grew, it became easier to raise funds and the company has evolved to financing multi-million-pound developments; however, the familiarity of the original buy to let concept, is still popular with many of our developers.

We found during our first four years that renting at the low end of the market is met with some difficulties. Despite our best intentions to provide good quality homes for people, with the expectation they would respect and look after the property, in too many cases (around 20%) non-payment of rent and damage to the property, were undermining the returns we could pay. Our plan was to find a way to satisfy the demand for this type of property, whilst delivering predictable and consistent returns for our investors.

And, I am pleased to say that we found a solution that has proven to work very well in delivering both exceptionally high gross yields and net returns.

That solution is our Assured Rental Product.

We launched our first one in January 2016 and over the course of 2016 purchased 16 more. They have all performed exactly as detailed in our financial forecasts for each project and delivered an average of 9.2% gross yield and 5.6% net return to investors after all costs, fees and corporation tax. This should make it ideal for those who want a long-term, income-producing investment backed by bricks and mortar.

The only real disadvantage to these investments is that the criteria of the corporate tenant we work can be very precise. It is time-consuming to find and convert properties according to their specifications and therefore we pay a premium for that.

The properties are treated and valued by surveyors as commercial properties. This means to achieve an uplift on a sale in the future, it will probably be necessary to sell the property to an investor, which undoubtedly limits the exit market; however, we believe high yielding properties with assured rental agreements in place will be attractive to many prospective investor purchasers.

Click here for a detailed financial summary of all properties purchased to date

For those not familiar with the assured rental product, here are the important facts:

  • The properties are let as HMOs to a large corporation on a five-year assured rental agreement
  • The corporate tenant is responsible for all maintenance costs up to £5000 per year
  • There are no void periods
  • Rent is paid two months in arrears but to date has been paid on time every time
  • The properties produce a gross yield of 9-10%
  • The average net yield is 8.5%
  • The average net return to investors after all costs is 5.6%
  • Dividends are paid quarterly
  • All properties purchased to date have delivered returns as forecast

2017 Property Market Forecast

Is Buy to Let Dead?

The buy to let market in the UK really gained traction in 1996, with the opening of the mortgage market. This made property investment accessible to millions who had been previously prevented from seeking better returns through property, as opposed to the pitiful rates provided by their institutional pensions.

It proved immensely popular, and many people found the idea of property as a way to provide a retirement income preferable to putting their money in a traditional pension. However, over the last two years, these people have been ruthlessly stabbed in the back by the government who have crippled the ability of small landlords to make any sort of profit.

Not only has there been an increasing amount of red tape and financial burden placed upon landlords in recent years, but George Osbourne saw fit to increase stamp duty and, in an astonishingly cynical move, he decreed that landlords should be treated differently than every other type of UK business and would not be able to offset loan interest payments against revenue.

What this means for the large majority of landlords who have mortgages and do not operate under a limited company structure, is that they will incur heavy losses and could potentially be forced into bankruptcy, as their increased tax bill exceeds their rental income. What’s worse is that research indicates only a small percentage of landlords are aware of this cataclysmic change and the effect it will have.

It seems clear to me that the traditional way of investing in buy to let property that has thrived over the last 20 years is, as far as most people are concerned, no longer an option. Property, however, is destined to remain the nation’s favourite asset class but the types of property, and the way people invest in it need to change.

We, at The House Crowd, find the Government’s attack on, and lack of concern for small landlords, utterly reprehensible, but fortunately, we are in a position to help. Crowdfunding and peer to peer secured lending, have emerged as very popular ways people can build their wealth through property. Given the legal and tax changes, they now seem set to replace traditional buy to let as the best and perhaps the only way, ordinary investors can still benefit from direct property investment.

If you want a longer-term investment, secured with the ownership of real bricks and mortar, we have a steady stream of properties with assured rental – thus removing many of the risks and variables associated with property investment. These properties also produce a very decent return – a gross yield of 9.5% which should produce a net return to investors of at least 5.5% after all fees and costs. Investors will also benefit from any capital growth on sale.

So whilst buy to let may not be completely dead, it will really only be viable, after April 2017, when the tax changes take effect, via a company structure and payment of large deposits or through crowdfunding platforms.

What Will Replace Buy to Let?

Buy to let may have been killed off but the PRS (Private Rental Sector) has grown apace over the last few years, with property funds and other institutional investors pouring money into the sector. PRS, for those unfamiliar with the term, generally refers to purpose built blocks owned by institutions – generally with a high standard of communal facilities designed to attract and keep tenants long term.

The government is also now throwing its support behind PRS and the build-to-rent sector with large urban developments being financed by institutional funds and managed by large companies to cater for Generation Rent. For example, the government has announced that £45 million of its new £3 billion Home Building Fund will go towards kick-starting a deal involving 2,000 new build-to-rent homes. This includes 995 new purpose built units in Manchester, currently the city with the UK’s highest yields. Combined with the recent attacks on buy to let, it is likely that this will consolidate build-to-rent as the future of rented living and property investment in Britain.

Given the scale of the developments, and the money required to finance them, it is clearly not something readily accessible to individual investors. And, here again, is where crowdfunding comes into its own.

The House Crowd is ideally placed to help those people who are seeking a lower risk, longer term investment with build-to-rent. We are currently financing the building of over 100 units in the Manchester area and, whilst most have been built to sell, we will be introducing build-to-rent developments shortly with the intention of providing our investors with the ability to earn a steady annual return with the upside of long-term capital growth. Being a part owner of larger developments will also help mitigate risk.

We are, in effect, giving the individual investor, the opportunity to benefit from the growth of the build-to-rent sector and earn returns on par with institutional investors.

Best Places to Invest In 2017

It will come as no surprise to learn that I think Greater Manchester is the best place to invest, and I am not the only one, as many pieces of research forecast the same.

It’s not difficult to see why – Manchester offers the ideal combination of high yields and decent capital growth, something that London cannot. Predictions are that rents will increase by 5% in 2017, with capital appreciation to reach 4-5%.

The city has benefited from successive governments’ attempts to invest more money outside of London. Thousands of overseas students now come to Manchester each year, and it has fast established itself as an international talent pool with a booming rental population.

Manchester’s reputation as a property hotspot was recently reaffirmed by research from Lambert Smith Hampton, which revealed that 68% of property investors see it as the best place to invest.

I also see Stockport, in Greater Manchester, as a particularly strong area and think it should be at the top of the list for any investor hoping to achieve strong, consistent returns through property. Seven miles south-east of Manchester city centre and eight miles from Manchester Airport, the commuter town boasts direct rail services to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London. With a £42 million transport interchange under construction and £1 billion being invested across retail, residential and commercial sectors over the next five years, Stockport is establishing itself as a regional business hub.

Over the past year, property prices in Stockport have increased by 15.9%, and 1,100 new homes will be built over the next five years to cope with increasing demand. Properties in the area offer investors strong, consistent yields – a safer bet than relying on speculative capital growth.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/timetable-1bn-regeneration-stockport-revealed-12292326

Reasons to Invest With The House Crowd in 2017

  • Specialists in Greater Manchester property – forecast by many experts to be the best area to invest
  • We offer traditional high yielding properties with assured rental
  • With over 100 new build properties either completed or in development, we are committed (in our own small way) to helping build the houses Britain needs
  • We are ideally placed to capitalise on both build to sell and the build to rent sector – which, backed by the government, is believed to be the future of the rental market
  • We enable access to individuals to participate in large scale developments investments with security and returns on par with those institutional funds receive
  • Choice: we offer
    • Short-term fixed-rate debt investments for those who want high returns and liquidity,
    • Longer term equity investments where investors share in both income and capital growth
  • No borrowing on property purchases means lower level of risk and less vulnerability to fluctuations in interest rates
  • Crowdfunding provides perhaps the only viable option for most people to continue to invest in property

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Investors All Set to Get Involved in UK Build-to-Rent Sector

Investors All Set to Get Involved in UK Build-to-Rent Sector

Following on from recent news that the Government plans to inject £45m into the building of over 2,000 rental properties in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, real estate investors and developers are gearing up for the opportunity to invest in UK build-to-rent.

As we move into 2017, investors are showing strong support for the development of large scale private rental communities to house a growing number of UK tenants. As the prices of property continue to rise, the rental sector is growing at an unprecedented rate. As such, it has never been more important for the UK to invest in building new homes.

Despite the economic uncertainty raised by Brexit, ahead of the official triggering of Article 50 expected in March 2017, investor confidence remains strong. A recent report from JLL (one of the UK’s leading real estate services firms), declares that investors are looking for the security offered by residential rent income, not just in the capital, but across the UK’s regional cities.

JLL’s Head of Investment for UK Residential Capital Markets, Simon Scott,  identifies the major metropolitan centres of both London and Manchester, as the ultimate targets for the Build-to-Rent sector. Nonetheless, he emphasises the opportunities offered in other, less mainstream locations across the country.

As the demand for rental property continues to rise, investors also seek to improve yield positions. As JLL’s Head of Residential Research, Adam Challis has identified, these yields are more readily available beyond southern England.

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Recent reports indicate that there is more than £30bn ‘pent-up’ demand across the rental sector, though this number – according to some commentators – could actually be considerably higher.

UK Build-to-Rent May Help Solve Housing Crisis

Another reason why brand new housing is becoming even more necessary, is because of the lack of properties coming to the market: “The disconnect is the limited new supply coming to the market, and the lack of existing product. As a result, we expect to see development and investment activity growing substantially over the short to medium term,” explains Scott.

When it comes to investment, the real attraction of residential investment is the diversity of products available. This means more variety to suit a range of risk and reward appetites.

Scott also stated “There is a structural shortage of residential accommodation in the market, and ever growing demand pressures, so the positives significantly outweigh any perceived risks.”


Of course, it’s important to note that, although all signs are very positive, your capital is still at risk when you invest.

We always recommend you create a diversified investment portfolio as a way to mitigate risk, and to never invest more than you can afford to lose. Policy support from planning authorities and politicians is certain to aid development of new stock – perhaps the most important ingredient towards creating a flourishing sector.

UK Build-to-Rent Homes Are The Future

Though innovation and expansion are a definite, there will also be some mistakes to learn from before the sector matures. Nonetheless, with the unwavering support from the Government, we can expect to see a substantial rise in the number of quality UK build-to-rent homes.

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UK Government Boosts Build to Rent

UK Government Boosts Build to Rent

A £45m cash injection has been announced by the UK Government to kick-start the construction of 2,000 build to rent homes.

As the Government clamps down on the buy to let sector, it has announced that it will be driving £45m of its £3bn Home Building Fund, in a move to create a “bigger, better private rental market”.

The deal is one of the largest for the private rental sector in the UK, and is focusing on creating thousands of homes in Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester.

Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, is also confident that it will “create jobs and opportunities for many hundreds of people”.

Along with the £45m from the Government, funds from HSBC will also be used to back the £400m project. 995 of the purpose-built housing units will be in Manchester, which has the highest rental yields in the UK outside of London: 774 more will be built in Leeds, and 323 in Birmingham.

In the Autumn Statement, issued in November, it was also announced that letting agent fees for tenants will be scrapped. This is just part of the Government’s plan towards tighter regulations, and improved quality in rental accommodation for the £5.4m households who rent across the UK.

Built To Rent To Replace Buy To Let

These plans follow on from George Osborne’s clampdown earlier in the year, ending mortgage tax relief and raising stamp duty. Both moves were intended to curb investment into the buy to let sector, and these latest moves demonstrate a new focus on build to rent, which Knight Frank estimates will be worth £50bn by 2020.

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The private rental sector in the UK is at an all-time high, and showing no signs of slowing down. As prices on residential property continue to skyrocket, it has never been more important to invest in new housing across the country.

The building and development of properties for the rental market, is one of the key aspects of our work at The House Crowd. Along with offering a more democratised property investment market for those seeking to raise capital through property, we are also confident that our investment opportunities are doing a great job in providing high quality accommodation across the rental sector in the North West of England.

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Continued Increase in UK Property Demand Great News for Investors

Continued Increase in UK Property Demand Great News for Investors

In unsurprising news, RICS has announced that UK housing demand continues to increase. November’s figures show an increase in buyer enquiries by 3% over the previous month (up to 13% in November from 10% in October).

This demonstrates a third consecutive month of increases in the number of prospective buyers on the UK housing market.

“Although there are some signs that the numbers may begin to edge upwards in the new year,” says RICS Chief Economist, Simon Robinsohn. “The combination of macro uncertainty, the on-going supply shortfall, with stock levels around historic lows, and the myriad of tax changes impacting on buyers suggest that any pick-up in activity will be relatively modest. This is significant not just for the housing market itself but also for the wider economy given how much of consumer spending is tied in with home purchases.”

There are no signs that the current UK housing shortage is likely to ease off any time soon. New sales instructions rose from minus 3% to zero in the same period. Seller numbers, therefore, are slightly higher, but not enough to meet the continually strong demand.

Where there is a discrepancy between the sales market and buyer market like this, it implies that more people are either moving direct from rental accommodation, or are first time buyers. The buy-to-let market, however, is still strong, despite stamp duty hikes and tax changes implemented at the start of the 2016-17 tax year.

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UK Property Demand Rises Pleases Investors

All of this, of course, is great news for property investors. With such high demand for housing, and the value of properties still on the rise (albeit less so than in earlier months of the year), the chances of significant gains, in buy-to-let, new development or ‘flips’, are looking good.

Most of the UK is continuing to see an increase in prices, particularly in the North West, where the market is booming. Week after week, we are seeing fresh reports of the continuing rise in popularity of properties in the Manchester area.

This is, in part, due to heavy investment in development of the city’s infrastructure, and an influx of businesses relocating to the area.  These new businesses, bringing fresh jobs to the North West, are further increasing demand, particularly in the rental sector, as young professionals continue to find promising careers in the region.

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5 Ways To Maximise Your Rental Yield

Yes, generation rent is on the rise, and the housing shortage is pushing more people into the rental market. But that’s not to say that buy-to-let landlords should be resting on their laurels. If you want to get the most from your investment, you will want to maximise the rental yield on your buy-to-let property.

If you’re in the process of choosing a buy-to-let property investment, these are some of the things you should consider when making your decision:

Picking Your Area For Best Rental Yield

As Kirsty and Phil have been telling us for years, it’s all about location, location, location. Along with picking an up-and-coming area to invest in, where you will get a return and ongoing rental yield as popularity grows, there are some other aspects to consider.

Firstly, pick an area with good transport connections. The majority of people who rent have jobs in nearby towns and cities, and a good commuter route is therefore high on a prospective tenant’s list of priorities.

Areas in catchment for good schools are another winner; both at primary and secondary level. We would recommend checking out the primary schools, in particular, because it is more likely that parents of younger children will still be renting, before looking to buy as their child gets older. Some may even rent specifically to get a child into the local school before considering purchasing in their preferred location.

The Waitrose effect is something well-known in property investment circles. Basically, wherever a Waitrose supermarket is in development, prices are about to rise. This particular store is an indication of affluent nearby residents. Good bars and restaurants, coffee shops, and other higher end high street and designer stores springing up, are also indicators of an influx of affluence to an area. On the flipside, however, it may mean that prices have already risen… so it’s a question of getting in quickly.

Promising Locations for Property Investment

It’s important to note that a ‘promising’ area does not necessarily mean the cheapest, nor the most expensive. A promising location is one that people want to live in.

Rather than investing in a place that’s close to where you live, as many usual landlords might do, with property crowdfunding, you are free to invest wherever in the country offers the most promising rental yield opportunities. Investing in this way means that you don’t have to go out to check things in the property, chase rent, or fix things when they go wrong.

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Never Neglect Numbers If You Want A Good Rental Yield

You must always, always do your research. Find out the cost of properties in the area, find out the average rental yield for different types of property in different areas.

You should also be sensible about where you’re putting your money: can you afford to live if the investment goes toes-up? Don’t ruin yourself, and be aware of risk.

Build a diverse portfolio, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If one investment goes wrong, when you have a diversified portfolio, you have other investments to fall back on.

Who’s Your Target Tenant?

Do you know what sort of tenant you’re looking for? If you haven’t thought about this, stop right now.

You need to do a little research and check that the property you’re considering investing in is the sort of property that tenants will want to live in. It’s no good, for example, going after the HMO market in an area where the leading demographic is in the 55+ age range. Matching prospective tenants to the area, and making sure that the home you’re offering meets their needs, is crucial.

Don’t just choose a property you’d like to live in yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant. What are they looking for? Students aren’t after all the luxuries that young professionals are – they’re more focused on location, if anything. Likewise, families are likely to prefer properties with outdoor space.

Families are also less likely to be swayed by luxury, as much as the notion of having a blank canvas on which to create their dream home. With white walls and no furniture, it’s theirs to do as they wish, within reason. Giving your tenants this freedom ensures they’re more likely to stay for the long term, which is good news for landlords.

Remember, too, that lots of tenants have pets, particularly cats and dogs, and all too often, landlords limit their prospective tenants by not allowing pets in the property. Not that that’s a concern when you’re a crowdfunding investor, but still – something to bear in mind.

Well-Appointed Properties Go Faster

Making things easier for your tenants, with all the mod-cons they’ll need, will help your property get snapped up sooner.

Microwaves, ovens, washing machines, and dishwashers, all make a property more appealing to tenants. Knowing they don’t have to buy these items themselves, and that their maintenance is covered by their landlord, is always a plus when searching for a place to rent. If you can go even further, offering things like wifi and wine fridges, all the better, particularly when dealing with young professionals as tenants!


Hopefully, this will have given you some ideas to consider as you narrow down the properties you wish to add to your buy-to-let investment portfolio. Do you have any other ideas to help prospective investors choose wisely? Why not drop us a tweet with your idea!

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Property Crowdfunding Investment or Buy to Let?

As the UK Government sweeps in with more and more tax changes on the buy-to-let sector, property crowdfunding investment becomes an increasingly attractive option.

Jeremy McGivern, founder of Mercury Homesearch, has stated that he thinks that property crowdfunding investment is likely to represent the biggest change within the housing market over the next few years.

However, along with his comments, McGivern issued a strong warning that the rise of property crowdfunding investment could have a ‘catastrophic’ outcome. Whilst the general consensus is that the rise of the property crowdfunding industry is a positive development, in that it democratises property investment, McGivern thinks that allowing a wide range of people to access the previously out-of-reach property market could lead to irresponsible investment, as people fail to understand the risks involved.

Lee Grandin, of peer-to-peer lending platform Lend2Landlord, surprisingly concurred: “Any mechanism such as a P2P platform that engages a funder that is not able to make a sound decision on whether to lend its money is a total disaster.”

He went on to make the point that “…risky investment should be limited by your net worth but Brexit clearly shows you can’t dictate what people should or shouldn’t do so that is unlikely to ever happen.

“There is only ever one message you can ever say and it must be said clearly and concisely: Your capital is at risk; you could lose all your money.”

But are they right about property crowdfunding investment?

Whilst Grandin and McGivern do have a point about the risks of getting into P2P lending or property crowdfunding investment without adequate understanding of the risks involved, we would argue that the vast majority of investors are intelligent and informed individuals.

In order to pass the registration process, at The House Crowd for example, prospective investors must pass a test. They must show they understand what property crowdfunding involves, as well as its risks, before they are allowed to continue. Furthermore, FCA regulation holds property crowdfunding platforms to strict controls that must be legally adhered to. Investors must be ‘clearly and concisely’ (as Grandin puts it) aware of the risks, and we aim to do this at every opportunity.

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Perhaps McGivern and Grandin underestimate investors in property crowdfunding. We certainly see a wide range of benefits to the property crowdfunding and P2P lending model. At a time when the buy-to-let market is increasingly strangled off, at the same time as the number of renters continues to grow, the model provides a much-needed solution.

Of course, being absolutely aware of the risks, and exploring all avenues for investment before deciding on property crowdfunding is vital. Investing money is a serious matter, and not one that most people take lightly. And nor should you.

We continue to be fully in favour of the democratising force of property crowdfunding, and the continued flow of movement it gives the property market. In the North West in particular, increasing levels of property crowdfunding go hand in hand with the wealth of regeneration that is building a bright future for the region. There continues to be a real problem with shortage of affordable homes, and property crowdfunding might just be one of the solutions to that.

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