Capital Growth v Cash Flow

Capital Growth v Cash Flow

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5, ‘Capital Growth versus Cash Flow’ of Frazer’s upcoming book, The Alternative Guide To Property Investment. You can register your interest in pre-ordering the book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post.

Capital growth is a very powerful concept. As Albert Einstein once said, compound capital growth is the eighth wonder of the world.

What compound growth means is that if an asset worth £100,000 increases in value by 10% a year it will only take eight years for that asset to be worth more than double its original value. In ten years it will be worth around £259,000. And that’s without leverage.

Imagine that you’re back in 1996. You have £16,000 to invest, but you’re not sure what to do with it. Your stockbroker tells you one thing, your financial adviser tells you another, and your bank manager – of course – reckons you should stick it in the bank for a rainy day.

Instead, you decide to use that £16,000 as a deposit on an £80,000 buy-to-let property in London (that was the average house price in London just 20 years ago).

Two decades on, the average London property is worth over £488,000.

That means, provided you covered your mortgage payments and costs with rental income, your £16,000 has turned into £408,000 profit. Now there may well have been various incidental costs to take into account but, I think it’s fair to say, you would still have done many times better than if you had put that money into a pension or kept it in the bank.

It’s not possible to make the benefits of property investment any clearer than that.

It is, in my opinion, far and away the best investment you can make. Imagine that property only did half as well as this over the next ten years. It would still be likely to produce several times the returns of any other asset class.

Because of the power of compound growth, many people think property is all about capital growth, and that aspect is certainly what helps make it an attractive investment. And the fact that you can leverage purchases and obtain, for example, an 80% LTV mortgage multiplies the rate at which your capital can grow at astonishing rates.

Nonetheless, many people have come unstuck by leveraging highly and speculating on capital growth. They have then found themselves in an unsustainable position having to subsidise mortgage payments as the rental income has not been sufficient to cover their financial outgoings on the property.

You may be able to support one property at £200 a month whilst you wait for it to increase in value, but how many more of those could you afford?

However, if all your properties at least ‘wash their face’ and produce a small profit from rental income, you can support as many of them as you can buy – and benefit from the capital growth in all of them.


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Establishing Your Own Investment Criteria

Establishing Your Own Investment Criteria

This is an excerpt from Chapter 4, ‘Establishing Your Own Investment Criteria’, of Frazer’s upcoming book, The Alternative Guide To Property Investment. You can register your interest in pre-ordering the book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post.

We held a dinner for our top-20 investors recently and I think it’s fair to say that just about everybody had different reasons for investing and slightly different criteria for choosing what to invest in.

Before investing any money, you need to consider what you want to achieve. Do you want to sit back and let your investment grow in value (e.g. stamps or wine or a pension fund, if you still think that’s a good idea) or do you want to generate an income (e.g. shares or property)?

Or perhaps a mix of the two?

Do you solely want to provide for your retirement and reinvest any income generated or do you need to earn an immediate income from your investments?

Are you prepared to risk all your capital on the same sort of investment or do you want to make some ultra-safe investments and speculate with a certain portion of your money on riskier but potentially more lucrative investments?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself as the answers will help formulate your own investment criteria. If you have decided that you want to invest some of your capital into property, then the two most significant decisions you need to make are whether you want the emphasis to be on capital growth or cash flow and whether you want to make commercial or residential property investments.


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How Much Diversification Is Sensible?

How Much Diversification Is Sensible?

This is an excerpt from Chapter Two, ‘How Much Diversification Is Sensible?’ of Frazer’s upcoming book, ‘The Alternative Guide To Property Investment‘. You can register your interest in pre-ordering the book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post.

In the previous chapter, I mentioned that I go against traditional wisdom as I am not particularly convinced about diversification across different asset classes as one cannot possibly be knowledgeable about all of them and therefore must seek to rely on third-party advisers. If you have no time or inclination to look after your own money this is probably sage advice.

I accept that for most people there are good reasons to do so but, for me, I would point to the fact that one of the wealthiest people I have ever met invests all his money in property. But not just in any property, and not just in one particular area, but in one particular street (in central London). He won’t even consider buying properties on adjoining streets. As far as he is concerned, they are outside his area of expertise. Clearly, specialisation can have its advantages.

Therefore, I am not giving advice, just telling you what I personally think. The consensus of opinion about diversification may be generally sensible for most people but may not be right for everyone, especially for those who are experts in their field. That’s a matter for you to decide.

What I do think is sensible for most people is to diversify and spread your risk (within reason) so all your eggs are not in one basket.

And one reason I believe property crowdfunding is such a beneficial concept is that it allows you to spread whatever available capital you have over a number of different properties so, if a disaster befalls one, you don’t have all your money tied up in it and you still have others to fall back on.

Within the asset class ‘property’ itself, you could, if you wish, diversify your portfolio in a number of different ways. It could include traditional buy-to-let properties, new-build apartments, commercial investments, HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and ‘fixer-uppers’.

Secured lending and development finance are other options that fall within the property investment umbrella, as you lend out sums to property developers and business owners who own property they can use as security.

Diversification also means a selection of risk profiles. Of course, you should take into account your personal circumstances and lifestyle requirements, as well as your own attitude to risk. Typically, higher risk investments come with the prospect of higher rewards, whilst a safer investment may yield lesser gains.

Buy-to-let has been the most popular option for property investment. Private renting has almost doubled in the period from 2003 to 2015, and in Manchester, it has almost quadrupled, from 6% to 20%.

This means, in theory, that the buy-to-let sector should offer great potential for investment over the coming years. However, as we shall learn later, the traditional way of purchasing single buy-to-let properties may no longer be the best way to capitalise upon this growing market. In fact, it may not be feasible at all for most individuals anymore.

The commercial property market, too, can be a good option.

Investing in commercial real estate can mean:

  • positive leverage (potentially increasing ROI (return on investment);
  • tax benefits (proper structuring can offer an array of benefits tied to interest, depreciation and so on);
  • more control (personal ownership equals control);
  • a hedge against inflation (such property tends to benefit long term from inflation);
  • cash flow and current income (rental income from stable commercial real estate means a potentially steady and predictable income stream);
  • historically strong returns (average annual return: 9.5% sustained over a 20-year period).

You can find out more about commercial property and how it compares with residential property investment later in this book.


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Why Invest in Property At All?

Why Invest in Property At All?

This is an excerpt from Chapter One, ‘Why Invest In Property At All?’ of Frazer’s upcoming book, The Alternative Guide To Property Investment. You can register your interest in pre-ordering the book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post.

Fact: almost everybody wants to be able to retire at some point and enjoy the later years of their lives in comfort.

If you think the state pension will allow you to do that, then, sorry, you are living in La La Land. The government will not look after you in your later years. It simply can’t afford to.

The maximum state pension in 2016/17 is £119.30 per week. Can you live comfortably on that? In fact, can you live on that at all?

It is imperative that you do something to supplement that. Your main choices are:

  • savings accounts
  • a private pension
  • shares
  • property

I will dealing with each of these briefly.

Savings Accounts

We are always being told that keeping your money in a bank account is safe and it’s guaranteed – at least up to £75,000. That is provided the government doesn’t also go bankrupt, which is not as ridiculous as it might sound; it would have happened here in the 1970s had the IMF not stepped in, and just take a look at Greece and Italy and Portugal and Spain … oh yes, and France, to see how vulnerable many governments are right now. I do not believe saving your money in a bank account is in any way a sensible manner to provide for your retirement.

The only thing that is guaranteed is that the value of that money is being eroded year on year by inflation, and given the current rates of interest payable the net value is actually decreasing. Even if you had a million pounds saved by the time you retired at, say, 2% interest, that would only provide you with £20,000 a year income – and that’s before tax.

Pensions

So, let’s look at private pensions…

The days of the final salary pension are long gone, and few, if any, private pensions have delivered what clients expected while some, it’s fair to say, have been outright disasters. The returns, whilst clearly considerably better than a savings account, are still negligible and the only people, in my opinion, who seem to really profit are the institutions that provide them.

We’ve seen pension fund after pension fund collapse, leaving thousands with substantial losses, executives ripping off their firms and employees for millions, and major holes appearing in the entire ‘safety-net’ structure. Robert Maxwell and the Mirror Group and British Home Stores are just two of a number of pension funds that spring to mind.

Please read Chapter 3 if you need convincing that the pension most people have is nowhere near enough to generate an annuity that will finance a comfortable retirement.

So whilst you definitely do need a vehicle to provide for your retirement, it definitely does not need to be an institutional or company pension.

Investing in Shares

Clearly, fortunes can be made in the stock market – if you know what you are doing. If you don’t, then picking the best tracker fund you can find would seem the most sensible option. I would not advocate against investing in the stock market but in my opinion, it is considerably more volatile than property and there are many more factors beyond your control that make it harder to invest in successfully.

Property

Of all the investment options available, I believe property is the one people most easily understand and, therefore, are most likely to be successful with.

I mean, let’s face it, even Goldman Sachs didn’t really understand what they were peddling in the noughties. The more complicated something is, the more likely it is that investors don’t really know what they are doing or what the risks are. They don’t even know what it is they don’t know, so how can they possibly evaluate the risks?


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The Future of Property Demand in the UK

Sheree Foy, founder of Source Harrogate, has told the Yorkshire Post her predictions for the future of property demand in the UK.

Firstly, she dismissed ideas that Brexit will have a long term effect. On the supply side, she says, not a great deal will change. Demand, however, may be affected. Growth forecasts show reductions over the next two years, and there are rumours amongst financial analysts of a 50-50 chance of recession.

Along with base rate reductions by the Bank of England to a record low of 0.25%, cheaper mortgage rates, and the prospect of further interest rate plummets, property demand may be a bigger issue.

But Foy is less interested in these matters, looking to the longer term.

So what are the big issues around property demand in coming decades?


Property Demand by Demographics

Over the next ten years, we will see a significant rise in the over 65 age group, combined with a dramatic rise in over 85s. One in five people in the UK right now will live to see their 100th birthday, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.

From this, Foy predicts a rise in property demand for bungalows, and other homes suitable for later life living. Foy labels these properties as “rare asset[s] with a guaranteed increase in demand” – and notes that those who plan ahead with their investments to meet this upcoming property demand are set to reap rewards.

Homes with smaller gardens, close to towns, with adapted kitchens and bathrooms, are all winners.

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Property Demand by Location

Over the last ten years, farming has become increasingly more automated, leading to an inward flow to towns, which are more attractive than ever.

On the other hand, public transport is becoming less available, with journey times taking longer and longer. Without a drastic overhaul of the public transport network, property demand in cities and towns could continue to rise.

Nonetheless, Foy is banking on a return to the country facilitated by technology. Better broadband connections and speeds are making home working an increasingly available option for many, whilst the predicted adoption of driverless cars in coming years will also relieve much of the strain of commuting. With this eventuality on the horizon, country living could equally be set to rise in popularity.

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Property Demand By Energy

As we move further away from dependence on huge power stations in favour of multiple source and sustainable energy sources, EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) are set to become crucially important to the desirability of a property.

More locally generated power, from solar powers to wind turbines, are growing in use in domestic settings. Homes with adverse EPCs, Foy states, just aren’t selling like they used to.

To increase the desirability of your property, Foy recommends staying on top of energy efficiency in the home. Replace old boilers, insulate walls and roof spaces, double/triple glaze those windows, and look into home power generation options.

 


Planning ahead for future property demand is a key factor to take into account when investing in property. Choose your weapons wisely, and build a portfolio that will stand the test of time.


 

5 Ways To Find The Best Property Investment Areas

Whether you’re buying a property investment in the rental sector, or to sell on within the residential sales market, you’ll be looking to get the best return on your investment. So how do you go about ascertaining the best property investment areas to target?

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We take a look at the top five factors to consider before investing in property, and the questions you ought to be asking yourself to ensure you’re looking in the best property investment areas for your money.

  1. Local Trends

  • What are the current cost trends in the region?

  • Are housing prices here rising quicker than other regions?

  • What is the average cost within other neighbouring towns, and how does your town compare?

It’s worth starting with a broad area you’re hoping to target, and zoning in from there on the best property investment areas to focus on.

  1. Indications of Growth

  • What new infrastructure developments are being constructed in the area (schools, transport networks, shopping areas)?

  • What industrial growth is going on (businesses putting down roots, new job opportunities)?

  • What residential regeneration projects might you be able to get in on?

Spend some time in your desired area, and do plenty of research into what’s going on at ground level. Where there are concrete signs of development for the future, there is opportunity, as potential buyers (or tenants) flood to the area for work and leisure.

  1. Tax Implications

  • What is the tax charge likely to be?

  • How are property taxes likely to increase in the near future?

It’s a good idea to have a chat with a local tax assessor, and gain some trustworthy advice from a tax expert. Find out about tax structures, and any that will specifically apply to your area.

  1. Schooling

  • What are the OFSTED reports of local schools?

  • What do the GCSE and A Level results look like of catchment area secondary schools?

  • What family demographics dominate your desired area?

Any families looking to buy (or rent) a property are very driven towards areas in catchment for the best schools. In many cases, good catchment areas are reflected in the house prices in the area. Schools are a key factor that indicate the best property investment areas to focus on. Don’t underestimate the value that parents place on where their children will be educated.

  1. Outlying Regions to Cities and Towns

  • What are the transport networks like from outlying towns and villages into the main city/town?

  • Where are the job opportunities for those likely to buy in your desired area?

Whilst prices will be high, and supply low, within cities and affluent towns, some of the smaller towns and villages in the outskirts can be particularly desirable.

Rural areas where public transport is less freely available are actually more desirable for many buyers, where village schools are often well-appointed, and space and scenery make a pleasant contrast from working in the city, are very desirable. Such rural regions are very likely to see high value rises over time.

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Understanding the market will help you identify the best property investment areas to target.

These five factors to consider are perhaps the best ones to implement if you’re hoping to generate an income from investment in property. As always, it’s best to do as much research as possible, and to seek as much expert advice as you can.


 

The Living Dead: How Smart Property Investment Can Keep You Alive

The Living Dead: How Smart Property Investment Can Keep You Alive

Just been reading the book Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay by John Lanchester which is all about the financial meltdown and the lack of credit available to business and home-buyers.

It has a chapter dealing with ‘zombie banks’ where banks are not killed off but neither are they able to flourish as they are forced to reduce their ratio of capital reserves to lending. They simply exist in a sort of limbo land – the Living Dead. Similarly, the newspapers have been discussing “zombie mortgages” of late, where homeowners cannot refinance but will be in deep trouble when rates rise.

But, there are “zombie landlords” out there as well! One magazine recently reported the case of a landlord who had

One magazine recently reported the case of a landlord who had £4 million worth of buy to let property from which he was making a net income of just £40,000 – presumably, because he was so highly leveraged: not an example of smart property investment! That’s just a 1% return a year.  It’s inevitable that rates will increase at some point in the not too distant future, and when (not if) they go up by just 1%, this ‘zombie’ and thousands like him will be in deep doo doo.

The House Crowd’s Advice for Smart Property Investment:

Focus on high yield properties with moderate leveraging (or, better still, none at all) so you are always in a positive cash flow position and so you can cope with interest rate rises when they come.

If you’d like to learn about the smart property investment model offered by property crowdfunding with The House Crowd, register now (you don’t have to invest straight away!) and find out about the vastly better returns you could be getting by investing the smart way….

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