Should You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

Do you think you should judge a book by its cover? Whether it’s fair to do so or not, it’s a fact that people do – literally and metaphorically speaking.

Whether it’s fair to do so or not, it’s a fact that people do – literally and metaphorically speaking.

Designing the right cover for a book is therefore important, and we would love to get your feedback, before making a final decision on which cover to choose for Frazer’s book.

We have narrowed it down to two choices and would be very grateful for your input.

Chose your favourite cover here


To find out more about investing with The House Crowd, you can register with us by clicking on the purple button below. Alternatively, take a look at our current property investment opportunities by clicking the blue button! Either way, we’re always here to answer your questions in any way we can.

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Baby Doomers: A Bleak Retirement Outlook For The Over 55s

Baby Doomers: A Bleak Retirement Outlook For The Over 55s

The House Crowd has conducted a survey of the over 55 age group to ascertain their plans for retirement. The results make for decidedly depressing reading.

Baby Doomers

Those nearing the end of their working years reported a pessimistic outlook for their retirement. 78% of those surveyed said that they are financially unprepared for their retirement, with over a quarter saying that they think it’s too late to change plans and save more.

Just 16% of respondents were confident that their lifestyle will improve once they retire, whilst 37% expected their lives to be worse. The financially secure retirement that we all hope for was considered no longer possible for a full 41%.

State Pension Shocker

Shockingly, it seems that a significant proportion of over 55s will be reliant on their state pension to support them through their later years.

Over half of respondents do not have a personal pension and have no plans to put one in place. Over a quarter have no workplace pension, and – once again – no plans to put one in place.

Once retired, respondents said they’d like £18,235 to live off, but expected just £14,180.

And who’s to blame? 20%, on average, blame the government.

Well, 23% of women do, anyway. Only 18% of men thought the government was at fault for their retirement woes.

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that fewer women reported being financially prepared for retirement than men. Just 17% of women thought they were on track, compared with 28% of men. Regardless of gender, the results are far lower than anybody would hope.

A Silver Lining

It all looks pretty dismal, but there could be a solution. Frazer had this to say after seeing the survey results:

“These results paint a miserable picture for our Baby Doomers – but it’s not too late for people approaching retirement to improve their situation. By exploring newer investment options, like property crowdfunding, over 55s can benefit from solid rates of return to help make retirement more comfortable.”

The property crowdfunding industry has been around since 2012, and is now worth billions worldwide. Though, as with any investment, there are risks to capital, the potential returns of this method of property investment could mean the difference between a rotten or a relaxing retirement.

Find out more about property crowdfunding as a potential investment choice for your retirement by registering on our site using the purple button below. Alternatively, click the blue button to see our current range of property investment options:

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Name That Book!

Frazer, our CEO, has written another book – his first one was a novel called The Cheshire Sect which is available to buy on Amazon.

This second book is all about how you can build your wealth using property crowdfunding.

It’s due for publication in April but, before it’s published, he would like your advice on what to call it.

We’ve narrowed it down to two potential titles. Just click here to tell us which you think is best.


To find out more about investing with The House Crowd, you can register with us by clicking on the purple button below. Alternatively, take a look at our current property investment opportunities by clicking the blue button! Either way, we’re always here to answer your questions in any way we can.

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Performance Statistics: February 2017

Performance Statistics: February 2017

The figures are now in for our performance statistics from last month. You will see below our summary figures from the dividend, interest and capital payments made in February 2017. You can also see our total cumulative returns from 2013, which you may also find helpful to know.

February 2017

  • Projects paid out against = 22
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £73,730.53
  • Total value of capital repaid = £493,000 (1 x development capital, 1 x bridging loan)
  • Total number of investors paid = 478

Total for 2017 So Far

  • Projects paid out against = 44
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £156,425.94
  • Total value of capital repaid = £866,000 (1 x development capital)
  • Total number of investors paid = 1,020

Cumulative (from January 2013)

  • Project paid out against = 478
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £1,292,050.94
  • Total value of capital repaid = £5,871,720.00
  • Total number of investors paid = 9,518

To find out more about investing with The House Crowd, you can register with us by clicking on the purple button below. Alternatively, take a look at our current property investment opportunities by clicking the blue button! Either way, we’re always here to answer your questions in any way we can.

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Performance Statistics: January 2017

Performance Statistics: January 2017

The figures are now in for our performance statistics from last month. You will see below our summary figures from the dividend, interest and capital payments made in January 2017. You can also see our total cumulative returns from 2013, which you may also find helpful to know.

January 2017

  • Projects paid out against = 22
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £82,695.41
  • Total value of capital repaid = £373,000 (1 x development capital)
  • Total number of investors paid = 542

Total for 2017 So Far

  • Projects paid out against = 22
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £82,695.41
  • Total value of capital repaid = £373,000 (1 x development capital)
  • Total number of investors paid = 542

Cumulative (from January 2013)

  • Project paid out against = 456
  • Total value of dividends and interest paid = £1,218,320.41
  • Total value of capital repaid = £5,378,720.00
  • Total number of investors paid = 9,040

To find out more about investing with The House Crowd, you can register with us by clicking on the purple button below. Alternatively, take a look at our current property investment opportunities by clicking the blue button! Either way, we’re always here to answer your questions in any way we can.

 

View our Property Investments

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Manchester Property Market Growth at 12 Year High

Manchester Property Market Growth at 12 Year High

Latest figures released by the Hometrack Index show Manchester property market growth to have hit a 12 year high in 2016. This gives the city the second highest rate of price growth in the UK, next to Bristol.

A rise of 8.9% year-on-year for Manchester was reported, with experts predicting that the city will overtake Bristol for pole position by the end of the first quarter of 2017. The figures for Manchester exceed the average year-on-year increase across the UK, which came in at 7.7%.

Strong market fundamentals, particularly a significant supply/demand imbalance in Manchester, keep pressure on prices high. Despite the same supply/demand imbalance in the capital however, London dropped to seventh place for price growth in 2016.

Strong Market Fundamentals Keep Manchester Property Market Growth Thriving

Manchester’s vibrant rental market is also thriving, with demand continuing to grow. This, of course, makes it a dream opportunity for buy-to-let investors. Indeed, the city was recently named the UK’s buy-to-let hotspot by HSBC. This is all despite the massive challenges faced by buy-to-let investors following the government’s attacks on landlords.

The growing popularity of property crowdfunding is helping prospective buy-to-let investors push back against these attacks, providing a welcome haven for those keen to benefit from a steady stream of secured rental income.

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Rental growth here is 13 times that of London, driven by the growing population of young renters, flocking to the city for studying and career opportunities. Manchester boasts 60% more 25-29 year olds than the UK average, placing it within the country’s fastest growing demand for short term lets.

Massive Investment In Manchester Fuelling Property Market Growth

Success is also compounded by the government’s whopping £7 billion investment in Manchester. Determination to develop a world-class infrastructure in the city will attract further billions of worldwide investment over the coming years, which is already evident as overseas investors hone in on the investment opportunities offered here.  

Over 100,000 students across Manchester’s four main higher education institutions give it the highest student population in Europe.

70,000 of these are not in student halls of residences, meaning they are renting privately within the city. This makes it prime territory for PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) investment.

Across the board, from the UK-leading purchase market, to the thriving private rental and student markets, right through to commercial investments, Manchester is winning. As growth in the city’s property market continues at an unprecedented pace, with huge investment fuelling projected growth for years to come, we remain confident in the continued promise that our city offers investors.

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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 nature of managing the investment.

Whilst those who favour traditional property investment value the sense of control associated with full ownership of a property, there are significant costs and time commitments involved in maintaining their investment, Property crowdfunding on the other hand is to a very large extent a passive investment with thord parties managing everything on your behalf. So if you do not have the time, nor the resources, to keep up with the demands of building a property portfolio it can be a very attractive option.

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.

Find out more by registering here.

Furthermore, the due diligence, prequalification and vetting of an investment property are all handled by the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), the company behind the purchased 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 will probably be a lucrative 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.

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 by at least 130% and should factor 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, which usually buys properties for cash with no or minimal borrowing.

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 could 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 is in your hands. Property crowdfunding, on the other hand, usually 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 to place your money. At the end of the day, however, whichever path to property investment you choose, there is potential for great returns.

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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The UK Housing Crisis: Supply and Demand

The UK Housing Crisis: Supply and Demand

2016 has been full of shaky times for the UK property market. However, there have been no actual signs of prices dropping, despite the Brexit naysayers’ warnings. Negative headlines about the UK housing crisis are still milling about, but there is one aspect of the property market in particular which is promising to keep the market afloat. That aspect is the continuing lack of supply.

The lack of properties for sale has helped to support the market, and to push prices higher. That’s before we even take the undersupply of newbuilds into consideration. This undersupply has been going on for decades, whilst successive governments have sought to garner good feeling among voters with artificial support of property prices. There is no end to this situation in sight at the moment.

There was a small fall in prices after the Brexit vote, reigniting hysteria over the UK housing crisis. Nonetheless, the UK continues to be a popular target for overseas investors, indeed, there was a surge in overseas interest following the referendum result. Indeed, looking at the state of the pound at present, it’s clear as to why we are gaining attention from overseas.

Along with the lack of supply, we are seeing a growing state of pent-up demand for property in the UK. A scarcity of properties, combined with high competition between buyers, is a recipe for further property price inflation. This, too, will affect the rental market, as more households find themselves priced out of the purchase market than is already the case.

UK Housing Crisis Affects Rental Market

Higher demand for rental accommodation, combined with a reluctance of investors to approach buy-to-let following the stamp duty hikes and other attacks on landlords in 2016, may push rent higher. Great news for investors, and build-to-let in particular; not such good news for tenants – those who feel the brunt of the UK housing crisis hardest.

The answer is new builds. However, we are struggling to meet demand in this area too. Currently, 200,000 new properties are required per year, and we are still falling desperately short of that. The population is growing, and everybody needs to live somewhere. Something, clearly, has got to give.

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Could Property Crowdfunding Help the UK Housing Crisis?

Property crowdfunding may offer a partial solution to this conundrum. Pooled funds being pumped into development of properties, particularly in areas like the in-demand North West, alleviates the buy-to-let problems that outright-ownership landlords are facing, as everything is managed through the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) in which the shareholders’ funds are invested.

Though property prices and rent will not be directly lowered by these developments, it may alleviate a small portion of the supply shortage. After all, every little helps.

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