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

View our Property Investments

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.

View our Property Investments

RLA vs Shelter

The Residential Landlords Association has attacked Shelter today for what is regarded amongst Landlords as a scaremongering campaign. Shelter’s “Growing Up Renting” campaign argues that families with children are bearing the brunt of insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves that it asserts are standard in today’s market.

In dismissing this allegation, the RLA says that the reality is that nearly all tenancies are ended by tenants. Just 9% are ended by landlords, usually as a result of tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. It demonstrates that contrary to popular myth, most landlords would prefer to keep tenants rather than being left with an empty property.

In our opinion the RLA is spot on. As a landlord, given the costs of voids and re-letting, you do what you can to keep any half decent tenant. Shelter’s campaign is utterly bewildering and were it to be successful completely self-defeating as it would reduce the number of landlords and rental properties in the market. Whilst (despite their anti- landlord stance) we support some of Shelter’s aims, one sometimes wonders if these people actually live on the same planet.

On rent levels, figures in the English Housing Survey for 2011-12 show that over the 3 years between 2008/2009 and 2011/12, average rents in the private rental sector increased by an average of just 2.4% per year, less than half the rate of 5.6% in the social sector over the same period. The charity’s “Growing Up Renting” campaign argues that families with children are bearing the brunt of insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves that it asserts are standard in today’s market.

The Housing Survey also notes that tenants who have remained in their property for ten years or more face much lower rents, on average £123 a week compared with the average £173 paid by those resident for less than three years. This amounts to an average 28% discount in rents. Private tenancies have also reached a record average length of 20 months, showing that landlords are responsive to tenants needs.

RLA Policy Director, Richard Jones commented: “The RLA condemns the scaremongering that Shelter is engaged in. Whilst we agree that a small minority of landlords ruin the lives of tenants and should be banned from renting property, the reality is that the majority of landlords in the country provide a good service.

“At a time when increasing numbers of people are depending on the private rented sector for their housing, Shelter should act more responsibly and not promote inaccurate generalisations which only serve to frighten families into thinking that a majority of landlords can’t wait to throw them out which is nonsense.

“The reality is that landlords will do all they can to keep tenants in their properties rather than face an empty property.

Mr Jones continued: “Shelter are playing a dangerous game by frightening off investors from increasing the supply of much needed private rented housing. Whilst we agree with the need for longer tenancies where needed, Shelter’s calls for universal five year contracts with index linked rent rises would be bad news for families who are presently seeing average rents increase by less than inflation.”

Regulations and red tape – all in a day’s work for landlords!

Almost daily, there are doom and gloom reports about the UK’s property market; on Friday it was all about ‘regulatory overload’ for letting agents and landlords which has led to a driving up of rents for tenants. Indeed, as I was typing this, another headline pops up in my inbox, suggesting the number of renters in severe arrears tops 100,000, which supports the theory I’ve just mentioned.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, there are over 100 individual pieces of legislation and regulations containing around 400 individual measures affecting the private rental sector. Some of these rules date back to the 1700s which begs the question, are they even still relevant?

At a time when the economy is in meltdown, the cost of living has risen and unemployment has reached epidemic proportions, surely these examples of red tape should be brought into the 21st century, reflecting the reality of the market today, rather than how it was in 1730? Perhaps then, tenants and landlords would be better off all around.  Surely it’s time for a change if nothing else.

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit http://thehousecrowd.com/thehousecrowd/how-it-works/). We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit http://thehousecrowd.com/thehousecrowd/about/our-manifesto/). If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit http://thehousecrowd.com/thehousecrowd/invest-in-property/).