Choosing the right location is key for your first or next investment property in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard
As a new landlord or investor in the Dunstable or Leighton Buzzard buy to let market, what would be your first priority – the type and purchase cost of the property, or the place in which it is situated?
There is no single, definitive answer to this commonly considered question, but in property circles the phrase ‘location, location, location’ is often referred to as the first three rules of property investment.
It’s the same for tenants too so when looking for the ideal place to invest in or to rent, it is worth remembering the adage ‘you can change the house, but you cannot change its location’.
To find a property that will appeal to a tenant and provide a good level of rental income and/or capital growth it is extremely important to firstly define that appeal. There are many considerations to take into account and a good place to start is to look for towns, areas or streets that are currently in demand, and are likely to be increasingly popular in the future.
Location is always a key driver, with proximity to work, schools, commuter routes, shops and public services amongst the many factors to be taken into account when choosing to market a property as a buy to let. Leighton Buzzard with its mainline station into London has the obvious appeal for the commuter whereas Dunstable with its large local industry requiring a local workforce has seen a huge increase in demand.
In today’s market, there is an ever accelerating need for private rented property, with tenant demand often outstripping supply. To be absolutely sure as to whether a property would make a good rental investment it is worth consulting a lettings specialist.
Expert agents can identify local trends and spotlight properties that are the most popular for the type of tenant looking to rent and the best areas in which to find them.
They will know where property ‘hotspots’ are and which parts of a city or town are driving the market.
Many buy to let investors choose to stay local in order to ‘keep an eye’ on their investment. It’s a strategy that works for thousands across the country, but there is no reason why a buy to let investment cannot work just as successfully hundreds of miles away - provided you make the right choice of professional lettings agent who can manage, maintain and keep a check on the property on your behalf.
A local agent will have all the right up to date local knowledge and know properties and locations with the highest tenant demand. They will be able to advise on current, achievable rental levels and help avoid the pitfalls of investing in the wrong areas.
My advice for helping to decide the best location for a property investment include:
Beware of “buying cheap and paying dear”. If a property is located in a low quality area it can increasingly become run down – attracting the wrong type of tenant and achieving poor long term capital growth.
Whilst there are many other things to consider when entering the buy to let market, ‘location, location, location’ must always be uppermost in the mind of a landlord investor.
Sometimes the difference between a good rental property and a not so good one can be down to which side of the street it is on, let alone its geographical location.
Yes you can do business on the phone, but if you have over £750,000 worth of property wouldn’t you prefer to talk face to face at the business premises?
In Business do you prefer the telephone, face to face meetings or a combination of both? For a landlord who recently called into our shop it was important to him that he could visit us to discuss business.
A few weeks ago when I was out on an appraisal of a house in Houghton Regis I received an email from my colleague in our shop on Church St in Dunstable. A landlord had just called into the shop and wanted to talk to me about transferring his properties to the Belvoir Dunstable office.
Having called him on the telephone and discussed his requirements we then made an appointment for him to return at a later convenient date to meet in person in our shop. Little did I know at the time that he had 6 apartments in a sought after development in Dunstable called The Parklands and he wanted to transfer the management of all 6 from his existing agent to us.
The Parklands is a highly regarded gated development located next to the Grove Theatre and leisure centre in Dunstable. Prices for the apartments here have increased substantially in the last 12 months with 1 bedroom apartments now selling for upwards of £130,000 and 2 bedroom apartments with ensuites for around £160,000. This is partly due to demand from London buyers moving into the area, but also by landlords and investors because they are easily rented and in high demand.
Going back to our new landlord/investor with 6 apartments in The Parklands, why did he ask us to manage them? He could have sat at home and called around the agents he found listed on Rightmove and asked how much their fees were as many do, but he is a business man and believes in meeting people. This gives him a true feeling and confidence in the people he will be doing business with. He could sit down in front of me and discuss the area, how Dunstable was improving, what sort of tenants were looking for properties and maybe having spoken to a true ‘local’ property expert and not someone on the end of the phone he might decide to invest in more properties in the area.
Many landlords forget that they are handing over an asset that could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to someone to look after. Wouldn’t you want to be able to drop into the shop or office of the company you have engaged to look after your asset and quite possibly your pension fund and meet the person in charge to talk about the local property market and your own property?
This landlord has 6 apartments he has now passed to us to care and look after and they are worth in excess of three quarters of a million pounds. He wants to know the person who will be looking after them which is why on the day he came into our shop he walked through Dunstable to meet the agents who specialise in lettings in the area and didn’t pick up the telephone.
The 2 speakers at this months Luton PIN will be discussing and advising on carrying out refurbishments and building work on time and in budget and also securing your first HMO.
The 2 speakers this month will be discussing and advising on carrying out refurbishments and building work on time and in budget and also securing your first HMO.
Building Refurbishment Masterclass – Julian Maurice
Over the past 15-years Julian has successfully completed 100’s of projects large and small. Specialising in working with property investors, Julian has also completed projects for hotel groups, letting agents and numerous domestic clients as well as producing stunning show-home interiors for major UK home builders. Surprisingly Julian is not a builder, nor is he an interior designer, he does not employ anyone and has not had any formal project management training, yet he has won substantial contracts with large company’s and has stayed afloat when many builders and contractors have fallen by the wayside during the recession. What is his secret, and how does he manage to consistently keep so many projects running on-time and on-budget?
Landing your first HMO! – Andy McCallum
At this month’s meeting, Andy McCallum will take you through the steps of securing your first HMO – What to do and what to look out for.
Andy has 8 HMOs but he will take you through his 1st HMO deal and explain what worked and what didn’t work along the way.
Of course there will also be the usual great networking and opportunities to meet and share ideas with like-minded property people, both before the meeting at 6pm, and then again during the break and after the meeting in the bar. So bring along plenty of business cards and arrive early so you not only get the best seat, but also have more time to meet the best people!
If it is your first time attending a PIN meeting you can use the code below for FREE entry
Click on this link: https://www.pinmeeting.co.uk/luton/
Click “Book using a voucher code”
Insert you contact details
Enter “belvoirluton” into voucher code box and click apply voucher button
Click, “Click Here to book your place now” - An email confirmation will be sent to you
Last week following a visit to our shop by one of our landlords with properties in Leighton Buzzard we took the opportunity while he was with us to compare the property market in Leighton Buzzard against Dunstable. This showed that both towns are faring well with Dunstable’s property market improving recently in part due to the unaffordable towns closer to London, but Leighton Buzzard with its train line into London still performing well due to its popularity with the London commuters.
Luton with its train line into London, London Luton Airport and access to the M1 attracts a large number of commuters and businesses, however over the last couple of years we have seen a number of tenants who were renting in Luton and maybe working in Luton moving to Dunstable to live. The new Busway has made it quick and convenient to travel back into Luton for work and also for the commuters into London the Busway only takes 12 minutes or less to reach the train station from Dunstable.
If we look at the same comparisons for Luton and Dunstable as we did for Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable we find that the average price of a flat in Luton is £134,000 and in Dunstable it is £130,000 as reported previously. The average rent for a flat in Luton is £720pcm and for Dunstable it was showing £725pcm so we can presume the rents are on par and the current property prices are not much different either.
Over the last 5 years the price increase in Luton was 32% compare to 26.5% for Dunstable, a significant difference for 2 towns so close to each other and showing that Luton had been the better performer.
Taking a look at prices paid over the last 12 months we saw on my previous article that the average price paid for all property in Dunstable over the last 12 months was £231,744 and over the last 6 months it was £248,334, an increase of just over 7%. This compares to a rise of just 4.8% on the average price paid in Luton from £214,435 to £223,436. This increase in Luton shows a better performance recently than Leighton Buzzard but not as strong as Dunstable.
As noted in the previous article the property market in Dunstable seems to be out performing the local towns on recent figures partly due to the London buyers and the attraction of the larger businesses to the area. We know that Amazon opened their fulfillment centre in Dunstable last October and I have heard from a source this afternoon that the larger warehouse and offices currently being constructed in front of it on Boscombe Road is also to be taken by Amazon. Could this be connected to the recently announced tie-up between Amazon and Morrisons ?
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice