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News: BSA warns of over-saturation'

Wed, 21 Nov 07

BTL will continue to prosper despite the ongoing credit crunch, says the BSA...

With the future of the UK property market, both residential and buy-to-let, subject to so much uncertainty and speculation, many will wonder if any clear idea can be formed about where the best investments, if there are any, are to be found.

Neil Johnson, PR policy manager at the Building Societies Association (BSA), has said that there are undoubtedly still good deals out there, but what matters, not unusually, is location.

This will be reflected in the way lenders will still be willing to lend to good prospects among landlords, whose investment strategy is sound. "Buy-to-let will continue to be a very good business for them because there is clearly demand out their for good quality rental accommodation," he said.

Danger for ‘dinner-party BTLs’

Moreover, Mr Johnson emphasised, the danger in the market really exists for ill-informed "dinner party buy-to-letters" who hear about how some people made major returns and imagine such things are still possible without realising that the market has changed. However, he said, those with a good awareness of what to do still have good prospects and research by the BSA has shown that many were still looking to increase their portfolios.

Noting that "there are still people that want to rent and there are still people unable to buy, so while that remains the same there will always be opportunities out there for buy to let investors", he concluded that the key issue was not to buy "where the market is swamped".

As the market slows, a number of areas have been pointed to as examples of swamping. In its assessment of the buy-to-let market this week, 50connect.co.uk stated that areas of new-build flats in northern cities were one example.

Building of this kind is still happening, of course, with the Manchester Evening News reporting last week that a new development was planned for the Knott Mill area of the city centre. There is also the fact, as the Liverpool Echo reported recently, that Manchester has imposed a 40 per cent limit on the number of one-bedroom flats in the city centre in order to encourage more families to move in. The paper noted that Liverpool was to do likewise. This may help diversify the market and encourage more buyers.

Impact on demand

Whatever happens to the kind of property being created in areas such as northern cities, issues such as population movement, employment and the wider housing market will all have an impact on demand. So too, of course, will the overall economy, with many hoping the recent hints the Bank of England gave over interest rate cuts will bear fruit sooner rather than later.

Tomorrow, the Bank will publish the minutes of this month's monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting. Having voted by eight to one to hold rates in October, commentators will be looking to see if the MPC was closer to making a cut this time. If it was, it may give a clearer indication of a cut very soon, perhaps even next month.

In the meantime, however, the wise and informed buy-to-let investor, the BSA believes, will continue to do well and cope whatever the broader economic or housing market picture in the short-term.

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