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What’s the best option to buy property?

THE QUESTION

I'm not a homeowner, but looking to purchase - either residential, BTL or to buy a derelict property and flip.

I have a limited company with a turnover circa £200K and projected to double that in the next year.  I have no personal debts or defaults and a good credit rating.

I'm entrepreneurial, confident I can flip properties, and would like some guidance in funding purchases.  I've heard bridging finance, but don’t know if it’s the right strategy for me.

THE ANSWER

You have several potential options:

Use your main residence to flip

Advantages: no tax (CGT or income) payable on the profits

Disadvantages:

  1. Slow turnaround, as you will need to live in the property for at least a year to qualify for the no tax advantage
  2. Your ability to borrow is income-dependent and lenders are not interested in how much your company turns over, but how much profit you make i.e. make £20k profit on your £200k turnover and you won’t be getting...
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No cash? No problem!

When you’re buying property as an investment you need capital to put down a deposit – and then it’s locked into your property for six months or more, until you can remortgage.

With this approach you’ll be lucky to manage to add two properties a year to your portfolio, unless you have a very big nest egg.  The do you want to lock your capital into a mortgage?  You don’t have to, there are creative financial packages specially developed for property investors.

Do you fit the BTL lender’s typical profile?

Buy-to-let lenders like their clients to have a nice secure full-time job earning a minimum of £25,000 a year and have their own cash for at least a 25% deposit.  If you have too many properties it can make them nervous in case you leave your secure job to become a full-time investor.

They don’t like people who want to remortgage their property after six months when the property has been refurbished and is now worth a lot...

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A property with challenges - yes or no?

THE QUESTION

I have found a property I want to get a buy to let mortgage for, but I have a bad credit rating.  The house also has no kitchen, are there any lenders that would be able to provide a mortgage for this?

THE ANSWER

Take a reality check on this one, you have zero chance of getting a mortgage on this property as a means of buying it.

Leaving aside your credit history, a property has to be lettable on day one to get a mortgage; if it has no kitchen, it plainly isn’t that. So it is a non-starter in the way you want to purchase it.

For a property to be mortgageable:

  • As a main residence - it has to be habitable
  • As a BTL it has to be lettable and that is different to habitable. It means, in the lenders' surveyor's opinion, a tenant would want to pay good money to rent it on day one

Fitting a kitchen between exchange and completion might work, but if the rest of the property is not in good repair, it is still unmortgageable.  It's very...

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Leases on BTL properties

buy to let Jul 02, 2017

THE QUESTION

When looking to buy a BTL property at what point does the length of the lease term start becoming a factor and should be taken in to account?

THE ANSWER

80 years is a pivotal number, because you cannot get the freeholder to extend the lease until it reaches 80 year point. However, from a mortgage lenders point of view 80 years is not that pivotal, it is quite easy to get a mortgage below 80 years but it does start to get problematic the further you drop below 80 and when the lease has 70 years or fewer to run it starts to become an issue for mortgage lenders.

Mortgage lenders like to have a comfort zone of years left on the lease at the end of the mortgage and this will vary lender to lender, some want as much as 45 years, others will be happy with 30 years and most would be somewhere in between. Given that most people take a 25 year mortgage then 70 years become the pivotal number in terms of getting mortgage lending. Below 70 years and your choice of lenders steadily...

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Equity release to build investment

buy to let Jun 08, 2017

THE QUESTION

I want to release some equity from properties I currently have to purchase some more.  Who would be the best person to give me advice?

I'm also trying to find out how easy a property is to remortgage once it's been renovated.  Is there a specific period of time you have to wait before you can remortgage?

THE ANSWER

My first tip is to pick an adviser who is an investor themselves, they will understand your thinking in terms of recycling your cash; some mainstream advisers know very little about investing in property.  If you find yourself teaching your broker, you have the wrong broker.

On your second point, almost all BTL lenders restrict applications to remortgage a property that you own until you have owned it for six months. It is often referred to as the 'six month rule', but is optional as to whether lenders choose to invoke it or not.

The very few BTL lenders who choose not to invoke it will remortgage your property within 6 months of purchase, BUT...

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One Lease, three flats ...

buy to let May 15, 2017

THE QUESTION

I am looking at a property block of flats that records show hasn't had any sort of planning for a conversion.  However, the land registry shows that one of the flats is on a lease. There are three dwellings in the block shown on the planning map. Does that mean that the property may have been converted without consent?

If they have no planning consent then can I offer to buy out the freehold and create leases on the properties?

THE ANSWER

For decades landlords have decided, almost on a whim sometimes, that they can get more income out of a house converted into flats than a single house.  Some apply for the required planning permission to do the conversion; some don’t bother and just do it anyway because it seems like a good idea to them.

If you have checked with the local planning office and they tell you no permission has ever been granted, then it will have been an illegal conversion.

This makes it unmortgageable as no lender will lend where the...

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Extending the Leasehold

buy to let May 07, 2017

THE QUESTION

With an inherited BTL I’m about to purchase another property.  This is a two-bedroom maisonette with 53 years remaining – but with only 53 years on the lease.  I know this needs to be extended to make the property viable for a BTL and have researched the process – so I know what to do and how to do it, but how difficult is it in reality?

THE ANSWER

It is not hard to extend a lease; you just enter negotiations with the freeholder and agree a price.  The cost is progressively greater the fewer years left on the lease.

Negotiations to extend a lease can begin when the remaining term drops below 80 years. You would be very well advised not to negotiate on your own behalf, but engage a solicitor or other suitably qualified person highly conversant with leasehold law to negotiate on your behalf. Choose a solicitor that specialises in leasehold law.

Clearly you cannot agree a price to pay for this flat until you have clarity on how much it will...

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How to avoid BTL finance

THE QUESTION

If I have unencumbered property, i.e. no mortgages, what creative finance schemes/packages are available for short or longer term for development projects? I really want to avoid BTL finance.

THE ANSWER

If you really want to avoid BTL finance and are fortunate enough to have an unencumbered property, you are in a very powerful position.

You can offer that property as additional security/extra collateral for any development project you want to get into.  That could mean that you need to put no actual hard cash into your project; save for survey and legal costs.

Both bridging and development finance lenders would typically lend you 70% (with slight variations) of the value of your property; as well as lending against the property you want to buy.  This is usually sufficient to borrow 100% of the purchase price plus the refurb/conversion/build costs if you need to.

For properties that fall into refurb/minor conversion category, that would generally be bridging....

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Using someone else’s money

THE QUESTION

I want to purchase a property for a potential serviced apartment; it also works at 8.5% yield as a Buy-to-Let.

I had a JV partner who was going to put in the deposit with the mortgage in my name.  My mortgage broker has informed me that no lender will accept a deposit unless it is from a family member.  I have not heard this before, is there any way round this?

THE ANSWER

This has been standard lender practice for some time.  BTL lenders prohibit you from borrowing the deposit, their criteria states that deposit must come from your own savings.  You cannot even borrow from family, it must be a gift and the gifting family member must not have any interest in the property.

They insist that you use only your own cash for deposits and they will drill down by requesting bank statements until they are satisfied it is your own money or decline to lend when they discover it is not.

There are several reasons for this stance.  Lenders consider it...

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How fast can I get my money out?

THE QUESTION

I know there are limited lenders if you buy a property, refurb it and then sell it within six months, but if I pay cash for a property and want to spend about £10k max on the refurb to turn it into 4-room lets for professionals before getting some money back out and renting the property out, is this feasible?

THE ANSWER

Buying for cash if you can is positive because you have:

  1. Zero borrowing costs
  2. The ability to complete very quickly (which will ensure you can negotiate the price down to the best you can get the property for).

Having four tenants on separate AST's will reduce your choice of BTL lenders as some only allow a single AST let.

The majority of BTL lenders will not accept a remortgage application until you have owned the property for six months, regardless of your method of purchase. There are a couple that will lend limit lending primarily to purchase price and provable refurb spend, thus trapping perhaps more money in the property than you intend.

...

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