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Buy to let investors taking a break

Some buy-to-let investors took a break from looking for new properties in March as the new tax changes deadline loomed, new data from Rightmove reveals.

Whilst Rightmove recorded its busiest ever Q1 for enquiries to estate agents, the intentions of buyers shifted in March, with the number of people saying they were planning to buy a property to rent out dropping by 27% compared to the same month last year. This contrasts with the increase in interest seen from investors between December and February (+24% year-on-year) as they tried to make last minute purchases before April’s additional 3% tax deadline.

Sam Mitchell, Rightmove’s Head of Lettings, comments: “This waning of interest definitely seems to predict a slowdown in the buy-to-let market, but what’s not yet clear is if this will only turn out to be a short-term pause. It could be that some investors are waiting until the tax changes have some time to bed in before they review their business and continue to make purchases. If this removes some of the competition for smaller properties then it could spell good news for many first-time buyers with a deposit ready as they may find now is the ideal time to make a move.”

Buy-to-let investors not deterred by the tax changes and looking for the best yields could consider buying in areas in the north such as Durham and Merseyside. The top four locations for best yields are all in these counties, with Peterlee in Durham highest at 9.1%, followed by Bootle in Merseyside at 8.6%. In third place is the neighbouring town of Birkenhead offering a yield of 7.8% and fourth is Stanley in Durham at 7.7%.

Mitchell observes: “These areas where you can buy a two bed property for around £60-70k seem to offer a sound investment as long as the demand is there from tenants, so it’s worth speaking to local agents about what the rental market is like.  Whilst the highest demand for rental properties is often in the South and the East of England, this quarter’s data shows demand is growing in Manchester in places like Ashton-Under-Lyne and Stalybridge so they’re worth considering this year as well.”

Greater London (+1.3%) and the North West (+1.1%) were the strongest performing regions this quarter for rental increases, with the South East and East of England both falling by 0.1%, though the East of England’s annual increase of 5.9% still sees it outstrip all other regions.