No one would want to second-guess the UK property market. Sure, London and one or two of the regions look healthy – but the former is buoyed by foreign investors, the others are dependent on green shoots of recovery to sustain themselves, and the spectre of a rate rise is always on the (distant) horizon.
Against those considerations, though, there are mitigating factors. To many people, bricks and mortar look a lot safer than banks, while interest and pensions returns are pitiful. And since it now seems likely that swathes of the population will never be able to afford their own homes, buying property to let has to be an attractive option.
That’s why, for the first time in a century, private renting has increased, there has been a rise in the number of first-time landlords, and the re-mortgaging of rental properties to fund portfolio-expansion is at an all-time high.
So who is buying all these properties?
Well, with the average age of a first-time property buyer now standing at 35 – and likely to rise to 40 by the end of the decade – it seems likely that Generation high50 is disproportionately represented. So whether you’ve already taken the plunge, or are just teetering on the diving board, here are the key sites to visit for all your landlording needs:
LandlordZONE This massive resource promises – and delivers – what it describes as Rental Property Knowledge, with news, views, a busy forum, a library of free downloadable documents, a directory of useful links and a glossary explaining baffling real estate jargon.
ARLA The Association of Residential Letting Agents allows potential landlords to search for members, who must follow its code of practice. The site also provides comprehensive information on the ins and outs of buy-to-let, which was launched by ARLA 15 years ago.
MyDeposits This government-authorised scheme protects the tenant’s deposit without the landlord having to hand it to a third party to hold. It’s already used by more than 600,000 landlords and agents.
Landlord and Letting Show A giant exhibition at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton. Visit the website for lists of exhibitors, free seminars, advice clinics and talks by experts (as well as for free tickets, which will cost £10 on the door). You can also download the free monthly Landlord & Buy-to-Let Magazine.
Landlords Associations Two rival organisations, the National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association, both offer a range of services including support, advice, discount schemes and the chance to network with other landlords. You can sign up as a member of either or both, or just access the wealth of free information on their sites.