Local Knowledge is Essential to Select Profitable Rental Investment Properties
Location is always an important factor in property, especially when deciding on the best opportunities to expand a buy-to-let investment properties portfolio. Landlords may have a preferred niche, such as high-end apartments for professionals or semi-detached family residences, but local knowledge is key.
For example, a well-maintained rental property marketed to tenants with children is less likely to command a premium if it is outside the catchment area for the best local schools, and vice versa.
As we’ll explore below, there are advantages to working with an established agent with comprehensive experience in property sales and the letting market in any region you intend to buy.
Calculating Demand Before Making a Buy-to-Let Investment Property Acquisition
One of the fundamental elements of making a reliable profit through property rental is demand; both having plenty of quality tenants to select from when letting a new rental asset and ensuring that tenancies are longer-running and sustainable.
Every city, town and village has specific neighbourhoods, roads and areas that are considered the most exclusive or preferable for diverse reasons:
- Falling within catchment areas for Outstanding schools.
- Excellent views, with sea or river views a particular draw.
- Off-street parking, or free and plentiful on-street parking.
- Easy access to transport routes, supermarkets and local amenities.
- Being within walking distance of parks, beaches and attractions.
These features are unrelated to the property itself. Still, they can make a significant difference in the rental value assigned when a residence is offered to let and demonstrate a variance in the rental price achievable for two comparable properties but in different areas of the same town.
Understanding Tenant Demographics for Rental Investment Properties Marketing
Landlords who live locally may be aware of some of the factors that might make one address more favourable than the other, but it is also important to consider demographics and those things that will matter most to the tenant group you expect to let to.
It can be useful to assess who you most anticipate renting your newly acquired property to and then consulting a letting agent to pinpoint the most meaningful priorities for that group.
Examples include properties within ten minutes of central city office districts, homes with larger outside gardens, residences close to harbours or marinas, or even homes away from flood plains or areas more exposed to high winds in coastal areas.
While most landlords will be used to considering their tenants rather than their own preferences and tastes when selecting investment properties, local agents can provide valuable insights that can add value to your bottom line.
Another good example is the EPC rating, not least because of the evolving standards. Particularly for smaller properties, a rental investment with upgraded insulation, double-glazing and heating is far less likely to be vacant since lower-income renters will want to know what a rental home will cost to run, as well as what the monthly rent will be.
Evaluating the Right Rental Price
Rental pricing can be difficult to get right because so much depends on the perceived desirability of a postcode, area or property, balanced with the type of tenant you intend to market to, general market conditions and the property itself.
Setting the price too high can make it harder to attract quality tenants and will usually mean a rental property remains on the market, provided other accommodation options are available at a more competitive cost.
However, if you set the rental value of a newly purchased buy-to-let too low, without realising a feature or element could allow you to charge more, you could be inadvertently reducing your potential profits.
All the aspects mentioned above can add real value to a rental property, and a letting agent working in the area will be able to offer guidance as to the following:
- The number of prospective tenants on waiting lists.
- Average rental prices in the specific part of West Sussex.
- Demand for property types, sizes and locations.
- Comparable rental premiums currently being charged.
- Marketing options to boost visibility.
The final point is important because although many rental investment properties are let to tenants living in the local area, that may not always be the case.
Where appetite for semi-rural living has grown substantially over the last couple of years, advertising a new rental vacancy to affluent renters around the commuter zone will positively impact your rental yield.
The Advantage of Local Rental Market Expertise
Local market trends and future developments can also affect the profitability of a rental property investment. However, those purchasing from outside the immediate area may not be aware of other factors that could impact the future value of a rental asset.
If new-build developments are planned within a mile or so of your intended purchase location, this could mean other relatively modern buildings draw less attention since a brand-new rental property may be considered preferable.
Other factors such as expansion work to roads, new schools or school closures, planning permission related to developing green spaces or commercial zones, or local council plans to add new roundabouts, or link roads can all make a huge difference to the rental value of a property within a few months of purchase.
A rental property purchased based on being in a quiet, safe, family-friendly area may lose value quickly if development works cause disruption or introduce a higher volume of traffic or commercial vehicles to the area.
In contrast, future plans can benefit landlords, who use local agents to make astute choices about where to invest. Keeping abreast of regional developments, investment and innovation can be an excellent opportunity to invest in rental properties in an area or specific postcode that will likely become more desirable.
Using the expertise, know-how and understanding of the local renter demographics an agent can offer, can provide a competitive advantage and ensure you invest in buy-to-let accommodation with confidence that it will return a viable profit.
For more information about buying rental investment properties in any area within West Sussex, please get in touch with Tod Anstee at your convenience.