Last week I attended a very informative Property Investors Network meeting, run by local property professionals. The attendance was high at around 50 attendees, with a real mixture of property investors and developers, agents, legal professionals and surveyors.
It was a fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded people and I also discovered that the majority of property investors all had the same line of enquiry when they approached me for advice:
"What type of property should I invest in for buy-to-let investment?"
This was a very interesting question and one with a variety of answers...
The first question you should ask yourself is...what type of tenant do you want to attract? Different properties will attract different types of tenant. For example...
HMO's are harder to market, it is a very specific type of person who is comfortable living in a shared house with potential strangers. We find that the majority of tenants who are attracted to HMO's are young, single, professionals (mostly male). However, it is becoming harder to promote interest in shared housing as Shrewsbury and Shropshire in general, is a rural, family community, with people moving to Shropshire from larger cities, looking to settle down and begin a more rustic life-style. Young professionals look further afield for career opportunities, larger cities such as London or Manchester hold more "career opportunity" than Shropshire.
It is also difficult to get the balance correct in shared housing, a lot of female tenants I have spoken to are more uncomfortable with the idea of sharing with male tenants, especially unfamiliar male tenants. You then have the difficulty of gearing a property towards either males or females.
The other difficulty with HMO's is the quality of the property and the rooms. If you are appealing to young professionals to rent out rooms in your property, they have to be of a certain standard, a young professional looks for a room and house of good size and decorated in a way that ensures they would have the minimum amount of disruption moving and settling in quickly. They look for comfort and style, a property in which they can relax and enjoy time away from work without the effort it would entail to create this themselves.
A minimalist, stylish bedroom would appeal in an HMO, if you are looking to attract a certain type of tenant. This can be done without a huge amount of expense and is easier to market. It could also allow you to charge a slightly higher premium for a room.
However, if the room has dated decor and furniture it is much harder to market, even if the room is of decent size, there is a distinct lack of "wow factor".
It would involve a lot more effort by the tenant to reach a standard whereby the room is comfortable and appealing. This type of room would perhaps appeal more to students who would see it as something very temporary and therefore would be less inclined to worry about creating that "homely" feel. It would be hard to put a decent monthly rental charge (inclusive of bills and WIFI) for a room of this standard, especially when there are one bedroom apartments available locally for less than £400 per month, offering the privacy and security that most tenants find preferable.
The good news for potential investors looking to invest in HMO's or 'shared housing' properties is ... Shrewsbury is set to have it's very own university campus by the end of next year.
"A new university for Shropshire could be up and running by September next year, it has been revealed. A research and postgraduate presence could even be in place in Shrewsbury by this April.
It is hoped the first admissions for undergraduates could start from September 2015." (Shropshire Star, February 15th 2014).
This could be a fantastic investment opportunity for those looking to invest in HMO's as it will offer an increase in the number of students looking for accommodation in and around Shrewsbury town centre!
Keep reading for more advice on how to market your property to your ideal tenants, what type of property investments you should be looking for and hints and tips on how to dress your property correctly.
Alternatively, pop into the office to see us at 40, St Johns Hill, Shrewsbury. We are always on hand to offer help and support and a good cup of coffee!