The coming months are likely to shape the short-term future of buy-to-let. The Chancellor has already approved a 3pc Buy-to-Let Stamp Duty levy to go live in April, and landlord tax relief is going to be reduced in the coming years. Furthermore, the March 16th budget may well bring further moves against the property industry, and landlords in particular.
However, one key demographic seems unfazed by upcoming obstacles: the landlords themselves.
In fact, a survey conducted by the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed that 60pc of landlords would shrug off a raise in their mortgage repayments without even having to increase rents.
Martin & Co also conducted a poll of 1,500 landlords and found almost identical results - 58pc of landlords told us that tax relief changes wouldn't force them out of the buy-to-let market. Of them, 31pc said that they will add to their portfolio regardless of changes.
We also asked our landlords about interest rate changes - 79pc said they won't be priced out of the market, with 52pc saying they see no obstacle to them continuing to grow a portfolio.
The majority of respondents own 1-5 properties, the landlord demographic most targeted by government policy. Opinions were fairly evenly split across these small scale-landlords, while larger scale landlords admitted that they would stop purchasing property, or even begin to sell (7pc) more than they expected to grow their portfolio (4pc).
One of the most common conclusions that landlords come to when discussing their finances is that a serious landlord will be in the industry for the long-term, therefore they will reap the benefits of a long term investment, namely capital gains, increasing rents, and a consistent rental income.
The results of our poll are reassuring; it appears that our landlords are suitably equipped to overcome the challenges put in front of them, while small-scale landlords are subject more to their own individual circumstances than they are to government intervention.
Having experience in the sector will help you consolidate a portfolio if it is at risk, and grow one if the opportunity arises. With Stamp Duty changes due to go live in April, you should already be most of the way through your deal if you want to buy a property without paying the 3pc surcharge.
Beyond that, the tax changes that are being slowly introduced from 2017 will also have an effect on your strategy. However, given the likelihood that rents are going to continue rising in the coming years, it should also go without mention that your finances are likely to change in the intervening time.
Interest rates were where landlords had most confidence - just 21pc were concerned about a potential rate increase. Of course, those landlords growing a portfolio need to find a mortgage to suit them, as repaying the loan will become more difficult should a rate increase go ahead.
Depending on the size of your portfolio, you should measure your potential for growth and the geographical scale you have available to you. For example, the yields in your area may not be enough to warrant investment, but the next town, city or county across may have.
On the other hand, you can think about bringing things closer to home. Selling a property in a place you don't have the same knowledge of could bring you security going forward. This could be of particular importance if your tenant demographic isn't ideal.
If you fear the stamp duty changes, you have the option to turn your portfolio into a private business, therefore limiting your tax liabilities to corporation tax, instead of landlord tax. It is also worth mentioning that corporation tax is due to go down to 18pc by 2020, from 20pc today.
If you believe that buy-to-let is something you need more information on, please contact your local branch
office today to find out more about how to nurture the perfect property portfolio.