As we celebrate another milestone birthday at Martin & Co, now is a good opportunity to take stock of our position in the market and how our industry is shaping up.
The buy-to-let sector, in light of the last decade's growth, still retains all the fundamentals that will drive it forward in the next decade and moving towards the 2030s and 40s. Martin & Co also posted its best every yearly results in 2015, reflecting a lot of positive movement in the market.
Some market sentiment has been lost due to the tax changes introduced by the Chancellor. However, people are still on the lookout for extra income, especially for retirement, and this is more of an incentive to the older investor than the disincentive of the tax changes.
The over 55s have a lot of equity in their property and could realistically downsize to invest in a buy-to-let to fund their retirements, and we believe this demographic will be a bedrock of a growing buy-to-let sector in the next ten years.
For those looking to invest in the next two to three years, we do have some advice, and it's to start thinking in a slightly more savvy way about the market. Until now, renting has been a mainstay for the younger generation, graduates and young couples, but the trend is quickly spreading toward mature professionals, married couples and even families.
We're no longer talking about people leaving university in their twenties and renting for a couple of years. These are the same people who are going to get married and raise kids, and they're going to do this in private rented accommodation.
Therefore, the message we're sending to our clients and people who are thinking about taking the plunge, is think about what type of properties people are going to want to be living in in their thirties and forties.
This is where the sector is going to mature because people are going to put cash into essentially 'family housing' stock because the nation, increasingly, is going to rent from private landlords as a way of simply putting a roof over its head.
People simply don't have the savings to put towards a house deposit any more and the population is beginning to reconcile itself to the fact that renting is a lifestyle choice that, beyond an obligation, actually has its own benefits.
The key advantage of renting is that it offers flexibility. The tradition of "one career in one workplace" is dying out, and workers are increasingly mobile and career-fluid, which isn't ideal when you have a property to pay off. Young professionals and graduates like having the opportunity to go travelling and change jobs; renting allows for this.
Furthermore, the housing stock isn't available - prospective first-time buyers may be saving up plenty of money for a deposit but that doesn't stop twenty or thirty people trying to buy the same property. Purchasing property has become a rat race for those who can't compete with wealthy investors, and prices and rents are only going to go up for the foreseeable future, giving landlords extra equity and disposable income from their portfolios.