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24% of All Properties in Willesden were Bought Without a Mortgage in the Last 7 Years

For most people in Willesden and the surrounding areas, a mortgage is the only way to buy a property. However, many have the choice to pay exclusively with cash. So the question is, should you use all your cash, or could a mortgage be a more suitable option?

Well, looking at the numbers locally…

4,165 of the 17,162 property sales in the last 7 years in Brent were made without a mortgage (i.e. 24.3%)

Interesting when compared with the national average of 31.9% cash purchases over the last seven years. Next, I wanted to see that cash percentage figure split down by years. As you can see from the graph, this level of cash purchases vs mortgage purchases has remained reasonably constant over those seven years…

If you are going to go for a mortgage, the next question must be whether you should fix the rate or have a variable rate mortgage. In the last Quarter, 90.57% of people that took out a mortgage, had a fixed rate mortgage at an average interest rate of 2.27%, although what did surprise me was only 65.79% of the £1.429 trillion worth of mortgages outstanding in the whole of the UK were on a fixed rate. The level of mortgage debt compared to the value of the home itself (referred to as the Loan to Value rate – LTV) was also interesting, as 61.9% of people with a mortgage have a LTV of less than 75%. Although, one number that did jump out at me was only 4.33% of mortgages are 90% and higher LTV – meaning if we do have another property slump, the number of people in negative equity will be relatively small.

Lastly, looking at the actual number of properties sold, it can be clearly seen the total number of house sales has dipped dramatically in 2018… Not such a surprise to us in the industry as many agents have struggled this last year, although the better (and more pro-active) agents have adjusted their businesses accordingly and have still enjoyed a busy year.

So those are the numbers … let us have a look at the pros and cons of taking a mortgage, with specific focus on buy to let landlords in Willesden and the local area.  

Taking a mortgage will help a landlord increase their investment across more properties to maximise the return, rather than putting everything into one local buy to let property. This will enable the landlord to ensure if there a void in one tenancy, there should still be rent coming from the other properties. The flip side of the coin is that there is still a mortgage to pay for, whether or not the property is let.

The other great motivation of taking a mortgage is that landlords can set the mortgage interest against the rental income, although that will only be at the basic rate of tax by 2021 due the recent tax changes. Banks and Building Societies will characteristically want at least a 25% deposit (meaning landlords can only borrow up to 75%) and will assess the borrowing level based on the rental income covering the mortgage interest by a definite margin of 125%.

A lot will depend on what landlords hopes to attain from a buy to let investment and how relaxed they would feel in making the mortgage payments if there were a void (interestingly, Direct Line calculated a few months ago that voids cost UK landlords around £3bn a year – an average of £1000 per property per year). We also must consider that interest rates could also increase, which would eat into profits … although that can be mitigated with fixing your interest rate (as discussed above).

So, with everything that is happening in the world, does it make sense to buy rental properties? We help many new and existing landlords work out their budgets, considering other costs such as agent’s fees, finance, maintenance and voids in tenancy. The bottom line is that we as a country aren’t building enough property, so demand will always outstrip supply in the medium to long term, meaning property values will generally keep rising. That’s not to say property values might fall back in the short term, like they did in the 2009 Credit Crunch, or the recession of the early 1980’s… yet every time they have bounced back with vigour. It makes sense to focus on getting the best property that will have continuing appeal and strong tenant demand and to conclude, buy to let should be tackled as a medium to long term investment … because the wisest landlords see their investment in terms of decades – not years.

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