Less borrowed for buy-to-let

18 March 2004
Landlords are continuing to invest in the rental market, but are borrowing less money compared to the value of the properties they buy, according to a buy-to-let specialist.

Paragon Mortgages claims that the average buy-to-let investor increased their portfolio by five per cent this quarter, from 11.3 properties last quarter to 11.9. However, the percentage of borrowing compared to the value of the property, was 41 per cent this quarter, compared with 44 per cent in November.

Paragon Mortgages' latest Buy-to-Let Trends Survey found that landlords' portfolios are a third larger than they were at the end of 2002, up from nine properties.

John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, commented: "While property prices have risen strongly in many parts of the country over the past couple of years, landlords' borrowings have not grown at the same pace. This must be seen as a positive factor and a further indication that buy-to-let lending is very safe, with landlords clearly taking a responsible and cautious approach."

The average void period experienced by landlords per year has been fairly stable since the beginning of last year and on average landlords report that 3.4 viewings are needed to secure a letting, up from 3.2 viewings last quarter, but less than in spring 2003.

Buy-to-let, landlords became more optimistic than last quarter, expecting a 10.1 per cent increase in their portfolios to an average of 13.1 properties. Last quarter, they expected growth of 8.6 per cent.

But the average value of portfolios has declined slightly, from £769,200 to £757,700, suggesting investors may be changing the mix of properties they own, tending to favour cheaper.