Britain’s biggest buy-to-let investors have sold nearly half their £250m property portfolio – Should You?

The Wilsons are an extraordinary couple. Fergus and Judith were both previously maths teachers. But starting in the mid-1990s they built up a buy-to-let property empire that eventually led to them owning 900 houses in Kent.

They put their success down to the appearance of buy-to-let mortgages with favourable terms which enabled them to expand their portfolio quickly. In those days, it was easy to get loans with a high loan-to-value ratio that were also interest-only. In fact Fergus Wilson has claimed in an FT interview that in those days, the only requirement was that you could spell your name and that checks were almost non-existent.

However, recently the couple have sold off about 400 of their properties in Kent, mostly to overseas buyers. Mr Wilson thinks that the era of the amateur landlord is over and that life is much tougher these days for people trying to acquire a buy-to-let property. In the article, he quotes 60% loan to value mortgages as a particular problem.

The FT quotes OneSavings Bank which has decided, since Brexit, to focus on professional buy-to-let investors since it considers that they will be better able to ride out any market volatility. It has also tightened lending criteria for smaller landlords.

Meanwhile Mr Wilson, who one suspects never listened to this kind of advice but ploughed on regardless, is waiting to complete the sales of property within his portfolio, pay off his mortgages and hopefully walk away with £200 million profit.

Although he doesn’t own property in London, he describes a type of overseas buyer who is desperate to obtain a property in the UK. He believes that Brexit will in the short term assist these buyers, as the fall in sterling will help them to afford a property in the UK.

He believes that in the longer term, UK property prices will be underpinned by the shortage of housing and that the developers cannot possibly deliver the numbers of houses that are needed in the next 15 years.

It’s likely that one of the Wilsons’ motivations may be retirement as both are at the age where the challenges of running a large property portfolio may be just a little too much. It’s certain that a new generation of keen private landlords are seeking to replicate their success, no matter what the challenges.

One of the challenges for landlords who are in the business long term is to keep up with the constant changes in legislation that affect the property rental business. This is a key reason to employ an agent who can keep up with them on your behalf and let you know about the issues that are relevant to you.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has apparently said that there are currently 160 regulations that apply to property rental. Add to this the assured landlord schemes and guidance that landlords are supposed to take on board, and you can see how someone who has say, two or three Failsworth lettings, might feel overwhelmed by the level of regulation with which they must comply. What’s more, with the law constantly being challenged by court cases, the interpretation of it can change rapidly.

This is why landlords who don’t want to find themselves on the wrong side of the law employ a professional lettings agent to advise them. Only an agent who has looked at your particular property can advise as to what specific legislation you may need to take into account.

Of course, some new laws can be helpful to landlords. For example, landlords are now able to carry out checks known as “Right To Rent”. This will allow them to check that the person they are thinking of signing up as a tenant has the right to be in the UK. This will help them to avoid the potential £3000 fine for each tenant who is here illegally.

Some commercial finance websites are also reporting that around a half of landlords are intending to raise their rents next year. If returns are falling, many landlords will feel under pressure to increase rents in order to restore some profitability to their portfolio.
The Wilsons may feel that it’s all become too much effort and that now is the time to cash in their portfolio.

Possibly so, but one thing is certain – there will still be plenty of willing buyers out there.

North Manchester Lettings: Advice for First-time Landlords

The decision to enter the property market as a landlord is not one to be taken lightly, but if you’ve been thinking about it for a while, there’s no time like the present to set the ball rolling on your new venture. Manchester is a great spot for property investors – one of the UK’s major cities, it is well connected to the rest of the country by road, rail and air, and has a large student population. Both these factors mean there is always a steady stream of renters looking for the perfect property. If you choose wisely and research your target rental market, you should have no trouble generating interest in you property (or properties).

This article aims to provide practical North Manchester landlord advice for those who are new to the area, or new to the property market.

Decide What Type of Tenant You Want

You might not have any firm ideas of what type of tenant you would like to rent out your property to, but it’s very helpful to know who your market is. North Manchester is popular with a wide variety of renters – including students, young professionals, families and older couples – but not all groups will want to rent the same types of property. Students have become increasingly demanding in the last couple of decades, and the traditional cramped, damp, run-down red brick terraced student properties of the past will no longer cut it. Many students prefer to live in designated student apartments with all mod cons, excellent facilities and good transport links. It’s still possible to rent private properties to groups of students, but students tend to congregate in certain areas, particularly to the south of Manchester, so are unlikely to want to live in a district that is predominantly home to families.

If you want to target families, you will need to think about the proximity of schools. North Manchester has a large number of primary and secondary schools, some more popular with parents than others. Proximity to a good school can have an impact on house prices, but you might also be able to command a higher rental fee if you are in a catchment area of a top school, so you should bear this in mind if your target renters have children.

Young professionals are likely to want a property that’s close to nightlife and shops, or at least has excellent transport links to the nearest decent nightlife. In the case of North Manchester, this is likely to mean excellent links to the city centre – so look for good train, bus or tram links, or at least somewhere that is a short and affordable taxi ride away. North Manchester’s Metrolink tram system is very popular with commuters, so properties near a tramline are always a good bet.

Don’t Over-estimate the Market

As an investor, you have the advantage that you are not part of a chain and you do not need to wait for your own property to sell before you complete. This can be a big attraction to vendors, and may allow you to drive down the price on your chosen property. Emphasise your ability to commit and proceed with the sale immediately when you make an offer, but don’t get carried away and be tempted to pay more than you can realistically afford, or more than makes sense given your likely return on investment. While North Manchester has some highly desirable areas, many districts – such as Harpurhey and Moston – are known for their affordable housing and tend to have something of a rough reputation. No matter how desirable or modern any property you purchase in areas like these, you will struggle to attract renters prepared to pay premium level rents.

Seek Professional Advice

If you have never let out a property before, you will need to ensure you fulfill all your legal obligations. There have been moves to clamp down on unscrupulous and negligent landlords in recent years, and tenants have a number of rights you will need to be aware of. If you are not entirely sure of all your responsibilities as a landlord, seek advice from a professional who can ensure you don’t fall foul of the law. There are numerous agencies with specialist knowledge of the North Manchester rental market and these can help you target the right renters for your property, and help ensure a mutually beneficial relationship for both you and your tenants.

Buy To Let in Locations Where Tenants are Waiting

Increasingly the UK are becoming a nation of renters.

It seems common sense to say it, but when looking for a buy-to-let property take some time out and speak to local independent lettings agents (like my good self).

We will be able to tell you, in a heartbeat exactly which properties are moving quickly, which properties will give you minimal void time and what rental rates, realistically, you can be expecting from your investment.

In Moston, we are increasingly seeing investors from outside Greater Manchester moving in to grab a great investment in this high yield urban area. I will post here my top local finds and would welcome discussion from any or all investors and potential investors.

You can pop into my office for a chat, im based on Moston Road, in Moston or you can call me at any time on 0161 681 3724




Mike Brown


Interest rates: record employment, inflation up – but rates won’t move yet

Weak inflation is the key case against raising interest rates. A strong labour market and low unemployment are typically associated with building price pressures that should continue to push inflation higher. But there are flies in the ointment.

Latest official figures published today reveal that UK unemployment fell slightly to 5.1 per cent in the three months to November, the lowest rate since the same period in 2006, “long before the financial crisis”, notes the Financial Times. The employment rate surged to 74 per cent, the highest since records began, with most of the growth coming from “traditional” full-time employee roles.

This comes on the day after inflation was revealed to have risen to an 11-month high. A steep rise in air fares in December relative to the same month in 2014 and a smaller fall in oil prices compared to the previous year pushed prices up 0.2 per cent year-on-year, slightly above expectations and the first time in 2015 the rate had exceeded 0.1 per cent.

In the employment data is the fact that wage rises again underwhelmed, continuing a down trend from the three per cent hit in the middle of last year to two per cent and further undermining inflationary pressures. On inflation more directly, there is the fact that price rises are still low – 2015 saw the lowest average rate for 50 years – and that the latest slump in oil will act as a further drag.

Things could still turn this year.

One forecast this week claimed UK growth will actually accelerate this year and come in ahead of forecast, in particular as a result of increased consumer spending. Ernst & Young’s Item Club reckoned the decent rise in real incomes that is being boosted by low inflation will feed through into higher outlay by austerity fatigued shoppers.

What is clear, though, is that rate-setters are prepared to wait and see if this materialises for some time more yet.

Government Landlord Bashing

We again have been hit with the government bashing landlords with additional taxes. We will all have opinions and some will change as the dust settles. A lot of landlords are in uproar calling this the end of buy to let especially after the damaging tax changes from the last budget meaning that there will be no tax relief on mortgage payments as it is reduced gradually over the next 4 years.

The stamp duty rates are


Property or lease premium or transfer value Before April 2016 After April 2016
Up to £40,000                            0%                                0%
From £40,000 to £125,000(the portion from £40,001 to £125,000)  0%                                3%
The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)                            2%                                5%
The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)


The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)                          10%                              13%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)                          12%                              15%

This new stamp duty tax will cost an extra £1350 on a property valued at £85,000

The new stamp duty tax apparently imposed to bring it much needed funds to help first time buyers and house builders is a 3% tax on you purchasing any additional buy to let property’s. This in itself certainly shouldn’t affect your decision to increase your portfolio as in real terms all this will do is mean that the return on your investment will only be delayed by 3 months or so. It has the potential to seriously distort the property market, as landlords and second homeowners rush to beat the April deadline and then go quiet. If you do continue to increase your portfolio, when it comes to selling up, you can offset purchase costs against any eventual capital gains tax – and that includes stamp duty. So, while you will get whacked with a big bill now, if a buy-to-letter eventually sells at a tasty profit, you can claim stamp duty back later on CGT. The Treasury confirmed to last night that this still remains the case. The question is, will it one day face the axe?

These changes only effect purchases over £40,000 being realistic these are not available in many areas and the areas where they are come with their own problems as far as renting them out is concerned. These areas are not in high demand by first time buyers and will over very little capital growth as their prices will remain low as many will try to purchase below the threshold

The majority of our landlords in the Manchester area hold property under the value of £125,000 as the rental returns in this area offer excellent yields. These properties are in demand because they offer some capital growth and great yields. I suspect there will be a small spurge in the market (especially in the auction rooms) between now and April from landlords buying however this will be short lived. I do think long term that these properties’ will rise in value as many landlords from the south and overseas who want to increase their portfolio move north for the better yields.

The impact of the removal of tax relief on mortgages will have an effect on the housing market over the next four years as some landlords decide to sell but along with the demand from first time buyers entering the market and increased interest from buyers from overseas and the southern market I see a continued increase in house prices of around 5% a year. This means house prices doubling over a 15 year period.

I see a larger increase in rental demand and along with the squeeze on landlords margins these cost being passed onto tenants resulting in an increase in rents. If rents increase at 5% a year that will also mean your rents doubling over 15 years also.

Imagine your current property/properties in 15 years’ time receiving double the rent you received at present and being worth twice as much. Taking into consideration inflation not expecting to increase by more than 2% it should leave landlords in comfortable position.

In the long term we will all get different visions from our crystal balls but we must always remember some golden rules.

Property investment is a stroll not a jog. Property investment is a long term investment.

There is a continual increase in demand for rental properties as we are not building enough and we have an ever increasing population mainly being caused by immigration at present

Manchester is a thriving city and it boundaries are forever increasing therefore your properties that are within easy reach of the city become more in demand and especially at the lower end as those people who work in the service industry in Manchester need easy access at inconvenient times at affordable cost but the increase demand will increase their rental cost which increases yields and attracts more investors again resulting in increased values.

We can’t predict what the chancellor is planning for the future or predict how the changes will affect things however we will always have to remain flexible to move with the changes and adapt to the changes

We at Brentwood lettings are always happy to help and give you our opinions however it remains the case that you must take financial advice for tax planning from the experts


Council Set to buy Central Park

Manchester City Council has agreed terms to acquire the 72-acre Central Park in East Manchester from the Homes & Communities Agency, with a view to appointing a developer to bring forward a business park for creative, media and technology companies.

Around 700,000 sq ft of commercial space has already been built on the site over the past 10 years, as part of a development agreement with Ask and Goodman Developments which expired last summer.

Completed projects include the regional headquarters for Fujitsu, One Central Park, Madison Place, and the Greater Manchester Police Force’s divisional base.

There are around 40-acres of developable space left on the site, according to a report ahead of Manchester City Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday 9 September. While the original masterplan for the plot was to bring forward an IT-led business park, the report outlines that the success of the nearby Sharp Project suggests that Central Park would be a “viable location for the development of those businesses which sit within our key economic growth sectors such as creative, media, digital and technology related sectors”.

A potential use for the site is to bring forward a multi-let mixed-use estate.

The HCA has the freehold interest in the park as part of its ownership of former North West Development Agency assets. According to the report, the HCA has received interest in the park, but the council believes that “it is best positioned to take a longer term and cohesive strategic view of the central Park’s development and direction”.

Subject to the formal approval of the purchase at the executive meeting, the council will appoint agents to assess developer interest.

June Auction- 118-120 Townley Road


Upcoming Edward Mellor Auction on 4th June has a nice property in Middleton (118-120 Townley Road). This could be one to keep your eye on, as it has a great potential yield in excess of £10,000pa

Each of the two flats could happily pull in £425/m without much work and possibly more if the right investor was to purchase the property.

I have tenants waiting for flats in Middleton, and this area is popular, well serviced by bus, close to the motorway and pretty well sought after.

If you are looking to invest in Middleton or anywhere in East & North Manchester  and would like any assistance, then please drop in to my offices on Moston Lane, Manchester for coffee and a chat, or call me on 0161 681 3724.
Look forward to speaking to you soon!
Mike Brown


June Auction – 68 Sidney Street, Blackley.


Decent 3 bed investment potential property listed as lot 14 in the June Edward Mellor Auction. Blackley is a good area for rentals, we have lots of potential tenants day in day out looking for properties in and around Blackley.

Its a convenient location both for City Centre and Motorway access, and has some good schools. We find our Blackley tenants are either young professionals or young families looking to be close to relatives.

This 3 bed semi-detached property could easily pull in £575pcm, and is well situated to let quickly. I know the area well and have had much success renting our properties in Blackley.

If you are looking to invest in Blackley or anywhere in East & North Manchester  and would like any assistance, then please drop in to my offices on Moston Lane, Manchester for coffee and a chat, or call me on 0161 681 3724.
Look forward to speaking to you soon!
Mike Brown

Upcoming Auction Property – Guide Price £37,500

This could be an interesting property to watch, either as a long term investment or as a quick flip. With a guide price of £37,500 vs its market rate of c.£70,000 it will be one I’m keeping my eye on at the 4th June Old Trafford Auctions.


Regardless of the internal state, this property has a potential rental yield of around £500pcm and Clayton is a well sought after area for families and young professionals.


The area benefits from a direct metrolink line right into manchester city centre, and this property s situated close to all amenities and links.


Lets look at the figures! If you got this property at auction and rennovaed at a total cost of £75,000. You could happily expect a healthy yield of 8%. With well presented property in Clayton in such high demand, this property would not stay vacant for long at all!


If you are looking to invest in Clayton or anywhere in East & North Manchester  and would like any assistance, then please drop in to my offices on Moston Lane, Manchester for coffee and a chat, or call me on 0161 681 3724.
Look forward to speaking to you soon!
Mike Brown


8.57% rental yield – 2 bed terrace Fold Street, Moston

This 2 bedroom terrace has recently come on the market for £69,950 and is being marketed via Tom Clarke Moston Branch.

I haven’t seen this property internally myself but the photographs and description present by the selling agent indicate that the property has been well maintained to a good standard. The property is ideally situated close to Moston Road, which as a good bus service into Manchester and Oldham, its less than a mile away from the nearest metrolink station. This property will tick most of the boxes for both prospective tenants and landlords.

So lets have a look at the figures. Properties of this type, location and condition will rent out at £475 – £525 per calendar month thus producing a really great rental yield of 8.57%.
If you are looking to invest in  Moston or anywhere in East & North Manchester  and would like any assistance, then please drop in to my offices on Moston Lane, Manchester for coffee and a chat, or call me on 0161 681 3724
Look forward to speaking to you soon!
Mike Brown
£ 600 per Month

Cicero Street, Moston, M9

£ 650 per Month

Moston Lane, Moston, M40

£ 700 per Month

Romney Street, Moston, M40

£ 575 per Month

Stovell Road, Moston, M40

£ 450 per Month

Ashley Lane, Moston, M9

£ 650 per Month

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