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The best property investing strategy for 2020

Not only is it the start of a new year, but a new Decade, and in a few years time, we will look back at 2020 and realise that it was probably one of the best investing opportunities of this Decade. The question is, are you ready for 2020?

In this first article for 2020, I want to explain why this month (January) in particular is so important and why it will create a huge opportunity for you if you are ready for it. Unfortunately, many people will miss out on this opportunity and I don’t want that to be the case for you, so please make sure you read this article carefully to really understand the opportunity in front of you.

By the end of this month, everyone who is a landlord will need to have submitted their personal tax return for the 2018-19 tax year, and paid any tax that is due from the rental income on their property. This will be the second year that people will see and feel the affect of Section 24, which came into paly in April 2017. As I am sure you know, the Government decided that they wanted to change the way that property investors are taxed. What this means, is that if you own property in your own name (which most long term landlords do) and you are a higher rate tax payer (which most people in property are), then you will be paying more tax on your rental income. If your property is owned in a Ltd Company, instead of your own name, then you will not be effected by Section 24, and if you are a lower rate tax payer, then there is no impact, although some property investors will slip from a lower rate tax payer, to a higher rate tax payer, because of the way that rental profit is now calculated.

So what does this mean for you, and why is it the opportunity of the Decade?

Every month my organisation run 50+ local property investors network meetings all over the UK, and so I am I a unique position to have my ear to the ground in 50 locations around the UK to hear exactly what is going on with investors at a grass roots level. I can tell you for an absolute fact, that in 2019 we had far more long term landlord coming to our pin meetings than ever before because they are looking to sell some, or all of their portfolio, and retire early due to the impact that Section 24 will have on them and their income.

In any market you will also have new investors entering the market and some people retiring and exiting the market, but right now there are more landlords than ever thinking about selling up earlier than they have initially planned, because the don’t want ever decreasing return from their property portfolio.

January 2019 was the first time than many landlords realised the true impact of Section 24, when they saw the amount of tax they pay go up, and their accountant will have informed then that things are only going to get worse as the true effect of Section 24 is phased in over a 4-year period. January 2020 will be the second year that people see the effect of Section 24 starting to bite more into profits. This will be the catalyst for even more landlords to seek a solution to this problem and for some of those 1.75m landlords in the UK, I truly believe that early retirement may be the preferred choice for many of them, especially as they have seen tremendous capital growth over the last 10 years.

Whilst Section 24 is obviously very bad news for many landlords, there is always a silver lining in bad news, if you look close enough. For those property investors who want to expand their portfolio and acquire more property, 2020 will be a fantastic opportunity for a number of reasons.

First of all, we will see properties become available for purchase in previously locked down Article 4 areas. In these Article 4 areas, permitted development rights have been removed, so you have to get planning permission to convert a normal house into an HMO (with 3 or more unrelated tenants). However, if you do apply for planning in an Article 4 area, it will be automatically rejected because the local council does not want more HMOs. You can of course appeal and you might get planning permission if it meets all of the criteria, but it is very difficult. However, if you buy an existing HMO in an Article 4 Area, you don’t need to get planning permission. Instead you can just apply for a certificate of lawfulness as long as the property was used and an HMO before Article 4 was introduced in that area and has been continuously used as an HMO. Prior to the introduction of Section 24, in Article 4 Areas, landlords were quite happy keeping their property, knowing that there would not be too much new completion. But now some of these landlords are now considering selling which means that you can get access into theses effectively locked down areas.

The main reason why 2020 will be such a great time to acquire more property is because of the way in which you will be able to add to your cash flow and property portfolio. You see these landlords who decide to retire earlier than planned, have another problem. The main problem is that if they sell all of their properties in one go, they will have to pay a lot of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the profit from the sale. The best solution for anyone wanting to sell a number of properties, is to phase the sale over a number of years so that they can claim their personal CGT allowance and so reduce the amount of tax they will pay. But this creates another problem. The landlord will have to hang around until they sell their last property which in fact maybe they would rather be sat on a beach instead enjoying their retirement.

The good news for you, is that there a solution which you can provide these landlords so that they get to sell all of their property over a number of years, minimise the tax, and not have to hang around until the last one is sold. They can do this with the help of an investor like you, who can use Purchase Lease Options (PLOs) to take over the properties and manage them for the owners, with a schedule to buy them over a number of years. This means you get cash flow and potential equity growth on property that you don’t own, whilst providing a fantastic solution to these retiring landlords. You don’t need to have large desposits, or even be able to get mortgages to do this.

The only problem here is the PLOs are a massively misunderstand strategy. Most people who think they know about PLOs, don’t really know about PLOs otherwise they would have does a lot more of them by now. One of the main problems here is that PLOs only work in certain circumstances, namely when the seller does not need the money now and they have what we call favourable mortgage conditions. Luckily for you Landlords normally meet both of these criteria, which is why the strategy works so well for them.

Just in case you don’t know let me give you the basics about PLOs. This is where you enter into a legally binding agreement with a property owner, whereby you have the right (but not the obligation) to purchase their property, for a fixed price (The Option Price) agreed upfront, within a certain time period (The Option Period), and in the meantime you pay them a monthly payment (Monthly Option Fee), for which you are entitled to use the property. There is also a consideration (Upfront Option fee) required to make this a legally binding agreement. This upfront fee can be anything from as little as £1, but can also be several thousand pounds in some circumstances. During the Option Period you look after the property as if it were your own, and take care of all of the maintenance. For example, you might have the right to buy a property, for the current market value of £200k, anytime within the the next 5 years. In the meantime, you pay the owner a guaranteed £600 per month, and take care of all the bills, repairs and maintenance. You could then rent this property out in a way to generate a much higher income, such as an HMO or Serviced Accommodation, and you make a profit on the different between the rent you pay to the owner and the rent you achieve, less all the bills. This is cash flow for a property that you don’t own.

The main benefit for you as the investor, is that you don’t need to put down the typical 25% deposit that you would need if you actually purchased the property. You don’t need to get a mortgage on the property, because you don’t actually own it. You can benefit from positive cash flow during the option period and potential capital grow of the property over the option period. If you value of the property rises from say £200k now, to £250k in five years time, you have the right to purchase it if you want, at the agreed option price of £200k even though it is worth £250k.

How do you find these landlords? Well you can always attend your local property investors network (pin) meeting and ask for referral of landlords who may want to retire, or you can write direct to landlords using your local council list of licensed HMO owners.

I do hop you can see the incredible opportunity you have right now by helping these retiring landlords finding a win win solution

Invest with knowledge, invest with skill

By Simon Zutshi, Author of Property magic and Founder of property investors network

Source: Property118

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Why property investing is more than just brick and mortar

The world economy is suffering a slowdown, from Beijing to Berlin, while the financial markets are bearish and volatile.

Investors are faced with flat interest rates continuing – the market is not expecting interest rate rises in a meaningful way.

Meanwhile, a slowdown in consumer spending is leading equity markets into a downward trend as the bull run fades and volatility continues.

On top of this, the property market is slowing – including a drop in top-end London prices reverberating downwards and outwards through the UK market.

So much economic uncertainty and global market correlation makes it challenging to find suitable investment opportunities.

However, our research shows people still have great trust for investments backed by ‘bricks and mortar’, and property continues to be a popular asset class with investors and their advisers due to historical long-term growth – having generated a return of 10.9 per cent a year since the 1970s.

As property prices are not necessarily correlated to the stock market, UK property values can remain resilient during periods of economic downturn.

With the impact of tax changes on buy-to-rent continuing to affect smaller property investors, many previous ‘would-be’ landlords, as well as passive and more casual investors, are now looking to invest in property through funds and structured products.

The good news is that there is a growing range of innovative products and wrappers, allowing private investors to access unlisted and uncorrelated investment opportunities that once were the domain of institutional investors alone.

Listed funds and trusts

Investing in property for private investors has tended to mean purchasing property directly or investing in listed funds and trusts. These listed funds remain popular to gain exposure to property:

• Commercial property funds invest in commercial property, such as retail, office blocks and warehouses. Yields can be higher than those available from the residential market, but there are associated risks. Commercial property can stand empty for longer than residential.

• Residential property funds and trusts offer exposure to the UK residential market through flats and houses within the rental sector. With this option clients can benefit from diversification as they have a share of many different properties.

• Indirect property funds focus on the shares of companies within the property and property development sector, rather than physical bricks and mortar. In this case, their performance is linked more closely to the wider share market and the trading performance of these companies, rather than the value of property.

The types of properties within funds is an important consideration. For instance, offices and warehouses could generate good returns in 2019, but High Street properties are under pressure.

Similarly, with residential property clients may want to know whether they have exposure to the top end of the market and central London as some areas have decreased in value – and this may reverberate into other regions in 2019.

With all these options, capital is at risk and investors do not have control over the underlying assets held. Listed funds generally offer clear pricing and clients can typically liquidate their investment to cash.

However, there may be costs or fees involved, as well as timing considerations. If a large number of investors attempt to cash in at the same time, this could force some property funds to suspend trading – or move to bid pricing – as in 2016, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Correlated versus uncorrelated 

Traditional listed funds typically follow the broader market movements regardless of the underlying asset values. Financial innovation is delivering more options for investors looking for alternatives, such as:

• Unlisted funds, which are traditionally available for institutional investors only, but following Mifid, the adviser market has been more receptive to these funds and more individual investors have been able to participate.

As unlisted funds are not traded on an exchange, their price is not subject to daily price volatility, and they trade at a value closely linked to their net asset value.

Investments in unlisted funds are generally illiquid, and many have ‘lock-in’ periods.

The Financial Conduct Authority has just closed its consulting phase on the rules governing funds that invest in assets with little underlying liquidity, reflecting the increasing demand for these products.

• Crowd-funded real estate special purpose vehicles, which allow investors to select individual properties to invest in. While the selection allows more control, the pipeline of investments is not guaranteed or necessarily suitable for the investor’s objectives, so it takes time to create a portfolio.

Pricing is linked to NAV, but such SPVs are not readily saleable securities. Where liquidation is possible, the proceeds can be lower than market value, and trading fees can be significant.

We expect growth in this area from many buy-to-let investors exiting their directly held portfolios and moving into structured and intermediated products.

• Property-backed lending, which provides an opportunity to earn a passive income from property, with the potential for attractive risk-adjusted returns. Property loan investments range from buy-to-let through to wide-ranging property development, such as building hundreds of homes on a greenfield site.

When choosing which property loans to invest in, investors should ensure they understand the nature and scope of the underlying project – for instance, whether it needs planning permission.

What does the near-future hold?

We expect to see an increase in choices available to enable homeowners to use their house to generate income and release capital.

There are many more homeowners using equity release mortgages to access capital – whether that is then used to invest in the home or elsewhere.

The latest figures show that £4bn of capital was unlocked between October and December by equity release mortgage holders, according to figures published by the Equity Release Council.

Innovation increasingly allows people to ‘sweat their home as an asset’. Just 10 years ago it was inconceivable that households would be making money by letting their spare rooms to tourists. There are now services to let your garage out as storage space, or driveway for parking.

We are beginning to see this innovation creating more investment opportunities for investors too, which may in turn lead to further opportunities for homeowners looking to access the capital tied up in their own property.

Some advisers are already considering these increased investment choices when looking to optimise risk-adjusted returns for their clients.

Source: FT Adviser