The size of the buy-to-let mortgage sector has been pretty stable over the last couple of years at around £36 billion. However, IMLA is forecasting an optimistic £283 billion for the total amount of mortgage lending in 2021 and some industry pundits are predicting growth in the buy-to-let sector, perhaps beyond £40 billion.
There are certainly reasons to support the continued viability of buy-to-let property as an attractive investment strategy, particularly in the current economic environment. With interest rates at near zero and the unpredictability of the stock market, the yields associated with tangible bricks and mortar are a serious contender.
The buy-to-let mortgage sector may also see new interest among larger mainstream lenders looking to widen their propositions with products that provide a good margin, so specialist lenders may experience some additional competition for market share.
All of this bodes well for landlords as lenders are demonstrating an appetite for business, providing an increasing number of products to choose from and widening criteria options to suit most buy-to-let mortgage requirements.
Buy-to-let finance has never been a one size fits all product. Some lenders focus primarily on ‘vanilla’ cases, whilst others such as Paragon Mortgages, Zephyr Homeloans or Foundation Home Loans have a more specialist proposition. What it does mean is that landlords from an ever-widening demographic make up the population of property investors in the UK.
Certainly, age is no barrier to residential property investment. For older landlords, those approaching retirement age or beyond, there is a wide range of lenders and products to choose from catering for most finance needs. There are providers with a maximum age at application of 75, 80, 90 and some with no maximum age requirement at all.
Buy-to-let property may also become more popular among the younger demographic and most buy-to-let lenders have a minimum age of 18 or 21, providing other lending criteria is met. Career expectations for young adults have changed considerably in recent years and the pandemic has inspired many to set up their own business ventures during lockdown.
A recent poll for ISP GoDaddy showed that 1 in 10 people in the 16-24 age bracket had set up their own businesses during the last year, and 1 in 5 have developed concrete plans to start up a new venture. With such entrepreneurial spirit being demonstrated by the younger generation, could buy-to-let property be an attractive option for those aspiring to have a self-employed lifestyle?
Being able to work from anywhere, travel and set your own work schedule is a potential perk of being a landlord, although it does take time and commitment to build up a property portfolio that provides a suitable income to become a professional landlord.
For people looking for an alternative to pensions, buy-to-let property is a worthy consideration for medium to long term investment at any age. Buy-to-let property is also a leveraged investment, with lenders typically offering 75 per cent loan-to-value on their product ranges, which is another good reason for its popularity.
During the last 12 months, with household spending being curtailed by the pandemic, there has been the opportunity for some to save up significant sums of money, which could provide the deposit for a first buy-to-let property or portfolio expansion for those already in the market.
There is certainly plenty of opportunity in the buy-to-let sector and for intermediaries providing finance solutions to landlords, there is reason to be optimistic about business this year.